The Survival Podcast Forum

Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Outdoors Activities => Topic started by: W126 on October 01, 2010, 12:11:14 AM

Title: winter clothing question
Post by: W126 on October 01, 2010, 12:11:14 AM
I practically work outside. I need some light weight winter clothing. Temperatures can be as cold as -31F.

The biggest drawback is I sweat lots if I'm to warm. I hate being sweaty and stinky in any condition. I need your input.

What should I wear? I like lists so if you can, give me the best of the best and the worst materials and brands that'd be great!

Thanks :D
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: joeinwv on October 01, 2010, 07:20:22 AM
For cold weather you need layers of dry clothing. I prefer synthetic "under armor" as a base. I am a big wool sweater fan, as well as wool gloves and hats. You need to be able to add/remove clothing depending on activity level.
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: donaldj on October 01, 2010, 10:32:05 AM
Joe has it right.

Working outside is challenging because you might have periods of high exertion followed by lower exertion.  When dressed in layers, you'll need to shed layers during the high exertion and put them back on later.

Having a lot of experience in winter camping, my suggestions would be the REI/Northface/Marmot route. As joeinwv said, get a base layer, usually a polypro blend of some type. These are very good at keeping a little heat near you, and wicking the water away.

After that, I'd hit a nice zip-up fleece jacket (and pants for the sub-zero days).  After that, a down or synthetic jacket. Finally, a good Gore-Tex or other breathable shell.

As you warm up, remove the outer layers and put the shell back on. If you're really exerting yourself, you might just have the polypro base layer and your shell on.

Use fabric known to maintain insulative quality when damp. Wool is a natural way to do this, as are a myriad of synthetic brands out there. This way, even the sweat vapor your body emits will not cause insulation reduction. (Sweat vapor usually condenses into water as it reaches your shell layer).

Lastly, get a pair of Expedition weight Smartwool socks.  You will think I am an idiot when you see they're around $15. I am not an idiot. These things are one f the best valued pieces of outdoor gear I own.

True story:
I went to Michigan Tech, way up in da UP, eh (Michigan's upper penninsula). I was cross country skiing with a girl (she was literally a professional at this and after graduating went on to compete at a national and international level). I had my big green goosedown parka on because it's cold out.  After 45 minutes of trying to keep up, my parka was soaked. Being in -10F weather with a soaked goosedown parka SUCKS.  Next time we went, I left the parka in the duffel bag and had on a wool sweater. Upon finishing, my female friend had my parka out and ready for me.  =)
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: mike77 on October 01, 2010, 08:43:37 PM
One thing I would suggest NOT to do is go with an insulated jumpsuit/overalls. I bought a pair thinking they would be great for the occasional times I work outdoors. The problem is that it is TOO MUCH of a layer. I start working and get to hot, but taking it off takes away too much insulation. On the other hand, they're great for sitting around camp during deer season.
On a related note, anyone have suggestions for a source of wool pants at a decent price? I'm thinking about these ( for deer season this year. Anyone here try them?
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: joeinwv on October 02, 2010, 08:22:54 AM
I have looked at those sportsmans guide wool pants - the thing I question is their weight and what blend are they...

Good heavy 100% wool pants are pricey. The Cadillac in this category is the Filson Mackinaw Field Pant - about $175 per pair. But these are 100% 24oz wool and will probably outlast your kids. Wish I had the budget for them.

If you get the SG German pants, give us a report - the reviews on their site seem really good.
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: baygal on October 13, 2010, 08:44:45 AM
Look here ( for some good ideas.
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: OldManSchmidt on October 13, 2010, 08:03:41 PM
I work and play outside all the time too.  What the guys said above is about as close to Gospel as you can get on the subject.
The differences that work for me are these.  You can laugh if you want, but pantyhose work well as an absolute underlayer in cold temps.
I tend toward 100% cotton union suits (one piece long johns with the flap in the back).  They are light, breathable, and are suitable to expose the upper half in public.  I have more than once stripped down to my union suit from the waist up.
I am a big fan of bibs and an overcoat like the Carhart work wear.  That is the brand I use but others work just as well.  Just because you are wearing the lowers doesn't mean you can't wear a sweater or light jacket in place of the parka, or no overlayer at all for that matter.  As an aside, the bib bottoms with the side buttons unbuttoned does a good job of concealing a full sized carry pistol even in an outside the pants holster while still allowing easy access to it.  I effectively hide a Glock 30 and even a 1911 clone this way.

Keep the small of your back warm over the kidney area.  Blood circulation will go a long way toward moving heat from that area to the rest of the body.  Something like the chemical hand warmers placed in this area does wonders.  Keep your feet warm.  I like wool socks (70% wool blend or higher).  They keep my feet warm and wick away the ridiculous amount of sweat my feet produce.  Even wet, they will retain something like 40% of body heat just like all woolen garments.  They also generate a respectable amount of heat on their own from friction when worn over the above mentioned pantyhose.
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: donaldj on October 14, 2010, 05:04:39 AM
I tend toward 100% cotton union suits (one piece long johns with the flap in the back).  They are light, breathable, and are suitable to expose the upper half in public.  I have more than once stripped down to my union suit from the waist up.

I think Schmidt's post is good except the quoted part.

Like I said above, you want to use materials that will not lose insulation qualities should it get wet. Cotton will lose its insulation capability when it gets wet.

For most synthetics designed for the job, and wool, each of the fabric's strands/filaments is not water permeable. The fabric doesn't get wet. Now, the space between the filaments (where the real "insulation" is taking space, can store water, but that can be wrung out, shaken out, dried out, etc, and still retain most of its insulation value.

For cotton and things like goose down, the filaments themselves absorb water, meaning it truly is wet. For cotton, the dead air space between filaments has a hard time heating up, and for things like goose down, the weight of the water will collapse the structure of the feather, reducing the loft and dead air space.

Now, your skin lets off water vapor constantly (insensible perspiration) in addition to liquid perspiration as this vapor accumulates  in the air space near your skin. This is NOT the layer to have cotton, as it is the layer that will accumulate the most water vapor. Things like goose down jackets work because layers under the jacket have retained most of the moisture from your skin.

A saying in the outdoors/backpacking community:  Cotton kills.
Title: Re: winter clothing question
Post by: mxitman on October 14, 2010, 10:42:44 AM
For my profession I'm outside about 80% of the time, but we don't get that cold around here in Seattle. Mostly at the coldest is in the teens around here but it likes to stay around 35 and rain all the time making it really easy to get hypothermia. I have learned that the hard way what to wear, even though I'm limited due to a company uniform. With that said when the temps drop below freezing this is what I wear... Btw I wear wool socks even in the summer, just thinner ones. I find they wick away the sweat better, and don't stink as much compared to cotton.

With this I find it's easy to keep warm and take off layers quickly, mostly I worry about my feet and I over dress my feet, I keep my legs colder as it's a pain to take off your pants at work or remove your thermal leggings. Top layers are quick, taking my hat off, fleece or opening the 1/4 zip top will quickly keep you from sweating too much, if you do sweat the synthetic or wool layers will keep you dry and thus warmer when things slow down at work. I also have 2 sets of work boots and socks with me, so after standing in a foot of water for 3-4 hours I can switch my boots out.