Keeping warm- Clothing for y2k : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Keeping Warm - Clothing for Y2K

The subject of keeping warm is an important one for anyone looking at greater self-sufficiency, especially in the light of Y2K. As a medic and a hike leader, I can tell you that hypothermia can occur at temperatures as high as 55 F, even in strong healthy people. It is hard to overestimate the stress that unrelieved cold will put on your body without central heat. It also drastically changes food and fuel requirements.

A few years ago my son Mike and I took a winter camping course. We were preparing for backpacking/winter mountaineering in the Adirondacks, which are well known for harsh conditions.

In this course we learned one of the most useful practical subjects I have ever found; how to keep warm. It starts with Polartec fabric which, instead of being made into fleece, is made into thread and knitted into a wonderful fabric called variously Bergelene (Eastern Mt.Sports), Capilene (Patagonia) or M.T.S.-moisture transport system (REI). It comes in 3 weights; lightweight, midweight and expedition weight. Lightweight is the most versatile. Midweight, because it is such an efficient fabric, can be too warm unless you are relatively inactive, such as sitting in the cold, or else active in really cold temperatures. Expedition weight is actually a very thin fleece made for extreme conditions. You can get all sorts of long underwear, socks, hats, gloves liners, undershirts etc. made of this stuff. It is designed to be the first layer, worn right next to the skin.

It is hard to exaggerate the difference this fabric will make in efforts to keep warm! It wicks moisture away from skin without itself getting wet, is lightweight, does not hold odors, washes and dries fast.

The second layer should be an insulating layer, either Polarfleece or wool. For cold never use cotton; it dries slowly and holds something like 10 times its weight in water, dangerously cooling your body. In the Adirondacks, Rangers are sometimes stationed at the trailheads to check on winter hikers' preparedness. If they find cotton in your pack they will turn you back. Trailheads are posted with signs that Cotton Kills.

Your third layer, for outside activities, is a windbreaker layer, including pants and jacket. Gore-tex is the best if you can get it because it will allow moisture out. Moisture from perspiration when you are active is as detrimental to staying warm as moisture from rain and snow, so it is important to have ways to ventilate this moisture out. Look for sidezip pants, and underarm "pitzips" to help expel the moisture when working hard.

This three-layer system can be used in all sorts of ways: Polartec sock liners, heavy wool socks and good boots, for example.

For sleeping, use long underwear for pajamas and a fleece blanket instead of a sheet. This summer while camping across the country we added a lightweight sleeping bag (synthetic), and a tent camper as the windbreaker layer, and were never cold, even in the Grand Tetons at below freezing temperatures.

In summer, use a cotton sheet to keep cool!

Polypropylene is another synthetic fabric which you may find. Avoid it, it holds odors and feels slippery.

Good places to get Polartec underwear, Polarfleece and Gore-tex outerwear include good outdoor gear stores like REI (Cal1 1-800-426-4840 for a catalog), Eastern Mt. Sports, North Face outlets, L.L. Bean (1-800-221-4221), etc. L.L. Bean does not carry Polartec underwear. For mail order Polartec underwear, Polarfleece jackets, etc. REI carries quality goods at an affordable price.

Polarfleece is very easy to handsew or serge, but beware the fleece copies like Alpine fleece (another brand of fleece), as they do not have as good wear characteristics. You have to look for the label.

HATS. Lastly, allow me to mention hats. Something on the order of 75-80% of body heat is lost from your head. WEAR A HAT. Campmor, 1-800-CAMPMOR, has some nifty watchcaps which we keep stuffed in the car, camper etc. as emergency gear. They are also a good source of the above stuff cheap.

Unless you try this system, you will not believe the difference it can make. It is much easier to keep warm with good clothing than to heat a whole house. This is one area where new technology really can make a difference. Put away your cotton to help you keep cool in the summer and get yourself and those you love some Polartec long underwear!

-- seraphima (, July 06, 1999


"It is much easier to keep warm with good clothing than to heat a whole house."

Utterly true and vastly under-emphasized by many of us (myself included). We must make this point especially to newbies who may not have the money/time to do generators, big wood stoves and the like.

Thanks for reminding me. Will check out tomorrow.

-- BigDog (, July 06, 1999.

Some other clothing that you might need for winter is outdoor workclothes such as coveralls. If you are going to work outdoors for any length of time doing chores (taking care of animals, chopping wood, etc) you will want appropriate clothing. Carhart's are a favorite at our house and come in women's, childrens and mens sizes. They will last a long time (several years) and can take the abuse of farming or country living. The best source I have found is Gempler's catalog. ( ) There are other good manufacturer's besides Carhart, just take a look at the quality of the material and the stitching.

-- Beckie (, July 07, 1999.

I was an instructor for a survival course, half of which was in Montana. (Spring Creek Community in Thompson Falls) For snow camping, the right clothing is essential, and I'd recommend everyone in a cold environment have one good set. But Y2K won't mean winter camping conditions, except for those who are both very unprepared and very unlucky. The key is staying dry. Make sure your roof is fine and have what you need on-hand. High-tech wear is expensive, don't stock up on it unless you have entirely too much money. Cotton has a bad rep, which is very much deserves for outdoor use in cold weather, but you can stay dry indoors. Bulking up with cotton will keep you warm. And you can get it CHEAP. The local salvation army sells bales of clothes to be used as rags. Nothing wrong with 95% of the items, they just can't get rid of the stuff fast enough. (Proof positive that there is too much wealth in this country.) When they have their 50% off sales I stock up and get roughly 60-70 items of clothing for $1.50 One bale had about a dozen workpants that fit me, but mostly they are t- shirts and sweatshirts. They also often have old winter boots - the "felt" kinds - for a dollar or two. Junky and no good for outdoor use, but would make extra-warm slippers.

We've stocked up on this stuff mainly for long-term barter if things get ugly. Like most people, we have plenty of clothing (warm and not). In emergency situations you can get by with few, if any, changes of clothing. Just think of "stink" as a natural defense and feel safer.

-- Gus (, July 07, 1999.

I have been using Carhartts for years while working outdoors...icefishing, shoveling snow, fixing fences, etc.

The fabrics are durable, blocks the wind to reduce the windchill effect.

-- Tim (, July 09, 1999.

try ski outfits, light and warm. sweats underneath.

-- jocelyne slough (, July 10, 1999.

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