Thursday, October 30, 2008

Simple Survival Tips - Dressing Properly for Winter Weather

Keeping warm in winter is really no big secret. The trick is not to worry about fashionable looks. Instead go for the practical items that will keep you warm and safe during winter.

1.) Keep your head covered.

More body heat is lost from the top of your head than anywhere else. Wool is the best fabric to use but almost anything is better than nothing. It’s also a good idea to make sure it’s capable of covering your ears also because they are extremely susceptible to the damaging effects of frostbite.

2.) Use synthetic fabrics.

The best way to keep your body warm is to dress in layers. The inner layers should be synthetic or a synthetic blend that will carry perspiration away from your body. Avoid 100 per cent cotton fabrics that absorb moisture. Wool is probably the best choice because it will trap your body’s heat and thereby keep you a lot warmer. The outer most layer should be any type of garment that is wind resistant, water repellant, but remains “breathable”. Wear loose fitting clothes. Tight clothes can restrict the body’s blood circulation and can affect your body’s ability to keep itself warm.

3.) Mittens are a must.

When at all possible, you should use mittens before gloves. Mittens are warmer because they trap the heat from your entire hand and not just the fingers like gloves. The hands are also one of the most vulnerable parts of your body to the danger of frostbite.

4.) Keep your feet covered.

All cotton socks will soak up sweat and moisture causing your feet to become chilled more rapidly. Polypropylene or polyester socks work the best. ALWAYS wear a good pair of insulated boots. Your feet will thank you.

5.) Protect your eyes.

The glare of sunlight can cause a condition known as snow blindness. It’s always a good thing to have a good pair of sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes.

Remember, the extremities of your body are like little leaks. Your feet, hands, and head lose large amounts of heat if not properly covered. Your body if it becomes chilled will automatically start to send extra blood to your body to keep its internal organs warm. Unfortunately, the first place your body will go to get this extra blood is from your extremities. This will further increase your risk of frostbite, hypothermia or death.

Protect your head and ears; keep your hands and fingers covered, use proper layers to protect your body, guard your eyesight, and remember to provide proper protection for your feet. Winter weather is less of a problem if you are prepared for it.

More information on the three layer system can be found here:

Staying above the water line!



Marine 83 said...

In a bad/extreem cold situation cotton = death. Things like sweat shirts or those waffle weave cotton long underwear are killers. If you must wear cotton while cold try not to where it next to the skin, although it is best not to where it at all in cold weather.

Marie said...

I need to update my 72-hour kits, so I will keep the warning about cotton in mind--I usually think about clothes size rather than material, but now I will prepare better for winter emergencies. Thanks also for the tip about the eye protection--great post.

Shy Wolf said...

Great post and timely- thanks for the reminders. One good point was the sunglasses, especially for BLUE-EYED people, whose eyes are more susceptible to UV and related eye problems than any other color. So, if you have blue eyes, or any light color, be especially certain to have several pair of GOOD sunglasses- not those cheap dime store plastic lenses.
Also, with footgear, be sure to get something with substantial sole: the higher the foot is elevated from the ground the less cold it will recieve. Make them loose, also, even with several pair of sox. A good, if you can afford it, option, is a pair of mukluks- Eskimo style footwear that is the best ever for outdoor protection. However, a caveat: foot warmth is directly related to what yu wear and how ACTIVE you are.
Again, wonderful post- thanx again.

Anonymous said...

the mittens never worked for me, until i started wearing ragg wool or GI wool glove liners, under the mittens. so even on your hands, layers are important. i like milsurp trigger finger mittens, sized large enough to accomodate the extra layer.
...irishdutchuncle said...

Yes, cotton is very bad. When it gets wet from sweat, rain, melting snow, etc it becomes worse than useless - it actually drains away body heat. In addition, cotton can be very difficult to dry in field conditions.

Wool and certain synthetics are the way to go.

Here is a way to make winter mittens that are top of the line, inexpensive, and very durable:

Actually, you don't make them - you put them together.

riverwalker said...

To: marine83

The problem in my area is that severe winter weather is not real common - happens evry 6 to 7 years or so. A lot of people get caught literally with their pants down wearing stuff that won't keep them the least bit warm.Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: marie

Got to protect the old peepers! Just make sure you get good quality sunglasses or goggles, youe eyesight is a valuable thing and you don't want to skimp on quality in this area. Thanks Marie!


riverwalker said...

To: shywolf

Hey thanks. I wasn't aware that blue-eyed or light colored eyes were more susceptible to snow blindness. Unfortunately, too many people forget to protect their eyes even when properly dressed for extreme winter weather.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous

It seems we think along the same lines. I have mittens that open up to expose my gloved fingers. They have a magnet lock that holds the mitt hand covering in place. Helps when you need to work with your hands. Thanks for the great tip!


riverwalker said...

To: survivaltopics (RF)

Thanks for the link Ron!

Cotton in cold, wet conditions can be a "real killer".


riverwalker said...

To: shywolf

BTW, I've got mukluks - even though I don't get to use them much!


riverwalker said...

Thanks for the great comments everyone.


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