Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cold layers

With one or two exceptions, it’s been cold the last week or more, and windy with it, so wind chills in the morning have often been in the Fahrenheit teens and single digits. Not quite Iditarod cold (that’s not me above), but for both runs and walks I had to break out the winter stuff.

Shuffling’s really not that big a deal. Winter runners know that the trick is to be cold when you start so you'll be warm—but not too warm—in a mile. (Even so, we often come home unzipped and de-pantsed. How racey.)

Until fairly recently I went out in mostly cotton, which was fine since cotton doen’t kill if you can go home after an hour, take a shower, and change. The added benefit: cheap, cheap, cheap.

Now, though, I’ve upgraded to old, well-used “technical” stuff. In temps like the ones we’ve had lately, I’m fine with a GoLite DriMove baselayer on top,

covered by the favorite EMS Bergelene midweight that was a gift from H, and then one of two aging, ratty SportHill jackets, depending on whether wind protection or warmth is more important.

When I’m running, despite my lousy finger circulation, a simple pair of cotton gardening gloves does the trick unless it’s raining or below Farenheit zero. They get wet fast in near-freezing precip, but they block the wind very well. And: cheap, cheap, cheap.

On the bottom, until the temps go lower or the wind gets even stronger, I go with running shorts (sufficient by themselves down to about 40°F (4.5°C) under old, crotch-sprung SportHills similar to these, which I like because they have pockets (though these newer models unfortunately seem to be a bit baggier). When things head toward Fahrenheit zero, I change to these, which I originally bought for cross-country skiing and which are also my standard winter mountain wear. (Mine are old enough to have been called “Koch” pants, after our great cross-country ski champ of the 1970s, Bill Koch.) This stuff is so old that it has become cheap, cheap, cheap through prorating. Per run? A penny? Less?

The real problem for me is staying comfortable from the neck up. I have a thing about keeping my jaw and chin warm, so I often start with a Buff around my neck even in temps above freezing. In colder weather, I go to a heavier Turtle Fur neck gaiter, which I pull down over my head after I have my OR Peruvian hat on. It’s easier to get off that way, and keeps the earflaps more

effectively in play. Most days, a lot of this—sometimes all of it—quickly winds up in pockets or hands or tucked in waistbands or wound around my wrists. It’s my sissy layer.

A couple of weeks ago, with temps in the teens F., I tried replacing the EMS top with my new Patagonia R1 Hoody (mine’s light blue), which I bought on sale last year, but which was still a long way from cheap, cheap, cheap. Too warm.
But great for winter walking in this weather, about which more in some future post.

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