Cold Weather Clothing / Layering
1. Cotton Kills! What it actually does is trap moisture and is very poor at insulating.
2. Heat is lost from the body through exposed skin. This can be your head, neck, hands, or your legs if your one of those Viking types that wears shorts in the winter. Cover all exposed areas to maintain warmth.
3. Loose clothing in layers is good because it allows warm air to be trapped between the layers.
4. Stay dry! Although some materials will maintain a certain amount of insulating properties…your body will cool quicker when it is wet…up to 25 times quicker than dry.
5. In order for the body to be able to properly regulate temperature…you must be hydrated and fueled. This means you must drink plenty of water and eat snacks, even in a cold environment.
Base Layer: A base layer is designed to ‘wick’ moisture away from the body where it can then evaporate. The base layer should be close fitting to allow proper wicking of moisture.
– Polyester, Polypropylene, and wool (merino)
Middle Layer: The middle layer should be an insulating layer. It can also be multiple layers of insulating materials depending on the weather conditions. They should be somewhat loose fitting to allow pockets of air to be trapped.
– Wool and Fleece are the most common insulating middle layers.
Outer Layer: This layer should be windproof and waterproof. The function of this layer is to protect you from the elements such as wind, rain and snow. This layer is designed to keep you and your other layers DRY.
– Waterproof, Waterproof Breathable (Gore-Tex)
Foot Layer: This is the most often overlooked layer of protection and possibly the most important. In a cold/wet weather environment you want to have a waterproof boot. If your feet get wet..its hell trying to get them dry again. I personally invest in a quality waterproof boot that is also insulated…because I don’t like me feet being cold.
Extremities Layer: A hat for your head. Choose one that will block the wind. A hat may look warm until a 20 mph wind is blowing cold air on your ears. Buy something of quality that is windproof and preferably insulated. Gloves- Different activities demand different products, but as a rule I like a waterproof insulated glove. Cold and wet hands are a major bummer. Socks – Polyester/Polypropylene for a base layer, wool for the outer layer. This not only wicks moisture away from your foot but the inner layer of sock will move inside the outer layer and helps prevent blisters while hiking. Scarf- protect your neck from the cold/wind.
Fleece – good insulator…even wet, dries quickly, absorbs little moisture, similar to wool…but lighter
Wool – good insulator when wet, transfers moisture well, feels warm even when significantly wet
Down – great warmth to weight ratio, can pack very small, very lightweight, loses insulating ability when wet, dries slowly, expensive
Synthetic – (Thinsulate, Primaloft) not as good warmth to weight ratio, absorbs little moisture, dries quickly, good insulator when wet, typically less expensive than down
Cotton – inexpensive, poor insulator…especially when wet, poor moisture transfer
Silk – is soft against the skin, good insulator, good moisture transfer. It is a natural product and can be a little expensive.
Waterproof – (plastic) typically used for raincoats, completely wind and waterproof, allows no moisture in or out. Some items have zippered underarms to allow release of moisture or condensation.
Waterproof Breathable – (Gore-Tex) also known as ‘Hard-Shell’ This material has a porous membrane that repels liquid water but allows water vapor to escape. Typically expensive.
Water Resistant – also known as ‘Soft-Shell’ This material typically has a water repellent coating. It is not completely waterproof. Soft shell jackets breathe well, are softer and more comfortable and typically much cheaper.
New products and technologies are constantly coming into the marketplace. Newer coatings and materials are making jackets more waterproof, more breathable, lighter and less expensive.
Jason E. Hill
No Joke! Survival
Preparations for the Average Family
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