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Snow Covered Evergreens of Idaho

A Guide To Insulation For Warmth

Keeping warm in the cold weather is a critical survival skill. Like any skill, understanding is root to mastering.

To begin with, here are the 5 leading cause of loss of body heat

  1. Radiation is an invisible energy emitted objects, which can be reflected back to the body by a shiny or light-colored surface.
  2. The transfer of heat from one molecule to another is called conduction. When you touch a warm hand to a cold object, for example, the heat will leave your hand and warm the object. To minimize this type of body heat loss, use insulation that contains “dead air space: and thick material.
  3. Convection is a type of body heat loss that happens when the warm layer of air next to the skin is carried away, usually by wind. To prevent this, wear clothing that is dense enough to contain the warm air and prevent the wind from reaching your skin.
  4. When trapped perspiration evaporates, this cools the layer of air next to the skin. The best way to minimize this problem is to have proper ventilation before you sweat.
  5. Respiration is the process where we inhale cold air and exhale warm air, and there’s not much which can be done about that.

Here are some types of insulation to minimize loss of body warmth

Natural Insulation includes down, which comes from the undercoat of waterfowl and is widely regarded as a powerfully effective material for insulation. However, when down gets wet it will lost up to 95% of its’ value and takes a very long time to dry. For that reason, down clothing is not the best option for practicing survival skills.

A better option for natural insulation is wool, which will retain up to 95% of its’ warmth even when wet.

Synthetic insulation options that are effective for practicing survival skills in snowy conditions include: fiber pile, Polarguard, Quallogil, Thinsulate, Softique, and Tex-O-Lite.

Almost all of these types of insulated clothing should be encased in some type of shell (usually nylon or another synthetic material) with wool and Fiberpile being the only exceptions.

Here are some extra tips on insulation:

  1. Be sure to wring out wet clothes as soon as possible, so they will dry quicker. Wet clothes will conduct heat away from your body.
  2. Two light sweaters are better than one heavy sweater, because the layer of air trapped between them will add more insulation.
  3. Remove a few layers of clothing when you begin to swear, to prevent evaporation from cooling the skin.
  4. Up to half of your body warmth can be lost through the head, so be sure to wear a hat!
  5. If you are caught in extremely cold weather conditions, the best survival practice is to stuff your pant legs into your socks, fill your pants with debris that will create dead air space, tuck your shirt into your pants and fill your shirt as well.

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