You want the least bulky and restrictive clothes which still keep you warm and dry. So layers but not just any layers, the thinnest layers possible. Weather changes fast so you need to be able to add or subtract layers during a round. A big, warm, bulky jacket, for example, is all or nothing. If it warms up 20 degrees it is too warm and a hassle to lug around. It is also difficult to throw with a big jacket on. I want as little as I can get away with covering my throwing arm.
So thin layers, like unlined nylon or polyester shells which can fold up and easily fit in a bag. A shell without sleeves is a great additional layer.
People who work outside get so acclimated to cold that they can get away with a tee shirt a hoodie and blue jeans in darn near anything. For the rest of us we need a lot more protection than that.
Polartech is amazing stuff. My hats, mittens, neck warmers and vests are Polartech. It weighs near nothing. The disadvantage is that it is bulky. Polartech breathes. It is a heat regulator more than a heat retainer. It even retains heat if it gets wet.
Say you are wearing a polartech vest and a nylon (Gortex, waterproof) shell together. Together they weigh less and are less bulky than a hoodie but are much better protection. The way you layer Polartech matters. If you put the vest under the nylon shell then it keeps in lots of warmth. If you put the vest outside the shell then it only gives a bit more warmth, since Polartech breathes so well. Add a sleeveless, unlined nylon shell to that combo and it adds almost no weigh or restriction but a lot of warmth and can pack away.
Gloves suck. Mittens are where it is at. Mittens are much warmer. Get them oversized (so they go on and off easily) and stuff handwarmers in the ends. Say you need to do something which requires good dexterity like retying your boots. Gloves are too bulky to be effective. Mittens are impossible so take them off to do the task, then pop them back on to warm back up.
Ok, the most important secret is the Polartech neckwarmer. It is a little tube which pulls over your head. It weigh like an ounce. It is shockingly warm. It goes on and off without effort. Once you try one in the cold you will never go without one again.
I like under armour personally and have two long sleeve versions. They are great for a base layer. They help keep the sweat off your body and they stay right on the skin to keep the warmth on the skin.
After that like mark said thin layers. I have worn a micro fleece and shell with my under armour and been fine in 9 degrees. I only wear jeans but I recently bought some colombia water proof shell to go over them. I personally like gloves so I use a thin glove and a fleece fingerless glove over it. This way I can subtract or add. I only use that on my non throwing hand. My throwing hand goes in my pocket and is near a handwarmer.
Like mark said gortex is amazing. I have 4 different pairs of gortex shoe's / boots. There is also a sock brand called seal skin which is pretty amazing for water proof socks if you dont want to use gortex shoes.
Now for my personal secret. Merino Wool. Its amazing natural fabric and I use it for long johns, Hat's and socks. Its simular to underarmor but natural and works much like polartech in that it really regulates heat. I use the same socks all summer and winter and never get hot or cold. The brand I perfer is Wigwam. I am going to get some smart wool socks to try it out.
The last tip I have is dress to wear your slightly chilled out side just standing. Once you start moving you'll start sweating and heating up and you'll end up warm not hot and won't have to start taking off layers as quickly.
Thank you for all of the useful detailed advice. I have one more question. I bought a $100 pair or merrels this summer and would like to try to get away with using them in the winter too, however, they are not high top boots. is there anyway to keep snow from getting into my shoes while playing?
You could try Gators. They slide on your lower legs and are usually waterproof. Not sure how well they will work on low-top shoes though. Personally, I'm not a believer in Goretex. I've had two different shoes with this stuff, and both have been overpriced crap. However, I would wholeheartedly agree that Merino Wool socks are the best thing to happen to my feet in a long time. Like Kevin said, they regulate heat really well. I wear thin ones in the dead heat of summer and somewhat thicker ones in the winter. Wool is also the hand down best insulator when wet (though Polartec works pretty well too). Smartwool sock are better than Wigwams imo, but are about four or five bucks a pair more. Good Smartwool winter socks will easily be fifteen dollars, and they are worth it. Wigwams are also good, and Costco has two packs of Kirkland brand for ten bucks or so.
Just about anything can be waterproofed using Nikwax or some other waterproofing product.
Sort of. If what Joe Meldrum is really asking is, "Can you keep your feet dry playing in low top shoes in deep snow?" then the answer is yes. The answer is Gortex socks.
I prefer low top shoes/boots for winter due to better mobility and use them in combination with Gortex socks. This keeps my feet dry even in deep snow and/or slush. I tuck my pant legs into the Socks, which go up about as high as a normal pair of boots. This way, although snow and slush may go over the tops of your shoes, none of the wet gets inside your socks.
Gortex socks are pricey ($40-50). You can get them through Cabella's. Seal Skins are cheap knock-offs of Gortex. I tried Seal Skins and didn't like them. For me they didn't fit well and quickly broke down (a seam tore destroying their waterproofing).
You can get Gortex socks in insulated or non-insulated versions. I have both but only use the insulated versions in bitter cold. Most of the time the non-insulated ones are fine but I am not especially sensitive to cold feet.
You need to get both shoes and waterproof socks big enough to allow you to wear a couple pair of regular socks underneath them for warmth.
The final step in getting your winter footwear ready is to drill sheet metal screws in the bottoms of the shoes/boots. This gives grip/traction when playing in icy conditions. These home-made ice cleats are good for safety purposes (saving falls) as well as scoring.
I agree with Peach. Being too warm is a problem. Better to be slightly chilled than over warm. But neither Peach or I are in the skinny guy club, we carry plenty of insulation with us. Slender humans might feel differently about this issue.
Vest is key for me. I have found that the key is keeping your torso warm (vest) with minimal layers on your arms. I keep a glove on my non throwing hand and wear nothing on my throwing hand. Get a butane hand warmer and keep it in your throwing hand pocket wrapped in a micro towel. Just keep your throwing hand in there and it will stay warm and dry and you dont have to keep taking a glove on and off. Pay the extra for the goretex boots, you will be happy you did. Nothing worse than wet/cold feet. If goretex EVER leeks, send them back and they will be replaced no questions asked.
If anyone has a better method than gorilla tape to keep your lights on in the winter, pass it on :) I dabbled with a few ideas with no success yet.
Don't forget your head! You lose an amazing amount of heat from your head. The proper head gear, hat, watch cap, balaclava, or ski mask can make all of the difference. I have layered a thin balaclava with a stocking cap over that, and a hood over everthing. Easy to adjust to different layer as you warn up or cool down.
Remember the old adage, if your hands or feet are cold, cover your head.