Come winter and out come the sweaters and coats to keep the body warm. This is our way of insulating the body from the cold outside. The way to effectively battle the cold is to layer and layer. The base layers of winter clothing must be effective. They must be made of material, which allows the sweat to evaporate. The clothing can be in the form of boxers, long or short underwear, and vests.

The next layer is often called the mid thermal layer and is the 2nd line of defense. Zippered Jerseys, mock turtlenecks or T-shirts are good choices. It is important to ensure that these are not too tight or too loose, because tight clothes apart from restricting movement do not insulate the body properly and loose clothes allow the warm air to escape.

The clothing should also allow proper ventilation, which is to allow heat to escape if it gets too hot or seal heat in if it gets too cold. This should be achieved without having to take off any layer. Openings like buttons and zippers achieve this to perfection. Depending on the outside conditions decide whether to use more layers or heavier clothing with not so many layers.  If it is freezing, heavier stuff is better and if variable conditions are going to be encountered, go in for multiple layers that are not so heavy. Gloves and mittens can be used to keep the hands warm. They are available as base layers or super warm stuff that can take care of the cold. Balaclavas cover the neck and head completely leaving only the eyes and nose exposed. Separate caps that offer very good insulation can also be worn. Even shoes with insulation and waterproofing are available to ward off the cold. When one thinks of winter, woolen clothes are the first things that come to your mind.

Wool is a very good insulator, can absorb moisture without becoming really wet and is fairly inexpensive. It can be worn against the skin, but a great disadvantage is that it tends to be very itchy and many people are allergic to it. Pile or Fleece fabrics are good insulators but are not very resistant to cold wind, so they invariably have to be used in combination with other layers. Polypropylene and hydrophobic fabrics prevent the skin from getting wet as they do not absorb the water and also reduce heat loss. Feathers are good insulators but woe betide if they get wet. Down is good only so long as it is dry. It is light and if encased in synthetic fabric can be petty useful. Silk is a good insulator and for those who are allergic to wool, it can act as an efficient base layer. Super thin fibers have stormed the market and have proved to be good alternatives to warm clothing. They offer twice the warmth that down does, but they tend to be heavier. However as outer layers of winter clothing they function as efficiently as parkas and pants. Fur, Mohair, camel hair and angora are also good outer layers.
Winter clothing can be damaged if not taken care of. Moths and pest seem to be attracted by them during spring and summer and they need to be taken care of. Sweaters, coats and parkas that are not being used need to be preserved in plastic zippered bags and mothballs need to be used to control the pests. This ensures that your winter clothing is always fresh every year.

~ Editor K Bajaj. copyright

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