Sat with Nat · walking

Nat navigates walking to work in a Polar Vortex

It’s been a week of proper cold winter weather in London, Ontario. I live on the little southern bit of Canada wedged between the Great Lakes. It rarely drops below-20C here but when it does it tends to be because the Arctic airmass slips south into the jet stream and it stays that way for a week or two.

Some Canadians lean into the weather quipping “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just not dressing for the weather,” That supposes everyone has both the means to acquire the right clothing & equipment as well as the knowledge to know what to buy, how to wear it and when to stay indoors.

My partner and I are fairly committed to walking to work as part of our fitness and reducing our carbon footprint. I’m also terribly cheap and hate paying $8-12 a day to park my clunker.

Some days we just bundled up with hats, mitts, good boots and faces covered.

A close up of Nat’s face framed by a fake fur hood. You can just make out her eyes between her grey toque and bright orange face cover

My hood is always up when it’s -24C plus wind chill.

We did walk 2/5 days this week but we also chose to drive when the “feels like” temperature hit -39C. It was a week of driving in a cold car, working in a cold office and wearing layers of clothes in the house & in bed.


This type of cold weather wrecks havoc on batteries so for folks using electric mobility devices like scooters it was a week of being home. Waiting for buses became so hazardous school transportation was cancelled Thursday.

I think one way we can debunk toxic masculinity is calling out ideas of being able to “tough out” the weather. Sure, there are times to dig deep into your resolve to overcome obstacles. And yes, making our lives consciously more physically challenging can be a way to enhance our fitness. But those ideas must also be balanced against safety and wellbeing.

So I’m ok getting the lift offered by a friend on a snowy afternoon as I walk home. I’m ok driving when I might otherwise risk frostbite. I have been looking for rain pants and insulated snow pants that fit for about 5 years to no avail.

I would like some though so if you know where a woman can find women’s size 20 or XXXL I’d love to hear about it!

5 thoughts on “Nat navigates walking to work in a Polar Vortex

  1. Hi Nat… like you, I bundled up and walked to work in Guelph this week. During my first polar vortex walk I felt deep appreciation for my health that made me physically strong enough to manage the challenging weather conditions and for the City that cleared the sidewalks before 6:30 am. I also felt gratitude for the fact that I was able to wear appropriate clothing; that I could afford the clothing and that I could find clothing that fit me. Although they aren’t in women’s sizes, I have had luck finding rain pants and snow pants at Mark’s Work Warehouse and Canadian Tire…

    1. I’ll definitely check out Mark’s! I’ve had good luck there with jackets & tops. I don’t care about the cut so “men’s” work for me 🙂

  2. I love walking to work – rain, snow, whatever. Any day walking to work beats standing around waiting for public transport. I am so happy when I leave work now there is some sun in the sky! (5:30pm)
    (walking downtown Toronto, 30 minutes each way)

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