The multi-layer principle does not only apply to the body, but also to your head, hands and feet. When your body gets cold, it takes care of the most important body parts first: the head and inner organs. Blood flow to the extremities decreases.
Different hats for different activities
The part of the body that loses the most heat is your head, so it is important to be able to easily change your hat depending on how active you are. The collection of head gear for your winter trek can consist of a balaclava, a windproof hat or a trekking cap with fold-down ear flaps. Make sure that your back-up hats are easily accessible, for example in a pocket, so you can switch when your activity is over. Release excess heat by taking off your hat. In really cold conditions you can layer your balaclava and hat/cap.
The hood of your jacket fulfils and important function. A good winter jacket should have a large hood that protects your face and moves with your head. It should have a windsleeve and/or fur edging. The fur helps to stop the wind and creates a protective cushion of air around your face.
Never bare hands
Your hands are your most important precision tools. If you have difficulty using them, because they are too cold or stiff or because of painful chapping, you will face some serious challenges. The multi-layer principle when applied to hands requires:
• a thin, five-fingered liner-glove closest to the skin
• a lined five-fingered working glove as a middle layer
• a large, lined mitten that covers your wrists with a shell/outer mitten.
It is best if the five-fingered gloves and shell mittens are constructed so you can remove the lining – not only because it is faster to dry them separately, but also because it is easier to vary the degree of insulation around the hands. The shell gloves should be large enough for you to wiggle your fingers even when wearing five-fingered gloves and the liner underneath (when wearing them without their removable lining).
Bedtime in a hat and gloves
Your head and hands need to be warm even when you are in your sleeping bag. A thin hat, without tassels or anything else that gets in the way, and a pair of knitted gloves usually are all that you need.
Several tips for warm hands:
• Never touch metal directly without gloves
• Never blow moist, warm air into your mittens/gloves
• Attach your gloves to your jacket using straps so you do not lose them in bad weather
• Choose the proper glove for each activity and protect your gloves from moisture and injuries
• Bring along an extra pair of liner-gloves
• Use the cuffs of your sweater as reinforcement at the wrists
• In an emergency, use a sock to replace a lost glove
• Take care of your hands: wash them, massage them and use hand cream, for example before you go to bed
Read more about:
• How to warm frozen hands and feet