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Thread: Dressing for winter in the boreal forest

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    Default Dressing for winter in the boreal forest

    A group of us are setting off across the Atlantic this winter to explore the Boreal forests of Canada under the guidance of Mors Kochanski.

    Some of our party have no prior experience of these conditions, so to assist them in organising their outfit, I put together this mini tutorial.

    It then occurred to me that quite a few members of the BushcraftUK community are venturing into the Boreal forests this winter. I know at least 17 of you are signed up for the BCUK Norway Expedition with Bushcraft Expeditions, and then there are those on the Woodsmoke ‘Northern wilderness’ expedition with the Conovers (which I understand has a cancelation place available) and perhaps many more. So I thought I would post this here where it might be of benefit to a wider audience.

    This tutorial outlines my personal clothing for extended stays in the Boreal forest wilderness at temperatures dipping to around -30 degrees centigrade; much of my advice is of course based on personal preference, it is intended only to provide guidance until such time as you have developed your own preferences through experience.

    First and foremost you should seek and heed the advice of your expedition leader, the advice enclosed here should be viewed as strictly secondary and adjunct to that of your expedition organiser, who will be more familiar with the environment you intend to visit and the specific requirements that your expedition will place upon your choice of clothing. For example travelling by skidoo or on skis will significantly alter your requirements in a way that this tutorial is not intended to cover.

    My apologies for the poor quality of the photographs, the light is poor at this time of year and the limitations of my home required the use of a wide angle lens which causes significant distortion, the pixilation of my face is not intended to conceal my identity, but rather to disguise the unsettling distortion of my face!

    We shall begin with an overview, then discuss each layer successively:



    The observant may notice the prevalence of natural materials, primarily wool, leather and cotton. All insulating layers are wool, reinforced where necessary with leather, the outer windproof layer is of closely woven cotton.

    Synthetics have little of benefit to offer in this environment, waterproof membranes are not required; almost all water encountered other than your own perspiration will be in frozen form. Porosity is a far greater requirement, any perspiration which fails to find its way easily to the exterior will form moisture in your insulative layers dramatically undermining their function, even forming frost in the outer layers.

    Becoming damp at these temperatures is exceedingly undesirable! For this reason you should aim to regulate your dress throughout the day so as to maintain the sensation of being just a little cold, much as you might experience in an enthusiastically air-conditioned building, rather than aiming to be comfortably snug; this will avoid much of the undesirable perspiration in the first place. To this end, it is not unusual to strip right down to your base layers on the upper half of your body when undertaking hard physical work, such as man hauling or bucking wood.

    Synthetics also have a tendency to retain and amplify body odour as a base layer and often lack sufficient resilience for use as an outer layer, being especially susceptible to direct heat. This given your dependence on open fires and stoves is especially troublesome.

    Thus the only place in which synthetics are found in any quantity is on the soles of my footwear, where the exceedingly robust nature of synthetic rubber is of benefit, though not essential. In the right conditions leather soles work equally as well, though perhaps with a penalty to longevity.

    Those with a keen eye may also have noticed the black 1 pint USAF pilot’s flask which appears in the photograph. Whilst not an item of clothing I attest, I deemed it of sufficient importance to grant it an appearance.

    It often comes as a surprise to the uninitiated to discover that the potential for dehydration is significant in this environment, but in my experience it is more insidious in its nature here than in the deserts of the Middle East. At these temperatures the air lacks any inherent moisture, whilst you have the pleasure of watching the moisture stripped from your lungs drift away from you in billowing clouds with each breath. The physical labour of bucking enough wood to satiate the appetite of an open fire when you lack the considerable benefits of a stove adds to this fluid lose considerably. Hydration is further hampered by the lack of water in liquid form, on many occasions the only source of water will be that melted from the surrounding snow, the heating of which consumes much time and fuel, and once obtained any water not judiciously protected will revert quickly to its frozen state.

    Thus the flask gains its importance; an unbreakable thermos flask becomes a desired bedtime companion, for the hot drink it provides you with come morning. But an ergonomically shaped flask which will slip easily between your insulating layers will be welcome during the day, nestled above your stomach it will remain liquid and provide you with water on demand, and should be refilled at every opportunity.

    The Base layer:

    Woollen thermal underwear, clothing at its least complimentary.



    Mid-weight long-sleeved Merino wool underwear, give every possible consideration to comfort here, especially around the neck; which should be roomy and avoid any zips or other fasteners. For the legs, I like to run a little colder here, to compensate for the fact that I cannot conveniently regulate the insulation on the lower half of the body as easily as I can the top half.
    I also prefer ¾ length wool leggings, since I find that full length leggings invariably bunch up blow the knees during the course of the day anyway, this approach accepts the inevitable without the annoyance of multiple folds of material gathering behind the knees, it also eliminates one of the overlapping layers of material that amass where the mukluks/socks meet the base layers/trousers. The lower halves of the legs are covered by the upper reaches of the long thick wool socks.

    Others apparently have no trouble with full length leggings, or else remain stoically quiet on the subject. I must admit here that I still carry a full length pair in my pack as an emergency replacement (should my initial set become wet through some miscalculation) under the assumption that in extreme cold I might want to swap out the ¾ set the extra insulation of the full length pair, but as of yet I haven’t felt the need to do so.

    It should be noted that apart from socks and an emergency spare leggings, I don’t carry any additional base layers in my pack. The pair I am wearing will serve for a week, aired each night in the heat of the stove where possible.

    The Mid-layers:



    Wool trousers, tall enough at the waist to cover the navel and kidneys and roomy enough to accommodate all insulating layers, kept in place with suspenders. This particular pair (Old Swedish army issue) is also equipped with leather straps at the hem to secure them to your footwear.

    The upper Mid-layer should be your most versatile; to this end I find a Merino wool ‘hoodie’ with a full length front zip, holes in the wrists to accommodate the thumbs and pockets inside, in which the pilots flask and camera batteries can be kept warm. (The model shown is manufactured by Rammite)

    Fully charged camera batteries, if not kept close to the body in extreme cold will discharge in minutes. If it will be necessary for you to refer regularly to your watch, the wrist is a poor location for it; it will be concealed beneath multiple layers of clothing. Attaching your watch to your mid-layer in the manner of a hospital nurse will be more convenient, if your watch is battery powered avoid attaching it to your outer layer for the reasons referred to on the subject of camera batteries.

    A wool hat and neck gaiter, both should be given the greatest consideration, for their weight no other items of equipment will be as valuable for keeping you warm. The hat should be capable of comfortably covering the ears, and likewise the gaiter (or if you prefer scarf) should comfortably cover the face up to the bridge of the nose without sacrificing coverage of the neck.

    The mukluks, which make an appearance here, will be discussed later.


    The 2nd mid layer:



    An additional heavy weight wool layer, to be removed and replaced as activity and temperature demand. Cut large enough to cover previous layers without any restriction to movement; the quarter length zip, high collar, and thumb loops are all desirable features.

    Note that the suspenders go over all insulating layers; the reason for this may not become apparent, until you are in need of a secluded spot to relieve yourself, and realise that you will have to remove all layers above that of the suspenders to drop your trousers. To quote a famous comedy act “by the time you have found it, you will have forgotten what you wanted it for”


    Windproof outer layers:



    The final layer serves to keep the wind from disrupting your personal microclimate and protect the layers beneath from accumulating windblown snow. A densely woven cotton smock is ideal; I am fond of this cotton jacket based loosely on the British army arctic smock (which is a smock only in name, having a full length front zip). A hood is essential and a fur ruff is a welcome luxury, I use this jacket in a wide variety of climates, and as such have had to forgo the fur ruff. Pockets should be volumous and secured with large buttons. If the jacket is closed by way of a zip fastening it should be exceptionally robust, the failure of the zipper would undermine the function of the jacket. Zippers should also be fitted with toggles large enough to be operated without removing your mitts.

    I prefer to fold the lower half of my jacket back under itself and secure it around the waist with the drawstring, this creates in effect a large pocket around the waist into which I can drop my mitts when I need them out of the way, without risking their loss.

    The photograph above shows the hoods of both the jacket and the hoodie employed, and all mid layers zipped up fully with the gaiter covering the face and the hat pulled down over the ears.

    The picture below serves to illustrate that properly thought out and sensibly arranged layers allow you to micro-adjust the insulation to meet your requirements.

    Should you need to rapidly cool off due to (or in imminent anticipation of) a burst physical excursion, but wish to avoid removing layers around the torso, conscious that they will be required again momentarily or because the situation does not allow; your clothing should be arranged such that you can throw back the hoods and unzip to the chest exposing the head, neck and chest down to the base layer; allowing the chimney effect to rapidly draw away the excess heat from the body. The hat and neck gaiter go into the large pockets on the front of the jacket.

    It may also be possible to draw back the sleeves to expose the wrists and forearms, which although not nearly as frequently desired, can also be beneficial when preparing food or working with water that might otherwise result in the insulation here becoming wet.



    The Hands:

    The hands pose their own special problems, being especially vulnerable to the cold and yet grossly inhibited in their function by any attempt to insulate them.



    Many people prefer to wear liner gloves inside their mitts, I do not, reasoning that when I take my hands out of my mitts I want maximum dexterity to get the required task accomplished as fast as possible and allow me to return my hands to the comfort of the mitts more quickly.

    I prefer piled wool inner mitts, with a robust leather outer mitt. Other than to open and close your hands lobster fashion, sufficiently enough to control an axe, all further dexterity is sacrificed for warmth. The inner mitt should be easily removed so that it can be hung up in the warmth above the stove, or otherwise taken into your sleeping bag; but fitted to the outer mitt such that the two do not separate when you draw the mitts off during the day. The opening of the mitt should be large enough that you can slide your hands into them as easily as you might a pocket, since once you have one mitt on you will have little to assist you in donning the other.

    It is beneficial to have some method by which you can remove your mitts and have them hang from your neck or from your wrists, which does not interfere with donning or doffing them, and prevents them from blowing away when they are removed to perform some momentary task. Losing a mitt will really ruin your day!

    I cannot recommend one particular method as I have yet to find one I am entirely happy with. Currently, if I fear there is risk of losing them, I remove my mitts, by partially unzipping the front of my jacket and passing my hand in and between my ribs and elbow, where I can grip the mitt to my side with my arm and withdraw my hand leaving the mitt inside my jacket (which as mention before is closed at the bottom). Repeating with the other side, if both hands are required. It works, but is not ideal.

    A soft fluffy section on the back of the mitt is a nice feature for wiping your nose, probably not hygienic but you’ll quickly forgive that.

    I also carry a pair of fleece lined leather gloves in the top of my bag, one of which appears in this picture. It’s not always so cold as to require mitts, in which case these provide the necessary warmth whilst affording more dexterity.


    Footwear:

    My own preference here is for the early version of the Canadian army issue Mukluk, as it draws on much of the technology of traditional native Mukluks without the hefty price tag and with increased durability.



    These boots are completely porous with the exception of the rubber sole and a small area over the toe and heel covered by rubber to protect the material beneath. There is no membrane or any attempts made to provide water resistance in the early versions and they are all the better for it, later versions were coated inside up to the ankle, and if you can avoid them you would (in my opinion) be better off with the former.

    The porous nature of this sort of footwear allows the insensible perspiration of the feet to escape, where it would otherwise saturate the wool.

    Inside the fabric outer are two wool duffel liners, sewn together at the hem, this allows you two pull the inner liner out, creating a double ended sock in appearance, which doubles the surface area and subsequently halves the drying time.

    These twin liners sit atop a substantial wool foot bed which insulates the foot from the ground, and this in turn sits atop a woven plastic mesh footbed, which acts as a frost trap, the theory being that as the perspiration travels though the wool foot bed it will eventually freeze as it meets the cold coming up from the ground, the provision of the frost trap attempts to allow most of the frost to accumulate within it where it is easily removed, rather than in the wool footbed.

    The duffle liners, footbed and frost trap should be removed each night and hung up to dry in the warmth of the fire/stove, to remove what perspiration remains.

    Many shy away from this type of unproofed mukluk, fearing that their feet will get wet from snowmelt. This is a rare event if used with consideration, but should temperatures rise unseasonably or the heat from a long term fire pit has made the immediate area slushy, I can always resolve the problem by removing the liners and stuffing a plastic carrier bag in each mukluk before replacing the liners; instant waterproof membrane, that I can remove at will!

    What is certain is that boots with a waterproofing treatment, or ¾ rubber covered duck boots, will become unavoidably damp inside from perspiration, this might not be immediately hazardous, but if you are unable to dry them out overnight, you will find them noticeably colder the next day, and the next even more so, and so forth.

    Finally, a few last tips for Mukluks, whilst they are specifically made for the left and right foot respectively, it is often hard to discern which is which without turning them over, to help avoid fussing about trying to put them on the wrong foot in low light, draw a big R and L on the toe (or just the R if you want to be conservative) with indelible marker. Make sure you have them the right way around before commencing though!

    The laces (originals replaced with white paracord) are only very loosely retained by six large d-rings, but as such they often shift, resulting in them frequently being longer on one side than the other; to avoid this, simply larks foot the lace to on of the first D-rings nearest the toe.

    I hope this is of help to those seeking out the colder places this year.
    Last edited by Stuart; 14-12-2009 at 00:19. Reason: spelling and grammar correction
    Success is not measured by what you have, but by what you can do without.

  2. #2
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    Speaking as someone who lives in a chilly area (it will be -17°C tomorrow, and -35°C or below in Jan/Feb is quite possible), I can't fault Stuart's comments, I can only give praise. I have some visitors from the UK arriving for this winter, and they've reassured me that they've got "good gore-tex jackets" and "tough boots with a solid commando sole". They will suffer frozen sweat in between slipping on the ice, but you can only take a horse to water.....

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    Cheers for this Stuart

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    Excellent stuff Stuart

    Thanks for taking the time
    Rich



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    Excellent, and thoughtfully presented as ever Stuart

    As an aside, I have been clearing out our loft and have come across an old pair of Arctic issue leather overmitts, the ones with canvas gauntlet cuffs.
    To solve the problem of hanging onto them in adverse weather conditions, when the hands are otherwise occupied, or in the dark, this pair are held together with a long, narrow canvas tape.
    This method is still used for children's mittens today. Basically the mitts go on before the outer jackets and the tape runs up the arms and across the back of the neck. It doesn't get in the way at all, but when a mitt is removed it just dangles at hand. The tape ought to be made to fit the individual.
    Just a very simple and practical idea.

    cheers,
    M
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    What a brilliant post, Stuart, I think you need to see a doctor tho' before yer go, you don't look too good.

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    A very good article, excellant choice in materials and kit for the task - braces are a must when working in layers and snow, a great comfort and stops everything from hanging around your ankles, I hope you all have a good trip mate.

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    Very good, and as others have said there is nothing to find fault with. Personally I like to add a layer of cotton on my legs as well, and I like the smock style scandinavian anoraks. If all of this is white one ends up looking like a Heroes of Telemark reenactor, but that is a freebie.

    For mittens the old style Swedish army mittens (white leather) is good, but one can easilly make ones own from canvas, suede or soft leather. Thick knitted mittens (a.k.a. Lovikka) is the standard liner around here. Bring extra liner mittens in case you get wet (perhaps one thinner and one thicker pair). I use a cord harness for my mittens; one length that goes around my neck from mitten to mitten, and one crosspiece in front of my chest (forming an "A" with long legs). This allows me to tuck them away behind my back when doing my part for the nitrogen cycle (also know as pissing), etc. I like to bring thin wool five finger gloves, for when I need to fiddle with anything cold and metal (usually someones ski bindings), but seldom wear them as a standard practice.

    One thing I missed in your list was a warm hat. I like the trapper style fur hats. Often too cold to ski in (but not at -45 C!), but very nice when resting. Make sure it is adjustable, with ear- and neckflaps that can cover or uncover your neck and cheeks. Adjustable with mittens is a plus, but hard to accomplish (thongs and leather cord-lock actually works ok for this).

    And one more thing; a warm parka for rest breaks. I like the new M90 parka (the older version with a hood, they reportedly removed it after the commander in chief surprised a soldier on guard huddling inside his hood), but any "down" jacket that can be quickly donned when you stop will do (before I got the M90 I used a XL down jacket, when I normally draw a medium to large). It does not need to be a posh brand name Canada Goose, all it needs to do is add some insulation easilly. When skiing you only need a little insulation (often only the inner wool undershirt and the shell), but when stopping for a 5-10 min break you want to quickly add some insulation; a warm hat and parka is perfect for this (i.e. pack these such that you can get at them quickly). I also carry insulated outer pants (with full lenght leg zips), but only use them for longer breaks when it is really cold, or as emergency backup pants.

    I like the mukluks, I wonder if I could get my hands on a pair? How do I tell the unrubberized ones from the newer stuff on ebay? The soles should allow them to be used with my special ski bindings (Tegsnäs Epok), which handmade mukluks do not (too soft and floppy). How are they sized?

    One more tip; if the canteen has a wide opening one can fill it partly with hot water and add snow. I keep mine inside the sleeping bag at night, so I have some water in the morning first thing; I always take out my thermos, weight it in my hand and go "nah, too heavy" and put it back, even if I know it is a good thing to have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by susi View Post
    "good gore-tex jackets" and "tough boots with a solid commando sole". They will suffer frozen sweat in between slipping on the ice, but you can only take a horse to water.....
    I've seen gore-tex bivy sacks at -30 C. As a homework exercise you can calculate the vapour preassure over the membrane at this temperature, assuming 100% relative humidity inside and 0% outside for the sake of simplicity. Despite the fancy bivy the sleeping bag got damp, I wonder why...

    And boots with GT membrane and *two* layers of thin socks...

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    Fantasic thread , thanks for posting ,
    Twodogs
    " Its all about the wool !! "....

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    Very helpfull,thank you.
    Chris.

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    Superb Stuart!

    I thought that the Rammite top was of similar weight to the Arktis/Country Covers Arctic shirt? Both were what I thought of as pretty light. When you were in Canada before, you used a Swandri shirt, how did the Swandri wool compare to the layers of merrino?

    Just one pair of socks in the mukluks?

    Since I am one of the nuts accompanying Stuart to Canada, I have started taking a keen interest in cold weather gear. I found, but have yet to explore, this interesting looking site:
    http://www.wintertrekking.com/

    Cheers Stuart!
    "If you can keep your head, while those around you are losing theirs, you may not have grasped the seriousness of the situation."

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    Nice one Stuart,

    Along with Chris and Rod I'll also be there.

    Answers a lot of questions now I need to short list some choice items which I'll post up for feedback.

    Stuart I'd be interested in your feedback on the Swandri too.

    David
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    excellent post sir. Bravo

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    Quote Originally Posted by forestwalker View Post
    Personally I like to add a layer of cotton on my legs as well, and I like the smock style scandinavian anoraks.
    The Swedish army trousers are quite a tight weave for wool, with the mukluks covering all below the knees and the potential for the jacket when let down to cover to mid thigh, I rarely find the need to wear a windproof cotton layer in combination with them.

    The Scandinavian anoraks are great value for money, the Swedish army snow smock can be had for just £13 here: http://www.genuinearmysurplus.co.uk/...tail/rowid=692

    Quote Originally Posted by forestwalker View Post
    I like the trapper style fur hats. Often too cold to ski in (but not at -45 C!), but very nice when resting. Make sure it is adjustable, with ear- and neckflaps that can cover or uncover your neck and cheeks. Adjustable with mittens is a plus, but hard to accomplish (thongs and leather cord-lock actually works ok for this).
    I love fur hats, they are one of those garments that seems to put you in character as soon as you don them. For pure functionality though, I find them too warm much of the time, unless the temperatures really take a serious tumble and stay there. Their lack of adjustability often results in being so warm as to forced you remove them, at which point your head and ears begin to chill painfully, forcing you to don it again and thus the cycle repeats itself. I find the combination of a wool hat and hoody to provide a greater range of thermoregulatory adjustment.

    Mors wearing a Swedish snow smock, and myself wearing a large fur hat:



    Quote Originally Posted by forestwalker View Post
    And one more thing; a warm parka for rest breaks. I like the new M90 parka (the older version with a hood, they reportedly removed it after the commander in chief surprised a soldier on guard huddling inside his hood), but any "down" jacket that can be quickly donned when you stop will do (before I got the M90 I used a XL down jacket, when I normally draw a medium to large). It does not need to be a posh brand name Canada Goose, all it needs to do is add some insulation easilly.
    Ah yes, I’m glad you mentioned that, I was remiss in failing to mention it. A XL down jacket for resting when out in the open is a very desirable item, especially since it takes up so little room and weight. I no longer carry one, but only because it’s been replaced by the multifunction wonder that is the Jerven Fjellduken, produced by those clever Norwegians. I throw it on as giant jacket, or just a blanket when taking a rest stop and use it to protect my sleeping bag from hoarfrost when in snow shelters, were I often configure it as a sleeping bag type garment with arms when cooking or organising kit, I also have the peace of mind that should an ice storm blow in and I cant make it back to camp, I can climb inside and sit it out.





    I use the Multimate model, which allows me to remove the insulating liner and use the outer as a standalone tarp.



    Unfortunately they are very expensive, and the ‘multimate’ model that I use (with the removable liner) no longer appears to be available to the public, though it’s still in service with some units of the Norwegian and Danish military.

    I wrote a review for BCUK a few years ago, the articles area of BCUK is down but the review is also reproduced on the Jerven website and in their catalogue: https://jerven-com.secure.flexiweb.no/page/7366/

    I’m also playing with the ‘Jacks ‘R’ Better’ ‘no sinveller quilt’ at the moment, I’ll be taking it to Canada with me this year to experiment with it. The plan is to take a PHD -17 down sleeping bag, and use the No siniveller quilt inside to provide additional insulation where needed during the night, by day it can be removed from the bag and used as a large down jacket, weighing less than 600 grams and packing down to the size of a pop bottle.

    the no siniveller quilt can be found here: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/Wearable%20Quilts.htm if you buy one, tell them your from BCUK, it wont get you a discount, but it will make them smile.

    Quote Originally Posted by forestwalker View Post
    I like the mukluks, I wonder if I could get my hands on a pair? How do I tell the unrubberized ones from the newer stuff on ebay? The soles should allow them to be used with my special ski bindings (Tegsnäs Epok), which handmade mukluks do not (too soft and floppy). How are they sized?
    They are very difficult to find outside of Canada, and its impossible to tell the semi waterproofed ones from the earlier versions without close inspection, the treatment that I have seen consisted of a thin latex type coating on the inside which came up to the line of the d-rings and in most examples was peeling off anyway.

    I am a size 8.5 in the British System, and wear a size 9 medium in Canadian mukluks

    Quote Originally Posted by forestwalker View Post
    One more tip; if the canteen has a wide opening one can fill it partly with hot water and add snow.
    A wide mouth ergonomically shaped flask would be the ideal, but the only wide mouth flasks I have been able to find are the Nalgene type, which don’t sit at all comfortably against the body.
    Last edited by Stuart; 14-12-2009 at 14:17.
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    Quote Originally Posted by C_Claycomb View Post
    I thought that the Rammite top was of similar weight to the Arktis/Country Covers Arctic shirt?
    Your right, it is exactly the same weight. I suppose both would be better referred to as medium weight wool fleece.

    Quote Originally Posted by C_Claycomb View Post
    When you were in Canada before, you used a Swandri shirt, how did the Swandri wool compare to the layers of merrino?
    The Swandri ranger shirt was good, but didn’t offer as much insulation as the merino fleece, and was not as comfortable. it does have the advantage of being more much more resilient if you intended to wear it as our outermost layer much of the time. I prefer to let my smock protect the merino fleece from getting snagged.

    Just one pair of socks in the mukluks?
    Or two depending on the weather, more than that and they become a little restrictive, its important that your mukluks are roomy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart View Post

    A wide mouth ergonomically shaped flask would be the ideal, but the only wide mouth flasks I have been able to find are the Nalgene type, which don’t sit at all comfortably against the body.
    Would a platypus/camelback bladder work?
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    Has anyone tried out a "Vapour Barrier" system?
    Love makes the World go round......Lust makes it all go pear-shaped...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart View Post
    The Swedish army trousers are quite a tight weave for wool, with the mukluks covering all below the knees and the potential for the jacket when let down to cover to mid thigh, I rarely find the need to wear a windproof cotton layer in combination with them.
    I wear them not so much for the wind as for the way they keep the snow off my pants (and I wear M58 pants myself) and outside my boots. In particular when digging I like the additional protection they offer.

    I love fur hats, they are one of those garments that seems to put you in character as soon as you don them. For pure functionality though, I find them too warm much of the time, unless the temperatures really take a serious tumble and stay there. Their lack of adjustability often results in being so warm as to forced you remove them, at which point your head and ears begin to chill painfully, forcing you to don it again and thus the cycle repeats itself. I find the combination of a wool hat and hoody to provide a greater range of thermoregulatory adjustment.
    As I said I very seldom ski in them, they are more a garment for rest breaks and around camp; the knitted cap (the Ullfrotte balaclava is quite good for this) is the normal skiing headgear. And I have a fox hide that is destined to become a new hat; the pattern in Edna Wilders book on Eskimo fur garments is for one with less fur covering than the commercial one I currently use. Should be a good compromise.

    Ah yes, I’m glad you mentioned that, I was remiss in failing to mention it. A XL down jacket for resting when out in the open is a very desirable item, especially since it takes up so little room and weight. I no longer carry one, but only because it’s been replaced by the multifunction wonder that is the Jerven Fjellduken, produced by those clever Norwegians. I throw it on as giant jacket, or just a blanket when taking a rest stop and use it to protect my sleeping bag from hoarfrost when in snow shelters, were I often configure it as a sleeping bag type garment with arms when cooking or organising kit, I also have the peace of mind that should an ice storm blow in and I cant make it back to camp, I can climb inside and sit it out.
    I really must get myself one of those Jervens. Or buy the material and sew one myself, thereby allowing for idiosyncratic notions and general skinflintness, of course. If nothing else it would be quite nice when sitting around waiting for the moose to cooperate and come by so I can shoot them.

    Unfortunately they are very expensive, and the ‘multimate’ model that I use (with the removable liner) no longer appears to be available to the public, though it’s still in service with some units of the Norwegian and Danish military.
    One could possibly buy the basic fjellduken and some insulation from them and make ones own version; they sell the material for a fairly reasonable price.

    They are very difficult to find outside of Canada, and its impossible to tell the semi waterproofed ones from the earlier versions without close inspection, the treatment that I have seen consisted of a thin latex type coating on the inside which came up to the line of the d-rings and in most examples was peeling off anyway.

    I am a size 8.5 in the British System, and wear a size 9 medium in Canadian mukluks
    So the size 11s on ebay should work with my size 10 (US) feet. I'll have to give it some thought ($70+$30 shipping). I've been drooling over the Stegers, but those look quite interesting and somewhat cheaper. Of course, with my Sami boots I don't actually need another winter boot for cold snow wear...

    A wide mouth ergonomically shaped flask would be the ideal, but the only wide mouth flasks I have been able to find are the Nalgene type, which don’t sit at all comfortably against the body.
    I have a "flat square" 500 mL bottle in HDPE that works well for me (I use a double contstrictor to attach the neck strap to it). Not ideal, but not too bad either.

    P.S. Say "Hi" to Mors from the guy who used a Zeppeliner bend on the neck thong to his knife at Ragnaroek many years ago (in case he remembers me).

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    Whats the sizing on these swedish army snow smocks like? i'm guessing they're BIG sized for going over all your kit?
    thanks for the link btw

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melonfish View Post
    Whats the sizing on these swedish army snow smocks like? i'm guessing they're BIG sized for going over all your kit?
    thanks for the link btw
    Just ordered one. Was told that they were sized BIG, so as to go over whatever else you have on. Will let you know when it gets here.
    "If you can keep your head, while those around you are losing theirs, you may not have grasped the seriousness of the situation."

    “Of all tyrannies, one sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, for those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience...”
    paraphrased C.S. Lewis.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by C_Claycomb View Post
    Just ordered one. Was told that they were sized BIG, so as to go over whatever else you have on. Will let you know when it gets here.
    That is my take as well (mine is a size 50, which is perhaps one size larger than I'd try on in a suit jacket; I'm 175 cm and 85 kg). The idea is to go over everything but your parka, with some level of ease. Mine is actually the button front one, but with the "double flap" button system one can pretty much ignore any buttons one does not want to use. By being loose any snow that is in contact with it will not get warm enought to melt (as easilly).

    One hint; roll upp the hood when not in use, this keeps the snow out of it until you need it (the hoods are great for collecting any snow that falls down from branches you touch). Personally I ignore the waist drawcord under at least 95% of all conditions. The crotch strap ("hidden" up the back normally) is usefull in high wind, if you are crawling backwards (e.g. while digging a snow shelter or when hunting or playing soldiers), or if you just jumped out of an aircraft. And for looking silly when it has come loose.

  23. #23
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    Stuart,

    In the top photo with Mors, he looks so at ease, he appears to be a fella who's been out walking his dog and gone to investigate some strange goings on in his neighbourhood.

    Cheers, Michael.

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    Whats the difference between the Jerven Fjellduken multimate and the thermo and extreme modals?
    Cheers
    Twodogs
    " Its all about the wool !! "....

  25. #25
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    One more thing; I like the full lenght wool long johns, since the wool-on-wool friction will help keep my socks from sliding down. I saw some from a finnish manufacturer that made the lower leg bit thinner and more "elastic" in order to make them say in place better

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    Good advice Stuart, thanks for the article.

    Those mukluks look like nice footwear.

    That fjellduken looks very handy, how much does it weigh?

    Besides that my winterclothing looks very much alike. It's very good in the forest. One thing I like is to have camp in the forests and go on daytrip in the mountains (above treeline), there the swedish army wool trousers are ok as long as the wind isn't blowing too much, but it's wisest to have a wind pants of tight woven cotton with you (if you go up in the mountains).

    I also use an M90 varmejacka or just an extra sweater in the pause. The varmejacka is on the heavy side.

    Other then that I find that winter can be quite unpredictable these days, in Sweden/Norway the temperature can still get around zero in January, February and March. Making the pure cotton clothing less reliable, as they are too hard to dry once wet.

    Skiing in the sun between -7 and 0 I think the swedish army wool trousers get way too hot (without longjohns under them). But then again, you can just open the fly for ventilation

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart View Post
    Is anyone else thinking "Mrs Tiggywinkle" here?

    ...are you sure I only need 1 ?

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    LOL@Bikething

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnix View Post
    I also use an M90 varmejacka or just an extra sweater in the pause. The varmejacka is on the heavy side.
    Which why I like it; if I have it I "can" survive a night out much betten than otherwise, and if it is -50 C, windy, a new moon, heavy cloud cover, and 10 PM being able to just wrap up in my clothes is valuable. Which is why I'm interested in the Fjellduken, and thinking about bodging up a version of the model Stuart has; not quite as good a garment as the m90 parka, but more versatile.

    Skiing in the sun between -7 and 0 I think the swedish army wool trousers get way too hot (without longjohns under them). But then again, you can just open the fly for ventilation
    The trick (IMNSHO) is to strip down the rest; skiing in wool pants -- and in wet snow I'd be even more carefull to keep a cotton layer on the outside than usual -- my thinnest wool undershirt and a cotton smock (in good weather I've even done the semi-nudist version; just make sure not to become sunburned). No mittens, no hat, no scarf, open neck, etc. That is tolerable just as long as one quickly gets into the parka+hat+mittens as soon as one stops. Yes, the cotton pants will be soaked fairly soon, but they are a layer that one can remove when needed, and dry next to the fire when given a chance. The wool pants are still nice and dry, which is of much greater importance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikething View Post
    Is anyone else thinking "Mrs Tiggywinkle" here?

    Very!
    Love makes the World go round......Lust makes it all go pear-shaped...

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