Saturday, December 09, 2006

A winter adventure later weals the best ways to conserve body heat

When Andrew Matulionis gets cold, he speeds up. In February, Matulionis won the 320-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra in 5.5 days, shaving more than 12 hours off the record. Pulling a sled packed with survival gear, the 41-year-old pharmacist from Whitefish, MT, endured daily temperature swings from 40° to -25°F. Here, the Arctic racer explains how to stay warm on a trip of any length, from a short snowshoe hike to a multiday trek.

Transition faster "When you're fatigued or slightly damp, shivering can begin within seconds of stopping," Matulionis warns. "Shorten your breaks by having your gear accessible." Place snacks and essentials like lip balm, hat. and mittens in your jacket, and store clothes and hot drinks near the top of your pack.

Prevent icing Leave an inch of air inside your water bottle so the liquid can slosh around, and pack it upside down so the water doesn't start to freeze at the mouthpiece.

Dress down "You'll need less clothing than you think because the body generates incredible heat," advises Matulionis, who begins races shivering. The worst thing you can do is drench your down and fleece layers by overdressing at the trailhead.

Change clothes Immediately swap out wet clothes when you slop. "Shivering gobbles up calories," he says, "Before I do anything — even drink or eat — I strip off my wet top and put on a dry one, even at 20 below."

Get hooded When you pause for a break or crawl out of a tent, zip on a windbreaker, cinching down the hood to retain heat and repel wind. "It feels like a cocoon and gives you a real and psychological sense of protection," Matulionis says.

Source: Backpacker, Dec2006

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