Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mid-season winter outing pushes bag limits

As I followed the weather for this past weekend, the estimated temps started in the 40s with a high chance of precipitation. As the week grew on the estimated high dropped into the mid 20s and the low was estimated to hit the low teens. And the wind would pick up. All in all, a great opportunity to be outside. The only thing that it was missing was some precipitation.

In my third installment of "How cold can I push my Hydrogen," I was determined to use the 30 degree bag despite lowered forecasted temps. The purpose of the experiment is to determine what I need to wear at what temps to stay safe throughout the night. If I can wear (insulating) clothes to bed, I can carry a lighter sleeping bag or quilt and be just as comfortable. It was also my first time out with my recently-acquired GoLite Ether.

I wore the Ether over my R1 Hoody all day - it was windy and the temps were colder than I anticipated. The hoods on both stayed up and never went down for long (the R1 not at all). The windshirt did an excellent job of cutting the wind and being breathable for the moderate exertion I did, but I needed the extra warmth from my softshell jacket throughout the afternoon.

I also left my puffy down coats behind this past weekend - my sole puffy insulation on my torso was my Thermawrap Parka (see sidebar - I adore this parka). I also did not bring another insulating hat out, instead opting to rely on my three hoods to keep my noggin warm (base layer, windshirt and puffy parka).

Weekends with the scouts typically require more insulation because there is more downtime - standing around while the scouts work on snow shelters, participate in team-building or other games or other tasks. Because of this, I was skeptical that my insulation would be sufficient come late evening.

My skepticism was (mostly) in error. I was plenty warm throughout the evening, and I made sure I moved around enough to keep blood flow up - the various skills that need to be taught require demonstrations and guidance that keeps one's metabolic rate up. The (mostly) part came in the nighttime during sleep. In bed, I removed my softshell clothing and windshirt and kept the rest of my lineup on - I added my Thermawrap pants as extra insulation for my legs. Once again, I slept with a single 57" Ridgerest and a generic closed cell foam chunk under my feet.

My toes got cold at about 3 a.m., and then again at 5 a.m. The first time, I removed my VBL socks to see if that was the problem - nope. My toes were cold again my 5 a.m. I ate a few hundred calories throughout the evening and maintained adequate hydration to help keep my body temp up. All of this worked fine and I had a very restful sleep - I was refreshed when my alarm went off at 6:35 a.m.

Finally, to all the Scouts and leaders who are now following this blog - Hello! and I hope you find what you seek and enjoy what you find.

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