1. Dress in Layers
Despite spending much of his time in polar regions, Larsen doesn’t enjoy being cold. Shocking, we know. He doesn’t like being too hot in cold places, either. That might seem a little nonsensical, but when you’re in sub-zero temperatures, you want to maintain the perfect balance of warmth—not sweating or shivering.
The key is dressing in layers. You want different materials that wick sweat and provide insulation.
“Sweat is really our enemy,” Larsen says.
When you stop moving, that moisture against your skin becomes chilled very quickly. The trick is to constantly modify.
“At any given moment on the trail, I’m adjusting layers—unzipping or zipping, pulling my hat off, putting it on,” he says.
While racing sled dogs, Larsen’s been known to wear seven or eight layers of clothing. That said he’s also been known to take his gloves off skiing in -50°F or don just a synthetic T-shirt while fat biking across Antarctica. Larsen calls this layer dance the “polar striptease.” And when Larsen can’t seem to get warm, he recommends an old standby: jumping jacks.
Larsen divides layers up into three basic categories—wicking, insulation, and wind protection—and dresses according to the following scheme:
· Base layer t-shirt (wicking): Wool insulates well, but Larsen prefers synthetic for wicking moisture. “It stinks, but after a couple weeks you don’t notice it,” he says. Try LIFA T by Helly Hansen [$35; hellyhansen.com]
· Lightweight base layer long sleeve (wicking): BodyFitZone Zone Long Sleeve Crew by Icebreaker [$110; icebreaker.com]
· Medium-weight base layer long sleeve (wicking): BodyFitZone Winter Zone Long Sleeve Half-Zip by Icebreaker [$130; icebreaker.com]
· Fleece jacket (insulation): Wear the Better Sweater Fleece Jacket by Patagonia for really cold temps and lower activity. [$139; patagonia.com]
· Down sweater/jacket (insulation): Wear the Pinion Down Pullover by Stio in your tent and around camp. [$249; stio.com]
· Shells (wind protection): The soft shell Inversion Jacket by Voormi is made with a technical woven wool that has a membrane embedded into the fabric to make it weather- and water-resistant; it’s also highly breathable for strenuous activity. [$499;voormi.com] The hard shell Environ Jacket by Stio is designed for skiing and snowboarding but will work for any type of winter activity, as it’s waterproof and breathable. [$425; stio.com]
· Expedition down puffy jacket (insulation): The Nepal Jacket by Baffin is roomy, lightweight, and easily packs down. Larsen throws this layer over his outer shell on breaks during polar travel, but it’s also useful as a sleeping system if you want to go fast and light and don’t want to bring a big sleeping bag. [$275; baffin.com]
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