Cold Weather Dressing Tips 3 Layer System Base Layer Insulating Layer Protective Layer Hi! I'm Carl Centeno, the founder of this style blog. Today, we're going to be talking about cold weather dressing and the importance of layering.
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It's right down there. And if you like this post, if you find it useful, I would appreciate it if you would like it right down below. We're going to be linking you to the article over the Art of Manliness. That's going to be an extensive article, have a lot of details, going to a lot more specifics of what I'm talking about here in the post. That's going to be linked to you down below as well. Okay, so how to layer and why is layering important. Let me first talk about why I'm qualified. I don't live up in Alaska. I do live in Wisconsin though and it's cold here.
During my years in college in Iowa, I worked as a radio communications tower hand basically. We called ourselves specialists, but in any case, rain or shine throughout the year, we were climbing these radio communication towers. I remember this one out in Walker, Iowa, almost 2000 feet high. Now, we could take an elevator up 1400 feet, but you are climbing that last 600 to 500 feet and it is cold up there. Literally on some of these towers and those 200-foot towers were nothing to brush at because you'd be climbing up that tower and there would be ice all over the tower. I remember carrying up a wrench and just banging it as we're going up, and ice just falling off and just making our way up. The base layer, this is the one that you actually wear next to your skin. The most important thing about the base layer is that it needs to be able to wick away moisture because depending on what you put on and how quickly you can tear it off if you're layered properly, if you get too hot, but you're possibility going to be sweating. And if you're going to be outdoors moving around out there hunting, walking, covering a lot of distance, you will be sweating and you want to be able to have that moisture not stick next to your body because one of the worst feelings is when it's freezing outside and it's not wicking away that moisture. You literally are covered, drenched in sweat. It has nowhere to go. And all of a sudden, you open up that shawl because you just need to get some you feel like you need to get some cool air and it just freezes you.
And all of a sudden, because what you have is that sweat on your body, it's just going to rip away too much heat and it could lead to rapid heat loss. That's why they say cotton kills. You need to be very careful with these really cheap cotton wool or thermal long johns I see out there. They do not do a great job. Go with the synthetic ones. Those at least somewhat wick away moisture. But I highly recommend something, and if you can afford it, go with something like Power Stretch Polartec and this is designed specifically to fit on your body comfortably and to wick away moisture. So on the base layer, look for something and don't be afraid. I think I've got like two or three body suits by a company called Carol Davis Sportswear and I love these because they just do exactly I've had them for ten years. I've done reviews and I'm not going to get into too much detail, but investing in a good base layer. Another option is if you've got Under Armour or a performance type of athletic wear that actually is made to fit close to the body. Those work as well, but again, it's about pushing the moisture into the next layer, which is the insulating layer.
So the insulating layer, this is all about heat retention. And so, the first one is about wicking away moisture, the next one is about keeping you warm. The cool part with the insulating layer is that you can mix and match. You don't have to go all wool. You don't have to go all synthetic fiber. You can mix and match them. Again, their purpose is to keep in the heat, and they do that by trapping air and also using the natural properties of what I just mentioned, so you're going to see this wool is a great example and when I say wool, it could be cashmere. It's any type of animal hair. The other one is going to be synthetics. We see performance fleece. All these fleeces you see out there, they're actually made from plastic. Now, believe it or not, those were designed specifically to help retain heat.
The actual shape of the fiber is pretty good, so they're actually good examples. Probably the best thing about them is that they are inexpensive and that if you get them wet, they still retain some of their heat retaining properties. So that last one, you shouldn't be looking to get super wet while you're out there, but I know in some cases, you can avoid it especially if you're under the water and you need something, but synthetics do a pretty good job. Make sure, if you're going to be doing diving, that you find something specific for that. I'm not even going to pretend I'm an expert there, but synthetics are cheap. That's probably another great thing about them. Let's look at downs. So down, it's the small feather from different types of birds and you'll find that the down does an excellent job, perhaps one of the best. Another great thing about down is that it's incredibly light, so you can have a big down vest or down insulating jacket and this thing is going to do a great job keeping you warm. The down side of down it sounded kind of funny there is if you get it wet, it becomes almost absolutely worthless. So down, once it gets moist, it's going to just lose all of its fluff. It's going to lose almost all of its insulating properties and it takes a long time to get rid of that moisture.
The last thing I haven't talked about, and this is more specialty, is going to be the cell system. You'll see this especially in higher end for men that don't have to be very mobile and can deal with a bit more weight. Let's say you're going to be going to Iditarod, then in that case, a great cell system. What I mean by cell, it's basically set up in compartments and it's made to trap air. This does an excellent job of retaining heat. I'll link you to a company that I know uses a lot of cell structure in maintaining and having insulating properties on their clothing. This is something that again you don't see very often. I had one piece of gear in the military, absolutely loved it. It was probably on the edge of being made from synthetic, but the cells basically was on the inside it, it just was always made to be kind of fluffy. And this thing, it was almost impossible to destroy and it did a great job of insulating by keeping out the cold and making sure that any heat my body was creating was kind of reflected back in and kept, so that's the insulating layer. The last layer that we're going to talk about is the protective layer and we're talking about shells here like GORE-TEX. The big thing with the shell is that it should encapsulate the insulating layer and keep out the wind, keep out the elements like any type of sleet, any type of rain, any type of snow, and allow the insulating layer to do its job.
Now, you're probably asking yourself getting back down to the base layer, where does all that moisture go that's been wicked out? Well, the great part is if you've got the right type of insulating layers wool is a great example it can retain some moisture and still feel dry up to 30% of its weight, but if you're going to be sweating a lot, then you want to look at an outside shell layer that can sweat, in a sense, release moisture as well. Basically, it goes one way. It won't allow moisture in, but it will allow moisture out. I can tell you that this is going to really notch up the price of that outside shell. And if you don't need it, well, it is something that you'd possibly look to skip, but if you do need it, do not skip here. Again, that's why really high-end outdoor gear, you see a big escalation in price on some of this stuff. The last thing, I didn’t really hit on this too much, but don't forget your extremities and you can have both a base layer and an insulating layer, and a protective layer, although you'll usually see those combined. What I find with gloves is that there are these really nice little glove liners we would use on the towers. They were silver. I felt like Michael Jackson or something like that. They were really lightweight and we wore those underneath some bigger, heavier gloves that were insulated work gloves. And of course, the insulated work gloves were made so that they would protect you from any type of sharp objects and they also had a little bit of insulation built in, so that was like a combination of a couple of layers there.
The same with your shoes, make sure you've got on a good pair of socks which will be able to wick away moisture and be able to keep your feet warm. And the boots, don't skimp on your boots. You want to go with something that does a great job insulating and keeping the cold out because your feet, your extremities are going to be some of the first things to get cold. Okay. This has been Carl Centeno with this style blog. We've talked about the three layers when it comes to keeping yourself warm out there in cold weather. If you've got any other questions, reach out to us at this style blog or maybe down in the comments below and I will see you in the next post. Bye-bye.