Well, I don’t know about you, but I hate freezing my butt off when it’s cold outside! Now add a worst-case scenario, and you could DIE out there, so it’s important to know how to dress for extended exposure to the frigid cold. Fortunately, it isn’t as hard as it might seem... especially with the addition of new clothing technology and a common sense approach.
Here’s How It Works.. Your body is a furnace that continuously generates surplus heat (when it is working properly), so all we need to do is use scale-able layers of the right clothing to PRESERVE the heat your body creates and maintain a comfortable micro-climate between your skin and outer layers of clothing- adding layers when you get cold and removing layers when you get too warm.
Layer #1: Sub Base Layer - Sub-Base Layer Moves Moisture Away from Your Body. I’ve found that a snug pair of briefs and a long sleeve or sleeveless top made of nylon or polyester that is breathable, dries quick and pulls sweat away from your body works great.
Short sleeve shirts tend to bunch up and be uncomfortable under thermals. Under Armour and Exofficio brands are durable and have worked well for me and are great for year-round use, travel and bug-out bags because they wash out easily and dry quickly and can be reused without laundering. Both brands make great sub-base layer products for the ladies,too. Under Armour - Boxer Brief: http://tinyurl.com/Boxer-Brief-WCK Under Armour - Sleeveless Shirt: http://tinyurl.com/UA-Shirt-WCK Exofficio Briefs: http://tinyurl.com/Exofficio-Brief-WCKCotton Clothing Warning - Cotton clothing is terrible for active extended exposure to the cold. Why? Because when you sweat or get wet from snow or rain, cotton absorbs moisture, loses its insulating properties and draws heat from your body instead of retaining it. That’s bad news... AND a sure fire recipe for hypothermia!
NEXT Up... We Need Socks... Wool Socks - AND not just any wool socks... I prefer Merino Wool Socks. Merino wool is warm and softer than other wools so it’s NOT scratchy.... I hate scratchy wool! Plus Merino wool is tough, wicks moisture, is breathable and naturally elastic, so my socks stay up in my boots.
Layer #2: Base Layer - We used to call these Long Johns or Thermals... NOT anymore. Long sleeve top and bottoms made out of breathable yet insulating polyester like my PolarMax Base Layer are lightweight, roomy, warm and comfortable down to almost zero degrees Fahrenheit. But for extreme cold, I pull out my military issue polypropylene thermal top and bottoms.
Extreme Cold Base - Top: http://tinyurl.com/Extreme-Base-Top-WCK Extreme Cold Base - Bottom: http://tinyurl.com/E-Base-Bottom-WCK PolarMax - Double Base - Top: http://tinyurl.com/PolarMax-Top-WCK PolarMax - Double Base - Bottom: http://tinyurl.com/PolarMax-Bottom-WCK Heavyweight Merino Wool Base Layer: http://tinyurl.com/Extreme-Base-CWC
Now We Need Some Pants... Wool or a 60%+ Polyester Blend Works Great - But I Prefer WoolDurable, water and wind repelling pants made of wool or at least 60% polyester work great. 5.11 or Proper Tactical pants work really well over your base layer... but for extreme cold it’s hard to beat my military surplus winter wool trousers. Oh yeah!!! And don’t forget your belt and multi-tool. 60% + Poly - Tactical Pants: http://tinyurl.com/Tactical-Pants-WCK Surplus Wool Pants: http://tinyurl.com/Wool-Pants-WCV Fleece Lined Pants: http://tinyurl.com/Fleece-Lined-Pants Paracord Belt: http://tinyurl.com/Paracord-Belt-WCK Multi-Tool: http://tinyurl.com/Multi-Tool-WCK
Layer #3: Core Layer - For tops, I layer two 100% poly fleece pullover shirts... a thinner one closer to my body and then a thicker one on top. And tops with 1/4 zippers on the front are helpful for regulating heat. Fleece Pullover - Light: http://tinyurl.com/Fleece-Shirt-WCK Fleece Pullover - Heavy: http://tinyurl.com/Fleece-Pullover-WCK
Keep ‘Em Loose - Make sure your core layers are NOT too tight because what really keeps you warm is having pockets of warm air between each clothing layer.
Layer #4: The Outer Shell - A tough, insulated, water and wind repelling jacket is what you need. For moderately cold temperatures, my tactical softshell jacket with hood works great and is very durable. BUT when the temperature goes south of freezing I’m wearing a jacket with an outer shell that is highly water resistant and totally blocks the wind. Your coat must be well insulated to keep your core heat in and I think a hood is essential. For extreme cold... nothing beats a down parka. Tactical Jacket: http://tinyurl.com/Tactical-Jacket-WCK Free Country Insulated Jacket: http://tinyurl.com/WP-Jacket-WCK Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System - Coat http://tinyurl.com/Mil-Tec-ECWCS-Jacket Down Parka: http://tinyurl.com/Parka-WCK
BONUS Tip - How to Become Waterproof - To add a tough, scaleable, wind and waterproof outer shell for extreme weather protection... I recommend the Helly Hansen Impertech Jacket and Pants... just make sure you size them large enough to fit over all your winter clothing. Helly Hansen Impertech - Rain Jacket: http://tinyurl.com/HH-Jacket-WCK Helly Hansen Impertech - Rain Pants: http://tinyurl.com/HH-Pants-WCK
#5 Boots / Neck / Headware - To keep your feet happy, I recommend comfortable, rugged, insulated, waterproof boots, that are not super bulky.
They need to keep your feet warm and dry and be able to stand up to hard extended wear if needed. My current favorite all purpose winter boots are my Rocky Men’s Core Hunting Boots with 800 grams of Thinsulate... They are tough, warm, waterproof and SUPER comfortable to wear all day... but there’s a lot of choices out there... so you’ll have to try some boots on and find what works best for you. NOW for your Feet Neck, Head and Hands...
Neckwear Now around my neck I usually wear a polyester BUFF headwear scarf as a base layer to wick moisture and add a layer of cold resistance... And then as an outer layer I add either a polyester neck warmer - like my vintage turtle fur... or a Shemagh Scarf Wrap. Both are good options... but the Shemagh is my favorite due to the many ways it can be wrapped and used for neck, face and head protection... the downside is that the Shemagh is made of cotton... so it will be useless if it gets soaked. BUFF Neck Wool Base Layer: http://tinyurl.com/Buff-Neck-Base Shemagh Scarf: http://tinyurl.com/Shemagh-WCK Neck Fleece: http://tinyurl.com/Neck-Fleece
Headwear - Next... You gotta... Cover your head... As a base layer for keeping the old NOGGIN’ warm, I recommend a simple fleece watch cap in addition to your insulated coat hood. Together they will offer scaleable protection from the cold and wind. But for extreme cold... nothing beats my sheepskin bomber style hat. Fleece - Cap: http://tinyurl.com/Watch-Cap-WCK Bomber / Trapper Hat http://tinyurl.com/Bomber-Trapper-Hat
Gloves - Last, but not least, we need some tough and warm, water-resistant gloves. For maximum warmth, I can’t find anything better than a durable pair of insulated mittens, but for a versatile, glove made to work AND keep your hands warm, the Carharts Insulated Work Gloves are worth a look. I’ve been really pleased with them so far. Carhartt Cold Snap Gloves: http://tinyurl.com/Carhartt-Gloves Leather Mittens: http://tinyurl.com/Mittens-WCK
Sun Glasses - One last final touch are sunglasses to protect your eyes from light reflecting off the snow and from bitter winds. I prefer tactical shooting glasses that provide maximum coverage. So, there you have it… a simple, scaleable system that can keep you warm if you ever have to survival in the cold. Be Prepared and Stay Safe!
HERE’s a Bonus List of Arctic and EXTREME Cold Clothing Upgrades to ADD to Your Standard Cold Weather Clothing Kit: http://tinyurl.com/Extreme-Base-Top-WCK Extreme Cold Base - Bottom: http://tinyurl.com/E-Base-Bottom-WCK Bomber / Trapper Hat http://tinyurl.com/Bomber-Trapper-Hat Heavyweight Merino Wool Base Layer: http://tinyurl.com/Extreme-Base-CWC Muckluck Boots - Military Surplus (Don't forget the liners): http://tinyurl.com/Muckluck-Boots-WSC Baffin Arctic Boots: http://tinyurl.com/Baffin-Arctic-Boots Balaclava - Extreme Face and Head Protection: http://tinyurl.com/Extreme-Face-Prote... Arctic Mittens: http://tinyurl.com/Arctic-Mittens Arctic Expedition Parka: http://tinyurl.com/Expedition-Parka Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System - Coat http://tinyurl.com/Mil-Tec-ECWCS-Jacket Arctic Expedition Pants http://tinyurl.com/Expedition-Pants Anti-Fog Snow Goggles: http://tinyurl.com/Anti-Fog-Goggles