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Cold Weather Points

Cold Weather Points

Staying warm in the cold, day and night

Station 1A: Staying warm at night

  • Lay out a rain tarp with:
    • Cot with 2 sleeping bags.
    • Air mattress with blanket.
    • High density foam pad.
  • Lay out sleep attire: stocking cap or balaclava, high neck long-sleeve synthetic shirt, synthetic gym shorts.
  • Ask around to find out who was cold last night. Find out what people were wearing in their sleeping bags, how many bags they used, and if they had any insulation under their bags.
  • Say: Today we are going to talk about heat transfer.  Humans are warm blooded creatures who create their own warmth. But when it gets cold enough, we can’t produce enough heat to keep ourselves warm. One way to stay warm is with insulation. Just as there are insulators and conductors when talking about electricity, there are insulators and conductors when talking about heat. On a cold day, a good heat conductor is something that will conduct the heat away from you.
  • Ask around for guesses on the best conductors / worst insulators of heat, and for the worst conductors / best insulators of heat.
    • The best conductors / worst insulators of heat are dense solids like metal and rock, liquids such as water, and air (wind, actually)
    • The worst conductors / best insulators of heat are solids with little density, like down or poly fiber. The reason they are good insulators is not because of their composition, but because of all the air trapped in them. If air is less than a quarter of an inch thick, it is a very good insulator because that air cannot move around freely.
  • Points to mention:
    • The sleeping bag works by reflecting back your heat. If you wear too much, the inside surface of the bag will stay cold. Then when you move, you will get cold.
    • The clothing mentioned above is about all you need, no matter how cold it gets. If your feet regularly get cold, add a pair of socks.
    • The ground is cold. The air under a cot or in an air mattress is cold. You need to insulate your sleeping bag from the cold underneath you by using a closed cell foam pad or blanket.
    • The easiest way to increase the insulation value of your sleeping bag is to wrap another bag around it.
    • For extra warmth for your feet, button up a heavy coat and slide it over the bottom of your sleeping bag.
    • You lose a lot of heat through your head, so a stocking cap will help keep your overall temperature up.
    • Change out of damp clothing before you get into your sleeping bag.
    • Cots and air mattresses work well for car camping. They also work for canoe camping. For back packing, foam pads or special (high $$) air mattresses are needed.
    • Drink some hot chocolate before you go to bed. Eating some peanut butter right before bed will help too.
    • You will be warmer on your side than on your back.

Station 1B: Daytime cold

  • Lay out layers of clothing.
  • Base layer: synthetic with treatments such as Capilene, Polartec, PowerDry or CoolMax (or silk or merino wool)
  • Mid layer: fleece jackets, sweatshirts, hoodies, long underwear, etc.
  • Outer layer: shells, soft shells, rain gear, etc.
  • Points to mention:
    • Cotton kills. Cotton takes much longer to dry than synthetics, wool, or silk.
    • Purpose of the base layer is to wick perspiration from you, and get it off your skin. It should be snug, but not constricting.
    • It’s better to be a bit cool than to be a bit too warm. This is because sweat is your enemy. If you do any sweating in cold weather, you want your clothing to wick it from you. If it stays on you and gets cold, it can lead to chills. (This needs a better / more scientific explanation.)
    • Fleece provides good warmth, but not much wind protection, and little rain protection.
    • Down provides great warmth, but must be kept dry.
    • Outer shells protect from wind, rain and snow, do not necessarily provide much warmth. Shells should be roomy enough to go over the other layers, but not so roomy that it lets a lot of air circulate inside.
    • Types of shells / rain gear:
      • Waterproof / Breathable: Stops heavy rain, lets at least some perspiration vapor escape. Available as laminates (Gore-Tex, eVent, MemBrain Strata , Conduit) and coatings (Hyvent).
      • Water-resistant / Breathable: Stops light rain, lets perspiration vapor escape. Available as soft shells (Polartec Power Shield; assorted textiles from Schoeller; Gore WindStopper), as wind shirts, or regular fabrics treated with a durable water repellant finish.
      • Hybrid: a soft shell design with a WP/BR laminate. Somewhat more stretch than a regular WP/BR, but not more breathable. Available as Gore-Tex Soft Shell.
      • Waterproof/Nonbreathable: Rain does not get in, sweat does not get out. Intended mostly for minimal exercise or emergency use. Ponchos and fishing waders fall into this category.
    • Breathable fabrics are designed to let moisture escape without letting rain in.
    • Don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets with breathable fabrics or base layers. The waxes and other chemicals cut down on moisture absorption.
    • Wear a hat or stocking cap. You lose a lot of heat through your head.
    • Take care of your extremities: wear gloves or mittens and thick socks.
    • Stay active, do the Parrish polka.
    • Stoke up the furnace: eat fatty foods, warm foods.
    • For pants, look for quick drying synthetics.
    • The story of the hydrocooler.

Station 1C: Where to buy

  • Academy seems to have marginally lower prices than other sporting goods stores on equivalent items. They don’t have high end camping gear. They do have cold weather clothing in the hunting section, in case you like camouflage or blaze orange.
  • Walmart is on the low end, but they do have some synthetic t-shirts at good prices.
  • REI clearance. Once a year in January all of the clearance items that have a price ending in .83 get sold at half of the normal clearance price.
  • REI garage sales. Four times a year returned merchandise that cannot be sold as new is sold for pennies on the dollar. To get a good place in line, arrive the night before and camp out.
  • com outlet has REI’s overstocks and closeouts. Occasionally they will have additional sales.
  • Clean Snipe tracks the daily and hourly deals from many different online outlets, including Backcountry, Steep and Cheap, etc.
  • Gear Trade has used gear. Backcountry.com sells their returns here.
POSTED ON: First Aid, Weather
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