Greetings from a partially snow covered Yorkshire.
It’s bright, it’s sunny and there’s snow on the ground – just a light cover mind, but snow nevertheless.
It’s not going to last though.
The brisk walk up to the local shop an hour ago wasn’t through a full covering of snow and a quick glance out of the window now I’m back indoors has revealed that the multicoloured gnomes in the back garden have lost their frosty coating.
There is a breeze though and the temperatures are low, hence the choice of layers for that walk.
Which were pretty much the same as what I’d have chosen had I been heading out for a wander through the woods to the pub or for a day out with a pack in the country or on the hill.
First up was an Icebreaker merino base layer, then a Patagonia Snap Neck fleece pullover and then a North Face Nuptse 900 LTD down jacket. On the legs were a pair of Peter Storm soft shell trousers, a pair of Bridgedale socks and a pair of Salomon boots.
Result? Warm and toasty all the way there and back…
If I had been in the country or on the hill, then the chances are that the Nuptse would be in my pack and used when lunch or coffee breaks were declared.
I’d probably be wearing a fleece gilet and a soft shell instead (the old faithful TNF hooded soft shell has just been reproofed with Nikwax Soft Shell proofing) and have a pair of gloves and a mountain cap in the pockets, just in case. Oh, and a pair of base layer leggings too.
The choices aren’t too far removed from what Caroline was wearing earlier when she took Frosty The Snowbike out for its first spin. Frosty is her old Dawes hybrid bike that’s had winter tyres fitted and works a treat (especially now that the brakes have been fixed – the tyre fitter [not me or Caroline!] forgot to reconnect the brake cables)…
A base layer, bike shirt, fleece and reflective waterproof jacket do the job in virtually all weathers on both her leisure rides and her early morning/late evening commutes to and from work.
But layering doesn’t have to be used solely outdoors. We both wear layers around the house over the winter months – they keep us warm and comfortable and help keep the bills down so we’re not laying down the foundations for big gas bills later in the year.
Does it work? Yes, as it was a tactic I first used thirty-odd years ago as the first house I had after leaving home was an exposed, not very insulated farmhouse with single glazing.
We’ve also used the same techniques elsewhere too, most recently in a place that had a wood burner in the lounge.
Not saying it was cold, but we were both in there wearing merino base layers, fleece pullovers and down vests and were just about warm!
Mind you, it was even colder down on the beach the following day – thank goodness for high quality down jackets!
I’ll be going into more layering next week as there’s a round-up of base layer principles and some product reviews too happening on wisepacking.
The snow may be melting now here in Yorkshire, but it’s going to be back…
And we’re prepared for it – right down to the home baked cheese scones that are being baked this afternoon and a good bit of comfort food for tea.
Beef stew with dumplings and mashed potatoes. Cooked from scratch, not from a tin or a supermarket freezer section!
If you want to keep warm – get a hat!
Hats come in all shapes and sizes – mountain caps, wooly numbers with ear flaps, ones that look like they should be getting stroked whilst the owner says something like ‘We’ve been expecting you Mr. Bond…‘ or pure and simple hats like the Eider Garmish Beanie (£20) that’s pictured above.
Yes, it’s bright and noticeable, but that’s something that I’m never going to be worried about. Yes, my usual choice of hat colour owes a lot to a Henry Ford quote, but there are times when something that’s bright and colourful is preferable to having a whole outfit that wouldn’t be out of place at a gig by The Mission, Sisters Of Mercy or Fields Of The Nephiim (and I have been to gigs by two out for the three bands mentioned there – the middle one is the odd one out!). Not saying that I wear a lot of black, but I just happen to wear a lot of black…
There’s a practicality to wearing a hat. It can be a style statement or a piece that like the Eider Garmish Beanie in that it’s designed to tie in with other Eider clothing. It’s also a practical choice too as around 40% of body heat can be lost through the head. Wear a hat and you should feel warmer in no time.
If it’s cold and crisp and even, then the warmth should help matters. If it’s snowing or raining, then a waterproof hat could come in useful or you could simply put your waterproof jacket’s hood up (unless of course you’re the bloke I served about seven or eight years ago who said he wouldn’t be seen dead using his jacket’s hood! There’s always one…).
There are also times when wearing a hat indoors can be useful. The only times that I’ve worn a hat indoors have coincided with heating breakdowns in shops or at home or the one time when I went away for a couple of days and returned home to find that all of the pipes in my rented house had frozen up – time to get a hair dryer out on the pipes as recommended by the plumber who was working on a similar problem a few doors away from me.
There are alternatives to hats though – such as the ubiquitous Buff.
The Buff is one of the most useful pieces of kit in both Caroline’s and my own outdoor or travel wardrobes. We both have a few variations on a theme by Buff and makers of lookalike items with the standard and Polar Buffs proving to be the most useful and long-lived weapons of choice.
They’ve been used as neck gaiters, pulled over the face in cold weather, used as a balaclava in cold weather or worn as a helmet liner in wintry weather. Buffs have also been used as hand towels, packing for small crockery items bought abroad and as handkerchiefs on occasions as well (and washed soon after because only one of the Buffs I have is a green one!).
I’ve used mine whilst walking, cross-country skiing, climbing and whilst travelling. Caroline uses her examples around town, whilst commuting to work on the bike, whilst out on longer rides and also when she’s travelling. Her sons use Buffs on really long bike rides and travelling (the eldest son) whilst her youngest wears his on his Suzuki 650, for climbing or when jumping out of aeroplanes. During one trip to the States, he took off in a plane 34 times in a fortnight and landed in a plane twice – the other 32 landings were ones made with the help of a parachute…
There will be another gift-related post later on today – missed yesterday as there was a food and drink buying session taking place. Ours was the smallest trolley load in each of the supermarkets we visited – anyone would think the shops were closed more more than one day this week!