View Full Version : Cold Weather Clothing Revisited.

2006-03-07, 00:23
Finally got to go out in the relative cold. It was short hike on Great North Mountain with a friend mostly designed to get my feet back into it. Tossed 20# in my back, and it was a good hike overall.

With temps in the 40's and the 5-10mph wind that always blows up there, I selected a base layer of Duofold Lightwieght thermal bottoms, summer weight spandex top, with a Duofold technial Tee, my convertible cargo pants, sock liners, Smart Wool, Red Ledge rain jacket. I added a fleece top to the mix at the trailhead, because the wind was blowing a little harder than I expected.

Nice hike, BTW. Did about 3.5 miles in 2 hours and the weather was sunny and gorgeous. My gloves were really sweaty within 30 minutes. I had the jacket unzipped halfway open and used the hood as a wind break when needed. My feet were plenty warm, and I can't really complain about my legs at all. When we got back to the truck, all my top layers were predictably soaked. :(

So what did I do wrong here? I was correct about the need for a wind breaker, which is why I took the Red Ledge over the Triple Trail Jacket w/liner removed. Gloves were necessary with the cold and wind. Fleece was ultimately a mistake, but at the trailhead it was chilly enough that I really felt the need for it.

But if this had been an actual hike, would I have made a problem for myself? If so, how do you correct for this?

2006-03-07, 03:26
I don't know that this will be any help but this is what I've been doing in spring and fall:

Feet: I wear heavy socks and bring spares, if my feet get hot, sore, or tired I change socks. (I've had problems before and worry about my feet) Occasionally I'll wear nylon socks inside my heavy socks (keeps feet dry and comfortable).

Lower body: I'm naturally warm so unless it gets around 0F I don't bother with long johns. I just wear heavy pants (but your legs weren't a problem anyway).

Upper body: Layers, I wear a cotton t-shirt, wool sweater, hooded windbreaker, and carry a spare t-shirt, a small towel, and a fleece liner for the windbreaker.
Unless it's windy I almost always end up taking off the windbreaker, or sometimes even the sweater and going with a t-shirt/windbreaker combo.
Normally the t-shirt and to some extent the sweater ends up soaked with sweat, but with the wool sweater and the windbreaker I still stay warm.
If I'm going to be slowing my activity down I take off the soaked t-shirt rub myself down and put on the dry t-shirt, the sweater and whatever layers I need.
Depending on if I'll need the soaked t-shirt again I'll either wring it out and hang it off my pack or wad it into a ball in an outside pocket.

I also carry light gloves and a stocking cap in the pocket of my windbreaker. I seldom wear the gloves and only wear the hat occasionally.

I usually have an old Scottish wool scarf around my neck (I just thought of it) I have been wearing this scarf whenever I wear a coat for about 25 years, and it has become something I don't think about unless it is missing.

2006-03-07, 10:40
Kea, you may have done nothing wrong.

We do a lot of snowshoeing in cold weather. From what I have read and learned, you brought all the right clothing. What we always do, is start our adventures cold. We strip off our outer layer, and tough it out for the first five minutes, and then reassess. The goal is to wear barely enough to keep yourself warm during the aerobic part of your trip. Sometimes this means that we are stripping off even our mid layer, down to our baselayer. It is so easy to wear too much when you are moving. Hands hot and sweaty, your body is telling you something, ditch the gloves. Lose the hat. Take off the shell. Until you are near chilled. When we do this in cold weather, we can see the moisture in micro droplets out on the ends of our microfiber type clothing, evaporating off. (pretty cool to see in cold weather!)

The normal perspiration associated with aerobic activity can add up and soak your clothing. Wind is a difficult culprit to deal with. Hiking or snowshoeing in wind can be complicated. Windchill combined with the evaporative effect of your perspiration cause us to sometimes wear our base layer, and our shell, and to skip the midlayer. Sometimes, we have had to really slow down, so that we basically do not perspire very much. This is very boring and slow. Instead, we prefer to committ to having a baselayer change with us, so that after the aerobic activity has ended, after camp is situated, all four of my family change our baselayers, in order to stay warm and comfortable for the nightime stay.

Other hunter think I am nuts, when in the dark of the morning at camp, right as I start my morning hike up the mountain, I take off my jacket and shirt, and hike in the frozen darkness in my thermal top only. Then, at the top of the hill I put all of my stuff back on and hunt. Pretty soon, they convert and do the same...

Basically, I would recommend that you continually adjust what you are wearing as you hike, taking off gloves, hat, shell, as needed.

2006-03-07, 18:18
Yah, what Iceman said.

2006-03-07, 22:16
Yep, that's good information.

To state it even more simply--start cold.

If I'm thinking I need to put on another layer before I hike, I don't. In fact, I'll probably be venting or taking a layer off in about 15 minutes, anyway. I think it takes a bit of learned self-monitoring to detect moisture building, especially if you wear wicking fabrics. All you feel is warm, which is nice, but you're gradually getting wet, too.

I've been walking the 2.5 miles to work this winter, in temps down to 14 degrees. At that temperature, after about 15 minutes, I am down to my polo style work shirt (short sleeve dress code), a light fleece sweater, and a 200 weight fleece jacket unzipped all the way. I wear ear muffs and fleece gloves, and that's it. I'm still sweaty when I get to work.

With temps around 30, I skip the sweater, gloves, and earmuffs unless it's windy. My jacket starts out unzipped.

2006-03-07, 23:32
The Little Woman and I are going xc-skiing tomorrow. The Denver weather is supposed to be in the 30's but snow is forecast and I expect wind. For me, the best xc ski weather is 15-20f . It is easier to dress for exersion when the temp is below the 20's. I figure on getting out of the car; assessing the snow, pulling out the gear, waxing the skis. By that time I'm cold, compared to being in the car, under the heater. Then 3-400 yds down(up) the trail, re-waxing if required (Mama motors on in her no-wax skis), adjusting my clothing, and then skiing for an hour or so before hydrating and getting into the "hike". Lt/Col George A Custer might have saved himself and his men some grief had he allowed his men a "cinch break" prior to decending into the valley of the "Greasy Grass" in June 1876. ( Some equipment that had been loaded on the pack horses that morning, in the dark, was lost in the desent and the squad sent to retrieve it reported Indians breaking into it when they came upon it, prompting the hasty attack)
In the 30's when it's snowing, there's no good way to keep the snow off you and still keep properly ventilated ( it's like: get wet from the outside or get wet from the inside).
I think your RedLedge jacket is a great piece of rain/wind equipment (because I use one), but it's too hot for skiing. Rain? maybe. I keep it along for breaks and down time. Like the posts above, start out cold or plan to shed layers BEFORE you get sweaty, and have a pack to stash extra gear enroute. I use a "butt pack" because I can't abide soaking my back between my shoulder blades with a "day pack".

2006-03-09, 18:38
Kea, you may have done nothing wrong.

This isn't entirely true. I started out too warm to begin with, which is a fairly easy mistake to make when you have as little experience as I do. ;) See, I kinda thought I started with too much on. I had held my Red Ledge zip sides in case the wind was more biting than it was.

Upon reflection, I would have been fine with either the spandex or a thermal top and nothing else under the Red Ledge. If this had been a real hike, I would have had to change in and out of things, which is okay. :)

Alas, I won't be able to work this out for another 8 or 9 months. By the time I hike again in 3 weeks, we probably won't have anywhere near the cold to contend with. Instead, we'll have a baby along! LOL.

2006-03-09, 18:44
I think your RedLedge jacket is a great piece of rain/wind equipment (because I use one), but it's too hot for skiing. Rain? maybe. I keep it along for breaks and down time. Like the posts above, start out cold or plan to shed layers BEFORE you get sweaty, and have a pack to stash extra gear enroute. I use a "butt pack" because I can't abide soaking my back between my shoulder blades with a "day pack".

Well, the wind thing was really the issue. I mean, I was up on this same mountain during the record high winds last Spring and the 50-60mph gusts taught me respect for blowing air.

The Red Ledge breaks the wind just fine, but it doesn't really breathe. Does anyone else find a challenge in getting a jacket opened up with your pack on? LOL.