How to Survive Winter in Illinois


MatSE Students

Winter day on a campus.If you’re coming to UIUC from out of state, and have never experienced a winter colder than 25 degrees, you might be a little concerned about what you are getting yourself into. Although the weather can often flip flop, and it might snow one day and be 50 degrees and sunny the next, here are a few tips that helped me survive my first Illinois winter.

1. GET A COAT! And by coat, I mean a down coat that goes halfway down your thighs (or more), because it is warm and it is necessary. I grew up in a cold area, but never experienced the bitter wind that occurs here in Illinois. Halfway through the first week of spring semester my freshman year, I bought a proper, Midwest-style winter coat that keeps me warm when the temperature drops below zero. Look for one that is waterproof and has cold-weather temperature ratings (aka good insulation). Some places that sell great winter coats are LL Bean, Lands End, The North Face, Eddie Bauer, and Patagonia!

2. Thick gloves, thick hats, and thick scarves. To survive the winters here, you will need to bundle up and cover all extremities. The best kinds of scarves, hats, and scarves are the really thick fleece ones, with a waterproof coating for the gloves.

3. Snow boots and thick socks. You may not think you need them, but not slipping on the ice and keeping your feet warm is well worth the investment! My favorite kind of socks for the winter are SmartWool because they’re lightweight but keep you warm. If you don’t have/want to buy snow boots, Yak Traks are another good investment.

4. Layer clothing! Sometimes, it will be -15 outside, but 82 in your classroom. Why? We may never know, but this is why it’s important to layer sweaters and shirts under your winter coat.

5. Watch for ice. It’s there. You can and will slip on it. Having proper boots can help prevent this.

6. Keep checking the weather. While it might be -15 when you wake up, there is a strong possibility that the weather can heat up to around 25 degrees in the afternoon. It also may look like it’s going to be a sunny, fairly warm day in the morning, and then turn into a snowstorm in the afternoon. You don’t want to be caught off guard, and should dress accordingly.