A Clothing Layer Guide for Every Outdoor Activity
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Thermals: Get Ready for Winter Early
Last winter, I planned a snowmobiling trip to Utah. Now, I'm a native a Florida and I now live in South Georgia so, the thought of winter time in a place like Utah used to send chills all through me. I've watched most of Warren Millers ski videos. They depict these hardcore skiers taking choppers to the very tops of mountains to ski down. But, one thing you never get from those videos is any inclination as to just how cold it gets at those elevations. Even on the close up shots, you don't see any hint of shivering or coldness. In fact, on some of the interviews at the bottom the are actually sweating. The first time I visited the mountains as an adult was in the summer time. I hiked to the top of mountain that was just over 12,000 ft. Since it was summer time, I didn't bother to bring anything warm. That day just happened to be cloudy and I froze. In the middle of summer! So, how do these skiers keep warm in the winter time? They use a clothing system called layering. The most important being the base layer. If you wear the proper base layer in any weather condition, you dramatically increase your comfort level. Particularly in cold weather. You can read more on layering here.

Now, what happens each year is that more and more people catch on to this layering system. But, they don't prepare in time. Often, a trip gets planned somewhat spontaneously, and at the last minute, they find themselves running from store to store to find the right thermals. The problem is that each winter, outdoor retailers stock their shelves with a limited amount of thermal underwear. They usually base their stock on how much they sold the year before. They might stock a little more if the predictions are for a longer, colder winter. But, either way, they only stock so much. Not to mention how many of each size gets stocked. So, the would be toasty recreationist ends up compromising their layering system with something inferior. Instead of a nice fitting, warm, base layer, a 100% cotton gym sweat suit is substituted and the misery on the mountain begins. The point I'm trying to make here is that if you are serious about staying warm this winter, you need to get the right thermals well before your trip. Don't wait until everything that you would prefer to wear is sold out and you stuck "substituting."
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