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Climate & Packing
By March, the deep of winter will be long over in Portland and the first spring-like days begin, but temperatures remain around 32°F (0°C). The snow will still be lightly falling, making March a popular month for skiing and other winter activities. For an in-depth description of what to expect from the weather in March, visit weatherspark.com. Those hoping to participate in outdoor activities will want to pay special attention to what they wear.
Casual Outdoor Attire
Jackets: The ideal outerwear includes insulation and wind/water resistance. There are lots of options out there; common types of jackets use feathers or synthetic stuffing or rely on luxurious wool to provide insulation. If you are buying a new coat, the most flexible options are two-piece and three-piece sets that allow you add/remove a warm liner or hood. The DIY option is to layer breathable shirts and insulated sweater(s) under a roomy wind- and water-resistant outer shell.
Footwear: Roads and sidewalks in the city are kept ice-free, but occasional snow and ice means that you will want shoes that are sturdy and have decent treads. Insulated shoes make walking around town very comfortable, but if you don’t plan to bring special winter shoes, make sure to invest in thick, warm socks.
Head-Toppers: Keeping your head and ears covered will really make up the difference between surviving and thriving in the Maine climate. A basic knit winter hat is the easiest thing to throw into your pack. If that’s not your style, I recommend at least a hooded coat and ear muffs.
Gloves & Scarves: Spring weather variability will render a pair of light- to mid-weight gloves 'handy'. Mittens or heavy-weight gloves are over-kill for this time of year, but they are useful to carry (primarily for snowball attacks on your adviser). Scarves, buffs and neck gaiters are not always necessary in the day, but they look so great!! In the evenings and when the wind picks up, you’ll be glad you packed this extra bit of fabric to shield cold spots where your jacket doesn’t reach.
Extended Outdoor Activities
If you plan to participate in outdoor activities apart from walking between buildings and taxis, you will want to consider the type and length of your excursion when packing. In addition to the above tips, here are some extra items that will extend your enjoyment of the snow, ice, slopes and city. Conditions may not call for wearing every piece of garment all at once, but it’s best to bring some options for yourself. As you can see, the key is layering.
Under-Layers: Shirts and leggings made of breathable, moisture-wicking fabric are easy to come by these days, and they work great to add a bit of warmth and keep you dry under your clothes and outerwear. Invest in long underwear to stay extra warm and dry. Running/yoga tights also work well as a base layer.
Over-Layers: If you’ll be “interacting” with snow (falling off skis, falling off a snowboard, plowing a sled through snowmen, etc.), keep your lower half dry with waterproof shell pants. Ski- and snow-pants are worn over a base layer and are constructed much like a winter coat, with insulation and a waterproof exterior. The 3-layer DIY version is to wear long underwear under insulating pants (e.g., fleece) under a pair of rain pants.
Even More Layers: Extended outdoor activities require gloves, and a good addition is a glove liner, which works as a base-layer for your hands plus as a light-weight glove if you need to remove your outer gloves/mittens. Last, Moms across the nation agree that you should pack extra socks, and I’m extending that to other accessories—when I’m cold, I admit that I even layer my socks, neck- and head-wear.