2006-12-09T21:41:13.396+00:00Outdoor Clothing - Some Principles For ComfortIf you are in the great outdoors, sometimes the problem isn't just to stay dry - you must be comfortable. So how is this achieved?One of the greatest benchmarks of comfort when working or spending leisure time in the outdoor world is the degree of dry warmth you experience. All people are different in their warmth requirements - what may be okay for one person may be far too cold or hot for another. The clothing needed to maintain a comfortable average is happily readily available - but using it properly needs understanding in order to be effective.Let's say that you are a hiker or rambler. I use this example from experience as I have been trudging around the UK countryside for years! However, the 'model' applies to whatever outdoor activity you take part in - hunting, fishing, hiking or just being a spectator at an outdoor event. However, any activity that requires varying physical effort - such as hiking - will produce the widest 'discomfort band' of all.The reason is simple. Whilst walking along flat, level ground the level of effort remains fairly constant. Your body, a chemical engine, will convert its reserves to provide you with the 'cruising level' of energy needed to maintain this sustained, low-level effort. For this reason you will reach a median level of energy expenditure, part of which is converted to heat - which is why you become warm. As long as this effort remains constant, comfort is easily achieved.Now a steep hill looms. Your body goes into 'bottom gear' as you lift your body weight against gravity to conquer the slope. The energy demands on your body rise dramatically and far more heat is produced. If your body can't dissipate that heat - you get hot. It's as simple as that.Your body has one aim in mind: to keep your core temperature at a steady 98.6 degrees F. (37 degrees C.). It has two main methods of regulating this temperature - perspiration to cool and shivering to warm. Either method can be a cause of discomfort, so it seems logical that, if possible, you should aid your body in its attempts to maintain a comfortable temperature. Now, unless you sit still in a chair all day this ideal temperature will fluctuate. You're not likely to notice much change much in everyday situations, but outdoor activity is different. So how do you cope with the problem?The answer is a principle called 'layering'. It works on the theory that several thin layers are more flexible - in terms of temperature control - than one thick layer. An ideal layering system would consist of a light, thin 'fleece' or insulating shirt (lower body garments can be added for colder conditions), then a lightweight insulating and windproof jacket, then a waterproof and 'breathable' outer shell garment. The inner garment is, in some ways, the most important. When purchasing such a garment, ensure that it possesses excellent 'wicking' properties - that is, it will transport perspiration away from the skin effectively. This is essential. Perspiration left on the skin can cause rapid chilling that can be very uncomfortable indeed! The three-layer effect ensures that layers can be removed or added very quickly in order to maintain a comfortable body temperature.Layering garments are available from all good outdoor clothing stores and the staff are generally knowledgeable - if they aren't, go elsewhere! Layering is without doubt the finest way to maintain comfort in normal to cold conditions. Real arctic conditions are beyond the scope of this article and specialist advice should be sought if you're planning expeditions in these areas.A last word about totally waterproof jackets. Yes, they will keep the water out - which is not the same as keeping you dry, especially if, like myself, you 'run hot' when hiking. No jacket can change a physiological response - if the humidity and water/air saturation outside the jacket exceeds the conditions next to your body, you'll still get wet - but from your own perspiration! Therefore, the more 'breathable' the jacket material the more comfortable you will b[...]
2006-10-31T21:23:34.766+00:00As the clocks go back and it's (effectively) getting darker earlier, it's tempting to hang the boots up and merely read Trail magazine. Don't do it! The crisp, colder days are giving better visibility now so even more reason to get up onto the tops! No excuses! Go!
2006-10-29T12:59:24.560+00:00The sky being a flawless blue here today, I'm off for a walk somewhere - making the most of it because the forecast is for the weather to turn cold. Surprise, surprise - it IS nearly November! Personally I don't mind the cold - I'd rather have it cold than wet anyday and the two together means staying off the hills for me, I'm afraid!
2006-10-28T21:20:52.506+00:00Ah me. This is really the start of this blog - I'm sorry for the disgraceful neglect of thelast months! Well, we stand on the cusp of the Dark Nights and Winter. Does that faze us? Not at all! See bonfire nights from the top of Great Malvern and you'll know what I mean - it's like being under siege without the associated problems. Now i know that bonfire night, Guy Fawkes night as it's sometimes called, is just a UK thing - but does anyone out there in the rest of the world like it? There's the usual pressure here to finish it - after all, it happened so long ago (the argument goes) that it's got no relevance today. What do you think?
2006-07-22T22:19:37.526+00:00Seems I took off the two hottest weeks in recorded history for my annual leave. I know - this is a hackneyed theme, you know 'we are the hottest place in the UK' but it seems that we might well be. I was driving through Malvern Link on Wednesday at 6.15 pm and the car thermometer was showing an outside temp of 97 degrees F. Hells Bells! I am just thankful for aircon. Looking back on earlier posts it seems laughable. 'It seems to be warming up'? No kidding. The Malverns have been - until this afternoon, when we've had a couple of torrential downpours -dry as dust. Even the rain today won't have done a lot to relieve that so if you're going on the hills please DO NOT LIGHT A FIRE and if you smoke PUT THE BLOODY THING OUT! There have been serious fires in past years because people were careless. I'll write some more when I can gasp enough air into my seared lungs.......
2006-06-01T22:56:42.053+00:00Well it's not surprising, is it? First of June and it jolly well should be - though listening to dear old David Attenborough earlier tonight it seemd that in fifty years' timewe'll all be fried anyway. I do sometimes wonder if this is the latest media 'thing' - a while ago it was tsunamis, before that earthquakes, before that world-killing meteors - and it's always easy to find people who say what you want them to say when you have your hand on the edit button. What do you think?
2006-05-24T18:43:10.120+00:00I think summer has deserted us this year if this endless rain is anything to go by. You get the feeling that most of the Malverns are going to slide of the bare granite and end up as a huge mud lake somewhere in Colwall - in fact we did have a small mud slide a couple of years back. Never heard of before, it must all tie in with global warming though the present temperature doesn't exactly back this up. All I can see from here is shining wet roofs and the hills have yet again hidden themselves under a mist blanket. Did I go to sleep last night and wake up in November by mistake? You tell me.
2006-05-21T21:58:19.470+00:00As I'm sure you're aware(if you live anywhere in the UK Midlands), it rained all damned morning. This wasn't too bad as I hadn't intended going out but it was so bad I couldn't even see the hills. Not all was lost - the sun came out in the afternoon a least. I guess that this is a fairly mundane topic but I thought I'd start with something non-commital. I'll try to be more interesting next post!v