I have used those charcoal handwarmers, and they do work well BUT MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A TIGHT, STRONG ELASTIC BAND ROUND IT (on mine I found one of the charity plastic wrist bands is the perfect size)! This ensures that it won't come open in your pocket and you then finding your jacket a wee bit on fire while you are halfway up an icefall. Using one in conjunction with merino underwear also seems a good move, as then the burning charcoal moves outwards, not inwards, much more desirable from the not getting burnt point of view.
I trust you found the importer? I can honestly say that I have yet to feel sweaty or cold around the torso since I switched to the mesh. It is absolutely incredible and the only surprise is that Andy doesn't make it reasons one to five on his list instead of just number three!
They used to come with a little red bag to stop them being able to come apart. Also don't quite get what you mean re: the merino underwear and the charcoal burning outwards? It's just a stick that burns along it's length iirc?
Ah, sorry all I meant is that after my little accident I didn't notice until the end of the day what had happened. The burning charcoal came out of the warmer in a pocket on my softhell roughly over my liver area but I didn't feel any burning at all. It did melt the pocket liner as well as hole through to the outside of the softshell - presumably falling into the snow after that although I checked my harness very carefully! The main hole must have been about 5 cms by 3 cms plus some smaller ones, so it did really melt the jacket! I put not getting burnt skin at all down to having a thick merino base layer on that day that protected me. Do you remember from your 'yoof' the bonfire night warnings about wearing natural fibres to protect against sparks, rather than synthetics? I remember 80s 'jokes' about shell-suited liverpudlians (with poodle perms as well I presume) going up like human torches when standing too close to the bonfire clad all in polyester!
> Actually contrary to Andy's advice I am a big fan of the chemical hand warmers, and use them quite often.
Yep - in your chalk bag for late October or early November Scandinavian granite days, they are perfect! Sounds strange but they work great there to keep your tips warm enough to crimp or do thin jam, but don't make your hands sweaty at all.
Yo. Brynje is well known in Norway, and is used by the army. It was also the first underwear on Everest
If you want to go for something a bit more "sexy", try Aclima http://www.aclima.no/. They use the "brynje stuff" together with hiding away, or warming, your more personal stuff! I only got a brynje finlandhood , aclima is to expensive for me..
Plastic bag is perfect! I use it all th.e time in winter. If you don't like the feeling, put on a super thin sock first (your gfbfmoms stuff). My only proble is that a toe or two can puncture it and then start to strangle themself as the bag moves backwards.
In reply to patsyK:
I find it difficult to understand how the plastic bags on the feet work. I would have thought that any moisture from your feet sweating would condense on the inside of the plastic bag leaving you with wet feet inside the plastic bag? However, who am I to argue with the great man. I'll give it a try this weekend maybe.
If you don't have problems with cold feet in UK winter conditions I wouldn't bother. Vapour barriers seems to be very much a multiday arctic type of thing. A friend tried in Antarctica and said he really didn't like the feeling - normal sock and drying them in overnight was preferable.
> I would have thought that any moisture from your feet sweating would condense on the inside of the plastic bag leaving you with wet feet inside the plastic bag?
The theory is that your feet self-regulate and get sufficiently damp on the outside that they don't send any more sweat out. I never tried them with bare feet so I can't personally vouch for that idea. Some people also sprinkle talc on their feet to help keep them dry.
I tried plastic bags on Denali, admittedly at a point it probably wasn't cold enough, and they didn't seem to do much and were awkward-feeling, and tore, so I binned the whole idea. Did ten or more trips to Antarctica after that and never felt the need to re-experiment. I think modern boots like Sportiva Olympus Mons and Millet Everest have largely reduced the need to enhance the warmth of boots.
You can buy VBL socks from Integral Designs and other small companies (I got given some for a job) but most of them fit so badly they felt unworkable. Using VBL to keep your down bag dry in some extended circumstances might be a different story, though tbh I never had a problem with that either.
I'd agree that VBL socks are not necessary for all routes (esp in the UK), but on very long multi day winter climbs you can often end up having very extended days, say from 4am till late into the night, where socks will provide much more warmth when kept dry (after a long day in double boots on a big multi day climb, in the dark, your feet will be much more exposed). If you're forced to sleep out in your boots this can also save your toes a bit (your socks are are warm as when you started). This approach probably works best when using single layer insulated boots like Scarpa Phantoms, as the bag stops the socks and boots wetting out (having wet single boots is a great way to get frostbite). If you take a 'I'll dry them in the tent' approach this works 95% of the time, but there's always that day when the sun doesn't shine and you wake up with frozen socks, plus if you run two pairs of socks for a month (without washing!) they'll end up limp rags after being wetted and dried a few hundred times, where as using VBL means one pair of sacks can do a full trip (you can take them back to the shop and tell them you've never worn them, and get a refund once home). Lastly in bivy you can just whip of the bags and stick back on the warm socks, and you don't have that cold damp foot problem (maybe that's just me). I've used both bags and proper VBL (nylon) socks and it;s all about getting the right weight of bag or sock.
> I'd agree that VBL socks are not necessary for all routes (esp in the UK), but on very long multi day winter climbs you can often end up having very extended days, say from 4am till late into the night, where socks will provide much more warmth when kept dry (after a long day in double boots on a big multi day climb, in the dark, your feet will be much more exposed).
Or, just don't do such scary climbs that make you sweat so much? )
I've also got some of these RBH socks http://tinyurl.com/ln543dy that you've no doubt seen. They used to do a thinner one as well, which I found a bit more versatile. They were certainly warm, but also felt quite clammy, which was more annoying than I thought it would be.
I'm sure though that, as you say, if you were on a long, hard, cold climb where you were standing around in the dark a bit as well, then they'd probably add a measure of safety and comfort. Also, the very warm boots I mentioned above are not good for all things and as you point out, it's actually in trying to extend the range of single boots that I've tried VBLs (not on Denali though).
In reply to Rick Graham: I don't like the plastic bags makes my foot slide about in the boot too much, nobody appears to mention using anti perspirant on their feet maybe not as effective as a vapour barrier but better than nothing also helps to prevent smelly feet.
I started using brynje polypropolene ( Andy says it is polyurathane but Nordiclife wed site says polypropolene) base layers this year and they are the best base layer I have had, previously I would strip of at the top and remove cold clamy polyester layers but now I don't have to the mesh keeps you warm and dry while wicking away the sweat http://www.nordiclifeuk.co.uk/products/mens-active-base-layers
To add to the hand warmer debate.... I have been using lighter fuelled hand warmers for several years. They beat charcoal burners for a cocked hat - seriously! Zippo and Peacock make the best, though there are cheaper clones on Amazon/fleabag. The longest I've had one run is 18 hours (and very hot). Different sizes are available. It's important to use zippo fuel, as I've noticed other lighter fuels don't seem to burn as well.
Jobs Performance Squad coordinator at Westway Climbing
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