PRE­VENT­ING HEAT LOSS

Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Advice -

Out­door cloth­ing has been de­vel­oped to com­bat all types of heat loss, but it mostly fo­cuses on in­su­lat­ing against

con­vec­tion. The best in­su­la­tor we have is air it­self, so sys­tems like feath­ers, down and wool all work by cre­at­ing a ‘ loft’, or depth, which traps a layer of air near your skin. Ar­ti­fi­cial loft­ing tex­tiles like Po­lartec, Al­pha or Pri­maloft mimic this ef­fect with­out an­i­mal prod­ucts.

But loft only works as an in­su­la­tor if there’s no air-flow through the fab­ric to take the warm air away. On a breezy day your outer layer must also stop as much of the wind as pos­si­ble from whip­ping through your fab­rics. That’s why an in­su­lated jacket has a shiny outer face – that’s a tightly-wo­ven wind­proof fab­ric which tries to pre­vent the cold air get­ting to the loft layer.

But re­mem­ber that stop­ping breezes is as much a func­tion of elas­ti­cated hems, cuffs, zip­per baf­fles and a good, close fit – so try­ing gar­ments on for size is a must when it comes to win­ter kit.

In­su­lat­ing against the other types of heat loss is more of a spe­cial­ist af­fair. I have a pair of Páramo moun­tain sa­lopettes with a foam panel sewn in to the back­side so I can sit down and not get a cold pos­te­rior. It’s a com­plex way to beat con­duc­tion, but it works.

And some brands have ex­per­i­mented with pre­vent­ing ra­di­ant heat loss. Columbia’s Omni-Heat range uses re­flec­tive sil­ver dots to bounce back your heat like one of those emer­gency sil­ver blan­kets you see af­ter marathons and in res­cue dra­mas. Ra­di­ant heat only rep­re­sents a small amount of heat loss com­pared to the other meth­ods though, so it’s usu­ally cou­pled with tra­di­tional loft­ing fab­rics as well.

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