This is a historic Chicago weekend. For the first time since 1941, the Chicago Bears will play the Green Bay Packers in the NFL playoffs. Although I'm not really a sports fan, as a Chicagoan I feel intense allegiance to our teams. Does that mean I'll be at Soldier Field watching the Monsters of the Midway in snow and 5 degree wind chill? Umm, no. What I have been doing is handing out advice to pitiful travelers trying to figure out how to stay warm on a January Chicago Bears weekend.
Besides the obvious, (a real coat not a light jacket or hoodie, a hat to cover your ears, gloves and boots.) I recommend a secret weapon I actually discovered in Door County, Wisconsin. I was snow shoeing in 8 foot drifts and 2 degree temperatures and despite doubled-up insulated gloves, my fingers were cold. My guided offered me a pack of hand warmers. I had seen these stacked up in Chicago drug stores but never took them seriously. Surely, somebody who's never lived through a Chicago winter came up with this scam to squeeze a few dollars from the desperate and freezing. I shook the small, white, packet and placed it in my glove and I was amazed. Warmth oozed from the packet and my hands felt like I had placed them in a warm oven. The heat lasted the entire three hours I was outside.
These non-toxic, air-activated, miracles last 7-hours straight and are for one-time use. I prefer to keep the warmers in my pocket or between layered gloves because they do get really warm. On the same trip, I also discovered toe warmers, which can be shoved in your boots for toasty heat. If you're standing or walking outside during a Chicago winter, hand and toe warmers are essential. The Grabber company also offers foot and body warmers but I've never tried them. Somehow, I think the excitement of watching the Bears trounce the Packers, as they did during that last playoff, will generate enough heat to keep most bodies warm.