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Winter Clothing Tips.

Adventuring outside in winter is wondrous. Being cold is not.

Everyone is different and will require a different layering plan. Often this is discovered through the pain and misery of trial and error. So while discovering, keep hikes short and have an easy escape plan. Learn where your cold stress areas are.

Basic idea: Layering. Cold areas need more insulation, warmer areas less. If you are sweating too much, the plan is not working. Moisture adversely affects the ability of your insulation to work, and too much moisture can lead to a critical failure of insulation. ALL CLOTHING TYPES when saturated give NEGATIVE insulation (remove heat from your body faster than being naked.)

Baselayer. The layer next to your skin must remove the sweat moisture from next to the skin and promote it's migration into the outer layers where it can evaporate away. The micro-layer of heat next to your skin will keep you warmer and more comfortable if it's not wet. No cotton here.

Insulation layers. Anything works if it stays dry, but different fabrics have the ability to insulate better when moist (note: none insulate when wet). Experiment with layers. Some body areas need more, some less. For example, a vest type garment will insulate the core, but prevent overheating of the arms.

Outer Layer. Heat lost through convection will negate insulation. A wind proof and waterproof outer keeps convection down and moisture out. But the wicked moisture from sweat needs to escape as well, so breathable fabrics like Gortex are awesome.

Hands and head require special attention. Ears need protection, but sometime a headband is better than a hat. And I've found that I need multiple types of gloves. Lightweight when very active, and heavy when not. Don't forget spares for when the primary gets wet or the wind whisks away that one cause you're trying to snap a pic.

Moisture management is key. Start out hiking a bit on the cold side. You'll quickly rewarm. Remove layers if too warm. One key measure is how wet your clothing gets during a hike. By playing with pit zips, unzipping front zippers, changing hat to headband, or lighter gloves you'll find a system that works and keeps moisture away. And you can always slow down if you're overheating and enjoy the scenery a bit.


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