0226 – Dress for Cold Weather


In yesterday’s podcast I spent some time talking about cold weather CCW and some of the challenges that we face.  In one of those “aaahhhaaa” moments talking about the disadvantages of the hood, I realized how important it is that we talk about cold weather dress.  It is so easy to get caught up in the high speed, low drag, yet low probability of gun fighting, or the higher probability of physical violence and crime that we lose sight of the big picture.  There may be threats that are more likely and easier to defend against that need to be addressed.  Certainly, cold weather is one of those threats… then I checked that stats.  The ten year average for cold and winter storm related deaths is 62 annually.  Sweet let’s talk about rifles!  No, proper attention to cold weather dress can keep us safe.  In addition, being comfortable in the cold can make us more comfortable, effective and efficient.  So today we talk about cold weather dress!

0226 – Dress for Cold Weather


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Welcome Helix-Arms

Dealing with the Cold

Dealing with any challenge begins with understanding it.  Staying warm when it is cold is no different.  The more we understand, the more we will be able to mitigate the consequences of the situation.  So let’s get to it.

Loss of heat:

Lets Understand Temperature

Temperature is simply a measurement of the amount of heat energy that is present.  There really is no such thing as cold, just an absence of heat.  The higher the temperature, the more heat, the more energy an object contains.  In cold weather, our goal is to keep the heat, keep the energy.  The problem is that energy, like most things, wants to move toward equilibrium.    Energy will always move from items of high energy to items of low energy.  It is how the bullet moves out of the barrel of your handgun, and how the suppressor works on your home-defense rifle as well.  If you put your warm back side on a not warm metal park bench you understand the transfer of energy that takes place.  Heat energy leaves your rear until the park bench is the same temperature as you.  Not fun.  We want to keep that energy!  First, how do we lose it:

  • Conduction
  • Radiation
  • Convection
  • Evaporation


Def. –  transmission through or by means of a conductor; also :the transfer of heat through matter by communication of kinetic energy from particle to particle with no net displacement of the particles.

When we deal with conduction we need to think in terms of contact.  All you need to do is sit on a metal bench on a cool day with thin slacks on to understand conduction.  Lean against a cool marble wall on a hot day and you will be thankful for conduction.  Stand on concrete on a cold winter day and you will feel it too.


Def. - the process of emitting radiant energy in the form of waves or particles.

Think of the heaters you see over the door at Home Depot , or the heating element that glows in an electric oven, or even the light bulb in a lamp.  This is radiation.  Most of us don’t give off energy in the form of light, but as in the examples I just listed we sure can absorb it.


Def. - a : the circulatory motion that occurs in a fluid at a nonuniform temperature owing to the variation of its density and the action of gravityb : the transfer of heat by convection.

As you warm up the air that is next to your skin, that air becomes less dense and moves away from your body.  More cool air replaces the air you just warmed sucking more energy from your body.  This cycle is a convection current.

We also need to consider the effect of the Earth’s convection current on our own temperature.  What I am really talking about here is the effect that wind has on our own temperature loss.  Those of us that live in cold environments hear about convection all the time in the form of wind chill.  Wind chill is an issue to deal with not because it takes more energy, but because it takes it FASTER!


Def. - to convert into vapor; also : to dissipate or draw off in vapor or fumes.

Evaporation is simply the process of changing a liquid into a gas.  This process is happening constantly on our bodies.   To change anything from liquid to gas it takes energy.  Heat from our body is a source of energy right?  This is why sweating cools our body.  In the summer heat, we are glad to give up that energy, but the process continues in the winter too.  Not so cool, or maybe it is!  We need to minimize evaporation to help keep the heat.

Keep the Heat

Take Advantage of Radiation

Get out there in the sun.  The energy radiated by the sun is a fabulous source of heat.  Get in it and capitalize.  Dark colors will absorb the radiation at a much higher rate than clothes that are light in color.  Put on a dark hat or coat and soak it in.


Layers are the key to staying warm in cold weather. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

  1. Layers allow you to add and remove clothes to correspond with the changes in temperature and your activity level.
  2. Layers add additional insulation which in turn allows air to be trapped around your skin and reduces conduction.
  3. Trapped air also reduces convection as the air is less able to move.
  4. Wearing the proper types of layers can help to reduce evaporation by moving moisture away from your skin before it has a chance to evaporate.

Proper Layering

  • Cotton is the kiss of death
  • Thin wicking layer worn next to skin to transport H20
  • Thin insulation layer
  • Additional insulation layer
  • Outer shell

Head Gear

  • Convection
  • Don’t neglect your noggin.
  • Head is a place where a large amount of heat is lost per sq. inch.
  • Knit hats
  • Wind Proof
  • Hoods
  • Easy to remove

Foot Gear

  • Conduction
  • As important as your head
  • Insulate from air and ground
  • Keep em dry
  • Change those socks

Hand Gear

  • Add the issues of the head and the feet together
  • Balance between productivity and comfort
  • Mittens warmest
  • Gloves allow individual finger manipulation

Wind Gear

  • Helps to control convection
  • Helps to control evaporation
  • If you are protected from the wind, windchill becomes irrelevant.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with cold temperatures can be challenging.  Although it probably isn’t the greatest threat we face, learning to properly deal with cold temperatures can make us more comfortable, more productive and safer.  This fall take some time to experiment with layers so that you are ready to deal with the cold when you are forced to.

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