Staying Warm, some thoughts and observations

The Arctic Vortex has come and gone, for a while. But the lessons I honed during my hikes still linger in my memory and still hold for next time I’m out in sub-freezing weather, actually any time one is out.

Photo by D. Engle

Ice at Swallow Falls, Md.

You’ve probably heard that the best way to stay warm is to dress in “layers”, yes that is true, but what I might call layer management is a subject I’ve never heard mentioned once. Well, sort of in one Cross Country Skiing – X-C Skiing. Then it was said that if you’re warm in the first 5 minutes you’re over-dressed. Well that is true, but you shouldn’t be cold then either, just a bit on the cool but comfortable side

Many times I’ve been out on skis, both Downhill and X-C, or even bicycling and have found that I was getting way too warm. I was starting to sweat! That’s bad, very bad. Your inner clothes will get wet, the inner layer of your coat will get wet too. And at that time you’re temperature control is totally shot, it’s all over! And if you head indoors at this point you will find that your wet shirts are ‘freezing’ and only a hot shower and new dry clothes will warm you up. But lots of the time you may not be ‘home’ but in your cold car and a long miserable drive is all that is ahead.

So what to do? Ok, I start with a T-shirt, one heavier shirt – maybe a (plaid)flannel shirt, then over that goes a Down-filled vest, then my outer coat – the weight of that depends on how cold it is out. I start out with everything zipped, by the time I’ve snowshoed about a quarter of a mile I begin to feel quite warm, and it’s time to unzip, just a bit, the outer coat. The object is to stay comfortable, but not get hot. After another quarter-mile maybe even unzip the down-vest a bit. But don’t stop. Keep moving, keep producing heat. The same goes for skiing. Stay zipped up waiting in he lift-line, and on the chair to the top. You’re not producing any heat just standing or sitting. Then start downhill, if it’s a long run, by the second turn you’ll be warming up. Now it’s time to open up a little. Stay comfortable.

If you’re snowshoeing or X-C sking you plan on stopping to get some photos, or a bite to eat, or if you’re on a Downhill run and getting to the last turn before the last run to the bottom. Stop and zip up again. it’ll take a couple of minutes to build up that excess heat that you will need for the few minutes you won’t be working.

The object is to get rid of excess heat when you’re making it, then store up some just before you won’t be making some. Stay comfortable and don’t get your inner wear wet – it won’t keep you warm if it’s wet.


About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
This entry was posted in Bicycling, Cross Country Ski, Downhill Ski, nature, Outdoors, snow, xc-ski and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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