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what to wear when it is cold

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The human body is approximately 65 percent water. The human body contains about 3 trillion pores. The human body contains about 4 million sweat glands, that would be about 600 in a space the size of a quarter.

The human body is always exhausting moisture in the form of vapor. When we are active the rate of moisture coming out of the sweat glands increases and condenses on the surface of the skin cooling our body. The surface of the skin is emitting heat so the moisture that has condensed cools the skin surface. This is an involuntary process. You probably have read that this company or that company has developed a material that will manage the moisture being emitted. Simply put; “it cannot be done”.

These sweat glands are all over the human body from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. During the summer months when the temperature is averaging 75 degrees F you welcome the sweat because it is cooling your body. However, when the temperature is averaging 20 degrees F when you are active your body is functioning exactly the same way emitting sweat only now you are not wearing a T shirt and shorts but a complete suit of clothing covering almost your entire body less your face. When you are in this situation you want to get rid of the moisture because if you do not the moisture, i.e. sweat it will do exactly the same thing that it did during the summer, cool you down. Only now that constitutes getting a chill. This represents a dilemma, so what can be done to rectify the situation. We know that water is the most efficient absorber of heat on the planet and where that water comes from is irrelevant. If you jump into the ocean or a lake and the water is 40 degrees in 15 minutes it will absorb so much heat from your body that you die from hypothermia. If the water that comes out of your body when you are dressed for cold conditions is trapped in the clothing that moisture against your skin surface, you will very quickly begin to feel the effects of the water initially with a chill and if you do not get into a warm enclosure you will eventually become hypothermic. The process takes more than 15 minutes but it will happen. The question then is what can one wear as protection from the cold?

We know that we are emitting moisture initially in a vapor form all of the time from all over our body, so we need vapor permeable garments covering our body. We also know that our skin surface actually is giving off heat. Both of these actions are designed to keep the core of the body at a temperature of 98.6 degrees F and the skin surface at 91 degrees F. The body will do whatever it can to maintain this balance. It is our decision to do what we can to help ourselves by choosing the most appropriate clothing to wear. Fashion is not a consideration!

The very first layer is fishnet long underwear because the moist vapor will move very quickly through the holes. The heat coming off of our skin surface does not move away from the skin surface except by conduction; that is to say by touching the next layer of clothing. Since the fishnets (that I make) are nylon it does absorb the heat but does not transfer it by conduction to the next layer easily because the fishnets are a mesh without much surface so heat lose via conduction is very limited. In my opinion the next layer should be a loose fitting garment made from woven fabric versus a knitted fabric. Knitted fabrics tend to be close fitting which will; I believe slow the moisture movement away from you because it has reduced the space between your skin surface and the fabric itself. It will also promote a faster degree of conductive heat loss. The next layer is dependent upon the temperature; if 0 degrees F and higher I recommend my Barron Grounds parka which has the L-6 Lamilite. Each of the components that are used to make this garment is vapor permeable. The lining is a woven nylon taffeta (the same as I use for all of my sleeping bags) and the shell fabric is also a woven nylon fabric, Supplex. Both of these materials are vapor permeable as is the Lamilite. As I found out when I was lost in the mountains in a blizzard for the better part of three days all of the moisture I was generating moved through these layers of material (the parka I was wearing has the L-12 Lamilite) as well as the insulation which frosted on the surface of the parka. A picture is on the web site in the article “How to stay Warm”.

There are companies that make outlandish claims about the fabric additives they have that will do spectacular things such as Gore-Tex (Gore is not alone with this claim) and every other additive that they claim make it a waterproof and vapor permeable material (they claim breathable). Once these films are laminated to a fabric whatever permeability they had is ended by the addition of the adhesive that holds the two materials together, and that means you are guaranteed to retain the moisture that has come out of your body to become trapped in the garment.

If you happen to need more insulation added because the temperature is -15 degrees F or so I recommend that you wear either my liner vest or liner jacket. They are made with the same quality of nylon used for the other products and of course Lamilite, L-3 weight. These garments are also vapor permeable.

On your hands I do not believe you want gloves. When you separate your fingers in the finger slots of a glove they get cold because you have isolated them. If they are in a mitten they touch each other and the heat from each finger helps the finger next to it to stay warm. Of course that all depends upon the amount of insulation used in the manufacture of the mittens or what the insulation is. I believe much of the Asian made mittens contain Thinsulate which is useless as insulation. My original Lamilite was used by virtually every ski mitten manufacture in the USA in the late 60’s and early 70’s. That ended when all of these companies went to Asia for their production and that holds true today. When the Alyeska Pipeline was built I was the supplier of Lamilite to the manufacture of the mittens issued to the workers. Today I make the mittens and you wear them without any inserts because the inserts will keep the moisture from your hands from leaving the mittens. Again the lining is the vapor permeable nylon and the insulation is minimum L-12 that is used in my clothing. Hands emit moisture as well so it is very important that moisture get out of the mittens.

On you head I only have one product the insulated head cover. Vapor permeable nylon lining and shell with the L-6 Lamilite. It is used all over the state of Alaska as well as other cold regions of the world.

On your legs the very first layer again is the fishnets and the second layer that I always wear is jeans, plain old cotton jeans that are loose fitting. The next layer is either my leg jackets which are insulated with L-6 Lamilite, or the L-6 bib. I have never had reason to use the L-12 bibs here in Colorado, but we sell many in the state of Alaska. These products are also made with the vapor permeable nylon lining and shell material. Our legs do emit moisture as well.

And finally our feet! As I described in the last two articles they emit more moisture than any other single part of the body so vapor permeable footwear is vital. If, when I was lost walking in snow from 11000 feet to 12500 feet the snow was two to four feet deep and if I didn’t have my Muk Luks on insulated with the L-12 Lamilite I would never have survived. When your feet are cold they will become the first part of your body to freeze and walking will ultimately end. Today I have the Lamilite socks and Lamilite insulated boots. Since I have been unable to find a USA manufacturer to work with me I have had no choice but to find a factory in Mexico. I am sending them the Lamilite and soon I expect to have samples. One aspect of working with a Mexican factory is the way they attach the soles to the boots. They do not glue them to the upper they sew them to the upper. I am of the opinion that the sewing method is superior to the gluing method. If the quality is up to my standard I’ll put pictures on the web site. I also expect the cost to be less than what I have paid to a USA company.

The purpose of this article is to give an education to new customers or potential customers about the importance of wearing clothing products that do not stifle the movement of moisture out of your clothing. Also please note that it is virtually impossible to manage moisture coming out of your body and those companies that promote products that they claim to accomplish this either are knowingly lying or just don’t know.

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