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The issue of how to dress up, and prepare for cold and harsh weather conditions is something that is not discussed much, so I wanted to touch on that with you in today’s post. One of the first things we learned in military bootcamp when it comes to very cold environments, is that the best thing to do is to layer up, and not just onion stacking, but incorporating the 4 essential components for survival in harsh conditions. The PIWW or Perspiration, Insulation, Waterproof, Windproof layers will give you all the protection you’ll ever need in well below 0C (32F) conditions.
Click the image below to watch the How to Layer Up for Below 0C (32F) Degrees video:
Our first, base, layer needs to wicky the perspiration away from our body. Don’t use cotton based clothes for this layer as they tend to absorb the sweat and stay wet. Instead, use some sort of synthetic material like microfiber and polyester, which will move the sweat away from the body and let it either evaporate or be absorbed by the next layer.
I love the Under Armour Tech Short Sleeve T-Shirt and the 5.11 Performance Polo Short Sleeve Shirt – they keep you dry and comfortable, even during intense physical activities.
Our second layer is insulation – use either fleece or wool based long-sleeved shirt or sweater, since they retain 80% of their warming and insulating properties even when wet. They evaporate water (and sweat) over time and will keep your core temperature in the normal range, in any conditions.
I use the 5.11 Recon Half Zip Fleece Shirt and when it gets really cold I use the 5.11 Tactical Full Zip Sweater. These are perfect insulating layers – they keep you warm, while retaining full mobility.
Our third layer has to be waterproof, in order to keep us as dry as possible from outside precipitation.
I highly recommend the 5.11 Sabre 2.0 Jacket – it is water-repellent and completely waterproof.
Note: you can tell if a jacket is waterproof by examining the zippers – they should have a sealed, rubber lining.
Our fourth layer must be windproof, since the wind chill usually lowers the temperature by an extra 5-10 degrees during mild winds, and much more during stronger winds. Thus, your exterior shell must be completely windproof, which will allow you to function well in windy conditions.
For this, again, I use the 5.11 Sabre 2.0 Jacket, which is completely windproof, but allows you to keep your mobility and agility unhindered.
To Sum Up:
Combining these 4 layers of Perspiration, Insulation, Waterproof and Windproof, will allow you to function properly in very cold conditions. Don’t forget to cover your head, face and hands and also, for your legs, add at least an insulating layer and make sure your pants are at least water repellent. Using the PIWW layer system is our first line of defense against the elements – it will give us the ability to find or construct a shelter during survival situations in very cold environments.
Do YOU and your team have all the required layers for very cold conditions?
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I can’t wait to share our next post with you,
So, until then – Stay Safe!!
Your friend always,