Gear advise

Posted by: jimmyb

Gear advise - 11/21/13 10:32 AM

Having really bad circulation in my extremities there may be no hope for me but if anyone could be so kind as to offer some advise on really warm boots and mittens or maybe techniques that may help me get out for longer periods of time in the winter it would be much appreciated. smile

I do go day hiking but shortly in I loose sensation to my fingers and toes and by the time the hike is over they have turned blanch white and are completely numb. Doctor told me not good to let them go numb but I have had no choice for many years now. I would like do some snowshoeing if the conditions permit but realize suggested boots may not fit the harnesses, although I'm not really sure.

thanks so much, jimmyb
Posted by: Heather-ak

Re: Gear advise - 11/21/13 12:34 PM

I (and others even outside the state) have had very good luck with - I get the double thick and they are WARM.

The only boot I've found that keeps my feet warm are the white Bunny Boots

YMMV of course!
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 11/21/13 02:08 PM

Thank you Heather.
We used to call those boots Mickey mouse boots too but now I know the proper name for the white ones. I have never tried a pair but as you recommend they are supposed to be REALLY warm so it may be time to try a pair. I have only seen them in surplus stores but will search the web for sources.
Those mittens look like a great deal at that price. thanks for the links.

Posted by: Heather-ak

Re: Gear advise - 11/21/13 04:32 PM

The only thing to be aware of is that the boots (and I've heard them called both here Mickey and Bunny) are pretty much a vapor barrier, which means that moisture has no where to go. I wear wool socks with them and make sure I have an extra pair or two with me. On the other side, if you get water in them (say overflow) you just dump them out and dry the inside with a towel and you are good to go! I wear them snowshoeing too.

Regarding the mittens, my mother in law ordered a pair for a friend in the DC area with Renalds disorder (may be spelled incorrectly) and the friend was very happy with them.

Good luck!
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 11/21/13 07:19 PM

Appreciate the update.

Vapor barrier- After reading some more on the boots that's what I gathered as well. From some reports once any outside moisture heats to body temp they are as warm as before. I am wondering if I should take a chance on the Black rated -20 being a little lighter or just go for the Bunnies with the added insulation.

Reynaud's disease would accurately describe what happens to me, although I have never been diagnosed I have spoken to folks familiar with it. I don't get symptomatic from stress thought, only cold brings on the vessel restrictions.

Good to know the Bunnies will be compatible with snow shoes should we get started snow shoeing this year. Thanks again for the help. smile

Posted by: lori

Re: Gear advise - 11/21/13 10:05 PM

I have Reynauds - I use glove liners unless it's weather-y, when I add another layer - the water resistant glove.

It doesn't take much, really, to counter the Reynauds. I'm going to try non-latex medical gloves next. Friends use them and swear by them.
Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Gear advise - 11/21/13 10:36 PM

Originally Posted By lori
I have Reynauds - I use glove liners unless it's weather-y, when I add another layer - the water resistant glove.

It doesn't take much, really, to counter the Reynauds. I'm going to try non-latex medical gloves next. Friends use them and swear by them.
my sister-in-law has Reynauds and it's pretty freaky seeing her fingers and toes turn ice blue.
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 11/21/13 10:59 PM

Lori, I assume then that my issue is definitely not Reynaud's but other circulator problems associated with Fabry disease which unfortunately I do have a diagnosis for.

My digits don't turn blue but I loose all feeling rapidly in cooler weather. It gets worse as time goes on. Fingers start to go numb now in temps as high as 50 deg. and gloves/mittens are almost useless after they loose feeling. I cannot recover circulation to normal unless using a heat source. Sucks but its the least of the problems Fabry has dealt me. That's life as they say.

Posted by: djtrekker

Re: Gear advise - 11/30/13 07:49 PM

any of the pac boots known as "maine" boots are warm to xtreme, similar to the Mickey Mouse boots referred to above. There are also heavy duty mittens with liners and outer covers meant for arctic conditions.
Though maybe not the best choice for winter but non-snow hiking, I like Steger mukluks. I wear them snowshoeing and light hiking. I wore them on a winter vacation to Iceland, to watch the northern lights at midnight in howling sub-zero wind. The muks are impermeable to cold (my opinion), but great is they breath wonderfully; your feet will not sweat in them over a fairly wide range of temps. They are pricy though.
The inserts of all the above are made of wool. I would recommend staying with wool over any synthetic for best results in your case.
Posted by: Heather-ak

Re: Gear advise - 12/02/13 04:45 PM

I will admit that the steger or locally made mukluks are on my want list, but I haven't tried them out myself.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Gear advise - 12/03/13 12:49 PM

I have Reynauds..

Yeah, me too. My father had it as well. Mine flares up when I've been sitting for a long time and go outside when it's cold and damp.

I interlock my fingers and rub my hands together real fast and massage the palm and back of my hands to force blood into the affected fingers until they've got their color back and generally the circulation keeps going fine after that.

My father used to swing his arm around like a windmill to get the blood back into his fingers, and that good works too. When he told his doctor this the doctor replied that this could do some harm. That was 40 years ago. The last time I looked into it swinging your arm was a recommended way to get the blood circulation again.

If I've been even a little active before going out I generally don't have any trouble with it. My hands can get freezing cold but my fingers will still have color.

I bring some "Hot Hands" when I backpack just be safe, but once you lose color in your fingers they won't do much to get it circulating again quickly. I use the warmers just to help keep my hands warm after I've got the blood back into my fingers.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Gear advise - 12/03/13 02:49 PM

I would think (but could be wrong) that as long as the temperatures are well above freezing, you would not get frostbite, and discomfort and poor functioning digits are the main problem (a risk in itself if your survival depends on properly functioning hands and feet). I have crossed streams in very cold water and my feet went numb- it feels like you are walking on stumps- you become very clumsy and fall easily.

If I had your problem I would not do longer trips or backpacking in well below freezing conditions. In this case you could actually seriously and permanently damage your fingers or toes. Winter backpacking in below freezing temperatures is serious business - not very forgiving. If you choose to go out in below freezing conditions for a day hike, I would take some chemical warmer packets for emergency. If you get hurt and cannot move, your hands can feet can get really cold without added external heat.

Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/03/13 04:49 PM

Thanks for the advise WD. As you say I would not try to go on a winter trip below freezing temps without a lot of confidence in keeping my extremities warm. I have not had permanent issues from the years of my fingers and toes going numb other than when I injured a finger while working. It swelled up pretty good and cut the circulation off even more than usual. After a long evening of messing around in the snow with friends while camping at a cabin my hands went numb. That particular finger never came back in color or feeling all night and a few days later a scary amount of dead tissue came off the tip of the finger. Needless to say lesson learned on how close I am to the freezing point when the fingers turn white. shocked
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Gear advise - 12/04/13 11:49 PM

As you say I would not try to go on a winter trip below freezing temps without a lot of confidence in keeping my extremities warm.

I'm a big fan of those "Hot Hands" and "Toastie Toes" chemical warmers. They last a long time and put off quite a bit of heat. I always have some in my pack when I'm hiking in cold weather. I think those little packets are pretty close to magic.

They fizzle out when wet, but I haven't had any real problem with that. I'll use a bunch of those if I'm cold. Put a couple in my pants pockets, in my shoes, and in my gloves. I'll toss a couple "Body Warmers" in my sleeping bag at night and put them in between pairs of socks.

Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/10/13 03:27 PM

After doing my homework on something to keep my hands warm I am going to try a pair of Black Diamond Mercury mitts. I lucked out with a close out at nearly half price. At first impression they seem like a good bet. Time will tell. I may have to try a few chem. hand warmers as Bill suggests if these monsters don't do the trick. Temps this weekend will be good for an initial test run.

Posted by: TomD

Re: Gear advise - 12/10/13 11:02 PM

Jimmy, check out a website for deep winter camping. Read the topics on winter clothing and boots, then look through the forums. I learned a heck of a lot from the members.

I would also look at the Steger Mukluks that DJ recommended - along with his experience with them, according to some of the wintertrekking members who own them, they are comfortable and good to -25C or so. Check out the company's website at I don't have a pair, but am thinking about getting some for winter camping.

The BD Mercury mitts look like a good choice. I tried them on while looking for mitts. You might also look at Heat Factory mitts. I have a pair of them that will hold a small heat pack - I also have a pair of their orthotic footbeds that hold a small heat pack under the ball of your foot. I've used them in ski boots.

My newest pair of mitts are Grandhoe Makalu mitts I got last winter from Sierra Trading Post. If you get mitts, I would get them big enough to fit over a pair of light fleece gloves. I like the combination of gloves with big mitts over them. The Grandhoe mitts are not shells, they are a full insulated mitt for very cold weather.
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/11/13 04:56 PM

Thanks for the tips Tom. I am going to test run the mitts soon and probably be ready with some hand warmer packets. The Mercury mitts do not have dedicated warmer pockets but they do have Velcro attached removable liners so I can drop a warmer packet in the palm or back of hand. Biggest problem of course is, if my hands get chilled while out of the mitts they will not generate enough heat on their own to regain proper circulation and feeling. Therefore Im not sure any amount of insulation will keep them warm without artificial heat.

Just for a comparison hiking last weekend in lower 20's my wife's hands were toasty in her gloves and in my other less insulated mitts but my fingers were numb in both. And that's not really cold weather. frown

Posted by: hikerduane

Re: Gear advise - 12/11/13 09:00 PM

Boy, the BD Mercury mitts are expensive. Great you found some at a great price. $114.95 most places.
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/11/13 09:45 PM

I know. I wasn't thrilled forking over the dough on closeout either but I want to get out more and mitts and boots are the only thing holding me back right now. I just hope the wife doesn't take a liking to them shocked

Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Gear advise - 12/11/13 10:09 PM

Funny I always feel good spending hard earned $ on quality gear that will last a lifetime.
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/11/13 11:35 PM

Well, limited income, sketchy health, wanting to leave my wife with enough when my time own material wants have to take a back seat, its a compromise. smile

Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/12/13 04:04 PM

I'm a big fan of those "Hot Hands" and "Toastie Toes" chemical warmers

thanks Bill, I picked up a value pack of Hot Hands as you and others have suggested and will give them a run. I think I will see how long I can retain my natural heating in my mitts and then when/if that fails or if I have to expose my hands I will pop a few packs in my mitts to see if they will regain body temp. Crossing my fingers for good results.

Posted by: TomD

Re: Gear advise - 12/12/13 11:07 PM

Jimmy, one way I have found to get quality gear at reasonable prices is to buy used. I have posted about buying used gear and clothes before so you might find some of my other posts on this. People buy things intending to go on trips that get cancelled for all kinds of reasons or quickly discover that camping just isn't for them.

I have bought a tent, backpack, ski boots, snowshoes, sleeping bag, stoves, that big parka you see in my avatar (like new, half price), a GPS, among other things, off of eBay, Craigslist, Trailspace or right here. Buying used takes research and patience. If you haven't used eBay before, I can offer some hints. Craigslist is a matter of searching constantly since you won't find as much stuff. However, a lot of the off brand stuff on eBay is questionable and there are fakes, so stick to brand names and ask questions.

Sites like Sierra Trading Post also offer great deals on overstock and last year's models of clothes and gear. I bought a pair of skis from them a while back at a fraction of the list price.
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/13/13 10:43 AM

Thanks for posting Tom, your right about buying used. Like you said big savings can be had if your not in a hurry. I like to hit the close out racks, shop the last resort outlets of the retailers and closeout sights like sunny sports, O2 gear, dept. of goods ect. By the way that red parka is awesome!

The wife and I swore off EBay. We thought we got a killer deal on a new pair of boots for her that failed big time on day 2 of hiking Yellowstone a few years ago. Seller was no where to be found. Vasque figured they were really old sun damaged stock and could not cover guarantee.

We are definitely frugal, not to be confused with being cheap. We like to bargain hunt and save by not going out a lot. We are not big party people. We shop deals on everything from food to fuel. Its really not any extra effort but at the end of the year we have a nice little savings to take those trips that are so important to us. And how can you beat vacation accommodations for $15 a night at some of the most beautiful places on earth. I am a lucky man to have a bride that will sleep out in tents, go without ideal bathroom conditions and still be bright eyed and ready to go adventuring day after day. smile grin smile

Posted by: snapper

Re: Gear advise - 12/13/13 11:10 AM

Sorry I'm a bit late to this discussion. Apparently I wasn't logged in. I've owned a pair of Steger Mukluks, the "Arctic" I believe they're called, for almost 15 years now and I have truly enjoyed wearing them. My feet have remained warm in temps down to -10 F without any problems whatsoever; although I will admit that I don't get cold easily so you might have a different experience. The one thing to be aware of is that they're definitely NOT waterproof. They are designed for dry snow so if you'll be in lots of variable conditions you might want to reconsider. I still wear my Sorels from time to time when the snow is wet & mushy but they're so heavy in comparison to the Stegers that I can't wait to get back into my mukluks.

One other consideration you might look into is an overshoe; kind of like the old galoshes some of us grew up with. There is a company called NEOS that currently makes this type of overshoe and you can get them in different temperature ranges and they (supposedly, I have no personal experience with them) fit right over your hiking boots. A link to them from Campmor is:
They might be worth checking into.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...Be well.

Posted by: TomD

Re: Gear advise - 12/15/13 12:49 AM

I also had a bad experience on eBay with a computer, but got it mostly resolved. Your choices for gear shopping make a lot of sense as well. Depending on where you live, secondhand shops can be a good place to look. Not everyone needs expedition quality gear or clothes. Some of what I have is really old, but I don't get out that much to justify replacing it and it works just fine.
Posted by: Paul

Re: Gear advise - 12/16/13 11:41 PM

I have what I believe to be a mild case of Reynaud's - it affects only some of my fingers. For me the key is core temperature and carefully managing it. As long as my core temp is up my circulation to the extremities is good and though my hands may get a little cold the circulation doesn't shut down and they don't turn white. But if I let my core temp drop, say by not adding layers soon enough when I stop, then some fingers will go white and I have a hard time getting my hands warm again. And warmer gloves/mittens don't make much difference for me - it's all about having a good flow of warm blood from the core to the extremities. I never have any issues with my feet, but that's mostly because when I am in the snow I'm skiing, and my ski boots - plastic with thermo-moldable foam liners - are very warm. I'm having to learn to manage my clothing more carefully than I did before, because now I can't get away with what I used to be able to
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Gear advise - 12/17/13 09:08 AM

I am also finding that keeping my core temp higher is helping. I find staying on the warmer side of ideal seems to work better at keeping both my hands and feet warm.

For me the new mitts are working well to keep that heat from bleeding off faster than my hands can make it. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized my fingers were not going numb. I do have to discipline myself to not remove them unless absolutely necessary. The lobster claw liners do make it easier to articulate. I am able to work all my zips and tiny buckles on my clothing and daypack. I also converted my winter boots to a barrel lock system so I don't have to tie or retie them with bare hands.

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Gear advise - 12/19/13 12:38 PM

Paul, it's about the same with me. I think taking herbal supplements helps too. I try to take cayenne and gingko everyday. They do seem to help prevent the problem.

I'm pretty sure that a big contributor to my problem is from slicing my fingers with razor knives and sheet metal a few times when I was younger. It's those fingers that get it.

But I get the blood circulating again pretty quickly by massaging my hand and fingers. Basically I just keep pushing blood into the fingers until they get their color back and retain it. Once they do the blood keeps flowing to them fine.
Posted by: ohiohiker

Re: Gear advise - 12/21/13 12:27 AM

When things get too cold for my trail runners with GoreTex and wool socks (around 15F), I use a hybrid footwear system which basically amounts to a waterproof mukluk. Starting with the outer layer:

Tingley natural rubber overboots
NEOS EVA foam insoles or Steger wool insoles (can't decide which I prefer)
Steger mukluk liners
spare wool socks to stuff into the large empty space over the foot
medium to thick wool socks
vapor barrier: oven bag: turkey size
polypro liner socks

The vapor barrier is critical because these aren't breathable at all. Without it, the insulation will wet out from sweat and not work very well.

My coldest use of these was in the backyard at 0F. I was sitting around playing with fire stoves, and my feet were toasty. On the other hand, they're a little bit sloppy-fitting for hiking. Snowshoeing seems to work ok though.