American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dress for the cold

Over the past few days we've had more than ample opportunity to learn what does, and does not, work in extreme cold temperatures. With an ambient temperature of -5 and a wind chill of -25 the basic coat and hat just wasn't up to the task.

I've been a big proponent of the Swanndri wool out of New Zealand and find the Ranger Xtreme to be a hugely effective piece of gear. It offers the insulative properties of wool with the windproof membrane that keeps out most of the heat-wicking air movement. This layer, however, is still not enough.

The other morning was the first time I was actually cold while standing around waiting for my daughter's bus. I can only imagine just how chilled she must have been. We wait less than 10 minutes usually so I can only begin to guess how cold it is for guys like Dan and Spen of JRE Industries to work in an unheated space for hours at a time--usually at the coldest part of the night.

Here's my layering system for extreme cold weather starting from the layer next to the skin and working my way out:
  1. Coolmax underwear and T-shirt
  2. Underarmour ColdGear Pants and Shirt
  3. Arborwear Heavyweight Shirt and flannel-lined bluejeans
  4. Swanndri Ranger Xtreme
  5. L.L. Bean Thinsulate Barn Coat
  6. Wool gloves on my hands and a wool Filson stocking cap on my head
  7. Heavyweight wool socks

If the weather merits, I'll throw a balaclava in my pocket. Frostbite on the face isn't much fun. If that's the case I'll also throw in some windproof overmitts.

Obviously keeping warm enough is a very subjective thing and each person is going to have to determine his/her comfort level balancing number of layers, protection from wind, snow, and water, and maintaining an acceptable core temperature.

Thanks for reading,



At 8:31 AM, Blogger sam_acw said...

Just in case you havent seen it Mors Kochanski has got an article (PDF) on the Karamat outddors website. try the articles page at

At 8:48 AM, Blogger American Bushman said...

Wow! I never knew that site existed. There are several articles by Mors.


Fantastic resource. Thanks for that.



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