2. Keep Your Head, Hands, and Feet Warm
Larsen packs a baseball cap, a lightweight balaclava (try the Option Balaclava by Outdoor Research or the Magnemask Combo Clava by Seirus), and a neck gaiter (we like Buff) to keep his head warm, interchanging them as he goes to stay warm and dry.
Mind your neck: “You can lose heat there without even knowing it,” says Larsen.
He also brings along a beard trimmer on longer expeditions so the hair on his face doesn’t freeze.
For your feet, a similar layering system applies. Depending on the temperature and activity level, you can usually start off with a light, wicking liner sock (try Dry Foot Liner Sock by Wigwam), adding another lightweight wool sock in colder temperatures. We like the Mountaineering Micro Crew Extra Cushion by Darn Tough.
If you’re hiking in 20°F, two pairs of socks are more than enough as long as you’re moving, Larsen says. Just don’t wear too many; you can cut circulation off to your feet.
In inhospitable environments, Larsen will start with a vapor barrier: silicone-impregnated, non-breathable “socks” (i.e. plastic grocery bags) that’ll prevent moisture from getting into the boot liners.
As for footwear, you want waterproof boots that have thick soles to insulate your feet from snow, water, and ice. Larsen sizes his polar boots up a full size to accommodate socks and insoles. Baffin’s Sequoia boots are warm, lightweight, and tall, complete with a snowshoe ledge, snow collar, and a removable liner that molds to your feet.
If he’s inactive for a while, Larsen stands on a 24-inch-wide cutout of an old RidgeRest pad—a sleeping pad with an aluminized surface that reflects body, like this Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad—to keep his dogs warm.
Larsen also packs extra pairs of thick wool socks to sleep in, like The Ice Sock Socks by Wigwam.
To keep his fingers from freezing, Larsen wears sweat-wicking glove liners inside thicker insulated gloves, like the Rush SV Glove by Arc’teryx.
“I’m always looking for a good glove that combines dexterity and warmth,” he says, adding that leather palms are best for durability.
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