When talking about winter temperatures, reference is often made to the wind chill. The wind chill demonstrates the effective temperature on bare skin at different wind speeds. The wind chill index is excellent for gaining an understanding for the mechanism, but it is still only a theoretical description of a problem – how you react to the cold depends on how you dress.
Several basic rules
• Try to stay dry. Adjust your clothing to the air temperature and your level of activity.
• Use fewer layers of clothing during strenuous activities and in situations during which you believe you will get wet. There will be fewer garments to dry later.
• Save dry reinforcement garments for breaks. Put on your dry change of clothes only when you know you will not get wet again.
• Keep clothing and shoes free from snow and dirt. Brush off all snow before entering someplace warm.
• Think about how you are using cotton so you do not break the multiple-layer principle by wearing the wrong fabric in the wrong place.
Functional clothing not only offers protection from the cold, wind and rain, but also handles overheating and sweating by wicking body moisture away from the skin.
It is important to constantly assess what you are wearing based on the weather, wind and activity. If you ignore your body’s warning signals, perhaps because you cannot be bothered to stop, you can easily have problems later in the trek. This is why it is a good idea to make this a part of your routine when you are on your trek.
Did you know that: Women get cold easier than men, in particular in their hands and feet. This is due to the fact that men normally have more muscle mass than women, which provides better blood circulation and generates more body heat. But when women and men suffer from cold fingers and toes, both should add a warm layer - to their upper body! When too much energy is being used to keep the heart, liver and other important organs warm, the supply of blood to the more peripheral parts of the body shuts down. If the core of the upper body is warm, there is more heat left over for the fingers and toes.
Johan Skullman learns you how to dress and pack for the winter trek.