debunking the no-layers myth
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Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
debunking the no-layers myth on 11/14/2011 15:34:24 MST Print View

Here's a theory I heard a few weeks ago that might explain why you're cold at night, with or without clothing. A hiking friend told me she is convinced that as we hike during the day we perspire and leave a film of salt on our bodies which acts like the salt in an ice cream maker. That is, the salt draws out heat from our bodies just as the salt in the ice cream maker draws out heat from the ice cream to make it colder faster and set up as ice cream. It's so crazy it might even have some merit.

She said the secret to being warmer at night has nothing to do with clothing, but it has to do with taking a quick bandanna bath to get all that ice cream salt off! I swear I am not making this up.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: debunking the no-layers myth on 11/14/2011 16:07:21 MST Print View

salt draws out heat from our bodies just as the salt in the ice cream maker draws out heat from the ice cream

Nope.

It's the temperature difference between the ice cream inside the canister and the ice/salt mixture outside the canister that draws heat from the ice cream. The function of the salt is to lower the melting temperature of the ice so that it is lower than the freezing temperature of the sugar/cream mixture inside the canister. It DOES have the side benefit of speeding the cooling and freezing by increasing the temperature difference (and the heat energy flow) ... but that would only come into play for a salty person in a sleeping bag if there was also ice inside the bag and the soon to be hypothermic victim would need to be VERY VERY salty.

However, keeping your clothing clean does help it maintain insulating value so regular bathing (as well as washing/drying clothing) can have some warmth benefit on longer trips.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: debunking the no-layers myth on 11/14/2011 16:18:04 MST Print View

"She said the secret to being warmer at night has nothing to do with clothing, but it has to do with taking a quick bandanna bath to get all that ice cream salt off!"


Sounds like good 12th Century physics to me. Apply two leeches and call me in morning. :)

Edited by dwambaugh on 11/14/2011 17:22:05 MST.

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
clothing v. ice cream on 11/14/2011 16:32:19 MST Print View

Jim - thanks for your explanation! I'll practice it a few times, and next time I see her, I'll try to recite it. I doubt it will change her mind, though. She can be really rabid about her theories.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
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Edited by xnomanx on 11/14/2011 18:40:56 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
myth on 11/15/2011 11:09:04 MST Print View

i always thought that the source was the recommendation where if you went hypothermic, they would take off all your presumably wet clothes and bundle you in sleeping bags/mats naked ....

course something made up by college boys sounds quite plausible as well too ;)

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
The Power of Observation on 11/28/2011 23:15:59 MST Print View

Laypeople are notoriously bad at observing the world, and even worse at making connections between cause and effect of the things they do observe. Remember, for hundreds of years people thought flies were "born" out of raw meat. People knew that there was something going on with raw meat and flies--after all, flies ARE born out of raw meat, in a way--they just didn't get the details right because they didn't realize (or perhaps care) that they had to use extra information to make a connection to something they couldn't immediately observe. The issue of clothes in a sleeping bag is basically the same kind of thing.

Laypeople know that there's something going on with clothes and sleeping bags. Anecdotal evidence is plentiful. All you have to do is hike a long day, make camp, flop down in your sleeping bag and go to sleep in your clothes. Then, on another night, do the same thing, but this time taking off your clothes before going to sleep. Given ideal environmental conditions, you'll probably shiver more on your clothed night, at least while you're awake. It's an open and shut case!

From the more enlightened perspective of a specialist, we know that evaporating water absorbs heat from the surface it evaporates off of. Further, we know that clothing accumulates moisture from our sweat throughout the day, and that even if it doesn't appear wet to the touch, it is likely quite moist. We know that we need to apply our background knowledge about evaporation to our choice of clothing before bed (i.e. not wear wet clothes to bed). Laypeople don't know this. They want to believe that the universe has simple, unconditional rules they can abide by in any and all circumstances, thus avoiding the use of their brains. Thus they ignore basic principles of insulation because they get hung up on principles of evaporation that they don't understand.

I think for most people on this board, we forget that laypeople use very, very simple shortcuts to draw their own conclusions about the world that neither require the scientific method, nor produce informative conclusions. Quite often, the word of an elder or trusted friend is sufficient to convince someone that something is true. How can you expect to convince someone like that to use their own brains, much less believe the results of your use of your brain? As someone said earlier in the thread, there are times when you change the topic of conversation to the weather, and this may be one of them.

Edited by artsandt on 11/28/2011 23:27:29 MST.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
even a light layer on 11/30/2011 08:44:38 MST Print View

I'm with Piper, well, on this issue... even in warmer weather, I will wear some base layer of my lightest stuff and unzip the bag if necessary, to avoid direct contact with my bag. I think it dirties the bag faster and causes me to sweat the bag more, if I don't have that layer.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: debunking the no-layers myth on 11/30/2011 09:33:13 MST Print View

Well, while I have not, until now, ever been able to sleep in the cold without my warm layers, I insist, unequivocally, that I have always slept and walked naked under all my layers! In fact I always go naked all the time under all my layers wherever I go! I have never not been naked at base!

Though, it isn't a myth that the Inuit slept naked. As did the Tierra del Fuegan's, who also hardly wore any clothes most of the time, even in winter. They used campfires extensively, and would sit squatting with their legs drawn up to their chests. Darwin thought they were insane!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
inuit on 11/30/2011 10:00:02 MST Print View

the inuit also slept naked together ...

i believe thats also one of the recommended hypothermia treatments ... to get all the damp clothes off and put another naked person in the bag ...

the less there is between you and another body ... the warmer it is

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: debunking the no-layers myth on 12/02/2011 00:12:12 MST Print View

Our "thermometer" for how "cold" we feel is in our feet/hands/ears. If our feet are cold but our torso warm, we think we are "cold".

Better to take off layers on your torso and wrap them around your feet. If you truly are very close to freezing then this is not a good idea, but for the most part no one is sleeping that lightly.

As everyone else has said, get out of wet clothes. Evaporating/warming up water is HARD work. Buy VBL liner socks or bring plastic bags to put over your feet then a DRY sock over that and you will be TOASTY warm. Or at least feel that way.

Try it. Turn your heat off at home till its "cold" under "normal" blankets at home and then put on a plastic bread bag and a warm sock over this and you will magically "warm-up".

Why? Cuz we tend to associate 'warmth' with whatever is happening with our feet. Its also a blood circulation problem. Same reason old folks have eternally blazing hot houses. Their blood circulation gets worse with age and they "feel" cold feet/hands and therefore turn the temperature up.

Being out of shape has a LOT to do with how warm you sleep as when you are out of shape your capillaries are not as numerous in your body and therefore pumping blood through your body to keep you warm is less efficient and your feet/hands will conversely be "colder".

0) Get in shape to stay warm
1) Get out of wet clothes
2) If its supposed to be 30 at night take a sleeping bag good for 20 or 15 so you can:
3) Place wet clothes over said bag or over your dry clothes inside the bag to dry them out or
4) Let them freeze at night and shake out the ice crystals and then change into said clothes in the morning and then SPRINT around warming everything up!

Edited by footeab on 12/02/2011 04:28:10 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
A breath of fresh air on 12/02/2011 01:44:50 MST Print View

I haven't read all of the posts, but this kind of thread is what really drew me into BPL. It makes me wish I had started it. Thank you. :)

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Re: Re: Re: debunking the no-layers myth on 12/02/2011 09:59:36 MST Print View

I put my damp/wet clothes into a big zippered plastic bag and put the bag inside my sleeping bag. No, they don't dry, but their moisture doesn't get into my sleeping bag insulation and the clothes are warm when I put them on in the morning. Unless it's pouring rain, they soon dry, and the morning "dance" is usually not required.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: A breath of fresh air on 12/02/2011 11:12:37 MST Print View

For me the biggest influence regarding sleeping naked vs. adding layers is this:


With only a thin baselayer I can comfortably sleep in a 30 degree bag down to right around 30 degrees.

If I wear a down jacket, pants, and booties I can comfortably sleep in the same bag (and same pad) down to 18 to 20 degrees.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: debunking the no-layers myth on 12/03/2011 02:42:44 MST Print View

"I put my damp/wet clothes into a big zippered plastic bag and put the bag inside my sleeping bag. No, they don't dry, but their moisture doesn't get into my sleeping bag insulation and the clothes are warm when I put them on in the morning. Unless it's pouring rain, they soon dry, and the morning "dance" is usually not required."

I can't believe I have been so blind over the years NOT to have done this. Its not as if I don't have one or two black plastic trash bags along with me at all times! Not to mention if one did want to dry them out faster inside your sleeping bag, letting them warm up wet inside a bag and then 'pumping' the warm moisture out would dry them faster as well.

Thanks Mary!

<< The "obvious" smacks me in the forehead >>

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Storing wet clothing on 12/03/2011 03:48:42 MST Print View

Or you could just turn your packliner inside out, and store your wet clothes in there.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
No layers myth...depends on what you mean by sleeping. on 12/03/2011 05:34:21 MST Print View

I am out hiking with appropriate clothing. WHY would I remove them just to lay down inactive and go to sleep???? It doesn't make sense...

I tried this back when I was a young pup. The wife and I headed out and spent a cold night in our bags. We tried it neekid. . .worse for cold . . .interesting otherwise.
You CAN "sleep" with a partner naked, but don't expect to sleep for long...

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: debunking the no-layers myth on 12/03/2011 06:55:08 MST Print View

I insist, unequivocally, that I have always slept and walked naked under all my layers! In fact I always go naked all the time under all my layers wherever I go!

I do believe that would indicate that Miguel is a Stealth Naturist. Come to think of it, most of us are! Miguel is just the first to come out of the closet. :-)

Edited by jcolten on 12/03/2011 06:55:46 MST.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re Stealth Naturist on 12/03/2011 07:01:58 MST Print View

I've just realised i'm a Stealth Naturist too! What have you done by opening my eyes, Jim?
All these years i've been wandering around naked in public, under my clothes!
The shame!:)

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re Stealth Naturist on 12/03/2011 07:07:09 MST Print View

I've just realised i'm a Stealth Naturist too! What have you done by opening my eyes, Jim?
All these years i've been wandering around naked in public, under my clothes!
The shame!:)


Shame? Not at all! ... yet another example of "The truth shall set you free." ... he-he

Edited by jcolten on 12/03/2011 10:25:30 MST.