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Hiking Tip 1 Jan 2014 - How to prevent over-heating during winter activites

Over-heating in winter

Over-heating in winter is often more common than in summer. Here is a typical scenario: The temp is -5 deg C you are dressed for the temperature, today is a nice snowshoe hike up a local trail. It is chilly as you get your pack and gear ready for the trail. As you begin to snowshoe you begin to heat up quickly…10min in to the snowshoe you are feeling very warm but you don’t want to stop as you just started, you will stop in 30min or so when you stop for a sip of water. You continue to snowshoe getting hotter, you are perspiring now. Finally you stop for a sip of water, you remove your toque (knitted hat) and an outer layer. That should do it you think to yourself. You continue on, as you do you feel the cold penetrate you a bit as your clothes are partially saturated with moisture, you continue on as you know you are working hard and feeling comfortable now that you have removed a few items of clothing. At your next stop you notice steam being emitted from your clothing and the moisture is condensing on the outer layer of fleece. It soon begins to freeze as the temp has dropped to -10 deg C. You decide you will keep going to stay warm. You are able to maintain a reasonably comfortable temperature as long as you keep moving. On your next stop you feel a chill in a few min as most of your clothing has now been saturated with moisture from sweat. You begin to chill so you put on your toque and outer shell. You continue on and soon warm up, feeling good you continue on. Again you begin to warm up, but now your clothing feels a bit damp so you do not removed your outer layer. On your next stop you again begin to chill..But this time you do not have any other clothing to put on. This is the turn around point anyway so you head back rather than stop longer for a much needed nutritional food break to give your body the carbs it is burning up so fast.

So, what was the main mistake you made in this snowshoe? What happens if you are are injured and cannot proceed to keep warm?

You failed to stop and removed your clothing at the first sign of getting warm. In winter you must stop as soon as you feel yourself getting warm to prevent or reduce your clothing from getting moisture saturated reducing the insulation qualities.

How to prevent overheating in winter:

  1. Stay hydrated don’t forget to drink water; drink a little drink often.

  2. At first signs of warming up removed a layer of clothing, a toque or hat is the best choice as you lose up to 80% of your body heat through an unprotected head.

  3. As soon as you stop for more than a few min replace layers to stay warm. Before you begin your trek remove the layers you had off before and continue even if slightly chilled…you will warm up quickly.

  4. Do not over heat! If you find yourself perspiring you have too many clothes on or you are working too hard, slow your pace and stay dry and warm.

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