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  #1  
Old 01-19-2005, 01:16 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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How do winter clothes protect us from the cold

From what I can tell there are 3 layers to alot of modern winter clothes. There is an outer later, a filler material and an inner layer. Older winter clothes or cheaper winter clothes (like some hats) are just one material made all of wool or cotton.

Is there a method to each of these layers or are they chosen strictly due to comfort, looks and cost? Does the inner layer need to be made of a specific material while the outer layer requires another type of material or is it all just based on looks, cost and comfort? If you wear a coat inside out will it protect you from the cold as well, or if you put the inner filler on the outside will it work as well?

How do they prevent cold weather from affecting the wearer via transferrence through the clothes? With materials like metals when they are cold the temperature is passed onto a person pretty easily when you touch them but a coat does not seem to transfer cold temperatures very well at all. How do they accomplish that (it seems like this is true of all fabrics though?
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  #2  
Old 01-19-2005, 01:48 PM
Lips_Obsession Lips_Obsession is offline
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Generally, the concept of winter clothing is layers - and air between layers helps keep heat from transferring away from your body. That's why things like a down jacket are warm - lots of air to keep you insulated from the outside. Other things with the layers you discussed could include special fabrics that wick perspiration away from your body to keep you dry, or an outer layer that's waterproof to prevent you from getting colder.
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  #3  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:01 PM
Gary T Gary T is online now
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The intent is to preserve body heat. Air that can't move is an effective insulator, and virtually all insulation is designed to maintain air in tiny pockets for this purpose. Fabric and fur do this, as do sythetic insulation such as Polarguard and Thinsulate. Some materials are inherently better insulators than others, but to a large degree the thickness of the insulation is the main factor.

Outer layers of clothing work best if they prevent wind penetration and rain penetration. In a multilayer garment, the outer layer is chosen for those properties and durability. The middle layer is typically chosen mainly for insulation. The innermost layer is a lining whose purpose is to protect the insulation from abrasion and body liquids (sweat and oil). With garments, drape (how the material hangs and flexes) is also a consideration for all layers.

Metal on clothing is typically limited to closures -- snaps, zippers, and buttons. Often there is a flap of fabric separating those closures from the body and/or the outside. But the surface area of metal is usually very small, so it's generally not a problem in non-Arctic weather.

Wear your coat inside-out, or with naked insulation on the outside, and you'll likely lose a lot of heat from convection (air currents, especially wind). Some insulators, e.g. down and cotton, fare poorly if they get wet, others like wool and Polarguard can still do a decent job. Looks, cost, and comfort need to be considered, but in a well-designed and well-made outer garment, functionality is the first thing.
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  #4  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:10 PM
CynicalGabe CynicalGabe is offline
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Don't forget - if your feet are cold, wear a hat!
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  #5  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:28 PM
Chotii Chotii is offline
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I can still remember my 7th grade science teacher in eastern Washington talking about how we lose body heat: convection (that is, wind blowing across the body), radiation (heat loss to the surrounding air in the absence of wind), evaporation (sweating, or if wet from rain, etc), and (through contact with cold surfaces).

I think what modern coats can do, that older coats cannot do, is incorporate high-tech fabrics (nylon, polar fleece, Gore-Tex(tm)) to create the wind-barrier, to let body moisture out, to keep rain and snow out, and some variety of insulation in between.

I have never been able to find the coat I want. I want 5 things:
  • Rain-proof (because I live in the Pacific Northwest)
  • Warm, light insulation
  • Zippered internal pocket(s), for carrying valuables
  • External pockets insulate hands *against* the body's warmth, and not *away* from it
  • Handwarmer pockets lined with flannel or fleece

You wouldn't think it would be that tough. I mean, sheesh. Lands End comes close with the Squall, but still not quite. The pockets are flannel-lined, but still insulate the hand away from the body.
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  #6  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:32 PM
Chotii Chotii is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotii
convection (that is, wind blowing across the body), radiation (heat loss to the surrounding air in the absence of wind), evaporation (sweating, or if wet from rain, etc), and conduction (through contact with cold surfaces).

Sorry. Had to fix my error there.
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  #7  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:34 PM
Gary T Gary T is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotii
The pockets are flannel-lined, but still insulate the hand away from the body.
Coat designers expect you to have gloves. Coats are for torsos.
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  #8  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:45 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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For the cold, the smart runner will wear three layers. The inner layer will contain polypropenol, which will wick the evaporation away from the body to prevent the body from getting too wet. The middle layer will be cotton to absorb the perspiration. The outer layer will be either to block the wind, provide additional warmth, or both if necessary. Gore-Tex R is a good outer layer when it rains. It contains tiny holes, too small to let the rain in but big enough to allow the sweat to evaporate. Gore-Tex is also very warm. I've worn this when I lived in the North just to keep warm on occasion. I can't wear it down here because it never gets that cold and it's just too warm for this weather. There are nylon running jackets that fit the bill for that.

If you are not running, you still will sweat a little, and the inner layer should absorb that sweat and transmit it away from your body, to the middle layer. If it's not too cold, I'll just wear the polypropelene (aka olefin) and a cotton T-shirt. The shirt will get soaking wet, but the olefin and your skin will be dry, so you don't get chilled when you run into the wind.

In the old days, all we had were those heavy cotton warm-up suits. They'd get heavy when wet and you will be soaking wet, which would chill you when you ran into the wind, even with the warm-up suit.
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  #9  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:48 PM
kinoons kinoons is offline
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layering, keeping warm, and dry

The general idea of trapping air to maintain warmth has allready been discussed...

Something that has not is the need for sweat to get out.

No matter what you are doing, you're sweating. This is a consideration when wearing many layers. It is quite possible for under and middle layers to be completely soaked while the outer layer is dry.

thanks to new technology underlayers are becoming much more breathable. If all layers are breathable to water vapor the sweat dosen't make you wet. This keeps you dry. As previously noted, staying dry is super imporntant.
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:08 PM
Chotii Chotii is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T
Coat designers expect you to have gloves. Coats are for torsos.
Fooey. I don't like gloves.
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  #11  
Old 01-19-2005, 07:33 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotii
Fooey. I don't like gloves.
Neither do I. I wear mittens. With mittens, you can rub your fingers together to keep them warm. Can't do that with gloves. (Well, I do wear very thin gloves when it's not real cold, just to keep the wind out.)
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  #12  
Old 01-19-2005, 09:05 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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The trick is not so much to stay warm, but rather to stay dry, so that the insulation and wind-block can keep you warm.

1. Get rid of moisture against your body. Start with a layer of clothing that wicks away your perspiration.
2. Provide insulation. Use middle layers that are puffy, be they fleece, wool, or down, and that allow moisture to flow through.
3. Block wind while still permitting moisture to escape. Tight woven fabric such as nylon is good. Except for the very cold, micro-porous laminates such as Goretex are excellent.


Here is what I was wearing while skiing in –40 with a windchill of –80 to –90 F on the weekend: two wicking pairs of socks, wicking boxers, mid weight fleece pants, goretex/nylon bib overpants, two wicking long tops, mid weight fleece pullover, neoprene face mask, headphones, fleece hat, wicking inner gloves, mid weight fleece mittens, goretex/nylon outer mits, and a honkin’ huge knee-length down parka with a tight nylon weave exterior and a hood with full cowl.

See how the system works? 1. 2. 3. Wick away perspiration. Insulate. Block wind and permit moisture to escape.
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  #13  
Old 01-19-2005, 09:29 PM
gbrohman gbrohman is offline
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Bbaaaaa!

Wwhaaaattt about WOOL

The only thing wool lacs is wind breaking capabilits.
The plan for anyone doing the outdoors wilderness adventure thing, should not be w/o wool.
There are a lot of state-of-the-art fabrics, But dose anything outdo wool when you get wet? Hollofill?? its advertised.
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  #14  
Old 01-19-2005, 10:40 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbrohman
Wwhaaaattt about WOOL

The only thing wool lacs is wind breaking capabilits.
The plan for anyone doing the outdoors wilderness adventure thing, should not be w/o wool.
There are a lot of state-of-the-art fabrics, But dose anything outdo wool when you get wet? Hollofill?? its advertised.
Yes, fleece works just fine. I spend lots of time hiking and backcountry skiing and if I carried all the clothing I needed in wool it would be too heavy and not flexible enough. I bring a combination of polypro, fleece, down, and G-T, and it's a much better combination than my old wool gear.

I do wear Smartwool socks and a pair of rag wool mittens, but that's probably the only wool I still carry.
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  #15  
Old 01-20-2005, 01:25 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin
Except for the very cold, micro-porous laminates such as Goretex are excellent.
I've found G-T to be very warm. Even in the coldest weather in Illinois, all I needed when running was one inner layer and a G-T suit.
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