All the thermal gear and no idea

I’m due to start  the big trip during the Russian Winter at around -20 degrees celsius and then travel to Mongolia with temperatures dropping below -30. I’ll be arriving in China at the start of  Spring and heading through South East Asia through the warm, yet rainy, season ready to arrive in Australia for the scorchin’ Summer. So knowing what kit to take to keep me warm/cool, dry and cover all eventualities has been something of a challenge.

Not being a practical, outsdoorsy type it’s all a bit of a mystery. I have not had appropriate footwear or a warm, waterproof jacket since my mum stopped buying them for me, so the realms of  Blacks, Go Outdoors and Millets induce a similar physical reaction as that of PC World or John Lewis – dry mouth, disorientation, headache, nausea and a general feeling of being in a parallel universe!

Rapidly in danger of becoming a Berghaus sponsored tourist, I have decided to embrace the “all terrain, tri-climate, wind, rain and waterproof “ world of attire and get myself properly kitted out for the adventure – new boots, coat, fleece, backpack, day sack, thermal underwear, the works. I think there may be a few other hurdles to focus my attention on rather than being cold, damp, covered in blisters and stinking to high heaven from nylon induced sweat rash!

In the spirit of sharing this new-found knowledge here’s some fascinating facts about the internal engineering that goes on between your smalls and you overcoat!

  • Base layers – keep you warm when cold and cool when hot (anyone else thinking two choc ices and a cup of tea in a Thermos?)
  • Some thermal undies and specialist clothing draw moisture away from sweaty bits, so can wear for longer without leaving an ‘eau de traveller’ trail
  • Wool keeps you warm even when wet – who knew?! (Merino wool socks and base layers are said to be excellent – but can still be itchy and annoying like you’re first D&P Outfitters school pullover)
  • If its looks like it’s too bulky it probably has a secret fold away pocket that you can stuff it into which doubles up as a pillow!
  • The more technical titbits, the higher the price – look for outlet stores, sale rails and trusty TK Maxx, but go for reasonable well-known brands for better performance
  • Natural fibres are your friend

Well, we’ll see how it goes! Next challenge – how to get it all in the backpack!

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