Hats and Gloves - The Extremities
feet are cold, cover your head." - Inuit saying.
The brain is one of the
most metabolically active parts of our bodies. About 15%
- 20% of body heat is lost through the head, so wearing
a hat is one of the quickest and easiest ways of keeping
warm. If you are wearing quite a lot of clothing but still
feel cold, particularly at the extremities, putting on a
hat is the simplest way to deal with it.
Many outer shell garments,
and also insulating layers have hoods built in which are
exceptionally useful, particularly in conditions of rain
or snow. They are also excellent ways of keeping the wind
and precipitation of any kind out of the neck region. In
less extreme conditions however when it is cold, but there
is no rain or snow a hood can be an encumbrance, hats become
much more convenient. In fact in many situations I actually
prefer an insulated and elasticized headband that covers
the ears so keeping the wind off them and gives me a little
more control over my temperature. I also tend to find traditional
woolly hats quite itchy. My personal choice is of a headband
with a synthetic fleece balaclava that can be rolled up
into a hat. Along with a hood on the shell layer this gives
the maximum flexibility and the ability to deal with extremes
of cold and wind.
and Lightweight Gloves
Gloves are essential in cold conditions
and indispensable unless you walk around all of the time
with hands in pockets or just being miserable. Summer conditions
in much of coastal and maritime Antarctica (where most visitors
go) don't really call for much beyond light weight gloves.
If you suffer particularly from cold hands, I'd recommend
a lighter pair of gloves for use most of the time with good
warm mittens that will go over them when necessary.
If you're in the Arctic or Antarctic
as a tourist, the chances are you'll be spending a lot
of time taking photographs or filming using a video camera
so good quality fairly thin gloves are the best choice.
Cheaper gloves just don't deliver the same insulation
levels for thickness as more expensive ones and extra thickness
means less manual dexterity. Fingerless gloves are available
and I even once had a pair of mittens with a slit in the
palm and thumb allowing me to put my fingers out for a while
and then, back inside again to warm up. Unless you know
you like them, don't bother giving them a go, the great
majority find them next to useless - I hated them!
In selecting clothing
for cold and extreme weather the priorities are:
- keep the body warm, particularly
fingers and toes
- allow for free removal of perspiration
- allow free movement
- be comfortable at all times, whatever