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Bill's Extra Clothing


Telling novice hikers to "bring extra clothing which would get them through an unplanned bivouac through the worst conditions you might come up against" is a little like telling Cub Scouts to "be Prepared" rather than telling them exactly HOW to be prepared, which, one assumes, is the entire purpose of the list of essentials in the first place.

In other words, if someone already knows what kind of emergency extra clothing to bring along for each outing, they probably are already far enough along in outdoorsmanship that they don't need the rest of the list either. But, and this is the main point, most novices really haven't a clue what kind of emergency clothing is needed, and telling them only to bring "extra clothing" doesn't help matters at all.

"So, I'm supposed to take an extra sweater or something?" What they should be told, at least in my humble opinion, is to ALWAYS include -- at least until they know enough to do otherwise -- the following items, especially when there is ANY chance that the weather may turn stormy or cold:

  1. A heavy-duty polypro or polarfleece BALACLAVA. This will keep their head from getting cold, which is the primary cause of hypothermia, since the head radiates up to 30% of all the body's heat! It is probably also a good idea to take along a thinsulate stocking cap as well. In the Summer, a balaclava will generally be quite enough. But I can remember some late autumn hikes where I was glad to have a cap over the balaclava!

  2. Some kind of very light RAINGEAR, preferably covering the entire body. This will keep them reasonably dry, also diminishing the danger of hypothermia, and just plain miserableness.

  3. A SPACE BAG. It only weighs a couple ounces and has saved many a life!

  4. Thinsulate MITTENS. Hands too radiate a huge amount of heat and must be kept as warm as possible in dangerous hypothermic conditions.

  5. Insulated Wool, Fleece or Polypro SOCKS. Nothing is worse than freezing toes during an unexpected overnight bivouac!

  6. INSULATED UNDERWEAR, both Tops and Bottoms. Once all of the extending heat radiators -- head, hands and feet, -- are taken care of, it really helps to keep the legs and torso warm too, and nothing does as good a job for its weight as polypro or fleece underwear.

I really think it is very important that new hikers be told that it is not just any "extra clothes" they might grab that will do, but specifically those that stop heat loss best, -- i.e. those that target the head, hands, and feet, as well as the legs and torso.


Best regards,
Bill Fusfield

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