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Keeping Warm in Winter

High-Tech products are now available to help keep the whole body warm; this story focuses on the Merino layering system and foot and hand warming technology.

When was the last time you were cold? For some of us it may have been last night and for others it may have been on our last ski trip.

The best way of handling varying temperatures is to have the correct layers on to combat the weather. Starting with a fine base layer to keep your skin warm and dry, to a mid-layer that provides warmth and breathability and an outer-layer to protect from the cold and wet.

However, where do you start? There are so many garments on the market claiming to be the best.

Blues have a favourite, the benefits (and joy) of Merino wool from Icebreaker. Regular wool is prickly, scratchy, heavy, and you wash it by hand.

Here is something new and unique that feels and performs differently from anything else in the world. The most profound difference between the best Merino and other wools is the fineness of fibre. That is why Merino feels fantastic against your skin. Two principles of preservation inherent in Merino fibres are insulation and breathability. The very high warmth to weight ratio of the fibre explains why Merino sheep survive extreme winter and summer weather conditions. The animals roam freely at 6000 feet and snow temperatures can drop to 20 C. In summer, there can be scorching temperatures.

Merino is also one of the most hydrophilic of all the natural fibres, and can absorb as much as one third of its own weight without feeling wet to the touch. Even when wet the Merino fibres still keep you warm. Regular sheep in icebreaker country just would not survive.

The upshot is that in Icebreaker  we have found a layering system that works, not well but superbly well. From fine base layers that have no itch, no odour, and a moisture management system that both warms and cools your body depending on the activity you are involved in, to a mid-layer that provides superb insulation and breathability.

When you layer Merino with more Merino, you increase the wind resistance and thermal potential of the system, the whole system breathes and moves as if it were one garment. Merino is a protein-based fibre made up of Keratin (the principle matter of our nails and hair, and the same constituent as our skin). It has natural fire resistance, and does not hold charge. No static and no cigarette burns! What more could you ask for in a layering system.

In cold weather conditions, the temperature of your hands and feet decrease greatly in a very short time, usually your feet do not adequately adjust to the cold temperature differences. Once your feet and hands are cold, it is very difficult to warm them up again without external energy. Comfort and performance levels also decline considerably. Tests have proven that with a muscle temperature of 98.6 F you have an energy level of 100%. With each degree your body temperature falls, your muscles lose up to 8% of their energy.

Thermo imaging tests have shown clear differences between men and women. It is a fact that the circulation in the hands and feet of women is not as good as men.

The different ratio of surface / mass and fat / muscle in men and women is responsible for the fact that more women suffer from cold feet. Therm-ic is an Austrian company that specialises in making foot warming and drying systems. They have over 25 years of experience in developing their products and have the scientific research to back up their results. Boot heaters and hand warmers are fantastic and the difference they can make when the weather is very cold is quite amazing. We have tested all these systems and can thoroughly recommend them.

Why don't you visit our shops and find out more?