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Published by jack elliot

) Types of cold ... I was in inland Russia in -35C with no wind and as long as everything was covered, it was almost pleasant in the sunshine. But 5C in Beijing I was frozen to the core because it was so damp. Lesson : Don't be put into a negative frame of mind by the headline forecast temperature. Think about humidity, wind, cloud cover. Then prepare properly.

) Wool is best. "Technical fibres" is shorthand for plastic. This will make you sweat and smelly ( hence "Smelly Helly" ). Go for wool - merino wool preferably. It's very durable, it breathes helping you not overheat, and it's naturally antimicrobial, so you're backpacking you can wear a baselayer for a couple (I confess to a few) days without getting too smelly.

) I hate wearing a hat, but if it's cold enough for one, then it's cold enough to wear a circular cold-weather headband underneath it to cover your ears. These really help to make you feel snug around your head.

) Buy a neck gator. These light fleece collars have a drawstring to make them fit snuggly. Scarfs can move about and need adjusting, but using a neck gator first, and a scarf on top will make your neck and throat toasty warm and help guard against colds. They're cheap so buy a couple and have one in your outdoor bag all the time. Great for when you're waiting on a nightbus after coming from a hot pub

) Invest in quality outdoor clothing. Anything else can tend to be a false economy. I've made this mistake and have had zips/laces/soles break and seams come apart. You can build up your wardrobe over a couple of years so as not to break the bank

) Buy Patagonia brand in the sales. (no, I don't work for them) I have their merino wool base layers and 10 years on they are like new after countless wears and washes. Their lightweight Primaloft jacket kept me warm in -30C. No, I couldn't believe that either. Their rain jackets have storm collars and vent zips under the arms with wind/waterproof zips. The key thing is that all Patagonia products have a lifetime guarantee. I tugged a zip too hard and damaged it. They sent it off to Portugal be repaired, generally refreshed the jacket and all for free.

) Windproof pants - you never knew you needed them until you wear them. Over wool longjohns ( I use the "Medium" weight ) and you'll be toasty.

) Socks - I don't wear them too thick or too heavy. I want my feet to be warm, but feet tht are too hot are almost as bad as feet that are too cold.

) Gloves - Mittens are best as your fingers are kept warm by the bubble of warmed air in the mitten. Otherwise make sure your gloves are of a size that will fit into your jacket pockets if you are out walking.

) As the article mentions, layering is key. I use a wool baselayer with a zip at the neck in case I get too hot. It comes up around my neck. Tee-shirt over this. Then a midweight fleece. Then a goosedown lightweight gillet ( amazingly warm ), then a PrimaLoft lightweight jacket. I carry a raincoat or lightweight packable raincoat.

) If you're walking, bring a lightweight backpack. This can carry water ( if it's windy you will dehydrate a bit quicker ) and you can stow anything you take off if you get too hot. Try and get a backpack that has some space between it and your coat. This will help guard against you getting a sweaty back. If this chills off, you can catch a bad cold.

) Boots. Having a thicker sole makes all the difference, especially if walking on cold concrete


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