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Change in the Air

Fall here.

The season of change. The signal of rebuilding and replenishing. The spectacular colors before the branches and grounds go bare in preparation for the weight of winter's white bounty...the bounty that replenishes the life-source....the vital element that gives sustenance to all living things.

Some relish in it, some resist. The change, however, is inevitable. Sure, one can mitigate the amount of change by living in one place or in Idaho, the change is broad and time in SoCal showed me that the change there is much less dramatic. None the less and no matter where, change is still present.

The colors and the rebuilding of the snow-pack and the animals entering the rut... while so many see a time of decay and loss, I see a time of vigor and vitality, of awakening and regeneration. In this light, the magic of autumn is undeniable. The air is electric with life.

An early season snowfall has the elk on the move outside Gardiner, MT

My wife will tell you that I am much more cold-hearty that she...that I have (deliberately) become resistant to the cold. I can admit that much of this is mindset intermingled with at healthy dose of past trial and error.

In my exploratory youth, I had no cannon of measurement as to what situations my body would feel too cold, too warm, just right, or how different activities at different times of the year would affect my body temperature/ comfort (much less certain activities that will take you through the gamut of body temp ranges in a single day!)

There are too many stories to share of how my brothers and I would be floating the river in August and didn't even think to bring a rain looked like a bluebird day for heaven's sake! Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that, quite often, a late-day thunderhead would roll in over the river, dump cold rain, and drop the temperature twenty degrees leaving us soaked and shivering.

A rain-soaked day on the Yellowstone. Without proper layering, this day could have been absolutely miserable.

One of the biggest things I've learned in a life filled with outdoor pursuits is that understanding your personal threshold and coupling that with proper layering techniques will take your experiences from miserable to tolerable to absolutely magnificent no matter the weather. If you don't know your personal threshold, simply over-prepare. Just keep in mind that, for certain activities i.e. hiking, you'll have to carry around unwanted layers in your pack as extra weight. So then with experience, you'll be able to leave unnecessary layers behind at home or in the vehicle instead of carrying them around.

Here's your basic framework:

Base Layer

This layer is a next-to-skin kind of comfort layer that will add a little warmth and, more importantly, transport moisture away from the skin. Hypoallergenic materials that have a soft, form-fitting, non-abrasive feel (including the seams/stitching) are best here as this will minimize rubbing/chaffing of the skin.


Mid Layer

Your mid layer or layers are where you build up your warmth. These are usually versatile layers with a bit more loft/thickness than a base layer (but not always by much). Synthetics or natural materials that move moisture away from the body and can still insulate even while wet are really useful here. On warm-to-cool days, a mid layer may be worn as a top layer (outside everything else). On cold/wet days, you'll want to add an outer layer for more warmth and waterproofing. On really cold days, you may have two mid layers (the inner a bit slimmer fitting and outer a bit looser/bigger/loftier) for added warmth. Be careful to not restrict movement however.

Check out the Downstream Fade Pines Hoodie, the women's specific Fade Pines Crew, or the Streamline Jogger...perfect fleece-based mid layers.


Outer layer

The outer layer or shell is important in chilly to cold days and any day that has any sort of precipitation be it rain, hail, graupel, snow, etc. A good shell will also keep the wind from penetrating to your core which can be very important too. I prefer a non-insulated shell with waterproof characteristics and good venting. A mesh lining can help keep a soaked outer layer/shell off the skin or under-layers. Some may like an outer layer or shell with a bit of insulation for added warmth. While I do have one ski jacket with a little insulation, as I stated before, for the most part I prefer a lightweight tech shell without insulation since I feel it offers me more versatility in its use. Zippered armpit and/or back vents can really help dump excess heat and moisture in a hurry keeping you from overheating AND moving sweat away from your body that can cause you to become quite chilled in a hurry.

Your outer layer/shell is your first line of defense on cold/wet days.

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As always, thanks for taking the time!



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