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Winter Wear for Mid-West Newbie

Discussion in 'EDC Clothing' started by Thesteve_global, Nov 17, 2018.

  1. Thesteve_global

    Thesteve_global Loaded Pockets

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    Just moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Iowa. Needless to say I’m absolutely clueless to winter wear for the area. People are telling me that it’ll get down to -40° in January so I’m a little apprehensive about picking up just any pants and jacket.

    I work retail so I’m assuming I’m going to have to go up to an EDC backpack so I can change at work from extreme cold gear to working gear. I already have a winter kit in my car with blankets and a shovel and that stuff but I really want to make my clothing wearing and carrying efficient. What kind of clothing items and carry systems can you guys recommend? Who here is from the treacherous mid-west?


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  2. Morningtundra

    Morningtundra Empty Pockets

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    Been is SD for a few years and work an office job. For day to day commuting

    Merino wool socks.
    Oversized stocking cap.
    Polyester (fleece) gloves.
    Thermal under garments.
    Down jacket.


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  3. mike3145

    mike3145 Loaded Pockets

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    It really depends on how much time you plan on spending outdoors. I lived in the Chicago area for a while and for most of the winter I got by with LL Bean "warm up" jacket and a fleece pull over. That's for normal, day-to-day activities - going to work, the grocery store, etc. When the mercury dropped and the winds kicked up, then I switched to heavier parka type coat (covering your butt helps). Of course, decent wool beanie and gloves. A lightly insulated, waterproof pair of boots is nice too. With colder temps, the snow doesn't melt as fast so it seems you're always walking through something.
     
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  4. ffmedic74

    ffmedic74 Loaded Pockets

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    I'm a big fan of Polartec fabrics/insulation and GORE windstopper.

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  5. kikaida

    kikaida Loaded Pockets

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    There are some people in the midwest that just love to mess with people from warmer climates. -40? Seriously? You're not in ND, SD, or northern Minnesota or Michigan. That type of temperature is pretty rare for Iowa. I've lived in North Dakota, South Dakota, and now across the river from Iowa in Nebraska. You don't need to outfit yourself like you're going on an Arctic expedition. Your best route is having a reliable vehicle, and even better, a good roadside assistance service. Do you live in a house or an apartment? If you live in an apartment, the longest period you'll spend outdoors is scraping ice and snow off your windshield and windows (if it snows)...maybe 5-10 minutes. If you live in a house, then you will spend some time either shoveling snow or using a snowblower. But as for just going to work, then you won't be spending a lot of time outdoors, if there's no ice or snow to scrape, then you'll be outside less than a minute. My wife is a banker, so she'll have a warm coat and gloves, and just regular office wear and that's it even if it's -15 to -20 below.

    If you can manage it, a remote start for the vehicle would be ideal, that way you have have the windows defrosted and the vehicle warm before you get in, and it makes it easier to scrape off ice or snow if it snows.
     
  6. Morningtundra

    Morningtundra Empty Pockets

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    Agree... -40F is very unusual even in northern states. Common sense will get you through winter.

    Keep your head, hands and feet warm and you’ll be comfortable.

    You’ll likely witness a curious breed of teenager that insists on wearing shorts throughout the year. This is thought to be a mating ritual to demonstrate their hardiness. Their winter survival rates seem high...

    I think you’ll make it through.


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  7. Wishoot

    Wishoot Loaded Pockets

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    I've lived in the Upper Midwest my entire life. Here's my advise....

    Wool is your friend

    If you spend any appreciable time outdoor when it's cold and wet, you'll appreciate the insulating and regulating properties of wool clothing (hats, shirts, gloves, socks, long underwear....). Good wool garments will block the wind, provide warmth (even when wet) and keep you dry.

    I'm a fan of Filson, Pendleton and Woolrich, but I've also had good luck with wool military surplus.
     
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  8. aicolainen

    aicolainen Loaded Pockets

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    Winter is great, you'll be fine ;-)
    I live in Norway, and although not Iowa, we have our share of winter. I'll say +20 to -10 is the normal range where I live, but I live by the sea so accounting for humidity and winds, it doesn't feel much warmer than the drier areas further in-land where the normal temperature range is closer to -10 to -40F during the winter.

    I think I went through this more thoroughly in another thread, but basically I have a lightweight packable down jacket that handles 70% of my cold weather commuting. The beauty of this jacket is that it packs very small, so when I enter a building or something I can stuff it in my backpack or whatever, and it just disappears. If it gets rougher I opt for my Fjällräven Barents parka. That jacket is heavily insulated and waterproof, but it's also big and heavy.
    Under my jacket, I usually have a cotton t-shirt next to skin, and a cotton shirt or sweater on top. Adjusting slightly for weather and occasion.

    Pants... well, normally just jeans. In severe cold I wear insulated pants on top of my jeans. Just about anything will help here. Layering is key. Just having something that blocks the wind and creates a layer of air will do magic to your comfort.

    Shoes are usually a pair of TNF leather boots with primaloft insulation and a waterproof membrane. These are insanely good, hope I find a replacement when their done.

    wool hat and suitable mittens. Suitable mittens could be wool lined leather gloves. These doesn't look totally out of place in an urban setting, and are remarkably comfortable in a wide range of cold weather. If temperatures creep towards 30F and higher, things tends to get wet, and you might want to consider more technical, insulated and waterproof gloves.

    Weather around here change a lot, and quite fast, so I keep some reinforcement clothing in my backpack as well. In autumn, winter and spring I usually pack a pair of light GTX rain pants with full length side zips and a lightweight rain jacket. I rarely need them, but when I do, it makes all the difference in the world.

    This above is just to somewhat comfortably make it between home and my workplace. Make sure you have some additional gear in your car for emergencies.
    I should also note that this is strictly limited to everyday commuting, and not intended for outdoors / backcountry use. In large degree because I use cotton extensively for work, commute and travel. Partly for comfort, but mostly because it's naturally fire retardant and naturally antistatic. Working with electronics in the oil and gas industry, I value these properties greatly.
     
  9. jag-engr
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    jag-engr Semper Bufo!
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    Does anyone else find it ironic that aicolainen only put the "F" on -40? :nerd:
     
  10. jag-engr
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    jag-engr Semper Bufo!
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    This is critical. If you're working construction, you need to bundle up like crazy. If you're working indoors, you just need to be able to get from one place to another. If you work indoors and show up with thermal long underwear, you are going to be miserable in short order.

    Yep. Roadside assistance can pay for itself very quickly! The cold is really hard on older batteries and is not great for older belts, either.

    That's what I see when I visit my family in the frozen North.

    Great suggestion! It's also a life saver in southern summers, especially if you can remotely open the windows to dump the hot air inside the car.
     
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  11. ghuns

    ghuns Loaded Pockets

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    The greatest threat to your well being that you'll face making that move isn't the temps, it will be driving in the snow.:frantic:

    Find a big, open, snow covered parking lot and practice.:D
     
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  12. HardToHandle

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    I am familiar with the weather in both places. Good advice above, especially if you are already inclined towards nice gear.

    I would add get a set of snow pants. In a snowy winter, you will find yourself trudging through drifts. They also come in handy if you enjoy winter hiking, snowshoeing, XC skiing or even sledding (which you should at least do). I have some lighter weight Goretex rain pants that work in the snow, but more often pull on 20-year old snow boarding pants that easily slide over boots and have snow skirts at the ankle level.

    My other recommendation is gloves, especially if new to the conditions. Good gloves don’t cost $10 and one pair of ski gloves aren’t what you need. Get a lightly insulated pair of leather or wind stopper fleece for driving and everyday use. Also get some thing more heavy duty for shoveling or car clearing duty. If you get stuck in the snow or in a car accident, you will want more insulation. Outdoor Research is my first stop in looking for gloves, but North Face, Cabelas and others make nice gloves.

    After a season or two, you may want heavy insulated boots.
     
  13. chaosmagnet
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    chaosmagnet Loaded Pockets

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    I travel a lot for work, and I've spent a LOT of time in Iowa. Lots of good advice in this thread. A few additional thoughts.
    • Dress for the outside conditions, not for the indoors or in-vehicle conditions. It's perfectly acceptable to carry your heavy coat when walking to or from your car.
    • Dress in layers. On very cold days, you should be wearing a wool or polypro base layer and have at least one or two mid-layers that can be removed or vented. Never let your clothes (especially your feet) to get wet.
    • In addition to having a reliable vehicle, a charged and working cellphone, and a way to charge a cellphone, be ready to spend some time in your car. Keep a good, warm sleeping bag (I use a military surplus sleep system) and keep it in your car during the cold months.
     
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  14. Bander124

    Bander124 Loaded Pockets

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    I have in my bag at all times when it drops in temp. Are a good base layer top and bottom along with some sort of glove and beanie . The rest of the outfit is a wind buffering shell along with a warm but breathable midlayer.
    In my car is a heavy coat and bibs, heavy gloves and hat.
    It seems like a lot of people get comfort their car or power is always going to work . Saw a woman in a dress and heals with a dress coat trying to walk for help when she slid off the road it was 15 out. Chaos magnet summed it up well first *

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  15. Outbound

    Outbound Loaded Pockets

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    Merino woll long sleeve undershirt, hoodie, jeans, merino wool socks and hiking boots will keep me comfortable down to -15C (4F-ish?). A softshell jacket added to that will get me comfortable down to -25C (-13F) or so. I'm Canadian though. :rofl_revamped:

    We hit -40C (-40F) a couple times a year. I have some extreme cold weather gear for that. Down parka, snowpants, heavy gloves, balaclava etc. At those temps though, even us Canadians generally just say "take off eh!" and stay put inside unless we really need to go out.
     
  16. jag-engr
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    I'm going to have to disagree with this one. If you're working in an office, you don't want to be wearing a base layer for the outdoor weather. You need to have the gear with you to layer up (warm parka, hat, gloves, shield pants, and boots), but your base layer should be for your daily environment.
     
  17. chaosmagnet
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    Depends on the base layer. If your base layer is moisture wicking and your insulation comes from layers easier to take off, you should be good to go. Certainly I agree that if you're wearing a wool base layer in a 70 deg F office you probably won't be happy.
     
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  18. Thesteve_global

    Thesteve_global Loaded Pockets

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    That was a nice summary of highlights, thanks. Thank you to everyone, this has been helpful.


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