Sometimes, when I’m on a hike in cold areas, I mean REAL cold areas, where temperatures regularly reach -35 to -45C, I feel thankful for all the advice I was given to me years ago by my friend Yutai, who had lived all his life in the land that has now been named Nunavut.
Yutai was blessed in 2 ways–he knew how to clothe himself with skins as well as modern-day textiles, and best of all, he knew how to combine the two to ensure you were never in trouble if caught out in a snowstorm or blizzard.
What Yutai taught me is now universal, or should be, amongst us hikers, and that’s layering.
Up in the North, unlike anywhere else on earth, it’s not healthy to sweat. For those of you who don’t know the answer, let me tell you why. As Yutai said, in cold weather, you must at all costs try and avoid sweating, as when you stop your work, that moisture that has settled in your clothes will freeze, and that frozen moisture can kill you with hypothermia just as soon as not wearing any clothes will.
So in order to beat that, he taught me to wear my clothes in layers…as an example, I wear a vest first, then a full sleeve fleece, on top of that I will wear another fleece with a hood and then on top of that, I will wear a fur hat and waterproof/windproof jacket, with thermal gloves on my hands.
For my lower torso, I wear thermal long johns, two pairs if it’s really evil out there, then outer waterproof pants.
Once I’m on the hike, and if I find myself beginning to sweat, I stop and take off 1 layer and restart the hike and so on….it’s real funny sometimes, as you may see me walking on thick snow with ice all around, wearing just my base fleece, as once you’re on the move, you get pretty damn warm!
Following Yutai’s advice, I have never had to hang up my clothes once I’m at camp, in order to dry out the sweat. Remember this….it may help save your life!