Keeping Warm

WELLSBORO – As the temperature drops and outdoor enthusiasts get ready for winter hiking, sledding, snowshoeing, skiing – and shoveling – it’s imperative to know how to dress.

On a very cold January evening, a half dozen people gathered in the back of Wild Asaph Outfitters, 71 Main St., to listen to owner Jennifer Borneman talk about how to keep warm during winter activities. The clinic focused on the differences between winter camping, backpacking and the equipment options available.

Standing in front of a four-season tent, Borneman began talking about winter camping. She discussed importance of what kind of gear should be used and what may be people’s personal preferences.

Winter camping obviously isn’t as popular as the spring and summer variety, but some people do enjoy it.

“While you can generally buy one set of gear to use in the spring, summer and fall, the colder temperatures in winter offer more potential for dangerous situations,” she said.

She said it’s a good idea to go into winter camping with a different perspective and with a good handle on what to put on your body to keep yourself warm and alive.

The clinic focused on just that, and Borneman said the information will be applicable to not only winter camping but winter activities in general.

The first defense against cold for winter campers is their tent. The reason for a four-season tent is its layers, Borneman said, and how well it breathes and holds in the moisture a sleeping body creates.

A good sleeping bag is a must. Mummy sleeping bags are popular, as are ones rated for temperatures far below what a hiker might expect.

A sleeping pad or two is a must to create a barrier between the body and the ground. Choose one that is rated for temperatures below what is expected.

Perhaps the most important advice to come out of Borneman’s seminar was her take on how to layer properly and what kind of fabrics are right for staying warm.

Using the wrong kind of fabrics probably is the most common mistake winter recreation participants make, she said.

She reviewed some of the many types of garments on the market: cotton, synthetics, wool and waterproof breathable materials.

“The two (mistakes) that stick out the most for me are wearing heavy, insulated pieces of clothing instead of layering and using cotton as a layer,” she said.

She laid three shirts out on the floor of the store, one cotton, one synthetic and one made of Merino wool.

Borneman demonstrated why it’s important to have fabrics such as wool or synthetics to help wick away the moisture the body creates.

She dumped a small cap of water on each shirt. The cotton soaked it right up, the synthetic didn’t let it permeate too much and the droplets scattered. The wool practically resisted the liquid.

“The colder temperatures and shorter days in winter offer more potential for danger when participating in outdoor activities,” she said. “A mistake that may lead to minor discomfort in the summer or fall could cause a life-threatening situation in the winter.”

A hugely popular textile, cotton is used to create many clothes.

“Cotton is a very dangerous fabric to wear when doing any winter activity where you might perspire,” Borneman said. “I find that even when someone has learned about layering and may even have learned that it’s better to wear a wicking fabric, they still defeat the whole purpose by putting on one layer of cotton within their layering system.”

But, people who make sure they have the right gear and dress appropriately will discover a world of winter fun in the great outdoors.

It “(gives) us more motivation to get out and moving in the winter,” she said.