Friday, December 6, 2013

The answers were blowing in the wind! - a short outing, testing things.

After my last sequence of  "copy&paste"-posts and some DIY's I wanted to go out and test some of the things I have or have made/modifyed.
The weather has been going nuts these last few days. It went from late autumn to winter over night. We were told to expect up to 30cm of snow, wind and temperatures possibly down to -23 on sundaymorning! Well, we did get snow and sure did get wind, but the temp. have been adjusted a few times now. Actually the forecasters of several sources have been adjusting and updating their forecasts by the hour!
Temperatures constantly shift from above freezing to below and back, snow turns to rain turns to snow and the wind blows with stormy gales. Probably a side effect of the storm that hit the European continental coastline the previous days. The forecast amount of snow did not come down. We "only" got about 10cm of it, but I think much of it turned to rain or melted away again.
Not the best conditions for a casual walk in the woods by myself, but a good opportunity to tryout some things, like the modifications on my winteranorak, the Finnish hat and the shoulderbag. I also wanted to know if those swedish wool armypants were windtight and I wanted to try out the new woolsocks I have. It would also be a good opportunity to test and break in my Swedish armyboots.
A run down of my outfit of choice;
- head; felt sloughhat, later Finnish m39-hat
- neck; wool turtleneck
- body; cotton t-shirt, swedish army wool sweater, winteranorak
- hands; leather fingergloves
- legs; wool pants
- feet; thick wool socks and army ankleboots (the ones with rubberised lower foot)

I deliberately used just the basics, because I wanted to find out if and how I should or could alter that, according to weatherconditions. So I dressed up for the occassion, took the shoulderbag and loaded it up, grabbed camera and cellphone, so they could ride in the designated pouch and off I went. The road from the house down was covered in snow and ice, but grip was surprisingly good for the shallow profiled soles. And the weather wasn't too bad; it snowed, it was a bit windy, a degree or 2 below freezing, so nothing to worry about. It was when I came to the open terrain next to the lake that the wind had a nasty surprise for me. It was snowing horizontally and the wind hit me in the face with much force, coming from the north, chilling my face and ears within a minute! This was a windchill for real! I leaned into the wind, holding on to my sloughhat, which I wore to keep snow falling down my neck, and trudged on. it is a good 500m to the edge of the woods, but by the time I got there my face and ears aged and my fingers were already beginning to feel numb. Fingersgloves in these conditions are worthless! I was glad I packed a pait of knitted fingergloves to wear inside the leather ones. Lesson one learned.
In the woods windconditions were less severe, but still very noticeable. I switched from felthat to Finnish har and I was glad I brought that one! The wind would easily pass through a knitted woolhat, but this baby was windtight. Additional benefit are the downfoldable sides, so neck and ears are covered too. Something to cover the cheeks would have been very nice as well! But how do you do that?
Body and legs did not feel cold at all during the entire time spent outside. The anorak does cool down because of the wind naturally, but nothing gets through! It kept the warm air inside the anorak. I must say that the modifications I made around the edges really did help. The sleeves closed off the wrists, but did not pinch or squeeze, even with 2 layers of wool (glove and sweater) and one of leather (glove) underneath. The additional knitted glove saved the day as far as the hands are concerned. These are a standard issue when I go out anyway. Also the lower edge of the anorak close off the lower opening around the legs, so no cold could blow up from below. Job well done for that!
The camera and cellphone fitted nicely in the chestpouch, but when I wanted to use them I ran out of luck. The camera went dead immediately and the cellphone shortly afterward. Memo to me; load and check them BEFORE leaving the house. I could make some quick snapshots with the phone and I was able to tell my wife, who rang me, because she had come home and found the house empty, where I was and that I was on my way home, befor it too went dead. Camera and phone felt cool, but not cold, so I am thinking that the pouch does what it supposed to; keep them and the batteries out of the cold. What did not work at all was the closingsystem for the pouch. Way to fiddly for gloved hand, so I need to rethink and redo that soon.
Another thing to rework are the pullingcords of the hood and the bonepieces attached to them. The cords are too long, allowing the heavier bonepieces to swing freely. I need to shorten them, so I do not get hit in the face or eyes by the boney bits at the end!
As said, I quickly switched from felthat to Finnish hat and what a relief that was. That one was money spent well! Even allthough it is thick and keeps the wind out, it was not sweaty during my walk home, despite the fact I did so in an up tempo pace. Having the stormy wind in my back when going over the exposed area around the lake might have helped with that. ;) I will need to do something about those flimsy ans short ties on the earpieces, though.
The boots did great! There was all kind of frozen stuff on the ground; icesheets and chunky iceparts from refrozen slush, a crunchy sheet of refrozen snow and freshly frozen snow on top of that and a lot of fine, powdery snow that was blowing around. Yet the boots gave a firm grip and I only slipped a lit once, going down hill over roadsurface, using tiretracks. (not smart). The thinner soles allowed for a good feedback from surface to feet, so I actually could feel a little of where I was putting my feet. If I am informed correctly, these boots are mainly meant to be used with skis, but walking is no problem either..... if you get used to the awkward shape and size of them. In the beginning they felt a little like duckfeet to me, but that might be because they are brandnew and very roomy! Time will tell how they will perform on langer hikes! This was just a 3km roundtrip to break them in a bit.
The shoulderbag was another piece of good news. It is large enough to use it as a daypack, but it centre of gravity is lower that of a regular (small) backpack. I always like to wear such a bag slung onto the lower back, so it rides a good 25cm lower than a small backpack and is easily reachable. I stuffed it with a filled canteen, a fully kitted medicalset, emergencyvest, binoculairs, food, a knife with sharpeningstone, my tinderbox and an array of bits and pieces. Not thought out, just to fill it up.
So all in all a good hour, hour and a half spent in the really fresh air, checking the functioning of my basic wintergear. I must say that I feel comfortable wearing these as a basic setup and am confident they will perform good. I can always add things, according to conditions. There is plenty of room left for extras on all parts of the body.

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