Cheap Thermal Insurance

| September 3, 2008

My main strategy for staying warm while backcountry skiing is to adjust my pace to achieve a good operating temperature.  If it is scorching hot, I slow down.  If it’s really cold, I’ll speed up.  I wear the same clothes almost every time I go out and use side zips or front zips to vent if need be, but hardly ever actually take anything off or put anything on.  When you start out it is a bit cold, but you quickly warm up and get into a good operating temperature within a few minutes.

Stripping down in the heat is no problem, but where do you go when you are getting really cold and can’t go any faster?  For times like these, one of the few items I carry in my pack is an over-sized synthetic “down” jacket.  I like them oversized as I can put it on over the top of a jacket or shell, plus the baggy fit helps to trap warm air.  A hood is a nice feature on jackets like these and, as they tend to get beat up, so I look for cheap ones which won’t break my heart (or bank account) if I lose the pack or rip the jacket on a tree.  If you really want to maximize the heat potential, pick a dark color which will help absorb sunlight.

Two different versions of emergency jackets on Iran's 18,000' high-point, Mt. Damavand.
Two different versions of emergency jackets on Iran’s 18,000′ high-point, Mt. Damavand. Note how it fits over my shell (I’m the guy in front) so I don’t have to strip down to put it on. I’m usually a “medium” but in this type of jacket I wear a “large.”

I carry the jacket in a small compression sack in the bottom of my pack, which not only cushions the pack, but also keeps the jacket from getting ripped by climbing gear or manked-out when a sandwich explodes on it.

Help support and stay warm in a pinch with a Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket at! Click on the photo below…


Category: 03 Clothing

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (4)

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  1. telexis says:

    Hey… in case you didn’t know… your redem code doesn’t work anymore!!

  2. Andrew says:

    Alas, I do know that. It was good while it lasted and I hope you got in on it while it worked. I think was ahead of their time on this concept and it pissed off enough people that they had to shut it down, at least on, if not for all of their team.

    But, has stuff on sale all the time, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find good deals on gear all the same.

  3. telexis says:

    Too bad, it was great!! 15% off everything/all the time was awesome! Plus money for you while I save some… why not!?!

  4. Andrew says:

    I asked myself that many times. :) Of course, you can still help support and keep me off the streets of Deer Valley by clicking through on the linked items.

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