maikecold

How to dress for warmth on winter RV trips

We’re in northeastern Wisconsin and Minnesota in the midst of what the news media says is the coldest stretch of prolonged frigid temperatures to hit the continental U.S. in a century and yet, everywhere I go around here, the locals seem to shrug it all off and continue with their winter activities of snow shoeing, cross country skiing, hockey playing, hiking, ice fishing and dog sled racing.

They seem to actually embrace the cold in an area where the snow is three feet deep and the snow drifts are taller than automobiles. I mean, they actually enjoy it!

maikecoldThat’s because they know how to dress for it.

Jennifer and I are here to take in one of the toughest dog sled marathons in North America after Alaska’s famed Iditarod – the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon that kicks off today in Duluth and runs for almost 400 miles all the way to the Canadian border and back across some of the most frigid and rugged terrain you’ll find in the lower 48.

I’ve volunteered to help at a road crossing way up north near Finland, MN starting about 1 AM Monday and use my amateur radio capabilities aboard the Roadtrek eTrek to provide communications and keep track of the mushers as they pass by. The temperature is expected to be -26 F/-32C during our stint up there. Factor in wind chill and we’re talking -50F/-45C.

So I better figure out how the locals dress to handle that kind of cold.

And to do so I went to Northwest Outlet in Superior, WI, right on the Minnesota border and one of the Lake Superior north shore’s biggest outdoor and sporting goods outfitters. It just happens to be owned by Dave Miller, a regular reader of this blog, an avid truck camper and a fellow amateur radio operator. Dave read of my plans to be up here and invited me to stop by.

wash

Dave Miller clearing our solar panels of snow and ice on our Roadtrek eTrek

And when he saw yesterday’s photo of how dirty and grimy our Roadtrek was after driving 700 miles to get here, he insisted that I pull into a heated garage next to his store that they use to install caps on trucks. Then Dave proceeded to hand wash the Roadtrek, even climbing a ladder and helping push off the snow and ice that had accumulated on top of our solar panels.

Then, with a clean and shining Roadtrek hand dried and air blown so the locks wouldn’t freeze,  he escorted me to a place where we could get some #1 diesel to mix with the #2 for the predicted super cold temperatures over the next couple of nights that I’ll encounter as I follow the sled dog race up in Minnesota.taiboot

Jennifer and I never before met Dave or his wife, Mary. Yet them embraced us like family, even treating us to a terrific Italian dinner at a great restaurant called Valentini’s on the shore of Lake Superior.

But before we ate, I got out the video camera and went into the store had Dave and Mary help dress Jennifer and I like locals, so we’ll be ready for the cold.

You can see that in the video above.

And you can find out how we’re doing by following my live Tweets on Twitter  at http://twitter.com/roadtreking and here on the blog, though I’m not sure how good cell phone coverage will be where we’re headed and those detailed reports may be delayed a bit until I get into cellular range.

But, with all the super warm winter clothes Dave hooked me up with, I’m ready to face the arctic vortex.

 


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25 comments

  1. Ron Sears

    Fantastic chance to witness the cold side of things in a Sprinter. Please give us even more details on heating, batteries/charging, fuel issues etc.. Loving the chance to see this extreme of the Roadtrek. (From my warm recliner. HaHa)

    Reply
  2. John Bruce

    There is a flaw in your system. Its frickin’ cold and snowy and yet you stay there when you have that fine vehicle with which you may drive south to warmer cimes. There is something wrong with that scenario.

    Reply
  3. Dave Miller

    Last night when we stopped at the Roadtrek to say Hi to Tai it was 77F inside and Tai was panting! It snowed last night and it is looking perfect for a sled dog race. Before we go up to our road crossing today I think I’m going to change into long pants and probably put a pair of socks on with my sandals. Tonight could be the night the dog froze to the hydrant Hi Hi! Mike and Jennifer are doing great and will do great tonight. Trek on! Bigfoot Dave

    Reply
  4. Judi Darin

    I’m sure you’ve heard this myth… but it’s still good to wear a hat in the cold!

    Do We Really Lose Most of Our Heat Through Our Heads?
    Only if we’re wearing clothes on the rest of our body, says this expert in wilderness medicine.
    By Susan Davis
    WebMD Magazine – Feature Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
    In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask experts to answer readers’ questions about a wide range of topics, including some of the oldest — and most beloved — medical myths out there. In our January-February 2011 issue, we asked Richard Ingebretsen, MD, PhD, a wilderness medicine expert at the University of Utah School of Medicine, about the oft-spouted idea that we lose most of our heat through our heads.

    Q: Mom always said to wear a hat in the cold because we lose 80% of our body heat through our head. Is that true?

    A: Lots of people believe that but this pearl of motherly wisdom is FALSE. Here’s why.

    The head only represents about 10% of the body’s total surface area. So if the head were to lose even 75% of the body’s heat, it would have to lose about 40 times as much heat per square inch as every other part of your body. That’s unlikely — which has been borne out by tests of college students who lost the same amount of heat whatever the exposed area.

    “The real reason we lose heat through our head is because most of the time when we’re outside in the cold, we’re clothed,” says Richard Ingebretsen, MD, PhD, an adjunct instructor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. “If you don’t have a hat on, you lose heat through your head, just as you would lose heat through your legs if you were wearing shorts.”

    “There’s really no such thing as ‘cold,’ when you’re talking about the body,” Ingebretsen says. “There’s always heat — it’s just a matter of keeping it in.”

    Reply
    • JanetA

      Paul, I am wondering what kind of information you want. Usually these posts are full of info. This one shows up because we all are interested in how Jennifer and Mike and the RT are faring in the frozen cold north.
      The human side is of interest too.

      Reply
  5. JanetA

    I used to live in Minnesota. Nothing stopped me and my friends. Just like Mike and Jennifer, we dressed for it and had a blast.
    I am glad to hear that the RV is staying cozy warm.
    I love Tai’s boots. Somehow I don’t think my cat would go for that look.
    Stay warm and have a blast, enjoy winter Minnesota style.

    Reply

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