Now I like to think of myself as very skeptical, and acknowledge things like confirmation bias, the power of suggestion, and the placebo effect. Being mindful of these things drives me to attempt to be more objective. However in this little experiment of mine, I am not sure much of these issues are at play, due to one very important control factor: shivering.
I am sure it is possible to do the whole mind over matter thing and not shiver even though you are really, really cold. But I really don't think that I would suddenly overcome an involuntary bodily function just to validate my new clothing system as effective. I think I would just shiver, be cold, and then go back to the drawing board. I am happy to report that I don't think I will need to go back to the drawing board, only polish a few things here and there.
Test 1: I put on my new and lighter clothing system above to go for a walk around my neighborhood. Before I left, I checked my thermometer, and it was -3C, a bit colder than the weather report predicted. I did not take backpack, and I decided to leave my outer gloves at home and see how just using my inner gloves would work. I went on a 30-35 minute walk. The first 5 minutes I was indeed chilled, shivered mildly, and thought that things were not looking good. Then I got moving and warmed up and stayed warm. By the end of the walk as I was coming home, I am convinced I could have gone on walking all night and been warm and comfy. I did not shiver at all after the initial chill wore off after 5 minutes. The only part of me that was chilled a bit were my hands, so the outer gloves stay in the mix. If I would have had my backpack on me, I would have been even warmer, it is also important to note.
Test 2: After I got home I put outer gloves and my two "night layers", a synthetic vest and beanie, then went into my backyard and sat in a chair to simulate sitting around camp. Of course at camp I nearly always have a fire. Anyhow, I sat for about 15-20 minutes and did nothing. I was warm and comfy the entire time. If not for boredom, I could have stayed out much longer. Again, no shivering--this time no shivering at all. Throw in a campfire and I would probably have needed to take off a layer and my hat. I checked the temperature again when I got inside, and it was -3.3C.
I am pleasantly surprised, I must admit. I am perplexed how a 207g windbreaker seems to provide about the same amount of warmth as a 460g poofy synth jacket.
Once again thanks for the great feedback. I have lowered my clothing worn weight by a solid 1020g (2.24lbs) and kept the same warmth and comfort level, though my base weight did go from just below 8lbs to 8.36lbs. I think a lot of it has to do with the new base layer. Merino kicks ass!
2012 looks to be even better backpacking than before, I can't wait to get out more. I think I just might convert the content of this thread along with some pictures and write post for my blog. But first, I have to finish reading Sartre.