Winter Tips

My first degree is in Wilderness Recreation Leadership.  I spend countless hours in the outdoors when surveying.  So, I am sharing my cold weather opinions with you.

The news folks tell you to dress in layers, but they do not tell you the reason.  So, I will.  Dress in layers, but a few light layers.  Remove layers as your exercise level increases.  The goal is to reduce the amount of sweating.  Regulate your body temperature by removing layers and adding layers as the situation requires.  During a winter backpacking trip, we woke to -30 degrees F.  While lounging around camp, we donned parkas and expedition pants.  Just before we hit the trail (at -5) we reduced our outerwear to a sweater and a wind jacket.  Snowshoeing creates body heat.  We packed our fleece and parkas for rest stops.  This example shows you how to manipulate your body temperature by reducing or increasing the number of layers.

My dad used to say, “80% of the heat is lost through your head. PUT ON A HAT”!  Well Pop, you are only partially right. If I were naked, wearing only a winter hat, I would still be cold.   The 80% number might be true if I were fully prepared for the cold… and had no head cover.  The hat is a handy piece of gear. By removing and replacing it when necessary, you can control much of the heating and cooling of your body.  Used in conjunction with multiple layers of outerwear, you will be the expert in controlling your body’s heating and cooling needs.

I am not a slave to fashion.  My winter footwear proves it.  I found a supply of US Army surplus Mickey Mouse boots. These babies are the best! I once used pac boots.  The liner would get wet because my feet sweat profusely. I tried the polypropylene socks-bread bag-wool socks- pac boot method, but the bread bag always ended the day gathered around my toes.  My feet would be cold.  I realized that I had to keep the insulation dry — Enter the Mickey Mouse boot.  A wool liner encased in a rubber outside boot and a rubber inner liner with a bonded cloth on the very inside next to your socks.  I use alpaca socks, because my feet deserve them.

For my hands, I use fingerless gloves with a mitten over-flap.  They come in many materials.  I prefer a wool/thinsulate combination.

I also use a hat made by Headsox.  It is a great way to keep your face warm.  The peripheral vision suffers a bit, but as long as you’re not driving, you’ll be okay.  Otherwise, use a face mask. Scarves are dangerous around moving equipment and angry spouses.  Use them with discretion.

So, there you have it. I am warm when I am outside. I hope you’ll find something that works for you. Of course, you should experiment to find the best combinations for warmth and style.  As a kid, I’d watch all the kids at the bus stop with no hats because “they mess up my hair and would look like yours, HATHEAD”.   I was always warm.   I admit that I had hat-head and looked like I weighed fifty pounds more than I did.  I just wish I had known about army surplus.

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