Clothing for passive activities in cold winter (Pt. 2)

9:55 a.m. on December 27, 2013 (EST)
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11 months ago, I made the following thread (I would like to once again thank all the replies):  http://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/139047.html#139103

To summarise, I was looking advice on gear that would allow me to stay warm while stationary in -20C (-4F) in fairly extended period of time.

Well, something came out that stopped me to attend the festival in the end, but I am definitely going this year. Furthermore, in the near future I intend to go to Iceland to shoot aurora borealis.

Since the last thread I've found a new love for photographing the night sky, and have spent a couple of night out in near freezing or slightly below freezing temperature (-4C / 25F). I am not sure if it is my new pair of shoes (I completely wore out the sole on my last hiking shoes), or the fact that there is a big difference between walking around in town, and literally not moving for hours at a time, but my toes absolutely hates me. Even wearing two medium weight smartwool socks is not enough for my toes from being cold. I conclude that while I have above average tolerance for cold in general, my feet are my achilles' heel, more so than my hand in cold weather. The only reason I haven't noticed it till now, is that I was never *that* stationary and as long as I am walking, my feet can maintain it's warmth.

The last thread shows mentioned a couple of winter boots, and one brand that stands out (in part because I think that they can be found in Japan) is the Baffin boots. Looking at their websites their winter shoes are rated from -20C all the way to -100C! Those are pretty amazing claims. What I am wondering though, is whether I can go overboard. I.e. Would the -70C / -100C boots cause my feet to be unbearably hot at barely below freezing temperature down to -20C? And can those shoes be used for gentle hiking (I do not plan to climb tall mountains during winters, but I may climb mountains under 1000m) or are they too bulky for that purpose?

Thanks!

12:11 p.m. on December 27, 2013 (EST)
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I'm in my first season of using a pair of Baffin Impact boots so while I'm not ready to do a review I can give you a little feedback on them.  They have a removable insulated liner that so far remains very soft and cushiony.  That made them very comfortable right out of the box, but I find my foot moving around a lot even with the outer buckles cinched down. 

They are very warm while moving and my feet stay pretty toasty when I stop, but I've never stood around in them for hours.  I would imagine a little foot stomping to keep the blood moving would be in order from time to time if standing still.  I do not believe they would really hold up to their rated temp of -100°C but I've been out in them for hours under -20°C and had happy feet while moving and on breaks of 10 minutes or so.

They are big, clunky and heavy; there is no other way to put it ;) If you are used to ultralite trail shoes these will make you weep.  I've worn heavy boots my whole life so I've adapted to them, but even for me the first few uses required remembering to keep my feet farther apart.  I have done a lot of off trail bushwhacking in them in deep snow but I have not done any real climbing. I think they'd be OK for more serious hiking but I'm a little concerned about that looseness I mentioned.  I think I might try a thicker sock and find something to climb for my next test.

So far I like them.  I'm a bit bummed that they were made in China but so far they seem to be holding together.  Hope that is some help to you!

3:28 p.m. on December 27, 2013 (EST)
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Barb and I have Baffin boots rated to -100C (mine are Endeavours, hers are Doug Stoups, which are virtually identical). We used them during our dogsledding trek in Alaska this past March. You do a lot of standing on the sled runners, though you do get some exercise hanging on, doing some steering and braking, and helping get the loaded sleds up hills. We never had hot feet, and Barb had cold feet on one of the days, which we traced to wearing an extra pair of socks. Also, she had removed the "screen" (an open mesh insert on the sole that provides more dead air space for the bottom of your foot. Removing the extra socks, helped with blood circulation, as did replacing the "screen". The temperatures were mostly in the -20 to -40 range.

They are not climbing boots, though there are crampons available that fit them. We also have found that most current snowshoes do not have bindings that will fit the boots - they make them for more traditional boots, not for the thick insulation that Baffins and similar "deep cold" boots are intended for. When wearing the right thickness of socks (comfortable fit so they do not slip around on the foot, but not so tight as to cut off circulation - they definitely should NOT feel tight on the foot), they work well for hiking on not too steep slopes (you can kick steps if the snow is the right consistency). Remember that your body layers are very important to keeping comfortably warm on your feet and hands - not just thick insulated boots and gloves.

3:59 p.m. on December 27, 2013 (EST)
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There are several ways to go about this, just about as many combinations as there are types of boots and socks.

However, the absolutely best way I found found to keep my feet warm in really cold temps is to use a vapor barrier liner or VBL.

As an example, this is what I do:

TNF Arctic Pull on boots

Smartwool mountaineering socks

VBL(you can buy a vbl such as the one from integral designs, or be like me and use produce bags from the grocery store. I prefer the thicker produce bags sometimes found with corn or in the meat section)

thin liner sock

bare foot

So the way this works is you wear a thin liner sock, then put on the vbl. then put the thicker sock on over the vbl and then put on your boots. The vbl makes your foot have its own little microclimate and your foot WILL sweat, however its reaches a balance eventually and will stop sweating. Your liner sock will be wet, sometimes very wet. However the moisture stops there and your boot and you thicker sock stay perfectly dry and you stay perfectly warm.

This has been my best solution to the cold feet problem. It works so well it is now my preferred solution to the problem, and I highly recommend giving it a try.

If on a multi day trip you will need to carry multiple liner socks, but you wont have to carry as many thicker socks because they arnt getting wet/dirty.

On a typical 7 day winter trip of mine, i will bring 3 liner socks, and 2 pairs of smartwool mountaineering socks. 1 pair of the smartwools are for wear with the boots, and the other is to wear for sleeping / as a backup pair.

Produce bags do wear out, so i usually bring several. One day I may buy a pair of the integral design ones. There are many types of VBL socks on the market, some are made of goretex etc but i have no experience with these products only the theory behind them. Produce bags work perfectly well for me, so for not i see no need to spend more money.

10:54 a.m. on December 28, 2013 (EST)
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Does anyone have any experience with Teva products? I am looking at this one: http://www.tevaonline.ca/mens-chair-5-print-wp-lightweight-boots/1003016,en_CA,pd.html?dwvar_1003016_color=GRN&start=3&cgid=mens-boots


I like the fact that 1. The prices in Japan is more or less in line with the rest of the world (I think that the Baffin is going to come at a pretty major premium), 2. It's lighter and packable. 


I am wondering if anyone has had any experience about this brand/shoes? They are obviously not designed to be used in the same conditions the Baffins, but I am not planning to go to the Antarctic (yet!), so on paper, so as long as they are say, twice as warm as my 3 seasons hiking shoes, that is going to be a big improvement. Actually, I am also quite interested in their winter hiking shoes http://www.teva.com/mens-riva-winter-mid-wp-lightweight-winter-hiking-shoe/887278246084,default,pd.html?start=2&cgid=men-activity-winter-recreation as it has some insulations and, presumably is designed for walking in mind too.

3:33 p.m. on December 28, 2013 (EST)
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For what its worth, 250g of thinsulate isnt all that warm IMO. Its warm enough while its dry i guess, but once your feet begin to sweat a little it gets cool rather quickly.

I don't have any experience with teva other than their sandal type footwear, in fact i didnt even know they made anything else. Nor have i ever met anyone wearing any of their other products.

4:00 p.m. on December 28, 2013 (EST)
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See also: Aerogel insoles

September 22, 2014
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