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 How do you dress properly for dog sledding?
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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  09:06:59 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I hope this title is more appropriate than the last one.
I realize for everyday and type of mushing there are variations. I'm looking for surefire layering suggestions, ideas, things that work for you. I will be giving a presentation on "Dressing for winter" soon and I'm looking for things I may have overlooked.
Here are some of the things I do but please feel free to add.
This time of year I dress very methodically. I use a guide I found in a X-country ski book but find I need a little more layering than the typical skier for distance runs. I start with cotton but then overlayer with polyproplylene. I wear bluejeans in the house and if I'm doing chores it's Carharts. If I take the dogs out its Nylon. I have a selection of hats, boots and, mittens and gloves for even the shortest run. I never seem to avoid getting hot and sweaty but I've never got hypothermic either.
We have so many people that come here to mush and mostly they underdress and a few that overdress. Chronic problems are lousy boots mittens and hats. Coats are to bulky or little more than windbreakers. I realize folks aren't going to run out and buy expensive clothing for a once in a life time event. What can they use effectively that hey already have or without going broke.
TIA

Edited by - Cliff Maxfield on 12/11/2007 3:05:49 PM

mooselook

USA
211 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  09:59:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The maxim that cold water--fresh and ocean--paddlers have spouted for years is "Cotton Kills". That carries over to any outdoor winter activity as well. Lose the cotton. Make your first layer poly (or silk). It won't eliminate the sweating, but greatly minimizes the discomfort, and potential danger, of sweating in colder temps.

Cathleen

"There are some simple truths...and the dogs know what they are." Joseph Duemer
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Joshua A Kooiman

USA
84 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  10:00:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
one leg at a time
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snozilla

USA
433 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  11:36:58 AM  Show Profile  Visit snozilla's Homepage  Reply with Quote
There is a neat book I found a few years ago...
Secrets of Warmth: For Comfort or Survival by Hal Weiss
It has recommendations for different winter activities (skiing, ice fishing...) and rates various materials for appropriateness.
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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  11:49:03 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Snoz and thanks Moose for the cotton advice. I wasn't sure if cotton skivvies were really a problem. I do know about cotton T shirts. They are worthless. What about socks? More to the point - what about poly socks then wool over them. I've seen women show up with three pair of wool socks and complain about cold feet. I'm incline to think they are cutting off the circulation and they'd be better off with two pair or maybe even one.
I always tell people mittens are better than gloves. However I break that rule myself because it's tough dealing with snaps and clips or even toggles. I recommend an overmit and a good pair of fleece gloves. I also carry chore gloves for some things.
Hats are variable IMO but that's me. I like ear protection. Mad Bombers are an easy to find hat. The musher hats are better I believe but you pretty much need to order them special.
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snozilla

USA
433 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  1:33:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit snozilla's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I agree that too many socks are probably cutting off circulation. I generally wear one pair of wool socks (Smartwool, Wigwams, Dahlgren (actually alpaca) or REI) and mukluks. I've used liner socks (poly or silk) but haven't in a few years--they work okay but it's not worth the trouble if I have good boots.

I like to layer my hands just like I would the rest of me. My favorite hand system is those little streatchy mini-gloves that come in packs for two or three, with a pair of wool or fleece fingerless gloves/mittens (you know, with the little removable mitten cap thing). Any element of the system can be easily changed when they get wet or stuffed into choppers. I'm also completely in love with my wrist gaiters.
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Rogue

USA
1158 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  2:14:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I third (or fourth?) what others say...don't do the cotton. I use polypro longjohns, polar fleece pants and top, then followed by my insulated coveralls (if we're just tooling around the yard), or my thick refrigi-wear bibs, and my Canada Goose Parka if we're going on long runs. For gloves, I start with polar fleece wristies, then polypro glove liners, followed by wool gloves. If it's really cold, I have my toasties on the sled handlebar, but also keep overmitts in the sled too. On my feet, I usually only wear one pair of wool socks...2 pairs of socks cuts off my circulation, even if they are those liners, then wool socks. I have always used my heavy Lacrosse boots in the past and haven't ever had cold feet. This year, I have a lighter pair of Baffin's. Oh, and I have a fur hat, with polar fleece neck warmers/gators. If it's really cold, I'll have 2 neck warmers on, or a double layered neck warmer.

If it's really cold (-40F or colder), I'll add a polar fleece vest, or a hoody.

Happy Trails!
Tammi

"The more people I meet, the more I like my dogs."
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smushybanana

USA
562 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  2:20:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit smushybanana's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I agree to completely eliminate cotton. Anything. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why my butt was getting cold, until I realized I was still wearing cotton underwear. I bought some Ibex wool shorts and it has made a lot of difference. Also ditch any cotton socks. I usually wear those heavy expedition-weight ones from REI with loops inside that wick really well. As long as they are clean and dry they keep you nice and toasty. They are like $20 a pair but worth it.

Hilary Schwafel
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sallydawson

USA
830 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  3:08:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I too use silk as my first layer - including silk liner gloves.

Sally J. Dawson and the Mushing'dales
N1BCF; "RED HAT" Musher
Live each day as if it is your last
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Karal

USA
471 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  4:21:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Joshua A Kooiman

one leg at a time



dang you beat me to it. I read the title and that is the fist thing that came to my mind.

live laugh love
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bento

Norway
4 Posts

Posted - 12/08/2007 :  8:24:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
wool, wool, wool, wool, wool
1-2-3 layers depending on the temperature. Cotton/polyester or down to protect from the weather.
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kenhaggett

USA
119 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2007 :  4:25:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit kenhaggett's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Poly and fleece for me. I sweat a lot when I'm moving the dogs around or running up hills behind the sled. With good breathable layers I can dry out even after a good sweat. I wear typically wear snow board type pants that have ventilation flaps so I can open those up to let out heat when I am working hard. I'll wear a windproof top layer over it all if it is really cold out. It amazes me how many hot/cold cycles I can go through with this sort of layering and still be comfortable all day long. Nothing worse than being outside in the cold with a soggy cotton tee shirt next to your skin!

Ken Haggett
Lake Elmore, Vt.
http://www.peacepupsdogsledding.com
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lisark_aussies

Canada
29 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2007 :  4:25:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit lisark_aussies's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Regarding underwear...most people don't know this, but Wal-Mart sells polypropelyne (sp, sorry) underwear very cheaply. They have it in both the women's and men's departments. In the women's department I think it's the Hanes brand, and they are quite a nice product. They come in a 6 pack for about 12 bucks Canadian.

Just letting you know, you don't have to order the fancy schmancy stuff from MEC or REI to get good gear.


Lisa Giroux
AuxArcs Australian Shepherds
http://www.k9station.com
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cricket

Canada
627 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2007 :  8:26:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit cricket's Homepage  Reply with Quote
i have found that a good pair of sweet pants followed up with a good pair of wool cover all's and a pair of carhart artic pants are all i have ever needed followed up with a good hoodie and a canadian goose jacket keeps me plety warm
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dog musher

USA
403 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2007 :  10:14:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit dog musher's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Yes. Ditch the coton. It can hold like 10 times its own weight in water (or is it 100???). Now if only I would follow my own advice... If you want to know what I wear; Blue Jeans and a Tee Shirt (I have yet to find a comfortable base layer shirt for mushing). Some times I will ditch the blue jeans and wear a pair of Adia thermal type pants (97% Poliester, 3% Spandex). They are pretty warm.
I then wear a pair of insulated snow pants, and I put on a sweatshirt (Actually, that may be cotton too....) And then over the sweatshirt I put on a Carhart type jacket, Wool bomber style hat (you know the type... the wool is spun to make it look like fur... I'm too cheap to buy fur, and it is one of my warmest hats, so if it ain't broke don't fix it) And then for foot wear, I wear a pair of wool socks, Lobens, and then most of the time I put a pair of Neos on over thoes. Well, at least I got the foot wear right. My feet freeze! But I love wool. It holds warmth nicely and it repels water.
Oh, and then for gloves I have a pair of gloves I bought from cabelas. I wear the liners when I am hooking up, and then once we have taken off and are a mile or so up the trail I put on the shells to the gloves.

I love the "One leg at a time" comment, btw.

Lacey
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Watcher

USA
433 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2007 :  11:29:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Cliff,
You sure have a way with words.
Here is my theory....Wick, insulate & block.
1) Always wear wicking material next to the skin (including feet)
2) Always wear an outside layer that blocks the wind.
3) Adjust the middle layer(s) to be appropriate for the temp.

So....A good layer of polypro next to the skin with a good pair of windpants and a tightly woven Anarak to ward off the wind on the outside with a variad combination of middle layers to adjust to the current conditions. I like to have as many layers as possible include neck coverage and don't forget a cap that has multiple options for coverage. If your hat is too warm your whole body sweats and if it is too cool you will be miserable. IMO, your head is your radiator, great way to vent excssive heat at hookup but you had better be able to block the wind from your noggin and keep it warm once on the trail.
Those of you who get cold fingers and toes might want to consider chemical hand (toe) warmers. I have a pair of mits with a small pocket sewn in over the backs of my fingertips in the liners. Have had a single chemical hand warmer keep my fingers toasty up to 15 hours when tucked into the pocket. I like pac boots or Steigers (a muckluk with a pac boot liner) so it is quite easy to slip one of the warmers into the felts over the tips of my toes when conditions warrent.
Fingers suffer when working on feet in fridgid temps? Try a pair of polypro glove liners under latex exam gloves. Darn near like having bare hands for usefulness but a whole lot warmer. Also, a small cooler with algyval and foot ointment in it is handy. Just dump some hot water from your cooker in the cooler and the ointments will be easier to work into the dog's feet when rebooting.
On the trail, have your foot ointment in one of those camper toothpast tubes and keep it next to your skin. Always warm when needed.
Just a few ideas for dealing with cold while driving dogs.
Oh, and here is another....I find that if I wear a face mask, my eyelashes get all frosted up making it very difficult to get good lubrication and warming on my eyes. If I use some of the old style moustache deicer on my eyelashes the ice on my lashes will wipe right of with the back of a mit. The stuff resembles a type of wax that you can apply to your lashes.

Mike Hutchens
Gwinn MI
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