Steve Madewell

Pedestrian Ramblings

Actually my flying squirrel trapping was all confined to the barn attic so there isn’t much involved there in keeping warm other than poking up the stove. And if you don't know what I am talking about you should sign up for my emails! I have a fair number of people ask me about how I keep warm while I am poking about outside, so here we go. I put together just a few observations that might be handy if keeping warm in the winter is an issue for you and if not…. Well gee I don’t expect you’ll get much out of this. In January I was deer hunting and it was 11 below zero. It wasn’t that cold when I left my house but by golly it was when I got to where I was going. I have to admit I wasn’t properly prepared and it was not only close to miserable but could have easily been dangerous. I was generally OK except I didn’t have proper hand and face protection, which can be a big deal when it comes to little things like frost bite and comfort. I should have had a heavier hat, face mask or scarf and a heavy set of mittens or multilayered gloves. I actually did have those things nicely stored in a backpack in my brother in laws’ truck… Good move. Compared to most folks I spend a considerable amount of time outdoors and when I am out often times it is in fairly extreme conditions. Consider the situation I mentioned above or things like steelhead fishing, which involves standing around in cold moving water between the months of October and April. Not so bad in October and April, it’s those time in the middle! Anyhow my dear friend Lisa was one of the several folks who I have shared some “how to keep warm advice” with this year and I thought why not just put something on the page about it. Lisa was specifically asking about keeping her hands warm, and doing so in a practical and cost effective manner. When ever possible I am all about practicality and cost. I am a big fan of wool glove liners. You can buy these at army navy surplus stores and by their selves they do have utility but put them inside a larger glove as a shell and you are on to something. The liners are really in expensive and any leather or canvass/leather work glove will work as a shell. Of course there are all manner of shell/liner combinations available if you don’t mind plunking down the cash to buy them and some work better than others, but it is hard to beat the above for cost and effectiveness. You can also cut the fingertips out of this wool liner and make in expensive fingerless gloves too and for fishing this is pretty handy. Again there are all manner of fishing gloves available but if your looking to go on the cheap those wool liners are great. I am not going to get into the “how this stuff works” unless you email me and really want to know but here goes the rest of the way I get ready for the out of doors. Base Layers Most people are aware of the notion of layering clothing but not everybody really gets it. One of the most important components of my winter wardrobe is my base layer, and when I say winter I mean late fall through mid spring. It is a rare day during this period that I do not have on Patagonia Capilene tops and bottoms. The Cap 1 or what they used to call silk weight is simply great. While the newer stuff isn’t as slinky as the original silk weights it is still really nice. It is not cheap but what a difference it makes. There are a number of companies making light weight base layers and often times you can find this stuff at discount outlets like Marshalls. The key is to start thin and get bulkier then add a shell. So it all starts with a silky base layer as the foundation (and that includes liner socks too) and after that I get bulky. Fleece God what did we do before fleece? I wear fleece all the time. And there are all kinds of fleece out there. What I have discovered is if you have good base layer, even inexpensive fleece is greatly enhanced. It is not worth a darn in the wind unless like some of the higher end fleece it incorporates a windproof inner layer. Most fleece have doesn’t have wind guard and that is why an outer shell is very important. When I am steelhead fishing I generally have a layer of fleece, pants and pull over, over my capilene. I have on waders as a shell and a short rain jacket as an upper shell. If I am hunting I generally have wool or heavy canvass pants on over my capilene bottoms and they serve as a shell. And my upper shell depends entirely on what kind of hunting I am doing. If I am sitting still and it is really cold I use a muti-layer parka that basically consists of a big wind and waterproof shell over a down parka. If it isn’t that cold or I am going to be walking a fair amount I have a water and wind resistant shell that goes over a fleece of work shirt. Boots…. That is another story.