I woke up this morning with snow coming down pretty heavy and decided it was time for a little refresher on selecting winter clothing and winterizing the year-round gear. I don’t really recommend dressing like super-secret agents Austin Millbarge and Emmitt Fitz-Hume above (a classic film). I know a lot of you live in warm areas, so we’ll only discuss winter gear in part of today’s article; we’ll finish with some more cautions from today’s events.
First, let’s talk shoes. I’ve been told I own more shoes than a man should. In my defense, each pair of shoes has a specific purpose. In the winter, you need some type of waterproof boot. I know, your stylish work shoes are killer, but if you’re stuck walking home in ice and snow in them, they may literally kill you. Have some type of waterproof boot with an aggressive tread at least available in your car for emergency use. One of the Goons on Twitter mentioned leg gaiters as well and they’re a great addition to your gear.
Closely related to boots are ice treads or traction devices. Just like a four-wheel drive truck doesn’t make you immune to ice, boots are the same way. The ones above are YakTrax, meant to give you better traction on ice. Snowshoes may also be appropriate if you are in a rural area.
When picking clothing, layering is the key. Clothing should also be loose-fitting. A lot of people buy super-snug coats and snow pants, but they defeat the purpose. You want clothes to be loose fitting to trap warm air that radiates off your body and keep it close to you. If your clothes are tightly fitting, the heat radiates out through them, since there is no air pocket. The tight-fitting stuff might look cool and be OK from the car to the store but trying walk a mile in them.
Start with a silk-weight base layer against the skin, which should be tighter and moisture-wicking to keep sweat from cooling you down in the cold. Then add loose insulating layers, depending on the temperature and your activity plans. If you are planning on significant foot movement, you may want to keep your upper body area with just a light, waterproof outer garment, to prevent sweating. If you stop, you can put on an extra layer from your pack.
A great system is the US Military Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS). Millions of dollars of your tax money went into research to develop this outstanding gear, and you should take advantage of it, particularly if you are talking about preparedness gear. Generally, it consists of a Gore-Tex outer layer that can be worn as raingear year-round. It then has liners of a couple of different thicknesses, depending on how cold it is. Both the parka and the pants have fleece liners.
For extreme cold conditions, the system has a Primaloft over-parka and Primaloft insulated pants that go over everything else. Army versions are gray and Marine Corps versions are coyote brown.
The system also includes several layers and types of long underwear, switched out or layered depending on temperature. I’d also recommend a military wool sweater (yes, real wool, because it retains its warming ability even when wet).
There’s a lot of talk about 3 season and 4 season tents. In all reality, the only difference is that a 4-season tent is made from sturdier material with less mesh venting. You can either just use a 4-season tent year-round, or “fortify” your 3-Season tent with additional tarps to keep snow off the tent in a survival situation.
My personal choice is that I’m a minimalist. I want the lowest profile so I will just fortify my bivy-sized tent with an additional tarp layer. I normally use a thermal tarp that is camo on one side for warmth as well for shielding against thermal imaging (you know, in case the Chinese invade, right?). The tent is so low to the ground that wind won’t be as much of a concern, as long as I site my overnight site properly.
Your sleeping gear faces the same issue of 3-season versus 4-season. I own a 4-season sleeping bag, but I’m not carrying that heavy, bulky thing in my ruck anywhere. What I do is take my 3-Season USMC issue sleep system (which makes its own low-profile tent if you want) and add to it depending on the weather. First, I line it with a wool blanket. A wool blanket will keep you warm, even when wet.
If I need additional warmth, I place a thermal reflective layer like a survival blanket or survival tarp in between the wool blanket and the sleeping bag. An excellent choice for this is a Life Bivy. It comes in green or orange, and I prefer the green (tactical). Some people worry about the noise a thermal blanket makes, and that’s a valid concern, but by placing it between the other layers, you muffle that sound. A Life Bivy is a good survival item to keep in your Get Home Bag as well. It even has a loud whistle on the drawstring.
For winter use, I line my Ruck with a SEAL-Line dry bag. They make them (again, US Military Surplus) in several sizes. I have ones specifically made to line my USMC ILBE Ruck and Assault Pack (my Patrol/EDC bag). The SEAL-Line Assault Pack dry bag has the inside orange, so that if you wanted to signal for help, you could turn the dry bag inside out and display an orange signal panel. You want your gear water-proofed in the winter because wet gear is cold gear.
Another little trick I use year-round but is especially important in winter is that I put a carabiner rated at 125-200 pounds on the top drag handle of every pack I own. This way, while camping, if the ground is wet, I can hang my pack on a piece of line or on a branch, keeping it off the ground. My favorite is the Heroclip, pictured above. The thick part swings out and makes an S-Hook for hanging from any surface. Below is the Fire Escape Multi-Tool is got in my BattlBox this month (outstanding service… http://www.battlbox.com). It features a 125-pound rated carabiner with a sparking wheel, a window breaking tool, a small hex wrench, an O2 bottle wrench, a bottle opener, and a cutting tool. I am in the process of testing it and it throws sparks quite well.
Now that we’ve covered some winter gear ideas, I want to talk about a pair of recent events that should concern those involved in preparedness, regardless of your political leanings.
But first, in light of the increasing tyranny and fearmongering, I want to share something from the Ultimate Tactical Handbook. This morning, I was researching Jeremiah for Tactical Wisdom Volume 4. I came across this verse and it’s relevant because I hear so many people telling me that they are scared to protest and scared to speak out. Take courage from it:
Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them…
Don’t let them win; they WANT to terrify you away from opposing them. God wants you to stand up.
Yes, the first one is the allegedly “leaked” video from the Patriot Front showing someone doing a Nazi salute. First, the video is obviously staged, since they all take off their sunglasses, but not their face-covering masks at the end and the dialog sounds forced and scripted. Besides, it’s a weird time for a Nazi salute. Note the inclusion of the Betsy Ross flag to link it to Nazism.
I’ve warned before that these guys are literal Nazis and it appears that they are now co-opted by the Federal government to become the designated “boogeymen”.
The problem for us is that the carefully produced videos that are being released show men in khaki tactical pants, and in hats with a Velcro patch pad on them. Let’s be honest, that’s practically the preparedness-minded person’s uniform. Selecting this combination was meant to associate these Nazis with anyone even remotely right wing or involved in preparedness. It’s not an accident. Be aware that YOU are being painted with the same brush as these Nazis, ON PURPOSE.
In their videos, you can also see INTENTIONAL close-ups of their Baofeng radios (including one very close up). Again, these are practically standard prepper-gear, and it is by design. This one ties with the next warning.
In the indictment against Proud Boy Matthew Greene, the US Government presented as evidence of a conspiracy the fact that Greene programmed several Baofeng radios for several members of the group. Now, that’s not illegal, but they are PAINTING it that way. Understand the risk, if you are all programming your radios from a common file, the Federal government, who already considers anyone into preparedness as a potential extremist, MAY consider that evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
I present this as proof of our nation’s quickening slide into a collapse. The more tyrannical a government becomes, the more likely it is to consider everything a conspiracy.
I hope all this information helps you get a little more prepared and a little more aware.
Also, we have recently become partners with My Patriot Supply, so check them out using our link. They have Potassium Iodate (anti-radiation) tablets in stock, along with Ready Hour foods.
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4 thoughts on “Winter Gear and Some Cautions”
I hate to comment about cold weather gear because it is so personal, your fitness, acclimation, activity level and location will have profound effects on what will work for you but as a winter only resident of far northern MN I am obligated to throw in my devalued pennies. Note that all temperatures are actual temps– wind chill is real but nobody quotes up here it because it changes so much at cold temps – it mostly is just a way for the weather people to get a scary number and keep you inside instead of out having fun, just protect from the wind by windproof layers.
Wool is awesome in some ways, I have a pair of Finnish army surplus wool pants that I love on cold days, they breath well and are tight knit enough to be almost wind proof, they will last the rest of my life if I don’t get fat. I would hate life though if I got them soaked and didn’t have fire to dry them, I don’t think anyone can dry them with just body heat. Fleece on the other had stinks, melts, not windproof without a layer which makes moisture movement problematic but if I fell into slush there is a good chance for me to drive off most of that moisture in a couple of hours of walking. Everybody says wool is warm when wet, yes compared to cotton, but no one says that after going for a run, sweating, and then sitting around the house (warm) and still shivering. Compared to fleece no contest. This is accidentally how if found my go to test for layers, run, overheat, sit –compare. Warm is both R value and moisture management both are equally important. Same issues for down vs synthetic loft.
If cold (below 0F) your goretex or similar will have trouble moving water vapor out. Cotton can make a very good outer layer in these conditions otherwise non-coated nylon and other windproof but not water proof outer layers should be looked at.
Gaiters are great they keep snow out and help insulate your legs which keeps your feet warmer, but not a cure-all. In general keeping your knees to ankles warmer is easier — bulk here is simpler — than feet and helps, same with arms and wrists to help your hands stay warm. I wear ‘wristlets’ when working with neighbors sled dogs without gloves/mittens to give a couple more minutes of function with the fingers.
Neos overboots (insulated version) are a nice option even down to -20 with running shoes inside them and they come with ice spikes I run with these behind dog sled not an easy task for a truly warm boot, try that with bunny boots OTOH bunny boots awesome for sitting on ice. There are many different types of overboots that have the advantage of having boots that you have and fit and adding insulation. Near as I can tell this is what the norwegian army does (or did). Disadvantages are that they tend not to move water vapor out. Traditional mukluks move water vapor out the best, but suck at melting temperatures as liquid water soaks them. Insulated Muck brand boots or similar are great for mud season and slipping on for quick tasks but are not great for me lower than 10F ish despite being rated to -20F all boot temp ratings are fiction. I have a pair of rocky 800g thinsulate boots that are good if you are active down to -5F or so (like rucking active) but standing, are ok to only mid 20’s.
This activity level effect is very typical. I tend to add 20F to the temp and dress appropriate for that temp if I plan to be active. If sitting subtract 20F. So if going for a run and it is 10 I will dress like it is 30 and I am just walking around. If sitting on ice I would dress like it is -10F and still bring the hand and foot warmers. Your number might be different but it can be a good way to get to a close approximation of what you need. If you are shifting activity levels it gets tough that is where having a super oversized puffy coat to throw on is a life saver.
Gloves and mittens — mittens always warmer than gloves. Have a set of very thin gloves when <0F you can get contact frostbite when touching metal almost instantly as it gets colder. Otherwise mittens below 0 is my rule, gloves are nice but you won't stay warm.
Hats – thicker is better as you get cold, you need to cover your head face and neck to be comfortable and stay out. Googles are also nice in blowing snow.
This is too long and no one will read it but, helpful to type out thoughts for my own clarity — sorry for cluttering the blog .
The ECWCS is no longer Gore-tex. About 10 years ago, they switched to a new system that is consists of 7 layers, with a couple of those layers having multiple options that is like the Good Idea Fairy on crack. Instead of the Gore-tex shell that was awesome, its now a fluffy, non-durable, non-waterproof parka. Under that, or an option to that is either a fleece jacket, windbreaker, rainjacket, or a cold weather jacket. Which one to use is up to the soldier, but no soldier is told which one to wear and why. This leads to many wearing the fleece jacket in rain, snow and/or wind, shich entirely negates the jackets warmth. They should have had a zip-out fleece liner to the goretex jacket. That would make 1 jacket with 3 configurations, not 5 entirely different jackets. The system also comes with new long underwear that is amazing. Silkweight for a base layer of fleece. Then heavyweight waffle fleece.
Yeah, for the article I kinda went with what works, rather than the whole current system. I use the new long underwear with the Goretex, with the zip in liners. I do have a pair of the overpants.
Another great article, J.D., lots of good ideas and tips about gear. Anyone in a Cold-Weather area really should be using the ECWCS, or at least, its Undergarments. Here on the Eastern edge of the Virginia Piedmont, it seldom gets down to 0 Farenheit, but Cold/Wet Weather (33 F. and Rain or 30 F. and Freezing Rain) will Kill you quicker that any Cold/Dry conditions will. I usually use the long underwear set, BDU Pants (the older style) and an M-65 Field Jacket with Liner. In the Wet, (Rain/Sleet/Snow) I use the M-65 Liner in a BDU Summer Jacket under the Old ECWS Raincoat and Pants. Wool Socks and Cap, or if it’s Windy, a Tanker’s Balaclava.
Living on a Farm means Lots of Boots – most of which stay in the Bootroom, due to the… Stuff. on them.
Rubber-over-Canvas Knee-Highs with Wool Liners in the Barn, rest of the Time some Belleville Brand 800ST Waterproof
“Navy Deckrat Boots” (Expensive but worth it) Belleville makes mostly Specification Boots, of all types, and I’ve used them for about 15 Years now.
About Sleeping Gear – I have a set of the MSS Bags, including the Bivy Cover, and recently during a “Cold Snap” of a 15 F. Clear-Air Night, with Frozen Snow on the Ground, I did a ‘Backyard Gear Check’ with the two Inner Bags of the MSS in the Bivy Cover, with the Camo/Mylar Tarp strung over it along a Fence. I put down some cardboard to keep things clean, then the Closed-Cell Foam Ground Pad under the Sleeping Gear. I kept the Long Underwear, Shirt and Wool Socks and Cap on, and fell right to Sleep. Was Awakened about 0300 by loud, crunching footsteps, and then my Horse breathing in my Face, with his Head between the Fence Boards. By then, I was too warm, almost sweating, and had to take off the Long-Sleeve Shirt. Slept until Sunrise, when that Horse was back, along with his other 10 ‘buddies’ making Noise and waiting for the Hay to be put out. Proved that the Gear would handle just about any Weather around Here, as long as it was kept Dry.
Everyone really Needs to use all of their Outdoor Gear, in the back yard, under adverse Weather Conditions, since if something doesn’t ‘work out’ as Planned, you can always go back Inside. Then fix the problems the ‘Test’ uncovered.