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 How do you dress properly for dog sledding?
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onehappyautumn

USA
79 Posts

Posted - 12/13/2007 :  9:04:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit onehappyautumn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If I don't wear a matching scarff, glove and touque set then my dogs simply won't run. They sit right down.

"In a dog eat dog world, it is the dogmatic domain of dog lovers to offer dogdom a dogs chance to rise above the dog days for a doggone good time." ~ AKC Gazette
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CrazyDaisy

Canada
155 Posts

Posted - 12/14/2007 :  10:21:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I love to do sled dog activities but am hypothermia waiting to happen.

In a crowd I'm always the coldest person, and for me the only way to stay warm is to MOVE!!! I just cannot stand around (or sit on a sled) for even an hour no matter what I wear (including my $450 down jacket, 2 pairs of snow pants etc.) And that is at +20 F (I cannot even imagine 40 below).

If you don't have to move while mushing you have too many dogs, lol!

This is what I wear for low activity (applies when sitting in a sled or mushing without pedalling much).

head: balaclava/facemask (wool or fleece scarf around neck and mouth may do), hat with ear flaps (fur or bomber or knit wool) + hood from jacket, goggles when it is snowing.

top: T-shirt (not cotton), turtleneck, fleece sweater, down vest, down coat.

bottom: short underwear, longjohns, fleece pants, snow pants.

hands: fleece gloves for doing lines, harnessing dogs, etc., I replace those with fleece mitts and gore tex overmitts when I stop doing things and start sledding and stuff the gloves in the car or a pocket.

feet: one pair of wool socks + felt pac snow boots. I need to take the liner out an dry it every couple of days even if I don't excercise hard.

When active I tend to sweat really quickly and profusely. Then I skip the down overcoat and maybe vest and replace with gore tex (or similar) shell, and instead of fleece pants and snowpants I wear rainpants (I'm too cheap to buy gore tex, because pants get trashed so easily from kneeling). I might also put the overmitts over the fleece gloves without fleece mitts. For me stretchy or cotton gloves are only good for above freezing.

If I were on a sled for more than an hour without pedalling or running (not gonna happen anytime soon with only 3 sled dogs), I would need hand and foot warmers, even if I don't wear 3 pairs of socks cutting off my circulation.

The cold makes the circulation shut off anyway, which is an exaggeration of a normal response. It has a name "Raynaud's Syndrome" and a lot of women have this, and some men too. This is not being sissy, but creates a real danger of frostbite. Often my hands turn stiff, white and numb, but they are not yet frostbitten. My brother can feel his toes only half of the time in the winter.
http://www.medic8.com/healthguide/articles/raynauds.html

Excercising hard, then standing around is the worst for me, there is just no way to stop getting cold when sweaty!! I still have to try winter camping after hard exercise to see if I can even do it. As much as possible I try to go slow enough to avoid sweating. Even my gore tex clothes never breathe enough to get rid of all the sweat. If I have any expectation of being stationary after exercise I take lots of warmer clothes with me in a knapsack.

You could ask people to bring a knapsack, and dress in layers, no windbreakers, no coats so thick they wouldn't want to run (not walk) around the outside of their house at least 5 times in, boots need to be insulated, and not have heels, they need 2 pairs of gloves/mitts with the outside one snow-shedding and big enoug that they can wear the other pair inside.

If overdressed it is always easier to take layers off and stuff them in the knapsack, than put on layers they didn't bring! Be patient with people if they have to stop repeatedly to put on/take off clothing. This may be a real necessity for some to avoid hypothermia.

Teenagers are the worst though, they are so fashion conscious, and don't often spend enough time outside to know how to dress for cold. I guess that also goes for a lot of women (and some men too I suppose). It would sound preposterous to them to suggest they to go to a thrift shop and pick up some $5.00 snowpants....
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SharkyX

Canada
681 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2007 :  1:47:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit SharkyX's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hmmm...

Cotton looses heat when wet. Wool socks are much more surefire.
You want to find materials that will retain heat even when wet.

Lots of synthetics will and of course wool.. which can be itchy but I'd rather be itchy for an hour then frostbitten which lasts ALOT longer and isn't something you can change out of.

Generally.. layering an average persons socks isn't going to work... on average everybody buys sockst about the same size, so the sock on the outside is streched covering the first or second pair and you now have to shove this into your winter boot, which I'm guessing an average person bought for typical use, not for wearing with 3 pair of socks which will add almost a size to the width or your boot. Your cutting cirulation thus even with what seems like a fool proof idea... your feet will be cold.
One pair of well fitted socks from REI or MEC if you live in Canada or a variety of places (my parents got me 3 pairs of -30 socks from the dollar store I can walk out onto the snow in and not have cold feet) cold weather socks will work MUCH better then trying to layer many pair of normal use socks.
Partner this with a well made boot and you'll have warm feet all day long.

For the people that come, recomend ONE pair of wool socks.

Pants... well many people have some poly or fleece pajama pants...
I like to wear a fleece pant underneath a windbreaking layer. I did this in -20C weather this weekend... standing around for about 2 hours and my legs never got cold.
If I was going to be active then I have a pair of moisture wicking long jons I like to wear underneath that.

Just 2-3 lighter layers.

Same thing with the upper body... 2-3 lighter layers. Layer as I'm sure we all know either from first hand experience or from reading about it, is more effective then one large bulky layer.

If the people you have coming don't have things that are moisture wicking they can make due.
T-shirt followed by long sleeved shirt (same fabric as T-shirt) fleece top, hoody or otherwise and then a wind breaking layer... coat of some sort.

The real trick is to make sure nothing is to tight... if the people coming to see you are layering but the layers are tight one over the other with no "breathing room" between them... they aren't accomplishing much.

If people have to wear there fleece pajama's instead of a cotton something they may feel silly but will be much further ahead when it comes to staying warm....

I think that's all my disjointed rambling for the moment.



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musherdeb1

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2007 :  6:09:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
my biggest difficulty this year will be my hands. last year i frostbit all the fingers in a race. So far this year i am struggling to keep my fingers warm. I was in the dogyard this am. it is -30 out there right now. all i did was feed the dogs. i had on two pairs of gloves, a liner pair and a work pair and heat packs. my blasted fingers hurt so bad i was in the house as fast as i could after feeding the dogs. it is severe pain when you frostbite and now i am worried about the fingers for this year of racing.
has anyone ever used the battery gloves? i was considering this. last year all of the hand warmers i had did not work. i had them tucked in my coat all over the place and still they did nto work. this contributed to my hands being frostbit in -40 temps.
i did however find a great combination for my body. I totally love the Northern Outfitters Vaetrex system. it is awesome. I did not even wear a top coat with the -30 system. it was so nice.
I did have problems with my Lobans and Neos on that race as well. THe Lobans froze to my feet cause i did nto wear the right kind of socks. so this year i will wear my Cabellas boots and Bama socks and i will be much warmer. they work great out there in the temps we have right now.
I am more worried about my hands at this point.
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Rogue

USA
1158 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2007 :  10:34:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Deb, have you worn a pair of wristies with your gloves? I always have problems with my hands too..but since I started wearing wristies, it's not so bad. I can go out right now with a pair of wristies, poly liners, wool gloves and be fine. Or, when it gets colder, I slide a handwarmer on the back of my hand, between the poly liner and the wool glove. On my sled, I have the handlebar toasties...don't know what I ever did without them! They are awesome. I've found this to work well. Email me if you don't have wristies.

Happy Trails!
Tammi

"The more people I meet, the more I like my dogs."
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musherdeb1

USA
249 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2007 :  7:22:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
hey rogue,
yeah i have tried that too. the problem is the finger tips. all of them were frostbit. so. i am more than stumped at this point. it is -40 outside my door right now and i would have to really hurry to work iwth the dogs right now.
thanks for a good handler.
anyway. i would still like to see your wristies though. i will email you.
deb
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vmassey

USA
152 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2007 :  10:12:24 AM  Show Profile  Visit vmassey's Homepage  Reply with Quote
What are handle bar toasties? They sound like what I need. I have been wondering about some of the snowboarding parkas that have built-in wrist gaiters, apparently some serious snowboarders refuse to buy jackets without them. Has anyone had any experience with these? The best gloves I have found for dog chores are fleece, they last a very long time and keep my fingers warm even after they get wet.

Vicky Massey
Alaskan Malamutes...not fast, just fun!
I Whisper.....But my dog doesn't listen!!
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Rogue

USA
1158 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2007 :  8:26:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Handle bar toasties go over your sled handbow...they velcro over it. Then, you can just slide your hands up inside them to hold onto the handlebar and they act as a pair of mittens, without the hassle of taking mitts off and on. When you need to get off the sled, you let go of the handlebow and slide your hands out. Very convenient and they've been GREAT for my cold hands! Here's the link to them: http://www.akgear.com/mush.html so you can see what they look like. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page.

Happy Trails!
Tammi

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