Winter in Sweden is defined as when the temperature is below 0 °C during 24 h. Winter will to most people think of a landscape all white of snow, this is not always true, especially if you are living in the southern part of Sweden. Winter can give us temperatures going from +5 to -25 and it can shift really fast. So if you like I love spending time outdoors you need to be dressed to handle these different temperatures.
I have tried loads of different clothes and materials and found both some good and some bad. There is the old style of being dressed in heavy wool clothes. This is really good when you are inactive but if you active they will feel clumsy and restrict your movements, the clothes will also suck up loads of moisture and in the end just be full of moisture and feel cold. If you have the possibility to dry up your clothes were you have access to an external heat source like in cabins or heated tents with stoves this is usually not a problem.
Then there are the more modern clothes like Gore-Tex and similar, these are windproof and also waterproof but and often feels warmer, the big problem with these sort of clothing is that you sweat loads in them and you will feel damp a lot of the time.
There are lots of people that like these different sorts of clothes and it works really well for them and I have used them as well and even tried mixing them. But in the end this is what I have found works best for me. An outfit like this is not just something you go and buy, it´s something you build during many years. A thing to think of it often pays off to buy good quality that will last many years. Like the saying goes “I am too poor to buy bad quality”.
This is the clothing I use from 0 Celsius and down to -25. I will start with the outer layer and peel of layer by layer. I have not gone in any deeper on what I carry in my pockets or the hands and feet systems since these are coming in a later blog post.
This layer is to protect me from wind, keep snow out and also protect me from dampness in form of rain or wet snow coming from the outside.
As a jacket I use a Fjällräven Numbers 68, this is a jacket that is long enough to cover from my waist down to my thighs, this area is sensitive to cold and should always be protected. One of the best features with this jacket is the hood, designed to keep wind out and protect my face properly, the hood also works as an extra layer for my head. It also has really big pockets perfect to store an extra hat or gloves and similar items that needs to be easy accessible. Many people use fur rims on their hoods and although they look really cool I have found that they often will be filled with ice and snow on longer trips and that ice is hard to get rid off and I have cut one off on a winter trip once because it caused problems. The jacket is made out of G-1000 that is a poly/cotton mix that breathed very well and will stand being around fires and carrying logs or building shelters it can be waxed stand better against wetness and wind. I wax most of the jacket but keep the back free from wax since that is a part that I will sweat lot when wearing a backpack so I want this part to breath as much as possible. I have used Anorak style jacket for many years and loved it but the biggest problem I found with them is when you have to take them on or off to change your middle layer.
For trousers I use a pair Fjällräven Forest that has high waist that protects your back if you’re bending down. These trousers are not excellent since the legs are open in the bottom which is something I am not too happy about. I have used other trousers that I had been built in gaiters that have worked really well. An alternative is to use Sami shoelaces as gaiters and avoid getting snow coming in between your boots and trousers.
For boots I use my normal hiking boots that is Lundhags Ranger, I have never found the need for a boot with felt liner since it would be too warm when skiing and also harder to dry out compared to socks. If I am going to a colder environment I would probably use a boot with felt liner.
For my hands I have a Hestra Seamed Shell mitt that is windproof and water proof mitten, this is perfect if the weather is really bad or if I am digging in the snow. This mitten will go over all of my other gloves.
The middle layer
The middle layer is to keep me warm and also help to transport the moisture to the outer layer. I have used heavy wool shirts a lot before, but they have felt heavy and restricting my movements when skiing. Shirts are otherwise a perfect middle layer since they are easy to ventilate in many different ways. Since I have not found any good shirt to use in winter I use a Woolpower 200g shirt with a zipper that will help regulate the temperature. This one is about 10 years old and is a lot thinner now then it was when it was new, which makes it perfect as a thin mid layer.
On my hands I have Hestra Fält Glove with liner; this is what I will wear most of the time. The glove is made of leather and is my working glove around camp when collecting firewood or handling hot pots. Inside is a removable liner made of wool, if the weather gets warmer I will remove the liner and only use the outer leather glove.
I sweat a lot of when I am out skiing and there is no surprise since this is hard work. The problem comes when stopping for a break and you feel that wet shirt against your body and you know it drains you of warmth. During my army days I got the tip to get a net shirt to use on long marches since it would not get wet and keep you dry and warm but also cool on hot days. Since then I have never looked back, the net base layers will not hold any moisture and will trap air in the net.
For my top I have a military version of Aclima net shirt and for bottoms I use Aclima woolnet (smells a lot less on longer journeys). For my hands I like to have wrist warmers since the wrists is one of the places that heat will disappear from so this part is very important to protect. On warm days I will use these with the outer Fält Glove or just on its own. I have used a pair of wrist warmers from Woolpower before and they were the best I have ever used but they are available anymore so can you get a pair you are lucky.
One of the most important parts to protect is you neck and head it´s also a good spot to ventilate out heat. I use a wool buff to protect my neck and it will also work as a thin hat if it gets warm. For my head I use a wool cap from Aclima, this has also the net material on the inside. I have had problems with wool caps itching a lot on my forehead but so far none with this hat.
Do no forget that the clothes will only do 30% of the total to protect your body, the rest 70% we will do ourselves through knowledge, foresight and judegement in other words ”experience”