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Cold weather gear

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by Fuori, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. Fuori

    Fuori

    625
    Oct 13, 2014
    Yeah, but I'm not going to take it with me on a camping trip or vacation in a garment bag. It's going to be in a duffel bag or backpack when I'm not wearing it out. I'd rather get something more durable.
     
  2. mtwarden

    mtwarden

    Sep 27, 2009
    ^ if it's going to packed/unpacked a bunch, then I would look at Polartec Alpha or Climashield Apex for insulation- much better resistance to loft degradation
     
  3. jmarston

    jmarston

    427
    Dec 6, 2010
    Not to high jack the thread but I did not see the need to start my own as the subject is similar.

    Going caribou hunting north of the arctic circle in a few days here. Trip Wil be on a sled with some snowshoeing.

    My layers as planned are
    Top Base: wicking long sleeve shirt with gridded feece thermal base over top.
    Top mid: long sleeve merino wool sweater
    Top outer mid: long sleeve, full zip fleece sweater with windstopper
    Outer thermal: marmot greenland baffled parka

    Bottom base: wicking tight synthetic long Johns
    Bottom outer base: grid fleece insulating long Johns
    Bottom mid: 28 Oz woven wool pants. Similar to Fison mackinaw but a bit thicker
    Bottom outer: insulated ski pants

    Sherpa style woven with fleece lined toque
    Leather with synthetic pile mitts. Woven Wool mitt liners
    Wool neck tube
    -100 rated rigger boots. Pretty heavy. Not ideal for hiking but extremely warm and I can't afford another pair of boots right now haha
    Wool outer socks with lightweight synthetic inner socks.

    Those are my layers. Designed to breathe as muh as possible and shed snow. Parka will be worn when stationary and in camp but will be in the pack while snowshoeing and dressing out animals.

    Any suggestions or advice is welcome! I am out in the cold quite a lot but always welcome constructive criticism and new approaches!
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  4. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    Perhaps. But once the item tears or gets holes in it, all too easy for these materials, then it exists in a landfill or forest for thousands of years. It also releases plastic into the water system every time you wash it, and likely causes skin cancer. Not a very good trade.

    It is not an opinion, it is just a simple fact that wool/cotton canvas is warmer, breathes better, is better on the skin, offers much more consistent insulation, has self-cleaning properties, is more durable (especially in the woods), and is inflammable/fire resistant. The only real advantage that plastics have is that they are lightweight and cheaper for certain articles, but for many this is not worth the poor quality and quick degradation of insulating value. Once you buy the same item five times it is much more expensive than top of the line wool or tin cloth.

    That is not to say synthetics are necessarily bad, but they do have very significant shortcomings. They also feel wet and cold even when dry, whereas wool feels warm and dry even when wet.

    As for what to wear, it largely depends on temperature, but this is what I tend to wear:
    Dry-cold/Wet-cold
    Wool toque and hood, wool balaclava/ wool or synthetic toque
    Wool scarf
    Moose mitts with wool liner, windstopper gloves/wool mitts, or windstopper gloves when warmer
    Wool under-shirt, wool sweater, cotton canvas anorak/wool or synthetic undershirt, waxed canvas or synthetic coat
    Wool underpants, wool overpants/bibs/wool or synthetic underpants, waxed cotton bibs or synthetic water resistant pants
    Heavy wool sock, light wool sock/ medium wool sock, or two light wool socks
    Winter moccassins/calked pac boots, or rubber boots at the higher end of wet-cold

    And a down sleeping bag. The required extra insulation for synthetics just is not worth it, and it will only last a few years before it's 20-30 off from the official rating.

    Wool balaclava, synthetic took, and canvas coat for bivy when sleeping.

    Mors Kochanski's DVD is really good, as well as the books and pamphlets. Good video here too about his upcoming book:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvLg17eqr5w
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  5. Fuori

    Fuori

    625
    Oct 13, 2014
    Post away! I could learn something from the answers to your questions!

    So, for a mid-layer/puff/synthetic jacket have you all found you want something that stops at the waist or is parka sized? I guess that question could extend to the waterproof shells as well. If both are waist length they could be swapped at times with the shell going under the puff and vice versa like has been suggested. Most puffs that I have found stop at the waist, but if my shell is a parka I couldn't do that. Also, can parka length puffs or shells get in the way while working?
     
  6. LukeTheSpook

    LukeTheSpook

    Jan 2, 2015
    I'm pretty sure I have a Patagonia r1 hoody and i don't care how much it cost. Buy it. It's been my go to garment for a lot of years
     
  7. jmarston

    jmarston

    427
    Dec 6, 2010
    Chignecto Woodsman,

    I would guess you are from Chignecto area based upon your name. Your environment is much closer to the sea and much more humid. I would expect that is one reason why wool performs so well for you eh? Insulates very well even when damp. Not to degrade your choices at all. I am experimenting with natural soutions myself. I live up in the Yukon and it is quite dry here. I find a fleece an idea top layer for its breathability and quick dry time. I think for myself an idea combination is fleece on my torso and wool on the legs. Fleece wicks and evaporates sweat very well keeping me dryer longer. Wool on the legs is nice for its abrasion resistance and natural ability to shed water, say from the morning dew on scrub brush. Still experimenting but I think my current setup will perform very nicely.

    Fuori, I find I prefer a coat that stops at the waist with a good draw string to hold the heat in, especially while being active. Think snowshoeing or woodcutting. Now I will admit it may have been a flaw in the design of the longer parka I wore, but I found as I walked, bent and twisted, my quads would pump the bottom of the coat up and down, pumping cold air in while it did. I have no doubt in the ability of parkas. They have been used by arctic explorers long before I ever walked this earth. I find a waist length jacket works beter in my system thougg.
     
  8. Fuori

    Fuori

    625
    Oct 13, 2014
    That makes a lot of sense, thank you. For the system I'm building I'd rather have waist length because it will be for moving around and getting work done.
     
  9. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    That is true. There are some benefits to synthetics in terms of wicking, and fleece can feel warmer than some other synthetic weaves. However, there are a lot of winter trekkers who swear by the old materials, many are in Northern Ontario and Quebec. They pretty much follow the modern Inuit and explorer standard of wool and cotton canvas, mainly due to durability. Kochanski explains this very well, as do the authors of A Snow Walker's Companion. Basically it comes down to Arctic exploration and sheltered research being fine with synthetics due to the group nature and short-term duration of exposure, as well as the reliance on modern convenience for heat.

    This is fine when you have modern conveniences and must travel in a marathon style. There is neither room nor time for wood stoves as you primarily travel and sleep. A problem comes in, however, when working for these longer durations as synthetics lose much of their insulation value when they become dirty. And they are a disaster waiting to happen around fire. The heat of a stove can destroy the fabric, or it can simply melt if you get too close. Wool and canvas are good when dirty and nearly as destructible as clothes can get besides fur.

    Cost may be another aspect of it. A top arctic expedition parka costs 1200 dollars or so, much the same as the cost of a top of the line winter sleeping bag. A cotton canvas anorak can be made and discount store wool purchased for less than a hundred dollars. But that is just part of the reason people working or long-term camping in the cold choose traditional, as durability is simply more important.

    Some still argue that modern fabrics are poor for the arctic because they hold moisture. Contrary to belief, waterproof and breathable is an oxymoron.

    Mors Kochanski suggests it is unlikely any fabric can be made that is as good as the fur ensembles made by the Inuit. The fur both cleans your skin and wicks moisture away while the outer layer provides excellent wind protection and warmth. Wool is the poor man's version of this, and synthetics simply do a poor job of it.

    They are good for quick travel where resupply and backup is available though.
     
  10. Skrapmetal

    Skrapmetal

    Jul 13, 2009
    I wear a mix of wool, cotton, and synthetics. Apparently I'm all confused.
     
  11. flipe8

    flipe8

    Oct 24, 2005
    It all depends on exactly what you're doing as well. Everything is a trade off. You're not gonna see mountaineers wearing canvas during winter climbs, but you're not likely to see much top tier mountaineering clothing being worn on a job site, either.
     
  12. mtwarden

    mtwarden

    Sep 27, 2009
    wool works well, as do synthetics, both have their pluses and both have their minuses- you need to find what piece works best for your particular needs

    I own a lot of wool and a lot of syn pieces, as a general rule if it's going to be high aerobic activity- trail running, snow shoeing, x-country skiing- syns usually get the nod; less aerobic- wool will often get the nod

    one of my favorite base layers is a Patagonia Merino 1- it's both, 65% merino wool, 35% Capilene- Patagonia played around with the blend and I have to say that this blend is pretty close to perfect- you get quicker drying and more durability with the syn, you get better warmth and odor control with the wool- best of both worlds :D

    if you're blindly nixing one or the other without experimenting a bit, you're clearly missing out
     
  13. jmarston

    jmarston

    427
    Dec 6, 2010
    One thing I really like about natural materials is that they remain quite flexible in temperatures reaching -40 C or even colder. As Chignecto Woodsman was talking about, especially for work, I can have flexibility and abrasion resistance. I have seen synthetic shells Crack in the cold while thin or fluffy synthetics don't take abrasion from tools, brush or activity well.

    I cannot speak universally synthetics vs natural. A canvas anorak is an excellent outer piece in the extreme cold but I certainly would not wear one in shoulder season temperatures. I truly believe both have their place. What a great world I live in when I can combine some benefits of modern materials to overcome drawbacks of traditional and vice versa. With no disrespect to the Inuit or early explorers, I believe they would have done the same if given the opportunity. The Inuit I know up here sure do.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015
  14. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    I wasn't trying to claim people are doing it wrong. There are advantages to each fabric depending on what you are doing, as well as your budget.

    Anyone interested in a review of the Kochanski Clothing and Sleeping Bags DVD?
     
  15. mtwarden

    mtwarden

    Sep 27, 2009
    certainly. :)
     
  16. Fuori

    Fuori

    625
    Oct 13, 2014
    Is anyone familiar with Fred Asbell's wool products? For the price I thought the hooded zip might make a nice layer or even outer jacket some of the time. The Filson is the best, but with all the things I'm buying I can't afford $350+

    http://www.gfredasbell.com/gfa_wool_clothing.php
     
  17. Chignecto Woodsman

    Chignecto Woodsman

    746
    Aug 2, 2014
    I like the look of those, but no experience.
     
  18. Fuori

    Fuori

    625
    Oct 13, 2014
    They could be useful, but on the other hand I haven't heard much about them.
     
  19. Fuori

    Fuori

    625
    Oct 13, 2014
    I read some of the above posts again and wonder who makes a good wool mid layer? I own a few wool base layers, but nothing I'd consider thick enough to be a middle layer.
     
  20. mtwarden

    mtwarden

    Sep 27, 2009
    I like a light to mid weight "fluffy" sweater as a mid-layer- they breathe well and provide good insulation for the weight- my definition of a mid-layer may differ from some, but I use a mid-layer when on the move when a base layer and wind layer isn't enough.

    I've tried some of the heavier merino layers as mid-layers, but they don't breathe as well and hold too much moisture in my experience- they do deflect wind better, but I think a breathable wind layer is mandatory in cold weather and they do a much better job than any wool garment is going to do (for a lot less weight)

    Patgonia has a really nice looking new garment- Merino-Air- it's half merino and half Capilene- they "fluff" it up through some process to provide insulation, but it's a very open weave so it's going to breathe nicely- haven't tried it as it's spendy and too new to be on sale yet, but soon :D
     

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