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Posted: 12/13/2013 6:10:24 PM EST
I spent a few hours each day in some REALLY cold temps (for Utah anyway) and I've found some real weaknesses in my gold weather gear. The temps I was working in last week was -13 (the other guys were working in -23, but I managed to miss most of that day in the cold), but we were working under a helicopter with approx 60mph rotor wash, making a wind chill of about -51. I'm guessing on the rotor wash, but it's a super-Huey with a 3500lb load that will push a guy over if he's not set against it.

Let's compare and discuss cold weather gear.

Here is my top inside layers. Columbia baselayer, heavy cotton FR shirt (required, but in an almost gov't-like intelligence we can wear it under a coat) and a Columbia jacket. The jacket has the Columbia Omni-heat, which is a reflective layer that is REALLY warm without any bulk.

Bottom inside layers. Columbia base with the Omni-Heat, Carhart jeans, wool socks and poly sock liners. The boots are uninsulated because I need safety toe, but I'm getting some insulated safety toe ASAP.

Here is my outside layer. Generic jacket, poorly insulated but has the company logo, generic gloves and Columbia (again, they have a factory outlet here...) snowboard pants with the Omni-Heat. Carhart beanie with hard-hat on top. Shemagh was used as a scarf.


Inner layers-The Omni-Heat is incredible. With a single layer I am good for pretty cold temps, about 20F without wind I'd say. Combined with the outer shell my legs were very warm every day I doubled them up. I really need to get some Omni-Heat tops/shirts. My chest and back stayed cold far too often.

My jacket sucks, the beanie sucks and the shemagh is awesome.
Gloves are terrible, my hands were warm but my wrists get so cold that it takes hours to get good use and dexterity out of them.
Boots need to be replaced,
A face mask would be VERY nice, I used to have a neoprene one but can't find it.

Here is a pic of some of my other cold weather stuff. I live at just a shade under 6,000ft and we have some pretty cold months. Here are a few things I wear around the woods when not at work. Gaiters from the army surplus (I think Swedish), Swedish wool pants, two different weights of thermals, one is just a pair of nylon pants, and the old school mil-surp gloves with wool liners. I really like these gloves for staying warm, but not so much for using. When it's this cold it's tough to be much use for long anyway.

Any favorite CW headgear? Good gloves?

Link Posted: 12/13/2013 6:44:37 PM EST
I worked in interior AK for years, I wore mil-surp poly-pros under jeans and a lined hoody with Carhartt arctic lined coat and bibs over them, wool socks and bunny boots, my favorite gloves were sherpa lined rough out leather work gloves, a thin poly pro face mask topped with a acrylic stocking hat did me well to -50 no wind, it is safe to say I was more aclimatized than you will become. If I could keep my core almost unpleasantly warm my extremities wouldn't get cold. Wind is a bitch I never found a good solution, wore Refridgiwear when I worked on the flight line, it did ok, damn warm but 747s taxiing thrust found its way thru the zippers and gaps, for long term exposure zippers can be taped. On the snowmobile I wore a poly base, fleece mid, and nylon shell, sometimes had to resort to duct tape to cover exposed skin around the googles. Poly pros with the thumbhole allow you to overlap you gloves and base layer might help the wrists.

If you have to wear safety toe go with the steel, get them large and slip a chemical warmer in there, it will conduct heat thru the steel, or get heated insoles, chemical or electric, warm feet improve quality of life like little else. Our employer determined the thermal danger was more pressing than the physical danger so we were able to wear appropriate foot wear.

Find a good hard hat liner and ditch the stocking hat, everything will stay put better, it'll stop wind better, and you'll stay warmer. Have spare socks and gloves somewhere warm and dry and change both atleast once a shift. Having to wear cotton FR sucks, but if you keep it off your skin like you are it won't cause too much trouble as long as you can dry it daily. Stay hydrated, it helps body temp regulation at every temp, get as much sleep as possible, eat well, if you drink a lot in the off hours try and dial it back, same for any meds that are not neccessary.
Link Posted: 12/13/2013 7:31:53 PM EST
Yeah, acclimatization to the cold would be nice, but three days before the cold snap it was over 40 at my house and I killed and hung a steer. We dropped 70 degrees overnight and I'm an engineer that doesn't normally spend as much time as this out in the cold.

As you mentioned, wind is tough. We had to dump water on the spoils (dirt piles) of the excavations to keep them from making a cloud with every load of concrete from the helicopter, and I got sorta hit once. The good news was the water that hit me froze before it had a chance to soak in, in fact I had icicles hanging from my hardhat and jacket.

Any suggestions for non-hardhat headgear and gloves?
Link Posted: 12/13/2013 7:41:18 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/13/2013 7:53:18 PM EST by coolstuff]

You need one piece coveralls with thermals underneath and a jacket over. Been there done that, still have the covies. I use them when I go out shooting in the winter on the side x side here.

Working in piceance creek? The coldest that I got there was -35 with out the wind chill. (wind chill only affects exposed skin)

Edit: boots, the removable lining pack boots are good. If they say that they are "-60" rated, they aren't Maybe -15, maybe. Your company should supply PPE. If your company supplies "zero hoods" for hard hats, they can be worn as a hat. It looks goofy, but they work. If you have a hard hat and zero hood, get a chin strap for use around the helicopter.

Lots of zero hoods have little pockets for hand warmers at the ears. If you are buying a hat the ones that have the ear flaps and fur are warm.
Link Posted: 12/14/2013 6:04:57 AM EST
Not Vernal. I'm in the mountains out of Richfield, the desert flats around Milford and occasionally down to Enterprise.

I have a pair of insulated Carhart coverall (I hate them with a passion unless I don't have to move much) and a set of insulated bibs which I like a lot better. I like the Columbia stuff much more. Getting in and out of the helicopter sucks when you move like a snowman.

I'm using this cold snap to try to prove my cold weather gear, not necessarily just work gear. I've found that I need better gloves and headgear, regardless of if it's for work or just winter outdoors.
Link Posted: 12/14/2013 9:26:53 AM EST
Check out outdoor research, their balaclavas are among the best I ever wore, get a windstopping one, make sure it can cover the nose. Top with a stocking hat of some sort as long as its not absorbant or will stay warm when wet it doesn't matter too much, wool, fleece or thinsulate, and put a hood over the whole works whenever you can sacrifice peripheral vision.
I never owned OR gloves, too spendy for me and being an equipment mechanic they would be oil soaked and/or destroyed monthly if I used them at work, and I was too cheap to add to my pile of snowmobiling and snowboarding gloves, but had friends that highly recommended them for it.
Overlap everything possible.
Link Posted: 12/14/2013 3:39:21 PM EST
I don't have pics handy, and I don't want to drag my stuff out of storage (I live in AZ now), but when I was stationed at Eielson AFB (Fairbanks, AK) we had some pretty good ECWG.
I worked flightline, some days my jet was outside, some days it was in a pen (a hangar with doors on both sides). Even in the pens, the heaters didnt always work, and we had to open the doors to do a lot of stuff. It would hit -50 fairly often, -30 - -40 sustained for weeks/months on end.

Most days I would wear:
Bottom - underwear->polypro pants-> sometimes bdu pants, 50/50 -> carthart overall pants

Top - undershirt->polypro shirt-> chinese underwear jacket

Boots - alpaca socks and either mukluks or some seriously good booth with removable liners. We had steel toe and non steel toe versions. We are required to wear steel toes, but we had a waiver for that because of the possibility of foot injury vs the certainty of cold weather injury. I remember one of the sets we got was made by a company called Servus.

Head - a knit or fleece hat and a "head sock" (Idk it's correct name, that's what we called it.

Gloves - No idea what they are called, but I found a picture with google: We just called them "hot pit gloves" because if you were on pits in the winter you def wore them. Otherwise, just regular winter gloves. Nothing was ever sufficient, out hands were always cold. Didn't help that there was plenty of work that required the dexterity you lose with gloves, so they had to be done barehanded.

All this would vary a bit throughout the winter. Maybe no cartharts, maybe gore-tex and fleece liners instead...

Acclimatization made the most difference. Sometimes it would be -40 for weeks on end, then bam, it pops up to zero. We'd be working in regular coveralls and maybe a fleece cap, sleeves rolled up, no gloves, and getting yelled at for leaving the hangar doors open all night (not supposed to be open for than 30-60 min temp depending or pipes would burst) but we *felt* fine because it was 30* warmer than we had been used to, haha.

Here is a pic I do have of me one winter, my face was numb when this was taken. I'm wearing both the chinese underwear jacket and the headsock thing we loved. The chinese underwear is so warm. I still use that worn out to hell jacket to this day when it gets cool out. Even with just with a t-shirt it works great.
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