Main Menu

Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Why A Synthetic Base Layer Is Better Than Wool

February 14th, 2019

Why A Synthetic Base Layer Is Better Than Wool

Fashion always seems to go in full circles, and this is no more truer than with thermal underwear. For centuries wool had been the winter underwear of choice but this changed with the invention of man made yarns in the 1940s and 50s. New materials made from these raw materials lead to the spread of the synthetic base layer towards the end of the 20th century. However, over the past decade the market has seen a resurgence of performance woollen underwear, with synthetic base layers being much maligned, albeit by woollen vested interests.

Before people start to dispose of their ‘plastic’ underwear and adopt a more ‘environmentally friendly’ woollen clothing system, they should really consider the following points:

User Comfort

Wool can be itchy. There is no getting away from it. If people have sensitive skin then it doesn’t matter how soft the wool actually is, it is going to irritate the wearer. Sometimes this can be psychosomatic, but that is no comfort if you are on top of a mountain scratching away.

Synthetic fabrics on the other hand have a very soft handle, especially polyamide, that rarely irritates the skin. The long smooth fibre profile glides over the skin rather than scour it. This smoothness also helps other items of clothing to glide over a synthetic base layer, helping to prevent rubbing and chafing.

Longer Lasting

Being a natural product, wool will degrade over time. This was fashionably demonstrated by HRH Prince Charles who buried an old woollen jumper. Although this composting ability is seen as a major advantage it does have the disadvantage in that the longevity of a woollen base layer is short. You will be lucky if one set lasts you a season if used regularly.

In comparison, a synthetic base layer will not degrade, well not in your lifetime anyway. Viewed mainly as a negative to the environmental lobby, this is in fact a positive – a thermal base layer for your lifetime. Most people only change their synthetic base layer if a) they loose it b) they boil wash it and shrink it c) change body shape that means the fit is no longer good d) fancy a different colour.

Better Moisture Management

Wool acts a bit like a sponge, soaking up moisture when in contact with it. Defenders of this process will state that it doesn’t feel wet, it’s just absorbed internally. OK, this is true for about 25% absorption, but if you fall in a body of water you are going to have a very heavy base layer. Just feel the weight of a washed jumper before the spin cycle.

With a synthetic base layer basically being made form plastic, water absorption within the yarn is very low, and is in fact 0% in polypropylene base layers, effectively making them waterproof. The construction of the garment will dictate how much water is actually held (rather than absorbed) but this is often marginal. With these base layers, and especially polyamides, you can impregnate hydrophilic treatments in to the yarn itself to further aid moisture movement.

Superior Washing

Most people will have probably shrunk a woollen jumper at some point in their life. Its a natural reaction by the wool fibres to heat, water and mechanical action to want to revert back to their original curly shape. Think of straightened frizzy hair after getting rained on. Some woollen base layer can be washed on a cool cycle with no spin, but most recommend hand washing and line drying, which is ideal in the summer, but a pain in the bum in the winter when you are going to use them the most.

Don’t get me wrong, synthetic base layers will shrink at high wash temperatures, but put them on a washing machine spin cycle at 30-40oC and you will have no issues. Due to their low water absorption, they will also dry much quicker.

More Environmentally Friendly

If you interviewed most outdoor enthusiasts, the vast majority would probably believe that woollen base layers are more environmentally friendly than synthetic versions. You can understand why. It’s a natural product that rots down and absorbed back in to the earth. But scratch a little further and all is not as it would seem. Wool is not something you just sheer off the back of a sheep and wear. There are a lot of energy intensive processes involved to get a finished product that is relatively soft and user friendly. So if you are having to buy one woollen base layer a year, over your lifetime that is a lot of energy and resources used.

In contrast, a synthetic base layer may not be biodegradable but it will last a long time and is a lot more robust. You may only ever need one thermal set in your lifetime if you are lucky enough to stay the same shape. Once you have finished with, it can also be recycled in to the next base layer for someone else lifetime.

Purchase Price

For just coming off a sheeps back, the cost of a finished wool product is very expensive, mainly due to the amount of processes involved. A new set every year is going to be cost prohibitive to a lot of people, especially with the added risk of laundry damage and natural wear and tear.

A good quality synthetic base layer of comparable weight and style will probably be around 15-25% cheaper. Once you start to multiply the cost by the lifetime of the garment, you are getting a lot more bang for your buck with a synthetic base layer.

When Wool Should Be Used

There are certain situations where we would advise woollen base layers to be used. If any person has the possibility of contact with fire such as in the aviation industry or the emergency services, then woollen base layers are ideal, as the fabric chars rather than burns. There are also industrial applications, such as welding, where sparks or high temperatures may be around the wearer.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Advice, Base Layers | Comments Off on Why A Synthetic Base Layer Is Better Than Wool

Down Jacket Repair Tips And Tricks

January 29th, 2019

Down jacket repair instructions

If you have ripped your favourite down jacket then there are a number of options available to fix the tear. Our down jacket repair tips and tricks are quick and easy to follow without being onerous on your pocket.

You can of course do nothing, but over time the down insulation filling will billow out and you will be left with a very expensive windproof!

Preparing The Down Repair

Before you do anything you must ensure that the down filling is pushed back in to the hole. If the rip is small then use something thin and blunt such as closed tweezers or the end of a pen.

Try and avoid using items with a sharp tip that could push through the fabric if you slip, or a finger, as they often make the hole bigger.

If the fabric is dirty around the hole then you will need to clean it before applying an adhesive patch or tape.

Tweezers used for down jacket repair

Duct Tape Fix

Good quality duct tape is a quick way to prevent any further loss of down insulation from your jacket. Just cut the required shape and apply it. If you spend a bit of time pressing down the edges then they will not peel away very easily.

A lot of people use this technique as a permanent fix, but if you want something more aesthetically pleasing then you could use this as a temporary measure.

Duct tape used for down jacket repair

Down Jacket Repair Tape

Repair tape is similar to Duct Tape but it is a bit more refined in appearance and is easier to cut in to the required shape. These tapes come in both an adhesive form and an iron on system in both fabric and plastic materials.

Stitching

If you are handy with a needle then you can always stitch the rip in your down jacket. This can be a very permanent solution if done correctly. However, it can look very messy as you need to pull in a lot of fabric around the tear.

Stitching used on down jacket repair

Down Jacket Repair Patches

This is probably the best looking fix for small to medium sized tears in down jackets. The self adhesive backing on these waterproof flexible fabric patches is very sticky, allowing for good coverage over seams.

Most packs come with both oblong and circular shapes to avoid patches lifting off when edges are caught.

Down jacket repair patches

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Advice | Comments Off on Down Jacket Repair Tips And Tricks

Keeping Warm If Your Boiler Breaks Down

January 21st, 2019

Top Ten Tips For Keeping Warm Without Heating

If your boiler gives up the ghost in the middle of winter then you are going to be cold unless you take some practical steps. Our ten top tips for keeping warm indoors are easy to follow and require very little preparation.

Get It Fixed 

A no brainer you would think but a lot of people procrastinate over important decisions like this. The truth is the sooner you contact a heating engineer for a call-out, the quicker your boiler will be fixed. Always check your home insurance policy first as you may be covered for emergency breakdown cover.

Cuddle A Loved One

We have all seen it in survival movies and documentaries, and even Luke Skywalker used a Tauntaun to beat the cold – although he was technically inside it rather than cuddling it – but sharing body warmth with a partner or a loving pet is a great way to keep warm.

Wear Extra Layers

Before your house starts to cool down, apply more clothing layers to trap body warmth. You don’t need to go over the top and look like the Michelin Man, but digging out your thermal base layers and woolly jumpers would be a good start.

Be Active

Standing still in a chilly house will soon lead to you getting cold. Do something active such as hoovering and cleaning to generate body heat and take your mind off your predicament, plus you get a gleaming house in the process.

Stay In One Room

Heat rapidly dissipates through an unheated house so close all the doors and concentrate heat in to one living area. If your house is relatively draughty then think about blocking the bottom of doors with a towel or old coat.

Light A Fire

If you are lucky enough to have a wood burner then now is the time to light it! Burn it hard to start with to warm up the fire and the room, and then reduce it for a steady release of heat.

Emergency Heating

For those people without a log burner, getting instant heat needn’t be difficult if you have an electric ceramic, halogen or fan heater. They are relatively inexpensive to buy these days and are always handy to have as a back-up.

Eat and Drink

Try and keep yourself well fed and watered to ensure your bodies internal heat supply works at maximum efficiency – mainly through digestion. Avoid foods that will chill your body such as iced drinks and frozen foods, and try and consume foods you can warm up.

Boil Water

Electric kettles are not the most energy efficient of devices, but they can be used to fill hot water bottles for a quick heating fix, as well as providing a hot drink – just remember to check the bottles rubber seal before use.

Close Your Curtains

Windows can be one of the biggest areas of heat loss in your house. Even double glazed units will allow warmth to be lost. To prevent unnecessary cooling of your room, ensure your curtains are closed at night.

Keeping Warm Conclusions

Obviously prevention is better than cure, so ensure your boiler is serviced regularly to avoid preventable breakdowns. Should you be in a situation where you heating is not available in cold weather, common sense is often the best remedy.

If you are struggling to heat your house and pay your utility bills then speak to your supplier or get further advice and help from Citizens Advice

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Advice | Comments Off on Keeping Warm If Your Boiler Breaks Down

Driving In Snow Top Tips For Success

January 7th, 2019

Driving in snow can be perilous unless you are well prepared

There are no dark arts to driving in snow and ice. It is just a matter of being prepared and reacting to the weather conditions. Our comprehensive top tips should be useful to any driver, from the experienced to the inexperienced.

Road Worthiness

The first thing you should do before even attempting driving in snow is to check whether your car is road worthy for winter conditions:

  1. Treads on tyres should have at least 1.6mm but 3mm is recommended in the winter for extra traction and grip
  2. Ensure your car battery is working properly by getting it checked at a reputable garage or doing it yourself with a car battery tester
  3. Top up your engines antifreeze to prevent it from freezing in the cold
  4. Add a winter additive to your screen wash reservoir to prevent it from freezing
  5. Check your wiper blades to make sure they clear your window effectively. Old or worn blades should be replaced
  6. Store spare bulbs in your car and wipe the light glass regularly so you can see and be seen
  7. Keep your fuel tank regularly topped up to prevent unnecessary breakdowns

Be Prepared

Once you know your car is ready for driving in snow, you need to think about what kit you should store in your boot for an emergency. The amount you take with you will be dependent on the route and the length of the journey, but you should consider the following:

  1. A torch with spare batteries
  2. Stout shoes or Wellington boots – Never drive whilst wearing these
  3. A warm blanket or winter sleeping bag
  4. Thermal hat and insulated waterproof gloves
  5. Waterproof jacket and spare warm clothing
  6. Snow shovel
  7. Bottle of water and emergency food such as a chocolate bar
  8. Flask filled with a hot drink
  9. Fully charged mobile phone with a charging cable
  10. An old rug or sacking for placing under car wheels if stuck

Driving In Snow And Ice

  1. The first thing you should assess before driving in snow is if your journey is actually necessary. Speak to your employer to see if you can work from home or take the day as holiday. If your journey is necessary and unavoidable then follow these tips for driving safely:
  2. Research your route. All the major breakdown services will have up to date information of road conditions on their sites
  3. Get up early to prepare your car. Remove all snow and defrost windows thoroughly. Ensure your lights and number plates are clean and visible
  4. Leave earlier than normal and be generous with your expected journey time.
  5. Tell a family member of friend your intended route
  6. Dial your radio in to a local radio station with weather and road reports
  7. If your wheels are spinning in first gear when starting out, try pulling away in second gear
  8. Stick to main roads as they will more likely be ploughed and gritted
  9. Drive Slowly and anticipate breaking. On snow and ice covered roads the breaking distances can be up to 10 times further
  10. Apply brakes gently to help prevent skidding
  11. When coming up to a hill, leave enough space between yourself and the car in front to prevent breaking or stopping half way up
  12. Coming downhill, keep your engine in a low gear to slow your car down rather than applying the breaks

Breakdowns

If you should find yourself broken down on the roads or stuck in snow then the first thing to remember is not to panic. There will be other drivers in exactly the same predicament at yourself.

  1. If possible, move your car off the road to prevent other drivers form getting stranded
  2. Notify friends and family members of your situation and contact your breakdown provider
  3. If you are stranded in snow it may be possible to dig yourself out. Place a rug or old mat under the tyres to give extra grip
  4. Do not abandon your car if you do not know where you are or if you are not within easy walking distance of help
  5. Cars loose heat very efficiently due to the high metal content and low insulation so keep warm by adding extra clothing layers
  6. Try and keep your engine running if you want to use electric items such as heated seats and lights. Turn it in for at least five minutes every hour
  7. Ensure the exhaust is clear of snow before turning on your engine

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Advice | Comments Off on Driving In Snow Top Tips For Success

Waterproof Sunscreen For Swimming

May 21st, 2018


Male in a pool wearing waterproof sunscreen for swimmers

With the weather warming up and summer holidays just around the corner, people are dusting off their swimsuits ready for a dip in the briney. Public campaigns by charities such as Cancer Research UK have greatly increased the awareness of using sun cream when lounging on a beach, but there is still some confusion around sun protection in the water. For many land lubbers, using their existing suntan lotion whilst taking a quick paddle in the sea is going to be more than adequate. If you intend to spend longer in the ocean, it is advisable to use a specific waterproof sunscreen for swimming.

Why bother with sunscreen when swimming?

Some people think that being in water prevents sunburn. It is probably due to the fact that they feel a lot cooler, especially in the sea around the UK (brrrrrrrr), and cannot feel the suns rays on their body. People are also under the misapprehension that UV rays do not penetrate through water.

When UV rays hit the waters surface, around 30% are reflected, with the remaining 70% penetrating the water. So swimming on the surface is going to expose your body to UV rays directly from the sun and also those reflected from the surrounding water. This is why many swimmers who do not where sunscreen often complain that they get worse sun burn than lying on the beach. It is therefore imperative to get a good quality waterproof sunscreen for swimming.

 

Why should i wear waterproof sunscreen for swimming?

Most suntan lotions are not suitable for swimmers as they have been formulated to be easily absorbed by the skin without leaving a sticky residue. Unfortunately these are often easily washed off when swimming. Specifically formulated waterproof sunscreens for swimming usually have extra adhesion properties built in to them to prevent them from being rubbed off and washed off from the skin.

Do i need waterproof sunscreen if i am wearing a wetsuit?

The simple answer is yes. The wetsuit material (usually neoprene) with stop the UV rays form reaching your skin but there will be some parts of your body exposed to the sun, such as your feet and head. You need to apply waterproof sunscreen to these areas to prevent them becoming sunburnt, especially the face, as this often receives the most reflected UV rays off the water.

Care should also be taken when reaching the shore and taking off your wetsuit, as most of your skin will not have sunscreen applied. Leaving it exposed whilst ‘warming-up’ is a sure way to get burnt. Even if you feel cold, apply that sunscreen immediately.

How long do Waterproof sunscreens last?

No sunscreens are totally waterproof. They will eventually be washed off. Most waterpoof sunscreens for swimming have an effective time stated on them, either 40 or 80 minutes. If you are planning to stay in the water for longer than this then you need to think about using a wetsuit or a lightweight UV skin suit for extra protection.

Correct application of waterproof sunscreen

With all sunscreens, you have to apply them generously to your skin at least 30 minutes before you go in to the sun to allow them to be absorbed properly. After 40 or 80 minutes (depending on your sunscreen) they will need to be reapplied. If you dry your skin with a towel then you will need to reapply the sunscreen afterwards as well.

Jellyfish protection

If you are intending to swim in waters where you could come in to contact with jellyfish, then you should think about using a waterproof sunscreen with added sting protection. Some like the Lifesystems SPF 50 Sports sunscreen use an extract from plankton which binds to the jellyfish sting sensor and blocks it from sending a message to fire the sting. A mineral salt containing calcium can also added, so if the jellyfish sting sensor does send the message to fire, this mineral salt muddles the message, resulting in no sting.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Advice | Comments Off on Waterproof Sunscreen For Swimming

Winter Expedition Equipment Help

January 4th, 2018

Winter Expedition Equipment Help By Sub Zero

Winter Expedition Essentials

Choosing winter expedition equipment for the first time can be tough. As with all forms of mountaineering, hiking, walking or camping, packing depends on where you are heading to and how long you are going for.

As winter is one of the harshest times to go out exploring there are certain necessities you’ll need if you’re daring to head out into the wilderness. Certain equipment deserves space in every pack. You won’t need every item on every trip, but essential equipment can be a lifesaver in an emergency.

It can be quite stressful knowing what to pack and when, so, luckily, we’ve compiled this handy little list of all the essentials you’ll need for your next winter expedition!

  1. Navigation

Winter expedition waterproof map cases and pouchesWhatever season you’re going out in, you must know where you are, where you’re going, and how to get back. Always carry a detailed topographic map of the area you are visiting, and place it in a protective case or plastic covering. Always carry a compass too!

We have a range of different waterproof pouches that are perfect for keeping your navigation equipment safe and dry in all weathers. The thick plastic film and airtight closure system protects the contents from any water penetration, even to depths of up to 10 metres.

And if you are separated from your party, which can easily happen, a whistle can be a simple but reliable signalling device, so it’s worthwhile packing one.

  1. Insulation

Winter expedition insulating clothing by Sub ZeroA basic expedition outfit includes inner and outer socks, boots, underwear, trousers, shirt, sweater or fleece jacket, hat, mittens or gloves, and raingear. However, it’s always a good idea to wear a little bit more insulation, just in case!

When packing, always ask yourself this question: ‘What is needed to survive the worst conditions that could realistically be encountered on this trip?’

An extra layer of long underwear can add much warmth while adding little weight to a pack. It is also wise to pack an extra hat or balaclava, because they provide more warmth for their weight than any other article of clothing. For your feet, bring an extra pair of thick socks, and for your hands, an extra pair of polyester or fleece mitts. Pack extra tops to keep your torso warm, plus insulated trousers too!

 

 

  1. Illumination

Winter expedition torches and lampsIt’s essential to carry a headlamp or flashlight, just in case. Batteries and bulbs do not last forever, so always carry spares, pack more than you think you need.

We offer a range of different lighting options to choose from, from headlights you can wear, LED lanterns, and gas lanterns ensuring you have perfect visibility.

Remember, there are less daylight hours in the winter, so carrying a light with you is always important.

 

 

 

  1. First-Aid Supplies

Winter expedition first aid kitsCarry and know how to use a first-aid kit, but do not let a first-aid kit give you a false sense of security. The best course of action is to always take the steps necessary to avoid injury or sickness in the first place.

Your first-aid kit should be compact and sturdy, with the contents wrapped in waterproof packaging. At a minimum, a first-aid kit should include gauze pads in various sizes, roller gauze, small adhesive bandages, butterfly bandages, triangular bandages, battle dressing, adhesive tape, scissors, cleansers or soap, latex gloves, and paper and pencil.

Consider the length and nature of your trip when deciding what to add to your first aid kit. If you’re travelling on glaciers, for example, there may be no trees arounds to be used as improvised splints. Therefore, bringing a wire ladder splint would be extremely valuable in the event of a fracture.

 

  1. Nutrition and Hydration

Winter expedition water bottles and purifiers The length of your trip will depend on what food and water you’ll take on your winter expedition. However, you must pack for every eventuality, so always take more than you think you need.

The food should require no cooking, be easily digestible, and store well for prolonged periods. A combination of dried meat such as jerky, nuts, chocolate, granola, and dried fruit works well. If you’re taking a stove, hot chocolate, dried soup, and tea can be added.

Carrying sufficient water and the equipment to purify any additional water is also important. Always carry at least one water bottle or collapsible water sack. Widemouthed containers are easier to refill.

Travel water purification chemicals are based on the halogen element chlorine, either as chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite, or solid chlorine. Being a strong oxidant, chlorine rapidly kills harmful micro-organisms in water like bacteria, viruses and cysts, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. These travel water purification chemicals come in either liquid or tablet form and are lightweight and easy to carry. Just follow the instructions on the packs to quickly produce sterile clean drinking water. We stock a variety of water purifying kits, just check our site!

An accessory pocket makes it possible to carry a water bottle on a pack hip-belt for easy access. Some water sacks (hydration bladders) designed to be stored in the pack feature a plastic hose and valve that allow drinking without slowing your pace.

In cold environments, a stove, fuel, pot, and lighter are needed to melt snow for additional water.

 

  1. A tent/shelter

Winter expedition tarps and sheltersIf your winter expedition will last more than a day trip, it’s paramount that you carry some sort of shelter (in addition to a rain shell) from rain and wind, such as a plastic tube tent or a jumbo plastic bin bag. Another possibility is a reflective emergency blanket, which can also be used in administering first aid to an injured or hypothermic person.

Carry an insulated sleeping pad too, to reduce heat loss while sitting or lying on snow.

We have lots of different tarps that are lightweight to pack, easy to assemble and provide wind and rain shelter from your camp and tent. Keeping you warm and dry.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Advice | Comments Off on Winter Expedition Equipment Help

Stocking Filler Ideas This Christmas For Dad

December 14th, 2017

Stocking filler ideas for dads at Christmas by Sub Zero

 

If you are stuck for stocking filler ideas for your Father this Christmas, why not treat him to some British made hats gloves and socks to help keep him toasty. All are under £20 and compact, so won’t break the bank or his stocking!

STOCKING FILLER IDEAS

  1. Merino Wool Beanie Hat
    Luxurious and lightweight, these beanie hats will keep your head warm without being bulky. Their micro knit makes them ideal for wearing under motorbike and cycling helmets.
  2. Thermal Liner Gloves
    Worn on their own or as a thermal liner, these gloves will keep the chill away form your fingers, whilst the long cuff provides extra protection to your wrists.
  3. Windproof Head Band
    For the adventurous dad who cycles or runs. These headbands are made from waterproof and windproof stretchy soft shell fabric, with a contoured design to cover your ears and brow without obscuring line of sight.
  4. Meraklon Neck Tube
    The soft micro fleece interior keeps your neck lovely and warm even in the coldest weather. These neck tubes makes a great accompaniment to base layers and thermal mid layers.
  5. Lightweight Balaclava
    If your dad is an old rocker or a trendy mod, these balaclavas are thin enough to fit under motorcycle helmets to keep your head warm.
  6. Merino Wool Walking Socks
    Treat your feet to some of the most comfortable walking socks available. Made from premium Spanish Merino wool, these will keep your feet warm and dry all winter long.
  7. Fleece Beanie Hat
    A soft heavyweight alternative to the merino beanie hat. These fleece beanie hats are ideal for skiing and mountaineering where more substantial insulation is needed.

Sub Zero socks hats and gloves for dads stocking filler

If your dad is uber excited about his stocking filler presents, fuel his anticipation by getting him to follow Santa online delivering presents around the world on Christmas Eve with NORAD

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Advice | Comments Off on Stocking Filler Ideas This Christmas For Dad

Can You Wear Two Base Layers?

October 17th, 2017

Can you wear two base layers? - Sub Zero Factor 1 and All Active worn by a female hiker

At first glance of the question, Can you wear two base layers? You immediately think yes you can but why would you want to? Most outdoors people are well versed in the principles of the layering system – base layer, insulating mid layer, protective outer layer – so why would you ignore this and just wear two base layers. The problem is that in certain situations this layering system can be impractical.

BASE LAYERS FOR AEROBIC EXERCISE

If you are going to take part in a high intensity aerobic exercise in winter such as rowing, it is unfeasible to wear lots of different clothing layers. For a start you are going to get warm very quickly as well as producing a lot of perspiration.  You are also going to need full range of movement which will be hampered with a traditional layering system. Plus there is also the problem of storing all these different clothes when removed.

What a lot of professional rowing teams practice in winter is wearing two thermal base layers at the start of a days training programme. Without being restrictive, these thermal layers will keep you warm whilst also managing perspiration more efficiently. Once the warm up is complete, one of the base layers is removed and easily stored in the bottom of the boat. At the cool down, the discarded base layer can be worn again to reduce rapid cooling.

Even in the coolness of early summer mornings a two layer base layer system is often used. Next to the skin will be worn a summer base layer to manage perspiration, with a thermal base layer as a second layer to provide extra warmth during the warm up.

BASE LAYERS FOR SPRING AND AUTUMN WEATHER

Out of the winter season, the need for a full thermal layering system is usually unnecessary. With the temperatures very rarely reaching freezing, you should be able to get away with just wearing your base layer. However, some early mornings and evenings may see temperatures drop low enough to require wearing extra layers for a boost in warmth. You could pack a thermal mid layer on the off chance, but it is a lot of unnecessary weight to carry.

Instead, ensure you are carrying a second base layer – you should be carrying a spare set anyway if you are heading away from civilisation. They can easily be worn over your first base layer and are light enough to be stored in a small rucksack.

BASE LAYERS FOR EXTREME COLD ENVIRONMENTS

When it comes to very cold weather, such as found in the polar regions or the Himalayas, mountaineers and explorers will often wear more than one base layer as part of their layering system. The main reason for this is you can trap more air between thin layers than wearing bulky insulating layers. And trapping air is essential if you want to keep warm because air is the insulator, not the fabric.  It is not uncommon for mountaineers to wear two or even three base layers beneath their insulating mid layer.

SO CAN YOU WEAR TWO BASE LAYERS?

Instead of being a bit of a wacky question there are certain situations where wearing two base layers can actually be desirable. It is a lightweight alternative to heavier insulating mid layers and also offers greater flexibility in less demanding weather conditions. So the question shouldn’t be can you wear two base layers? but have you tried wearing two base layers?

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Advice, Base Layers | Comments Off on Can You Wear Two Base Layers?

How Tight Should Base Layers Be?

September 25th, 2017

How tight should base layers be? - Sub Zero Factor 1 Plus base layer zip turtle top being worn correctly by a skier

 

The two most common questions we get asked are how tight should base layers be? and what is the difference between base layers and compression layers? We will deal with the latter question in the next few weeks , but this post will hopefully enlighten you on the correct way to wear base layers.

ARE BASE LAYERS SUPPOSED TO BE TIGHT?

The simple answer is it depends on your definition of tight. To me, tight means restrictive and uncomfortable, which is obviously a hindrance and a distraction when performing an outdoor activity. It has entered the vocabulary of performance clothing as the dividing line between base layers and compression layers has become blurred by marketeers. We try and avoid using ‘tight’ altogether when talking to our customers, preferring a more softer wording such as ‘snug’.

WHY NOT WEAR BAGGY BASE LAYERS?

This is the other extreme. You may think you look cool with your bum hanging out your base layer leggings (obviously a matter of opinion) but they won’t keep you warm. Badly fitting thermals will lead to all sorts of problems such as heat loss, vastly reduced wicking rates (transportation of moisture), and possible skin sores from rubbing of excess material.

HOW SHOULD BASE LAYERS FIT?

Base layers need to be close fitting to prevent warm air trapped between your clothing from being wafted out during movement. A close fitting base layer will also be much more efficient at moisture management due to a higher fabric surface area being in close contact with your skin.

When trying on a base layer you need to understand that the fabric has been designed to be stretchy so it will naturally adjust to most body shapes. What you should be looking for is the correct length in the arms (finishing just over the wrist) and the length of the body resting on the top of your bottom.

A good way to check  if the base layer is too tight is to see if you can pinch any of the fabric and pull it away from your body. If this is difficult to do then you more than likely have a size too small. Another area to check is under the armpits. If you cannot get the full rolling movement of your arms and shoulders then you need to try the next size up.

SO HOW TIGHT SHOULD BASE LAYERS BE?

In answer to the original question, base layers should be snug fitting but not restrictive. Warm air needs to be trapped between fabric layers without the possibility of it being wafted out if you are to stay warm – the air is the insulator. At the same time, you don’t want the base layer to be so skin tight that it restricts movement or even blood flow.

So my final piece of advice is if it feels too tight then it probably is.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Advice, Base Layers | Comments Off on How Tight Should Base Layers Be?

Thermal Clothing For Extreme Cold

September 20th, 2017

Two arctic explorers in full Sub Zero thermal clothing for extreme cold weather

 

Wearing the right layer of thermal clothing for extreme cold situations can be the difference between life and death if you get in trouble. Wear too much insulation and you will overheat, increasing your perspiration, that will rapidly cool your body when your intensity levels drop. Alternatively you may not be wearing enough thermal layers to start with. This can also lead to rapid heat loss unless remedied, forcing your body to shut down to protect its vital organs. As you can see, wearing the correct layers of thermal clothing for extreme cold environments should be taken very seriously.

BASE LAYER

Base layers are the first line of defence against the cold. Worn directly next to the skin, they need to be soft to prevent rubbing sores from carrying equipment, offer thermal resistance to trap heat, and be effective at transporting perspiration away from the body. They are one of the most important layers of thermal clothing for extreme cold environments.

Our Sub Zero Factor 1 Plus base layers are made form super soft polyamide yarn that has lots of in-built stretch. This allows the base layer to fit the body snugly like a second skin. A water loving chemical is also impregnated in to the yarn during the dyeing process that actively transports moisture way from the skin to the outer layers. This keeps you dry and also speeds up the drying process when washed.

MID LAYER

Mid layers are very similar to base layers in that they should be worn close fitting, but they contain more fibres to trap warm air – insulation. They are effectively the work horse in your range of thermal clothing for extreme cold.

Our Sub Zero Factor 2 thermal mid layers are heavily brushed on the inside fabric face to produce an inner fleece layer that insulates your body from excess heat loss. Their very strong flat seam construction helps prevent any pressure points occurring when carrying kit.

OUTER LAYER

Once you have your base layer and insulation mid layer sorted then your choice of outer layer is often determined by the elements.

If you are working hard and still feel a little cool then putting on a lightweight down jacket will help to add extra insulation without adding much extra weight as a burden.

If you are comfortably warm then you may not even need an outer layer at that point in time but you should keep a close eye on the weather and anticipate changes in conditions. Likewise, if you have to stop or your activity levels decrease then you will need to add further layers to compensate for the reduction in heat generation.

One mistake that even the professionals sometimes get wrong is underestimating the power of wind chill on your bodies temperature. It may look lovely and sunny outside but any wind can rapidly cool the body. Carrying a lightweight windproof that can quickly be thrown over your under layers should mitigate a lot of the wind chill effects.

For further information on wind chill visit the Met Office

HATS & GLOVES

It is a myth that you loose most of your body heat through your head, at most it is around 10%. Even though the percentage is a lot lower than most people think, it is a good way to fine tune your bodies temperature. If you start to get a bit warm, remove your fleece hat or balaclava. If you are still warm after a few more minutes of doing this then you know you need to remove a larger layer of clothing.

This also works the other way around. Add a hat if you start to feel cool. If this dosen’t warm you up then you know that a larger item of clothing needs to be worn or that you need to start looking for shelter.

The other reason for covering your head and hands is to help protect your extremities from wind burn and frost bite.

THERMAL CLOTHING FOR EXTREME COLD

Keeping warm and dry in extreme cold weather needn’t be too much of a problem if you listen to what your body is telling you , are aware of your surroundings, and are wearing the correct kit.

Luckily Sub Zero have over 40 years experience manufacturing thermal clothing for extreme cold conditions, with many polar explorers and mountaineers placing their trust in our products.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Activity, Advice | Comments Off on Thermal Clothing For Extreme Cold

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)