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Cold Clothing

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:24 pm
by Mountain Mitch
Many of you routinely ski in colder conditions than I usually encounter. Around here winter temperatures are normally between -5 and -10 (about 15 - 25 F) with rare cold spells to -20 (-4 F). Of course wind can change the feel of any of those temperatures! We’re at -14 today which has me thinking about needing warmer than usual clothing. I need something that works for climbs of 800 metres (about 2600 feet) and for the downhill that I earned by climbing!

What have you found works best to a) keep you warm on the downhills; b) breath and not overheat you on the uphills; and c) stay flexible enough to allow smooth tele turns?

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:54 pm
by fisheater
Mitch, I find these comfortable from 0 to +32F. I may have been out in colder, but I can't recall. They are inexpensive and high quality. I liked them so much I bought two pair additional. I figure when they're gone, they're gone. ... -trousers/

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:11 pm
by Woodserson
I'm with Fish. I wear wool pants, I have two weights, a lightweight pair and a heavy pair. The heavy pair are old US Army surplus and the lighter pair are actually modern wool-flannel pants but have a similar weight to other surplus military wool pants that are not as heavy. Depending on temperature I wear one or the other and depending on wind and what I'm doing I may or may not pair them with lightweight merino wool longjohns. On windy single digit F (-9C and below) days I will wear the heavies with light merino wool unders if planning long stops- if I'm putting down the miles with no real break then the light pants. Heavy wool for -17 and below.

Gaiters also add some heat and so you'll need to calibrate if you want your thighs to not be covered in longjohns for cooling. My legs get hot fast, I can go with very little on my legs and be OK, so YMMV. If I have a long climb, I will forego the longjohns, use the best weight pant for the temp, and use a windbreaker rainpant for the descent to keep my legs warm with the extra chill from the speed.

If I keep my core, head, feet, hands warm I'm good in the leg department all day long. Also, I like to start the hike cold and underdressed, then I warm up with vigorous K&G and feel good; when the extra layers go on at the rest stop I can actually stay warm and be OK.

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:14 pm
by bgregoire
Wool is cool! Can someone find me a pair of wool KNICKER BOCKERS?!!!

I'm serious.

For the upper outer, I have become fond of tightly meshed cotton or cotton/polyester anoraks and such. Check out the Fjallraven Keb...its amazing for XC. What an amazing hood its got too...

Seize the day! The snow is COMMMING...

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:28 pm
by Smitty
I run pretty warm once I get rolling, so breathability and moisture wicking is the most important factor for me. This makes any sort of parka or shell pretty much useless during periods of high activity. Even with a "breathable" membrane such as gore-tex, or non-treated / non-sealed shell materials, the moisture egress is still not quick enough. Perspiration wicks out of the base and mid layers, but then just builds up on the interior surface of my shell faster than it can get out. The moisture buildup keeps me wet and can get dangerous quickly as soon when you slow down at -30 C. So in place of an outer parka or a shell, I use a varying number of layers of thin fleece pile over my base layers. The fleece breathes way more efficiently. The perspiration wicks out of my base layers, and my body heat drives the moisture out through the fleece layers to keep me dry. If it is a longer trip, I then keep an extra fleece layer and a thin shell in my pack for adding warmth and cutting the wind when I stop for breaks (or in your case for the downhill). I've also found that synthetic fleece is synthetic fleece - a $30 Wal-Mart layer keeps me just as warm and wicks just as well as a $150 Patagonia Better Sweater.

For bottoms I use any generic fleece lined hiking style pant over base layers. Found some nice ones cheap at Costco recently actually.

I am a big fan of merino wool as my base layer - real wool is worth every penny for me. Soft, no itch, doesn't stink, wicks moisture great. I find it convenient to buy all 200 weight (light-to-mid-weight) and just put on a second layer as temperature dictates. Instead of rifling through the base layer drawer looking for that one pair of 300 weight when it's really cold out.

Agree with Woods, I also like to start a little chilly, that means I will be at ideal temp once I get rolling. So for -20C to -30C, up top would be two layers of merino, a tight thin mid, and two thin fleece outers (one with a hood). Extra fleece outer and shell in the pack. Down below would be two layers of merino with the fleece lined stretchy hiking pants.

Worked well for me yesterday morning at -20C, -25C with the windchill. But a nice open sky and big bright sun, so it was a good day to be skiing!

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:24 am
by Akearns
I just finished up my company command time in Fort Wainwright as the assault ski company. One of our mottos was, “be bold, start cold”. Many soldiers would over dress and immediately overheat. Another thing we did was stop about 15 minutes into a movement and guys could adjust their layering accordingly. We carried a “rescue ruck” with our very warm puffy jackets to put on if we were going to stop for more than a couple minutes. If you are interested, I could send you the Army’s cold weather operating manual.


Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:42 am
by Verskis
I like to use thin-ish softshell pants and jacket for all my skiing, and adjust for different temperatures with the base and midlayers. The softshells give enough protection from the elements for my low-altitude, done-in-a-day (or mostly done in a couple of hours) skiing trips. Wool and fleece are your friends for cold weather layering.

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:29 am
by Leo Tasker
Temps where I am don't get so cold, normally around -5°C to -10°C so my clothing choices are focused on avoiding overheating in the first place and subsequent chilling due to wet layers. I used to do a lot of winter mountaineering and the principles are the same, being able to dump heat on the way up and having breathable windproof fabrics to create a microclimate around my body to keep me warm on descents. I typically wear a very thin base layer in a merino wool/polyester mix under either just a pertex windshirt or a slightly thicker pile pertex jacket depending on temps. I carry a midweight synthetic puffy hooded jacket for throwing layering over my clothes when I stop. On the bottom I wear always schoeller style pants with different base layers, again, depending on temps. I never wear waterproof "breathable" outer layers, they just aren't effective.

This kind of "action suit" keeps me comfortable over a wide range of conditions, the idea was originally popularised by Mark Twight in his book Extreme Alpinism, it's worth a read! Also another climber called Andy Kirkpatrick who has done many harsh winter trips (including one or two with Aleksander Gamme) has a lot to say on the matter: ... _the_world - the rest of his blog has a lot of good info even if much of it is aimed at climbers.

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:35 am
by lilcliffy
Akearns wrote:If you are interested, I could send you the Army’s cold weather operating manual.

Yes please Alex!

Re: Cold Clothing

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:49 am
by lilcliffy
Well, it does get cold here in the NB Hills: several day to a couple week periods of -25C and below are strewn throughout our winter from November well into March. (our coldest mornings are in the -30-34C range).

Most all of the backcountry touring here in NB involves a lot of strenuous XC skiing and/or climbing. The verticals may not be very high- but the terrain is very hilly, and the snow for traveling through the woods is excellent.

I personally find it easier to dress for cold conditions than cool-warm.
Was out on an excellent 9-hour tour on Saturday that started out at -10C and climbed to the freezing point by mid-afternoon- the trees were heavily laden with snowfall. We got COMPLETELY SOAKED.

Planning on similar-lengthed tour this coming weekend- forecast are for highs of -12C- perfect in my books- I will stay drier and cooler! (We are in the midst of a 40cm fresh dump!)

My base layer is a one-piece lightweight fleece underwear. The bomb. It is warm, breathes, super comfy, never needs adjustment, and even my body heat dries it out.

Everything else is layered on or off on top for me- even for my hands. I run HOT and even need to be careful of my hands becoming to warm and sweaty. I often ski with light breathable gloves- carrying bomb-proof mitts in my pack- and an extra pair of lightweight gloves.

I wear soft shell, lightly fleece-insulate softshell pants + gaiters. The gaiters help insulate and most importantly extend the life of my pants and boots.