Winter Clothing Review – Staying Warm
Every single minute of the winter leg of 2014/15 was a massive learning curve for me as a South African. Adventuring through Kazakhstan, Siberia and Mongolia (in the middle of winter) was the starting point of my winter expedition life and its been a massive success in terms of products testing.
Overall I’m very satisfied with the outcome of all the products I packed and tested. Here’s a list of the clothing that kept me alive in temperatures down to -45°C and how they performed.
Your head is like a boiling kettle. If you remove the lid, all the heat escapes! Keeping your head warm is very important to regulate your heat of the rest of your body.
- Buffs: Time and time again, Buff stepped up and exceed all my expectations! I’ve been a huge Buff fan for a long time, but trust me, nobody can go without a few of them in the winter. I always wore a Cyclone Buff on my neck, wool- or original Buff underneath my beanie and had the Polar Buff close for colder days (which I would make a beanie and put on underneath fleece beanie). Trust me….. ALWAYS PACK BUFFS!!
- K-Way Fleece Beanie: Always wear a FLEECE beanie in the winter. This had been the second winter season I used this specific Fleece Beanie.
- OR Face Mask: Worked good and easy with velcro at the back. Struggled with the velcro on few occasions though. Would like to make some adjustments on the face mask or consider other options for next season.
- Oakley Goggles: Great piece of winter gear you can’t go without! Putting on goggles in shitty weather feels like you put a heater on your face! Protects your eyes from snow, wind and from the sun. I would spend a little more on better goggles for next the next winter leg.
2. Clothing – Jackets
If you keep your core warm, you’ll survive the winter!
- First Ascent Malamute Down Jacket: One of the best pieces of clothing I carried in the winter! This jacket performed even better than originally expected in all weather conditions. Had feel temperatures down to -45°C and this jacket still kept me warm. Waterproof, warm and most important… windproof! Top product!
- First Ascent Dry-Light Jacket: Quickly became one of my favourite pieces of clothing I have carried and wore in my life. Keeps the wind out and whenever the moister inside the jacket freeze, you can easily shake out all the ice. This jacket will not leave my kit in the winter as well as the summer.
- First Ascent Mens Alaska Reversible Jacket: On extreme cold days I wore this Jacket on underneath my down jacket and always when Im off the bike in temperatures between 15°C and -10°C. Its incredible how warm you get when this jacket keeps your core warm. Great product to take with you on all kinds of adventures and backpacking trips.
- Mountain Design Fleece: Had this fleece since the beginning of the adventure until it got stolen… Loved this fleece and was perfect during the winter, regulating heat with layering. Hope to get a fleece that will works as good as this one.
3. Clothing – Base Layers, Shirts & Pants
Of all the clothing, this is the trickiest part of the winter. This is where you start to stay warm, but the tricky part is trying no to overheat and sweat during the cycle.
- First Ascent Derma-Tec Seamless Top (became 2nd skin): When I first put this on, I was not so sure how it will perform… and after I started the winter leg, I NEVER took it off! There has been days that I only wore this on the bike (in freezing temps). This was the first and one of the most important layers of the whole winter expedition.
- First Ascent Thermal Long Johns (became 2nd skin): Just like the Derma-Tec Seamless Top, never took it off and it performed great. Kept my legs warm throughout the winter.
- First Ascent Extreme Polypropolene Pro Top: Because the Derma-Tec Seamless Top, I never wore this by itself. On a few extreme cold days I put this on over the Derma-Tec Seamless Top, but most times these two was just too warm together.
- First Ascent Zip-Off Utility Pants: Well… had these for 19 months now and has been the only pants I’ve been wearing since the beginning of the adventure… every day, the whole day. And again, they performed great throughout the winter.
My feet was one part of my body that was NEVER cold during the day!!!
- First Ascent Slopesider Snow Sports Socks: Extremely warm and my feet has never been cold when in the boots.
- Wolverine Scout II Insulated Waterproof Hunting: Great boots and like I mentioned above… My feet has never been cold when I wore these. AWESOME!
I started the winter with four pairs of gloves… Why? To test and see what work. This is what I ended up with and was very happy with the outcome and testing:
- Marmot Mitts: Nothing keep your hands warm like mittens! If you’re heading to places where temperatures fall below -15°C, pack a pair of mittens!!! This was the first time using a product from Marmot and I’m pretty sure its not the last. Top top product!! On a few occasions these mittens saved my fingers.
- Capestorm Windshield Glove: Worked perfect in temps between 10°C and -10°C. Its not a performance glove, meaning I needed something a little stronger. Gloves takes hammering throughout the day of the bike, pitching tent, preparing food and fixing stuff in the tent. I will definitely take something similar with me in the future, but only something tougher.
If there is any questions on any of these products, leave a questions and I will answer them accordingly.
If you want to read more about some of these products, here is links to all the companies and their products:
- First Ascent: http://www.firstascent.co.za
- Buff: http://www.buffusa.com/sports/
- Oakley: http://www.oakley.com/en/mens/goggles/category/m03
- Mountain Design: http://www.mountaindesigns.com
- Wolverine Boots: http://www.wolverine.com/US/en/women-footwear-outdoor/
- Marmot Gloves: http://marmot.com/products/men/accessories/gloves–mitts
READ MY BLOG ON: 10 TIPS TO STAY WARM DURING EXTREME WINTERS
NEXT BLOG: FROZEN ELECTRONICS & HOW THEY PERFORM IN -40°C
Cheers for now…