Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Art of Not Freezing to Death

I'll level with you: I'm a bit of a fair weather hiker.

«Pictured: Fair (if scorching) Weather
Now don't get me wrong: I don't need specific, perfect conditions to get me out onto the hills - rain, mist, and strong winds (to a point; I don't want to fall off anything) are no bar to me getting into my beloved boots and venturing out... 

«Case and Point: Mam Tor in torrential rain (at the end of the circuit)

But as I've mentioned before, I've only been hiking now for 17 months, during which time I've only completed one hike that was not in spring or summer.

And considering I did that one in Converse with no ill effects (other than to the Converse), I think we can say that that was really more of a stroll.

«Though there was still a little snow and ice leftover
This year, I aim to put this right and finally go hiking in the winter months.

Now I don't have crampons (or, indeed boots that can take crampons), nor do I have ice axes, goggles, nor camping equipment designed to deal with snow or subzero temperatures. Thus, my introduction to winter hiking will be very low level (at least for this year).

So no sights like this just yet
(Source)

But there is still the concern of, well, freezing.

After all, all my kit is designed for spring and summer use and the only proper outer layer I have is my waterproof; handy of course for when the rain comes, but not the warmest thing in the world.

«Damn stylish, though

But it seems I do have one natural inclination that might come in useful here - one that has proved the bane of my life for the last few winters, but that will apparently prove to be to my advantage when I wander up hills over the next few months...

In short: I'm a bugger for layering.

Big time. I hate places that have central heating if I'll be staying for less than an hour because that'll mean that I'll spend much of my time there undressing then re-dressing.  Indeed anyone who has spent time with me over the summer but not winter are always mildly alarmed when the layers reveal themselves.

Much of this comes from having no decent winter coat (I've just never found the perfect one... or at least one that didn't evoke this reaction) but apparently, on hills, layers are a pretty good idea.

And so the whole point of this post is to introduce a (sort of) mini series: that is, for the next few second Sundays I'll be posting a kit wishlist item for each layer of recommended winter kit as winter gets its claws in deeper and deeper.
Now I know I'm not exactly brilliant when it comes to keeping on top of schedules, but as Kit Wishlist is supposed to be a bi-weekly thing, the running order will look something like this:
  • Sunday 6th October - Baselayer
  • Sunday 20th October - Mid-layer: The almighty fleece
  • Sunday 3th November - Outer-layer: Swanky waterproofs
  • Sunday 17th November - Wildcard: Just in time for my birthday, I look at my dream coat... that just happens to have been made by an outdoor/hiking gear company
  • Sunday 1st December - The big one: As winter's jaws close, I'll be drooling over the super-warm stuff - the down jacket.
Until then, try not to freeze to death. It's not 26c any more...

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