Before we address how to stay warm, we should explain why you get cold. Simply put, our bodies produce heat to keep us at a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees. Our job is to hold onto that heat. When skin is wet, that takes heat away from the body 23 times faster than when it is dry. When the wind blows across the skin, heat is lost. The higher the wind speed, the greater the heat loss (think wind chill).
So staying warm is pretty simple. You must first keep your skin dry. Then you must insulate (hold onto the heat that your body produces). Finally, you have to block the wind.
Keeping the Skin Dry
You may think that to keep your skin dry you only have to wear a raincoat when it’s raining. It’s not that simple. In addition to producing heat, our bodies emit moisture (perspiration). This process goes on all the time even if you’re just sitting still at a bus stop. Of course, the more active you are the more you perspire and the wetter you get. If you are wearing cotton or silk, the moisture is absorbed by that fabric and it stays on your skin.
Remember wet skin cools 23 times faster than dry skin. Think about how cold you are when you get out of the shower until you dry off. The way to keep your skin dry is to wear a synthetic or wool quick drying, wicking layer. Whether it’s sitting soccer game or running a 10k, we can tailor the next-to-skin layer to your activity. This layer is the most important layer in the “how to stay warm” system. It can’t be overstated how crucial the proper base-layer is. We know how to keep you warm.
You’ve had a good breakfast and your furnace is fueled up and throwing off some good heat. How do we keep that heat from escaping out the chimney? We must trap that heat in our clothing. Clothing insulation is nothing more than dead air space (tiny air chambers). You are probably familiar with a lot of the insulations on the market (down, Primaloft, polar fleece, etc). They all work. However, each has its own distinctive properties. Down, for instance, is the lightest and warmest for its weight insulation, but loses its insulating value when it gets wet. Polar fleece is very light, warm and cozy, but the poorer quality fleece can pill and isn’t very abrasion resistant. We can sort through all of these trades-offs and customize the best insulation for your particular needs. Oh yeah, don’t forget to wear a hat to seal off that chimney. We know how to keep you warm.
This is where the shell comes in. We know that a waterproof shell can keep you dry from the outside, but it needs to not only be waterproof but breathable. No matter how good your next-to-skin layer is, it will be overwhelmed with moisture if the perspiration cannot escape. If your shell is waterproof then it is also windproof which will hold your heat in when the breeze is blowing. Some people prefer to have their insulation and shell in one garment. That is great for those very coldest days and we offer a selection of insulated jackets. However, you may consider a shell and a separate insulation. This way if its 50 degrees and raining, you can just wear your shell. You will be dry and not overheated. We know how to keep you warm.
That’s the basics. Other factors such as activity level, circulation problems, and quality of garments will affect how you personally adapt to these principles. We can adjust our recommendations to suit your needs. We know how to keep you warm.
Photo (above, left) courtesy of Patagonia/Garrett Grove photographer