Winter Clothing What’s in Your Closet?
Another question of course is what is in your survival pack and in your vehicle to protect you against the cold. Clothing is your first line of defense against the cold, and not being properly dressed for the cold can be deadly.
Terms You May or May Not Be Familiar With Include:
- Radiative Heat Transfer occurs when your body heat simply escapes into the cold air due to lack of insulation
- Convective Heat Transfer happens when the wind draws heat away from your body, especially from exposed skin
- Conductive Heat Transfer occurs through direct contact with cold surfaces, cold ground, snow or water
- Evaporative Cooling takes place when perspiration evaporates, drawing body heat with it, this is how the body cools itself and your body will attempt to cool itself if you sweat under heavy clothing
- Wind Chill Although it is 15 degrees outside, 15mph winds can make it feel more like zero degrees. Wind chill is based on a combination of both air temperature and wind speed (i.e., radiative and convective heat loss).
For more information on wind chill facts, visit the National Weather Service’s Wind Chill Chart at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/windchill.shtml
Heat transfer from the body means you have poor insulation covering it. Heat always conducts to cold, so a warm body not insulated will transfer its heat to the cold air surrounding the body. This of course cools the body’s core temperature, and once the core body temperature drops three degrees it is in the initial stages of hypothermia.
Cotton next to the skin will soak up moisture and then cling to the skin. You might as well be wrapped in Saran Wrap. Cotton will not wick the moisture away from the skin, as wool or fleece would. Therefore, it is recommended that you wear wool or fleece next to the skin. Moisture wicked away from the skin will reduce the evaporated process, which of course, is what cools the body.
If you layer your clothing, you can remove a layer to cool down to prevent sweating. Have a layer next to the skin, a heavy shirt or light jacket next and then an outer shell that is waterproof or at least water resistant.
The head if exposed will conduct body heat away from the body so it is important that you keep it covered as well as the neck. The arteries in the neck must be protected to prevent cooling of the blood flowing close to the surface. Chilled blood is directed to the inner body to warm it up but during this process, the cooled blood will also cool the body organs, which lowers the core temperature of the body.
Hands and wrist must be protected and mitten type coverings will do a better job of keeping the hands warm then would fingered gloves. Shooting mittens are available, and they are designed where only the shooting finger is isolated in the coverings. Carry both types if you can.
Feet need protection from the cold and wet. Dry socks are critical or otherwise you could develop immersion foot (trench foot), caused when the feet are wet for an extended period. Not to mention of course frost bite or worse caused by cold wet feet. The temperature does not have to be below freezing to develop emersion foot. Wool socks are ideal, along with appropriate boots/shoes. If you do not have dry socks, you will have to dry your socks. You can dry them in open air, or ideally over a campfire.
Do not set out on any outdoor excursions in cold weather unless dressed properly, even if you plan to be outside for only a short period. Anything can happen that could cause you to be outside in the cold for an extended period so you have to plan for the worst-case scenario.