Mountain Hardware have been smashing it on expeditions this last year, particularly in Alaska with their Absolute Zero Parka. Closer to home and its their micro baffled down jacket, the Ghost Whisperer that I love wearing again. This is a layering piece, or a top layer depending on the conditions and can provide active, or static warmth. Perfect for the start of Winter when Christmas is long over, and we realise the winds have swung round again from the north and there is that bitter arctic freshness in the air. Going out today, the earth smells different too. There is a lovely damp, earthiness to the fell and I’m sure I could be led blindfold here and know I was home again by smelling the air and peaty fragrance of the turf out on the Lakeland fells.
Being the right temperature is one of the fundamentals of a thoroughly enjoyable day out in stormy weather. We typically talk about being too hot or too cold; we not only notice it but we talk about it enthusiastically when we have stayed the right temperature for the whole day. It can definitely be achieved, because it makes such a difference, especially in our UK Winter with its tearing icy winds that can chill an actual -2C down to -20C in the direct wind blast. On a more benign level, lower down in the valleys and it’s a mix of micro baffled down (Hydrophobic nowadays), base layers and shells. Its just a case of trying out which mixes of garments, and layers of fabrics, the brands and their systems each use, to find out which work for you as an individual.
Don’t forget about covering the extremities in conjunction with a good jacket if the weather demands. Protect your hands with gloves (you can layer up with dextrous liner gloves and an outer glove) Extremities Thinnys are a Godsend, and I also take appropriate socks, whether Coolmax or thermal and woollen socks plus a hat which you can keep on or take off to vent heat quickly as the ambient temperature demands. Get this right and you can enjoy concentrating fully on your photography for greater part of the day, and still have time later to get to the pub for a well earned pint!