The Mountain Hut

The Standard Winter Hiking and Mountaineering Gear and Equipment Guide

Part 1 - Understanding Gear for Sub-Arctic conditions.

Clothing Layers

When referring to insulators, shells, and thermals, the actual item depends on the section. For instance, Legs thermals, are pants, legs shells are pants, hand shells are Gore-Tex outer mitts, upper body shell can be a parka, anorak, or jacket etc.. its just easier to refer to them as the 3 integral parts so that you can get a better understanding of the necessities.

Those necessities are simple,

1. Thermal layer - (on the body, or underwear, avoid cotton, especially avoid cotton socks, cotton underwear is usually ok, but if your planning on actually getting wet, don't bring any cotton except for a cotton rag)

2. Insulation layer - (over the thermals, such as a sweater, sweat pants, items that don't need to be waterproof, but usually need to be either wool or more preferably synthetic materials such as Polar-Tech, or other nylons, and poly-filaments. Anything but cotton here)

3. Shell layer - The Shells are basically GORE-TEX type waterproof breathable material. Breathable is a must on any materials, because perspiration needs to continue the flow outwards. The shell is the most prone to clogging up this process and sweating you up, so choose it carefully. A good fishnet material should be on the inside, and a pure water"Proof" outer, with SEALED seams too. if the seams leak on your waterproof testing, then apply seam sealer on the internals, and liquid seam sealer on the external seams.(water proof is a must here, this is one of the 3 main functions of the shell. breathable is a must. the third function is wind proofing, make sure the shells draw tight at ALL the openings, and fit loosely otherwise to provide room for loose clothing, and dead air space.)

Dead Air Space:

It goes without saying, the body core, especially in arctic conditions, simply "SHUTS DOWN" the hands and arms(the extremities, also including the outer arms and legs eventually) when you don't keep the core warm. This is why we feel cold feet and cold hands when our 'Core Body Temperature' drops. If you experience this, and have proper gloves and feet insulation, then your improperly balancing your clothing layering most assuredly. Be sure the clothes aren't too tight fitting, this is a big 'NO-NO'. The thermals(top and bottom)need to be the size of the body, but only partially-loose 'against' the skin, not dangling at all anywhere. The insulator layer can be about as BIG as you want it. If you wear a large t-shirt, then get an XTRA-LARGE insulator jacket at least, xl's need to get a xxl, and so forth. GO oversized always. Once you get the shells, they need to be tested at the store with 'something big' on. grab some polartech300 pants off the shelf, slip them on, and then slip the shells over that. put all this over your pants. make sure the 300's aren't 'to' baggy but have room for dead air space in them, and same for the shells, but they shouldn't flapping in the wind at all either. they usually come pre fit on the leg width so pay attention to the waist/thigh area mainly. For the jacket(parka or anorak) 'shell' be sure its baggy as can be. think of this as your cocoon. It needs room for dead hot-air space to keep air flowing over your body. It should NOT be too loose that it wont seal on 'all' the drawstrings with a minimal lite-weight thermal, and polartech-200(mid-weight insulator) only on inside the shell, but it should be roomy for an expedition-weight thermal, expd-weight insulator such as a polartech300 over that, with a 700-fill goose-down jacket 'OVER' that, with the shell over that, and room to breathe on top without constricting the ever lofting down. This latter setup will take you to about -65F below 0(-97 below freezing) if you do the same for the legs and cover everything else properly. Nobody can stay warm at -65, but its survivable, and below that, nobody can stay warm no matter what the case, so its best to stay moving. It only gets that cold during storms, and to shelter would be the necessity here where you can build a snow cave and enter into a near 10-25F deg environment once you seal off the outside elements with snow from within.

Once the above is understood, then the following can be applied in order to seal in the 'now' available warmth.

>> continue to Part2 - the gear guide

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