02 March 2008

My Winter-Layer Model

Synthetics are key.

I usually wear a limited number of top layers. For just about any Winter climb (less than 30 deg. F) I wear an Under Armour Cold Gear long-sleeve ($50), and over that a micro-fleece lined soft shell jacket ($75-150). Those are non-sale prices. Sometimes I'm not very diligent at finding the deals!

On occasion, I'll even drop that top soft shell jacket and pack it--when I'm pacing fast--and go with just the Under Armour Cold Gear by itself. I either bring a wool sweater OR a Gore Tex to add on for the summit push.

On the bottom, I wear Under Armour Cold Gear tights ($50) and a snow-pant shell. I wear thin, moisture wicking socks in my BC ski boots or medium-weight reinforced socks with my hiking boots. I have recently discovered ankle-gaiters and love them ($25 EMS).

The key to my entire system is regulating the amount of heat escaping at my neck and head. The 3 key items are a neck-warmer (Turtle Fur), wool cap (I prefer fleece-lined), and headband. A neck-warmer or scarf does wonders for heat retention. I usually start with the neck-warmer and wool cap, then swap the cap for a headband, then remove the neck-warmer--all in progressive steps as I warm up.

Short stops may warrant the re-introduction of the cap or neck-warmer.

From daily running in the military in a 4-season environment, I learned that a good rule of thumb is to DRESS LIKE IT'S 20 DEGREES WARMER OUTSIDE THAN IT ACTUALLY IS.

Simplifying it for myself, if I'm comfortable to start at a trailhead, I'm wearing way too much. If I'm antsy-cold, it's probably about right.

CAPTION: In the above photo I opted for Polyester pants in lieu of snow pants.


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