Cold weather clothing.

Old 12-10-02, 09:12 PM
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Question Cold weather clothing.

Does anyone have any good clothing ideas on staying warm outdoors in cold weather? Preferably non-high tech.

Our winters are typically in the -18 deg C to -35deg C (-4deg F to -31deg F) and I'm finding that my bones are becoming less tolerant to extended outdoor adventures.
Right now it's quite warm though, its -7 deg C (20 deg F)

JudyRoyal had some good ideas on space blankets, does anyone have any good clothing tips.

When I get some time I will provide some info from a little lecture I would give Boy/Girl Scouts on "The Evils of Cotton".
Old 12-12-02, 05:51 PM
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Are you looking to do work or play?

If you want it for working, a carhart set (bibs and coat) can't be beat. these are very warm, wind proof and durable. The most common colors are black and tan, not sure if they make em other colors.

If you want to stay warm for play your local ski shop should have some good pointers. this stuff get so darned expensive.

Long underware- must have if you spend hours and hours in the cold.

OR you could refuse to go outside in the winter.
Old 12-14-02, 08:52 PM
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Smile Wool works.

Hi GregH

Seven years I spent in Ohio, the late 70s the blizzard years.

I was taught to layer wool garments. I'm sure I got wet even at below 0, out hunting Deer ect. Never did I get chilled wet or dry.

That I think separates the real, from todays, you better spend 500 bucks for hi quality Gortex & Thinsulite, or when you get wet your going to get chilled.

Most ARMY NAVY Surplus is selling, East block Commie surplus, Thick Wool surplus. Dress, as well as work & this stuff is warm, and would cost a fortune if made new from all that Wool today.

My vote would be to layer with Wool & get the long johns with cotton inside the Wool, Duofold brand.

I think all I own is Carhartt & Wool.
Stay Warm


Last edited by marturo; 12-15-02 at 08:47 AM.
Old 12-17-02, 12:28 PM
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Cotton Kills!

First of all, stay away from cotton everywhere... not even your t-shirt or drawers should be cotton if you want to stay most comfortable! Silk is cheap now and does pretty well there.

Where I live now is VERY high humidity. It is imperitive that we NOT keep any moisture near our skin as that will bone chill us here at relatively high temps, in the 30s and 40s even.

I too like military surplus wool wherever possible. Inside the wool I like silk or one of the modern synthetic long johns.

For socks, I have gone away from wool and now use some of the expensive new synthetics.

By the way there is often a wealth of bargain wool at Salvation Army and such. If you get wool for an outer layer and keep it large for your normal size you will do well.

Over the wool, I like to have a "running suit" of breathable but wind stopping nylon -- about $20 at the large department stores.

There are some useful sites for bargain prices on good stuff for the winters. One of them is Campmor and the other is Cabellas both with .com after them. I can't get the URL codes to work no matter what here! Sorry.
Old 12-18-02, 07:15 AM
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wool is good, but I am a fleece guy.. Nowadays you don't have to break the bank for good fleece. (while it is easy to do!)

a few inexpensive layers of fleece from your local sporting good sstore would be great.

The above post is correct COTTON KILLS

No cotton..why? It no longer insulates when wet and if it gets wet it takes forever to dry. Even our sweat is enough to get a garment wet.
How many times are our Jeans still wet after one cycle in the wash?
A polyester base layer (Duofold, Patagonia, REI, all make fine ones) I use a mid weight layer the most....
and then a fleece and then a shell... Goretex is great but I do understand it can be expensive.

Hope this helps a bit
Old 01-17-03, 12:45 AM
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Greg...I was reading an article recently in an outdoor magazine about this. It verified what everyone is saying about cotton, etc...

The thing I learned from it was this:
The thin layer of moisture that constantly is on the surface of your skin is wicked away by absorbent clothing. This is what you want....MOST of the time. When you are in sub-zero temperatures, you may well be better off by keeping this moisture sealed in. This way, your body has that insulating film, and is not lowering the skin temp by means of evaporation. Try it out. Next time out, get a trash bag, poke your arms and head through and wear it under your shirt. See how much difference it makes. It's not as comfortable, but manufacturers are beginning to make nonbreathable, close-fitting skins for this purpose. Kinda like a diving suit. Come to think of it...I don't think anything makes me hotter quicker than a diving suit when I'm out of the water.

I'll look for the article if you want...I may still have it. I believe it was in a recent field and stream mag.

Old 01-17-03, 10:54 AM
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there are specific garments called Vapor Barrier liners... mostly for extreme cold... I took them on my past two Denali expeditions but ended up not using them,,, I guess I had the right combo of socks, boots, and overboots.

You are correct that it is similar to a wetsuit in that it keeps a layer of water inside and your body warms it up.. the problem is the wetness itself. It is not uncommon for people in extreme cold to suffer from trenchfoot. A condition associated with a warm, wet environment. Sometimes people believe it is so cold that they will go days without taking boots and socks of and their feet literally rot. It is a lovely thing to see!!
The other problem with moisture is abrasion. The moisture keeps your skin soft and then creates hotspots from abraison.
This is why it is best to wear a liner sock to wick moisture away from feet.
A perfect example of this abraison appearing in places that you do not expect is this, it is very common for long distance runners to have bloody nipples (can I type that??) The shirt gets wet and then the constant movement causes the abrasion...

Just things to look out for.
Old 01-17-03, 11:02 AM
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Thank you all for your input.

I ask the question to see how the rest of the "world" handles the cold.

In my area it is what a lot would consider cold for more than half the year.
I do my best to maximise the number of hours I can spen outdoors in sub-zero weather.

I must be doing ok because I'm usually the last one to want to leave an outing.

I use to teach Boy/Girl Scouts basic winter survival and the hardest thing to get across was how to dress.
I think the main problem was that I should have been teaching the parents.

I would check the kid's clothes at the start of a day hike and a parent would say not to bother with their kid because they bought them all "thermal" underware and socks.
Well guess what, 100% COTTON thermal underware and socks.

I don't think I've ever made it much past noon on a full day hike!

I gave a demonstration which was really good at getting the kids attention.
What I would do is at the start of the cold weather lecture and while I was talking about something else, I would put a bowl of water on the center of the table.
I would then take an assortment of about a dozen different socks and place the toes into the water and the rest of the sock laying over the edge of the bowl and onto the table.

This was a bit of an attention getter as I would tell them they would find out what it was for later on.

When the time came to preach about the evils of cotton, the socks would then be used as a prop.
This demonstration would show quite graphically how cotton wicks and retains moisture to kill the insulation value of the cloths you are wearing.

If you are carefull to pick a broad range of fabrics you would see quite a difference in the absortion rates.

100% cotton would usually wick the moisture out of the bowl and form a puddle on the table.
Within an hour or so a couple of cotton socks would empty the bowl. They would wick the moisture but feel soggy.

You can also see how wool would absorb the water and only go so far to provide an insulation layer.

Some of them still remember the demo, but unfortunatly don't remember the whole point of the exersize.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend a half day helping a commercial fisherman harvest fish from nets which were placed under the ice.
After a half hour or so the ice was built up on the wool gloves he gave me so I asked for a new pair.
He said he only had that pair and proceeded to plunge the gloves into the hole in the ice, wring them out, and give them back.
I was totally surprised, -25 F and my hands were warm as toast.

Today I use synthetic underware and as much wool as I can.
I also stay away from high tech which translates into high price clothing.

Out of habit I check out bargain bins and sales for my cold weather gear.
I recently got six, 100% polypropylene longsleeve undershirts in a nice outdoorsy color for $2.50 ea.

For a really long day I will change my socks every couple of hours and before my feet get cold.
Old 02-11-03, 12:10 PM
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For winter camping and mountaineering you need to layer your garments.A lightweight base layer of capilene,bergaline or something similar is a start.Then a good quality midweight second layer such as the above mentioned or fleece.Outer shell should be a breathable,waterPROOF material such as gore tex.These fabrics are costly but work well and are worth their weight in gold compared to cotton.Cotton takes forever to dry and when wet will wick heat away from your body causing hypothermia.I've climbed above 10,000 feet in winter many times and the layering system works.If you plan to camp or be on a trail for more than a dayhike,visit a local mountaneering store or outdoor clothing outfitter.I realize you'd like to stay away from high-tec but this is the stuff that drys fast and retains excellent insulation.For the most inexpensive fast drying garment I'd say fleece would be the ticket.
Old 02-11-03, 04:40 PM
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Smile Cotton+Wool

What about the DuoFold long Johns is that not the ideal. I have always relied in layering wool but the skin can't take it.

At a -60 chill factor in the blizzards of the 70s in Ohio I wore slik long Johns with the DuoFolds & worked my way out with Wool & a good quality rain suit of that time.

Both working Construction & Hunting, I was never in fear of Hypothermia. At those temps people were losing ears & noses if not protected.

Just a comment from someone with a real problem with wool or many of the new synthetics touching my skin. As for me it almost has to be cotton or silk.


Last edited by marturo; 02-21-03 at 10:48 PM.
Old 02-24-03, 12:01 PM
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Another factor in the equation is the wet cold vs. dry cold...When I lived in the Yukon, -60 was not uncommon...but a very dry cold..chill ya right into the bones...ask Sam McGee...then there is a coastal cold....-20 seems like it will kill you its so wet.....these types of colds need to be prepared for differently.

My favorite peice of winter clothing is "Blue Johns" underwear, socks and shirt....another one of those materials that will pull the moisture from the body and push it to the outer layers of clothing creating insulation.

I just recently bought a set of Pioneer fleece and bottom for 40 bucks..sweet deal...only problem is they are too warm...I can rarely wear them, unless snowboarding or sledding...

Personally I love my wool...though I too, need to have a layer under it so it doesn't touch me.
Old 02-24-03, 08:06 PM
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Thumbs up


Your knowlege of Sam McGee qualifies you as a true northerner!

I am not a fan of poetry but heard that one on an overnight stay in a trapper's tent, late at night, 30 below and a fire roaring in a tin heater, while helping with an overnight snowshoe marathon race................... An unforgettable experience.
Old 02-25-03, 06:56 AM
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Greg, I have been a Robert Service fan for many well as a fan of the Yukon...there is no feeling like coming out of Diamond Tooth Gerties at 2am and having to put on your sunglasses.....or on the other end of the scale, waking up in the morning and seeing the sun, only then realising it must be spring!

I spent many a night in a small cabin or tent with my grandmother after snowshoeing many miles on the trapline as a experience that I will never we do all our trapping on snowmobile...

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun, by the men who moil for gold.
The Arctic trails have their secret tales, ,some that would make your blood run cold.
The Northern lights have seen ***** sights, but the *****est they ever did see,
Was that night on the marge of Lac Le Barge, that I cremated Sam McGee."

Old 02-28-03, 03:43 PM
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Thumbs up the 'wick' effect

I have been involved with Search and Rescue training where we are trained to survive many days in the cold, cold wilderness...(-40 C) up here in Canada....and the ideal response to cold weather is creating a "wick" effect. Like the wick of a candle draws the flame from one end to the other, you should strategically layer specific types of clothing in certain orders to act as a wick by drawing the moisture away from your body and out into the environment....4 layers work best.
Your first layer should be absorbent and it can pull moisture from your skin, then dry quickly by passing the moisture to the next layer....some silk long underwear works beautifully.... and it isn't that expensive at all. Your next layer could be a cotton t-shirt...then a wool sweater topped with a polar fleece material or vice versa.... all easily found at Salvation Armys everywhere.

Whatever you do never.....I repeat NEVER wear any kind of jeans!!!

Best O' Luck to ya....

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