Keeping dry

Keeping dry

As little as possible should get wet

One good basic principle is that, when you are out on a trek, as little as possible should get wet. This applies to both equipment, such as backpacks and sleeping bags, as well as clothing worn close to your body, such as shell garments, middle layers, shoes and gloves. As you have learned, water conducts the cold, which represents the single greatest threat to your welfare during your winter trek. Since there will be limited opportunities to dry your belongings, you need to focus on prevention and try to keep them dry.

There are many small tricks you can use to keep the moisture at bay, but ultimately you need to pay attention to both the moisture you generate yourself by sweating and external moisture in the form of melting snow. Here are several tips to help you stay dry:

• Always adjust your clothing to the air temperature and your activity level. The ideal temperature is when you are neither cold nor sweating.

• Save your reinforcement garments for breaks and emergency situations.

• To keep your gloves dry when you are active, for example when digging a bivouac or wind protection, use a shell glove with only a thin wool glove underneath. Another variation is to take the lining out of your five-fingered gloves and only use the leather part of the glove.

• If the midday thaw is making the snow melt on your boots and moisture is finding its way inside, use snow gaiters or overboots to create a shell that ventilates better.

• Brush snow off your clothing, shoes and backpack before you go into a warm space, for example a cabin.