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CounterWeight
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Books on dressing for cold weather while observing new [Re: PJ Anway]
      #5693808 - 02/21/13 11:56 PM

Is there the equivelent of 'the polar bear club' for observing? well minus the water that is?

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stevecoe
"Astronomical Tourist"
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Reged: 04/24/04

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: Books on dressing for cold weather while observing new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5693861 - 02/22/13 12:38 AM Attachment (11 downloads)

Carol;

I agree that different observers have different needs. Once it gets really bitter cold in southern Arizona--unknow, like 45 F or so--it is time to start putting on all that gear;-)

I also use the warming bags that are sold at sporting goods stores. Just open the plastic covering and they warm up with contact with the air.

Here is me in my Michelin Man outfit at McDonald Obs. Climbing up and down the ladder to the 36 inch (Tom and Jeannie Clark's) does also keep one warm.

Clear skies;
Steve Coe

Edited by stevecoe (02/22/13 03:34 AM)


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Starman1
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Reged: 06/24/03

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Re: Books on dressing for cold weather while observing new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5695105 - 02/22/13 04:30 PM

Quote:

I've never had to wear more than four layers under any conditions--even at forty below, sitting around trying to cook dinner. Too many layers and you begin to bulk up under the arms and in your crotch--which begins, in turn, to limit circulation. If you need many multiple layers because that's all you have, fine. But good thick layers are better. Jim's outfit is superb; pricey, but superb. Lots of our guides use them in the the Antarctic and the Himalaya.

Dark skies.

Jack



You're right, and I would love that. But I have been unable to find thick enough clothing. It seems to always be made for people moving around and generating body heat.
If I could get a down suit the thickness of a really good NorthFace -80 sleeping bag (about 6" of loft), that would be great. Because I currently have up to 12 layers on at 10F, and the last two ARE down parkas. And I'm STILL not too warm.
So let me know: where do you get that thick of an outer layer? I've tried snowmobile suits, and they're simply not warm enough. Everything is warm enough for an hour, but I'm out for 8 or more hours at a time, and sometimes in wind at 15 degrees. Were can you find apparel thick enough to keep you warm at that temperature with fewer than 10-12 layers?


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Books on dressing for cold weather while observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5695922 - 02/23/13 12:19 AM

Don,

Just saw this. Back to you tomorrow.

Dark skies.

Jack


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jrbarnett
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Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: Books on dressing for cold weather while observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5697559 - 02/23/13 11:22 PM

The 8000 meter suits use quite a lot of very light but very lofty down. 800 rating down; just about the most thermally efficient you can get. It's not about thickness, per se, but rather how efficiently your insulation traps and retains body heat. There's no comparison between these Himalayan climbing suits and snow mobile suits, really. Snow mobile suits have to be thick because they use dense, heavy, inefficient synthetic or even cotton insulation batting. These climbing suits are an order of magnitude lighter and more effective.

North Face's best expedition bag, the Inferno, is down, good to -40F and weighs just a little over 4 pounds. It's not the thickness but the effectiveness of the insulation that cunts. I know a few high elevation experimental glider pilots (sedentary, oxygen assisted and cold as hell) who use these suits too. It's the closest thing you can buy to a NASA-style space suit. In fact, they are too warm for hanging around at Everest basecamp (17,600 feet). You typically don't see the suits come out until Camp III (26,000) hence the nickname - "8000 meter suit".

The prices are maxed on these suits right now, but should drop at the beginning of June. It happens every year. But I did find a last season version of the Mountain Hardwear iteration on sale here:

http://www.everestgear.com/om1298.html

The suit plus a mid-weight fleece top and bottoms layer (such as REI's) would likely keep your core quite warm; warmer than double parkas! The one-piece design ensures that all of your body heat is trapped in a single space rather than multiple spaces. These climbing suits are crazy warm even sitting around. There's lots of sitting around climbing, and these are designed to fight exposure moving or still.

- Jim


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

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Re: Books on dressing for cold weather while observing new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5697663 - 02/24/13 12:57 AM

Don,

I wanted to check with several of our guides to make sure there wasn’t a new magical bullet that I was unaware of re warmth. There isn’t. It is still a matter of layering, it’s just what you choose to layer. I will mention some of their comments and review what I do re layering and why. If this is all obvious to you, then I apologize in advance.

One guide runs our winter programs for Special Forces (all of them)—winter mountaineering, backcountry skiing, avalanche prediction, snowmobiles, tours at altitude in severe cold (-20 or below) without tents, ascents of Denali. They all use well-known top-tier brands of clothing—Marmot, Arc’teryx, Patagonia, First Ascent, Mountain Hardware, etc. Everything is done without down suits or other specialized gear. Down suits are only used in the Antarctic and the Himalaya or similar ranges. Since Afghanistan, the military is a major market for the above companies. Not all their uses involve activity: surveillance and sniper teams are stationary and can’t spend their time in sleeping bags, so they need superb gear to keep warm. They use the above—depending on who gives them the best deal.

One guide was the first to lead a commercial ski trip to the South Pole and regularly guides Everest. His advice: down suits. They vary is sizing more than in quality—any of the good ones will do. He also suggested looking at Eiger Polar Boots at <Baffin.com>, a Canadian company. Evidently, the liners are superior to Sorel, etc. These can be purchased separately and put into Sorels. The boots are good to about -150—not a typo.

Another guides works as a guide in the Antarctic. He says down suits are great, but because of the emphasis on lighter weights for climbing, the fabric does not hold up long. So…insulated Carhartt over other layers of quilted polyester.

Assuming that you have excellent gear, the secret to staying warm lies in avoiding constriction and compression. With more than four, or possibly five, layers those problems cannot be avoided. The main difficulty is the shoulder area, upper arms, and upper back because the weight of the parka—particularly if you, like me, have three or four lenses in the pockets--compresses the down both in the top layer and in the layer underneath. That’s where I get cold. One solution is to have more down shot into those upper baffles—until they are more or less solid. Also, you can take some of the weight off by tightening the waist cord.

Here is what I do or have done.

Feet:

Various Sorels with two loose, over-sized wools ragg socks—Wigwam or LL Bean. If they leave marks on your ankles or lower legs they are too tight. I have tried the new Grabber chemical insoles and they work, but I find that I don’t need them. I know people who buy them by the case.

Base:

Merino wool base layer tops and bottoms (Patagonia). I lived so long in polyester than I can’t stand it next to my skin. Any of the usual brands—Body Armor--work as long as they are thick and loose. Then thick polypro pants (the new Patagonia Buckley River pants are nice) and a polypro sweater. That set never varies.

Mid-layer:

Then, in the past, German Army wool pants or the 24oz wool pants by Filson; or, now, pretty thick, loose, quilted polyester pants, and either a double thick polypro pullover with a thick hood, or, if it is very cold, my Patagonia DAS parka. A Marmot Greenland baffled parka would be even better (that’s the warm parka I got for my wife).

Top layer: down pants or snowmobiler bibs (of varying quality—the good ones are expensive), or an 8000-meter suit, or a huge XXL Marmot Yukon parka. Comments…

I found the 8000 meter suit to be too warm for climbing or hauling a sled or used inside a sleeping bag---and very cumbersome--but great for just standing around. Got rid of it—wish I still had one and should probably get another one, but what I have works to about -20. I like the Yukon because unlike most parkas it is very long and has six big pockets. I may shoot it up with more down.

Warmer parkas. When I first went to China on an expedition, in 1980, I purchased a Swan Down Company parka and a sleeping bag. They made the down gear for the Chinese Everest expeditions and that was the name of the parka and bag. The parka weighed eight pounds and did not compress—solid down. I could not sleep in the bag, even at -30---too hot. Swan was evidently eaten by other companies, but with your business acumen you might find that an equivalent is still being produced. Amazing products; we have nothing to match them.

Head:

Ski hat or Mad Bomber or the latter with a polypro balaclava plus the hoods.

Hands:

Fine wool gloves (Ibex) or the fancy new little things that allow me to work my iPad, plus various down and polypro mittens—the usual companies.

Yes, this is thousands of dollars worth of gear. However, it constituted my “work clothes” for years and kept me alive, and, most important, the stuff works better than anything else. In my life you looked for any small advantage. If I were to add another layer it would be another quilted polypro system because it won’t compress as much as down. That should give you at least six inches of insulation--not eight inches, but with the above provisos, very good indeed, and without twelve layers.

Other observations:

I was raised in Oceanside, so I know your climate. Northern Jackson Hole has/had only six frost-free weeks a year. I’ve been snowed on every month of the year. It’s always cold here and, over time, our bodies have adapted. When I go to Hawaii I’m a sheet of water for two weeks. Going into cold is like going to altitude—it takes the body lots of time to adapt. It seems that most of your trips are for one or two nights. In a cold desert that’s hard on anyone’s body.

Some of our guides are hard-core vegetarians, but they find that in very cold weather they don’t do well without meat.

If you are going to be out for eight to ten hours, Gortex in the top layers is important. Otherwise you get damp and damp means cold.

I hope you find some of this helpful, or at least interesting. Thank you again for your many informative posts. If in the future I buy more lenses, I will buy them from you.

Dark skies.

Jack


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Starman1
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Reged: 06/24/03

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Re: Books on dressing for cold weather while observing new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5697713 - 02/24/13 02:19 AM

Jack,
Thank you very much for the time you spent to answer.
I can see I have several things going against me: I'm a vegetarian, I travel from sea level to >8000' for an over-night stay and have to adapt to the altitude, and my body temperature is naturally low--lowest at 3-4am.
I will always have a difficult time with extreme cold when just sitting outside.

For example. my legs are covered with stretch fleece tights, 2 layers of 300 fleece, NorthFace -40 down pants and an overlayer of thinsulate-insulated Gore-Tex pants and despite that, I cannot keep my legs warm at 25 degrees above, let alone at zero. I end up walking back and forth during the night to generate some body heat. I drink several ounces of hot beverage hourly, and snack on sugar-laden treats to keep my energy level cranking during the night.

Staying up is not the problem. Staying warm is.
So I very much appreciate the advice. I think I just may be one of those individuals who has to dress significantly warmer than most just to stay comfortable. I think I was a lizard in a past life--I'm comfortable at over 100F in the desert and I've rescued people who were suffering from heat stroke and even carried one person out of the desert without water, and suffered no heat-related problems for it. I would love to live somewhere where the temperature never dipped below 80F if there were such a place on Earth. If it weren't for my wife, I'd never use air-conditioning in the summer and my house easily exceeds 100F if I don't. It's ironic I'm so heavily infatuated with a hobby that keeps me out all night in cold temperatures.
Perhaps, with your advice, and Jim's, I can take a few steps toward being, finally, comfortable at sub-freezing temperatures while sitting outside all night.

My best regards.


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