Staying dry during heavy winter activities
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Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: New England
Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 10:40:40 MST Print View

How do you stay dry or dry out when engaged in heavy-exertion winter activities?

I'm one of those people who perspire easily and heavily. When snowshoeing I'm in a base layer and windshirt, and I'm still sopping wet. Couple of years ago I was building igloos (quinzees to be precise) and went through all three sets of my dry clothes in one day. As long as I was working I was steaming, but the moment I stopped to rest I nearly froze in the 0-10F temps.

How do you keep from freezing during a break (without soaking a down puffy layer), and how do you dry out while staying warm in the spare?

I spoke with an Army Special Forces guy who said they'd hang their wet baselayers on a tree at night and smack them against the tree in the morning to knock off the ice before putting them back on. I'm not sure I'm that manly.

Curtis

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 11:43:38 MST Print View

"When snowshoeing I'm in a base layer and windshirt, and I'm still sopping wet."

1. If you get that hot, then you may be wearing too much. Skip the windshirt and get a thinner base layer. If you are wearing a warm hat, get a thinner one.

2. If you get that hot, then maybe you aren't pacing yourself properly, or maybe your load is too heavy. We know all about that.

There is an old Sierra Club saying: Take off some layers before you get hot. Put on some layers before you get cold again.

--B.G.--

Gerry Volpe
(gvolpe)

Locale: Vermont
winter dry on 01/22/2012 11:59:29 MST Print View

Edited because of late night intelligability.

Edited by gvolpe on 01/24/2012 19:19:00 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Thinner, more uniform layers. on 01/22/2012 13:25:22 MST Print View

I get to practice my clothing systems after a snowfall at home because I've got 400 feet of driveway to shovel by hand*. If you don't, I'm sure your neighbors wouldn't mind a hang (smile).

*I figure I can spend $1000 on a snowblower and $1000 on a gym membership or neither and get the same exercise.

My manta, which I literally repeat to myself in my head is, "Inupiat (Eskimos) don't let themselves sweat." I try hard to remove layers BEFORE exertion and of course to have wicking clothing when it's warm (10-40F). When it's cold (sub zero), even cotton and wool are workable, although not as high-performance and less amenable to mistakes like sweating or falling in a creek. By taking it off beforehand, I have dry clothing to put on afterwards.

Note WHERE you sweat and reduce your layers there. For me, it is my back, chest, crotch and feet. People tend to shovel snow in heavy boots and a big jacket. It works better for me to have a t-shirt and gore-tex running shoes but wear a ballcap and maybe a neckwarmer. A more uniform layer all over me. For the few outfits I have with full zips, I'll sometimes unzip at my hips to ventilate my core more than my arms and lower legs. That definitely helps.

Skiers' and runners' outfits are generally better at this - they tend to be a uniform thickness all over although at colder temps, I like a wind block in front but not behind to balance the windchill versus evaporation.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 13:29:01 MST Print View

>"I spoke with an Army Special Forces guy who said they'd hang their wet baselayers on a tree at night and smack them against the tree in the morning to knock off the ice before putting them back on. I'm not sure I'm that manly."

It depends on the weather conditions and the fabrics, but, yeah, moisture can wick to the surface and form delicate ice crystals that are easily shaken off. It's not completely dry, but much better than it was. Avoid putting it where it will radiantly cool - where it has a view of a clear sky at night.

During the day, sunlight can sublime water from ice to water vapor, especially for dark-colored synthetics. Cabin dwellers up here sometimes use clotheslines in midwinter before bringing the dryer clothes inside to finish drying.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 13:37:59 MST Print View

A couple of miscellaneous tips:

1) Try a Brynje fishnet baselayer. They are much more resistant to wetting out than polyester or wool layers.

2) Use a more breathable windshirt. Something around 5 cfm air permeability is ideal. You should be able to make a circle with your thumb and index finger, put the circle under the fabric, and blow a bit of air through the fabric when the fabric is taut. Windshirt fabric varies greatly, even from batch to batch of a single manufacturer/model due to process variations in calendering.

3) If you are sweating, and you are wearing more than just your base layer, you are wearing too many clothes. (period.) Note that this is a bit problematic with the fishnet tip, because the big drawback of fishnet is that it makes a very poor sole layer.

4) Try a vapor barrier layering system -- thin baselayer, VB layer, additional insulation as needed. This will teach you when you begin sweating too much and condition you to reduce layers when appropriate. You will learn to stay on the "cool side of comfortable". Interestingly, once you learn what "cool but comfortable" feels like, you can often adjust layers without needing a proper VB.

5) Even if you don't use a "real" VB layer, try wearing your wp/b rainshell under your puffy insulation layer during rest stops. All non-air permeable wp/b fabrics rely on a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the membrane to achieve moisture transfer through the membrane. When you put a lot of insulation over a wp/b jacket, this temperature difference becomes much smaller and the wp/b layer behaves much like a VB layer. This will keep your down parka dry (well, dri-er...)

Good Luck,

-Mike

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 13:45:53 MST Print View

What Bob wrote, definitely.
If you are sweating in the snow you are too hot, you are wearing too many clothes, and may going too hard. YOU are doing it.

As an added thought: if you are sweating and can't slow down, why on earth wear clothing which is going to get wet? Take it off and keep it dry. Wear the lightest possible clothing, only just enough to keep the UV off.

Cheers

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
eskimos on 01/22/2012 13:48:52 MST Print View

would regulate their activity so as to not to sweat if possible ... thus for a long time white man considered them to be "lazy" ...

they knew however that sweating meant death

to prevent freezing during short breaks, simply zip up ... or put on a synth vest ...

if you are wearing the thinnest base layer and the most breathable windshirt possible ... and s getting your down jacket damp at breaks ... go synth

read this ...

http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/kinrec/research/media/Cold_Weather_Clothing.pdf

and this

http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/view/the_art_of_not_suffering

Edited by bearbreeder on 01/22/2012 14:13:45 MST.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
winter on 01/22/2012 17:20:44 MST Print View

Sounds like too much clothing or the wrong clothing.

Alpine skiing and hiking with skis , I wear only thin polypro top , light synthetic shirt, and uninsulated shell, even with single digit temps and high winds on peaks and exposed areas and never have been cold. (nose,ears, fingers, lips excluded) Lower half is polypro bottoms and lightly insulated ski pants.


My clothing is never "wet", not even moist at end of day it dries so quickly. Wearing other clothing in the past it did get soaked though, so I think the choice of clothing is important for moisture transport.

If I start getting warm, the jacket is unzipped and so are the pit zips until I get cool again. And gloves/mittens come off. If Im too warm, off comes something else, shirt or polypro top. If Im cold, things get buttoned up, and neck gaiter gets added.

I used to carry extra layers with me in a pack, but never needed them

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 17:21:34 MST Print View

I agree that if you are in a baselayer and windshirt and are sweating, step one is to take off the windshirt. Get a white baselayer shirt and it will be the coolest if there is sun. What are you wearing on your legs? just as important. My own experience is tha the coolest, most breathable baselayer I have used was really light wool - ibex I think - it was very light, slightly see-thru, and when I wore just that it was like wearing nothing except it worked well as sunscreen. Nice for high altitude spring ski tours with intense UV and warm temperatures. On warm days I wore just the baselayer, top and bottom. I have since switched back to synthetic baselayer because the wool just doesn't last as long and costs more. But it did work the best.
Also, a light and breathable sun hat is a must. And when you stop you will have to add something quickly if it is cold and especially if windy, so full zip shell pants may be a good idea. Active management is the best thing you can do - constantly paying attention and making adjustments so that you don't sweat and don't get chilled. You have to be ahead of the game, taking off the layers ahead of time and adding them ahead of time. Sometimes this means stopping just below a ridge, pass or summit and adding layers before you get there and the wind hits you.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 17:56:54 MST Print View

As someone who is in the same boat as the OP there is only so much you can do. Sometimes simply being out breaking trail in the winter is sweaty work and no matter how little you wear you'll sweat. For me I tend to only have issues with my upper body sweating though, legs and feet are just fine. As others have said it becomes about keeping your insulating layers dry.

Trick for me is that put on a VB jacket when I stop and then add insulation layers over that. I've found that the wet layer(s) dry under body heat and the VB jacket keeps everything else dry.

For example:
10-15F
0-10mph wind
24" deep snow
30" snowshoes
moving at 1.8 to 2.2 mph
Carrying 30lbs

In the above conditions I woulds only wear a silk weight long sleeve polypro on my upper body and I STILL would sweat through it. I'd add / remove a super thin soft shell jacket as needed.

As for building a quinzie, it's humid, sweaty work. I recommend that you wear a silk weight base layer, rain pants, and rain jacket (sillnylon works great and can double as VB clothing)when you're digging. Once you stop add your puffy clothing over your rain gear and walla, warm and dry!

Edited by chadnsc on 01/22/2012 17:59:22 MST.

Colin Parkinson
(parkinson1157)

Locale: Ontario Canada
Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 19:24:47 MST Print View

I work outside year round from +30 to-30c, I also sweat very heavily, those head sweat hats are a joke and don't even talk about Goretex.

So for outside heavy winter work I use the following system thin poly base layer and a wind shirt, venting as needed (opening zip, taking off hat, etc.)

In really cold weather a thin fleece on top of the base layer maybe necessary.

Don't forget the head ( A thin synthetic hat (sort of wind proof does wonders)

Here's the thing never ever change while working or during short breaks. Instead during a short break remove the wind shirt and you will be amazed at the amount of steam that comes off you, this is drying your base layer and cooling you at the same time. When the steam stops and the chills begin put your wind shirt back on, instant heat, when you cool further it is time to work again. At longer breaks when the steaming and sweating stops put on your insulation layers, as you are at this point at most damp the insulation will not be impacted.

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: New England
thanks for all the input... on 01/22/2012 19:41:12 MST Print View

Thanks to all for the input. As was mentioned, it isn't a matter of wearing too much as I'm only in the thin base layer and trying to regulate somewhat with the windshirt. I just perspire way too much.

The key takeaways for me are:

  1. keep the damp base layers on until the day/project is done

  2. wear the jacket as a vapor barrier

  3. put the puffy layers over the top
As a vapor barrier, which is better, a Marmot Dri-clime or REI Shuksan eVent jacket?

David wrote: I like a wind block in front but not behind to balance the windchill versus evaporation.
Aha! I'd seen these and initially thought they were stupid, but just now I see the light.

Thanks!
Curtis

Edited by rutilate on 01/22/2012 19:47:16 MST.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: thanks for all the input... on 01/22/2012 20:42:18 MST Print View

Curtis-

Neither a Dri-Clime or or a Shuksan jacket will work particularly well as a VB. The Dri-Clime has too much air permeability, the eVent jacket should be somewhat more effective, but it too is likely too breathable. The best pseudo-VB layers are PU or PTFE membrane wp/b jackets.

BTW, that DriClime windshirt is quite warm due to the microfleece liner. If that is the windshirt you were talking about in your original post, you might consider either wearing it on bare skin (no base layer) or trying an unlined windshirt like a Patagonia Houdini.

Cheers,

Mike

Edited by MikeMartin on 01/22/2012 20:56:29 MST.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re Staying dry during heavy winter activities on 01/22/2012 21:53:13 MST Print View

I didn't see mention of your lower body clothing. When snowshoeing most of the heat is being generated by the big muscles of your upper legs. Try to dump that heat at the source.

Light, breathable pants with no base layer might be the ticket. I used to overdress my legs because I didn't have a good solution for rest breaks. Then I got some insulated over pants with full zips for breaks or campwear. Now I can go with just light stretch woven pants, knowing that I have the over pants if needed.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Temp or humidity diff on 01/23/2012 03:11:31 MST Print View

> All non-air permeable wp/b fabrics rely on a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the membrane to achieve moisture transfer through the membrane

Excuse for the thread drift but I must ask, wasn't it about a humidity (not temperature) delta? At least for precisely the non-air permeable stuff

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Temp or humidity diff on 01/23/2012 10:02:07 MST Print View

>> wasn't it about a humidity (not temperature) delta? At least for precisely the non-air permeable stuff

Yes, strictly speaking, you are correct. I was trying to keep it simple without slipping too far into geek-speak. ;-)

Membrane based wp/b fabrics rely on vapor diffusion for their moisture transport. And, vapor diffusion relies on a difference in the partial pressures of water vapor on each side of the membrane.

The partial pressures, in turn, are affected by both temperature and humidity. Putting a wp/b layer under an insulating layer reduces the temperature differential; a humidity differential is likely to still exist. Hence, a wp/b layer will not function as a complete vb. But, it will greatly reduce moisture flux into the outer insulation layer.

Cheers,

Mike

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Humidity differential on 01/23/2012 10:03:23 MST Print View

Inaki: Yes, it is the difference in absolute humidity on each side of a membrane that results in a net flow of water vapor in one direction. Temperature enters into it because the warmer air next to your body can hold more water vapor and typically does because your body is a source of water vapor. At 30C, versus at 0C, air can hold 5.5 times more water vapor. And will, if you are sweating.

A much smaller effect is the average speed of the water molecules which is a weak function of temperature. At 30C, versus at 0C, air molecules travel 5% faster on average - a small effect.

I was addressing permeable fabrics above, but for non-permeable fabric, that difference in absolute humidity is the big factor, too. Air that leaves though a permeable layer carries its water molecules with it.

But in a puffy layer, since air can hold 0.027 kg water/kg air at 30C next to your body, but outside air can only hold 0.005 kg water / kg air at 0C, liquid water (or ice in colder conditions) can condense inside the garment. That's bad. You either need to not sweat so much or to ventilate well enough to remove the bulk of that humid air from near your body. Or use a VB to keep that humid air from traveling through the puffy layer.