Thursday, 31 January 2019

Keeping Warm Outdoors In Winter

As I type this my hands are freezing cold after walking my daughter to school, it is about -6°c and because we were in a bit of a rush I didn't put my gloves on, I know, rooky mistake.. At the moment my hands are so cold, I am finding it difficult to even hit the keys on my computer.
I can't help thinking that it is just as well that all I am doing is trying to write a blog post and not something important like light a fire, repair a shelter or something where I need to be able to have full control over what ever is in my hand.

Imagine if I was trying to feather a stick or clean an animal, and I couldn't hold my knife properly because my hands were so cold.
I am taking this moment as a lesson learned as to why it is important to keep your hands warm when you are out and about in the winter months, even doing the simplest of things can become almost impossible if you cant even hold the tool or hit the right key, but it's not just your hands, what if you start to shiver?

Shivering is a natural action that your body does when you get too cold, it is designed to raise your body temperature through movement. The problems start when your shivering becomes so strong that you can no longer control it, even simple things like holding a cup of tea becomes a huge challenge, and if holding a cup of tea steady is challenging you have no chance of being able to do a task which requires more concentration and a steady hand.

Layering your clothes is key to avoiding the above problems, thermal underwear and woollen jumpers are a must, wool is an excellent insulator as it traps body heat and helps stop the cold getting through to you. When I go out in the cold I usually wear at least two tee-shirts, a woollen jumper (I love thick chunky jumpers, and would wear them all year round given the chance) a fleece hoody, a body warmer and a waterproof outer coat.

You should also consider thick woollen socks as a minimum, preferably two pair, and two pair of gloves, the first pair would be thin thermal gloves with fingers and an outer pair of mittens. Mittens are ideal because they trap the warmth between your fingers. If you can get a pair of mittens where the mitt part can be removed or folded back you will be able to do any jobs where your individual fingers need to be free, without taking your mitts off, as in the "shooter mitts".
Of course a hat and scarf should also be worn to keep your head, neck and if needed your face out of the cold. Your outer coat and trousers should be waterproof so you can stay dry, remember that if any of your cloths get wet, even with sweat you should get changed into dry cloths as soon as you can, wet cloths will make you feel colder and can freeze on you if you are out in the dead of winter and you do not want that to happen.

Note: If you are planning to go out in the cold and wet DO NOT wear denim, I dont care how good they look or how comfortable they are, just dont! Denim will hold on to water, it takes for ever to dry naturally and if you are in sub zero conditions it will freeze while youre wearing it, not only that but the weight of your nice trendy trousers will almost double in weight.

Finally, if you are out and about dont sit down and do not stop until you are in a warmer area, the heat generated by your movement is what is being trapped in all those layers youre wearing, that is what is keeping you all toasty warm, if you stop for even a minute or two you will feel the cold start to seep into you. Once you are indoors or by an established fire only then can you start to remove those layers and stop.

If you are planning on camping out overnight remember to remove those layers before you get into your sleeping bag, yes it will be cold but once you are in your bag you will soon start to warm up. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning, climb out of your nice warm bag and feel the cold hit you, only to find that you have no layers to put on because you went to bed in them and your spare cloths are wet.

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