Monday, 22 October 2012

Dressing for snowy japes.

Keeping the family jewels warm.

After purchasing my jacket from them and rather liking it, I was perusing the John Lewis website (other websites were also perused) and came across the Helly Hansen Agenda Ski trousers.  Unfortunately, they no longer stock these.

That's right.  Trousers.  I'm not using the word "Pants". Pants are underwear.

And, yes, I'm well aware that what I did is a bit lazy.  I really ought to have shopped around, but having liked the jacket so much, they seemed the obvious choice.

They use pretty much the same tech as the jacket that I bought, being fully seam sealed with a water resistance rating of 17000 and a breathable rating of 19000g.  I still don't get what that means, by the way.
The same Primaloft insulation is inside, with some padding on the bum and knees.
Boot gaiters are provided, gripping the boot to stop snow going up inside.  The trouser equivalent of the jacket's snow skirt, if you like.

Pockets are also included.  Two where you would expect them and one on the thigh.
And they're black.  A good fit, too. Nice and comfy and warm.  And I'll be dry, too!
Unfortunately, John Lewis no longer stock these but you can find them in plenty of other places,

So, what's next?

Base (layers) for your face body, London!

According to all and sundry, layers are the best way to keep warm.

Here's how it works...

You're naked and cold?  Put something on.
Still cold?  Put something else on.
Getting hot?  Take it off again.
And so on.

This is why many jackets and trousers have vents.  If you're wearing three layers (a base layer, mid layer and jacket) you're unlikely to remove the base layer to cool off a bit, are you? And you're unlikely to remove your jacket 'cos you'd get wet.  So, either remove your mid layer (wait until you're inside to do this) or open your vents.  They do make a lot of difference.

The base layer is the layer that sits next to your skin.
And there is much argument about what's best.
For some, it appears, a cotton t-shirt will do. For others, the importance of merino wool cannot be understated.  And for some, it just has to be silk.
No matter where you look for advice, you will find conflicting views.

For me, I needed something thin that would keep me warm and would have the ability to move sweat away from my skin without becoming wet from the inevitable  sweating that skiing will cause me to suffer.

Now, I could have been lazy and just picked up a set of Helly Hansen warm base layers (around the £100 mark for a top and leggings) from John Lewis and just had done with the whole business.  But, no.  Not this time.

Being a regular customer at Uniqlo, I decided to see whether or not their Heattech stuff really was what it claimed to be.  There didn't seem to be much on the subject, but as I've loved everything else from them, I was willing to put it to the test.
I opted for three sets of Uniqlo's Heattech base layers. The long sleeved tops and long johns are available in a variety of colours,  so I got black.
These were on special offer when I ordered them and I picked up three sets for a shade under £60.
Not a bad price, and with three sets, I wouldn't be washing them every night.

Socks were next.  These need to be calf length, a good fit and not too thick.
You can get liners to go under your socks, but I was told that these can cause issues with making your feet sweat and if that happens, you will have cold, wet feet.
I chose three pairs of HH's Apex Ski Socks.  Couldn't find them in black though, so I got black and grey (just for a bit of colour, like).
They are made with Merino wool and other materials to ensure warm and dry feet.
Support for the arches is built in, they have padded toes and heels and they're thick, but not too thick.
They weren't cheap, from Amazon, three pairs set me back forty five quid but I was certain they would be the right product.
After all, who wants cold, wet feet?

So, that's the base layers sorted.

Now I needed a mid layer.

All I knew was I needed a fleece that had a zip.  This would enable me to further regulate my body temperature by undoing the zip.  It made sense that I probably wouldn't need a full length zip.

I spotted a Berghaus Spectrum Grid micro fleece with a half zip on Amazon which fitted the bill nicely.  Something I could wear under my jacket on the mountain and then without the jacket when out in the evening over my base layer.

I did toy with the idea of buying a second midlayer, but I happen to be one of those people who don't really suffer with the cold and decided that once I was out there, if a second mid layer was needed, I would know by the end of the first day and could do something about getting one.

Turns out it wasn't needed, despite the temperature hitting -18c.

I loves my gloves!

I'm not going to explain the importance of wearing gloves when larking about up a snowy mountain in temperatures below -10c.

These needed to be warm, breathable and as water resistant as possible.
After much research and traipsing round London's West End and, eventually, the John Lewis website, I plumped for a pair of womens' North Face Montana gloves.
Waterproof and breathable, they have a toggle/skirt thing on them to keep the weather out, a goggle wiper on one thumb, a nose wiper on the other, a zipped pocket (why?) and have a nice fleecy liner.
Fifty quid well spent.

Why women's and why gloves?

Well, for a bloke, I have quite feminine small hands and the women's gloves come with more insulation than the men's.  They cost the same as the men's and apart from the insulation, they are identical in every way.  Bit of  no-brainer for me.
The Montanas are also available as a mitt.  A mitt will keep your hands warmer but I prefer the practicality of a glove.

AndI'vehatedmittenseversinceIwasasmallchild! So there!

Mind your head!

And so to the helmet.

You need a helmet.  Don't be taken in by anyone telling you otherwise.  I'm very glad I had one on when my head bounced off a layer of ice.

The other thing I learned was about buying a helmet.  To get the right fit, you have to go and try them on.
And so, I found myself in the various retailers that line Southampton Street in Covent Garden trying on a seemingly endless variety of head wear.  I found out that I was a small size and this resulted in endless frustration by being told that it wasn't in stock in a small or they didn't make it in a small.
In the end, I picked up a Giro Encore 2 for thirty notes from Amazon.  Black, of course.
It's nothing fancy.  Removable earmuffs help to keep you cool, if need be, and the helmet lining can be changed between three levels of thickness to ensure a good fit.
It has vent on the top to keep you cool and a goggle clip at the back.

Don't forget the goggles...

I didn't forget.  I merely left buying them until I arrived at the resort.
The problem I had was that the ones I tried before I went were all too big for me and the youth sizes were too small.  The Oakley XS O frame would have been ideal if I'd been able to find a pair on the high street and I'd left it a bit late to get them online.

So, I ended up buying a pair out there.
Made by Smith, they're black with a black and white strap and a vented amber lens.
And that's all I can recall about them.  Well, that and they were reduced to $40.

So, what was the outcome of spending all this money?

It took me a bloody age to get round to typing up this bit, so I'll wait a week before letting you know.

Needless to say it was all money well spent...