Walkin’ cold

I wrote a little while ago about the things I wear for running in New England’s winter temps. Irresistibly fascinating stuff, I know, but nowhere near as thrilling as listing what I wander in on mornings like yesterday and today. It was about 2°F (about -16°C) when we headed out yesterday morning, and our hysterical weather broadcasters had led us to expect winds in the 20 MPH range, gusting into the 40s. Yikes. That would be some serious wind chill.

On my torso, I went with my usual GoLite DriMove baselayer, topped for low-output exercise by the Patagonia R1 Hoody I also mentioned in the earlier post. It’s too warm for running, even in temps like this, but its weight makes it a great walking layer for cold, windy days, and the hood helps guarantee cozy ears. I wear my Buff under the hood, extending up onto my sensitive yet manly jaw for comfort, then pull on the usual OR Peruvian Hat/Turtle Fur neck gaiter combo.

Over this, I zipped the Patagonia down jacket you can see in the photo above. It’s one of two that has served several of us very well indeed since I bought them on sale in the early 1980s. It’s very light and remains wonderfully warm. Its fabric is stiffer and a fraction heavier than modern stuff would be, and its pockets have single snaps instead of zips, but otherwise it seems to me to be about as good as anything available out there today, despite having suffered a few slings and arrows over the years. It’s not even slightly waterproof, but I think it’s madness to expect that of any down garment. No plans to replace this puppy, that’s for sure.

The mitts are, like the jacket, ancient Patagonia sale gear. They are shells with synthetic inserts. Pretty good, though far surpassed by modern offerings. But they are the repositories of wonderful H memories, do fine walking these mean streets, and won’t be replaced short of my heading off on a Himalayan expedition.

Layers below the waist are pretty, uh, pedestrian: Patagonia Silkweight (now called Capilene 1) long johns ; the excellent Patagonia R1 Pants I bought for the 2008 TGOC; and a cheap pair of full-zip Red Ledge Thunderlight rain pants (now apparently discontinued) as a wind layer. Good, semi-thick REI Hiker socks, the Keen Targhees I also wore on the Challenge, and that’s it.

Unlike on a run, none of this stuff came off, despite a somewhat lower wind factor than advertised. There is, however, a comic aspect to this outfit. I am not, shall we say, adept at pulling the R1 pants—which are essentially tights—on over the long johns—which are essentially tights. The contortions I go through to keep the longies down while pulling the R1’s up are horizontal, vertical, often extreme, and invariably the first invective-producing event of the day. The second occurs the moment—why do I do this every day?—I realize I’ve put my boots on before my wind layer. Even with the full zips open, this entails an awkward and unseemly hopping dance around the kitchen, bouncing between stove and stool to a rhythm no musician would recognize.

Paul has his own theories about dressing for the cold. I have no idea what he crams on underneath—probably something electric, to match his personality—but on the surface, he always tries to emulate famous actors of the past. For summer, Burt Lancaster as Jim Thorpe, in singlet and shorts; for late fall and early spring, a trench-coated and fedora-topped Humphrey Bogart; and so on. He wouldn’t tell me what he was after yesterday morning, but I’m pretty sure it was either Cary Grant or Fred Astaire.

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