Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Dressing Rite

It's really cold up here in the Northwoods.  Really cold. 

I covered up yesterday morning and went to the office, and in the walk from my parking spot to the office, a few hundred meters, the bridge of my nose was achingly cold. 

Once again, I've volunteered to help give kids cross country ski lessons this year; yesterday afternoon was our first session, and since the wind chill wasn't so bad, we held lessons, and because I'd dressed well, I was fine, a bit warm at times, but fine.  If I were just skiing myself, I'd leave off a layer, but giving lessons means standing around a bit, saying encouraging things and reminding the kids to bend their knees and keep their poles back a bit.

I wore, blazon style:
a head and neck shell, and then a bright orange knit hat (it's my "I'm not a deer" hat, and also, "please dig me out of any snow drifts I ski into")
a heavy base layer, a shirt, a windbreaker, and a light jacket.
gloves (with hand warmers which I took out)
biking winter tights
wool socks, toe warmers, and ski boots

The head and neck shell is new, and I could have gone with a slightly less heavy base layer, or without the windbreaker, and I'd have been more comfortable.

While I was warm enough skiing, and had the heat on in the car (with the seat heater), once I was inside and slowly taking off clothes as my warmth evened out, I got really cold, like shivering a bit at times cold.  It wasn't that my hands or feet were cold, but more the core was cold somehow.  I ate (and I wasn't starving because I'd eaten a good late lunch), got under a quilt with buckwheat warmers, but I was still uncomfortably cold.  Only when I got into a warm bath did I get warm, and then I was nicely warm through bedtime and until I woke up this morning. 

I've had that happen to me after cold bike rides on occasion, too.  (What I'm describing isn't scary cold, but just sort of minorly uncomfortable cold.)

This morning, I went to push snow off the driveway (just a little, very fluffy snow, the kind you get when you get a little and it's really cold), and wore my heavy boots.  These boots are basically rated "go play in the arctic" and they're huge, but really warm and cozy.  So I got my Northwoods morning workout.

Here's what I'd like to see in clothing: outer wear that's got better options for layering, because it seems like I can put on a base layer, and a shirt, and windbreaker (very light, nylon), and then I have a choice of a light jacket (which I choose) or a big down coat, which would quickly get way too hot for skiing.  I need something that's a little warmer to start, but then would allow me to open a vent or something as I get warmed up.


  1. Running yesterday at 15 degrees F and a 15 mph wind, I had on thermal tights, a light wool shirt with a mock turtleneck and half zip, a softshell jacket (wool with a nylon shell in front), a headband that covers my ears, a wool hat, and light gloves. After about 10 minutes I took off the wool hat and gloves and unzipped the jacket and shirt partway. When I turned back into the wind, I zipped up the shirt and put the gloves back on.

    For less vigorous activities, or when I plan to start and stop a lot, I'll wear a wool shirt, a light insulated jacket (right now it's a thermoball jacket from North Face), and a shell over the insulated jacket. My shells have pit zips and adjustable cuffs, and one of them has a two-way zipper. Usually that gives me enough ways to regulate temperature, especially when combined with a cap and a couple pairs of gloves (a light pair of glove liners, and then a heavier glove over them). I also have a balaclava with a mesh back, so that I can keep my face warm while radiating heat from the rest of my head.

  2. I like the balaclava idea!

    It sounds like you've done a way better job than I have of figuring out how to exercise in the cold.