Reply to Bryan – What to Wear in Subzero Climate

winter wear in Canada
winter wear in Canada

Bryan left the following message in my previous post :

I am going to Harbin end of this year. I believe it will be minus 15 Degree during the day.Since I am not living in Subzero Climate for long period, I just bought a Winter Jacket, not those ultra warm type though, but for active sports, where we partially keep ourselves warm while exercising in the cold weather. I think it might not be enough to fend off the cold there.

How many layers of clothing you wear to protect yourself from the cold?

My idea:
1st Under Thermal (Long John shirt and pants)
2nd Long Sleeve T-Shirt
3rd Wool Sweater
4th Thin Down Jacket
5th Wind & Waterproof outer jacket

Ear Warmer
Head Warmer?

Wish me luck! ”

Hey Bryan,

I went online to check the weather in Harbin, yup, it is already around minus 5 to 15 degree during the day !! And currently, the wind gust is around 4-15 mph (6-23 km/h), which is quite strong if you are walking on the streets, especially in wind tunnel (like between tall buildings). So, you have to be quite prepared, especially people like us, who are brought up in tropical weather.

Looking at your 5 layers clothing sandwich, I think you will be fine for the minus 15. However, it depends on the quality of your down jacket and the water/windproof  jacket. It makes all the difference !

windproof jacket with face cover
windproof jacket with chin flaps

Not sure what kind of quality you will get in Malaysia. So, whatever you buy, check the quality properly, or buy trusted brands.  There are hell lots of things to consider for good down or windproof jackets. I am not going to go to the details here and you only go there for a short trip. Just some simple things you should look for. For example, for down jacket, check exactly what the down filling is (make sure is not synthetic) and its fill power (how dense they pack the down/feather); for water/windproof jacket, check the construction of the jacket (how well the jacket is ‘sealed’), fabric lining etc.

I have a windproof jacket that have two ‘flaps’ on my face area (left picture), so when the wind blow fiercely, I can cover half my face, and only leave the eyes out. But I rarely wear it because I think it is very ugly ! Haahaa….do I scare you though? I hope you don’t need those things anyway ! It depends if you are a person who afraid of cold. I need those because I can’t stand cool weather !

Ok, now let’s talk about other accessories.

(1) Gloves – yup, you need a good pair of gloves ! Best is wool or windproof gloves.

(2) Hat/Head Warmer – you definitely need a very good hat/head warmer. Generally, about 30% of body heat lose through our heads, it is quite a significant amount. If you cover your head (especially forehead) properly, you surely will feel warmer. Tips : Don’t buy knit hat, because wind can blow through it easily. Buy wool one,. If you like knit, buy those have an inner (wool) layer.

(3) Ear warmer – If you have a hat that also can cover your ears, I don’t think you need ear warmer.

(4) Sock – Your feet and toes !! You don’t want to have cool feet and toes when you are outside, especially if you have to walk on the snow. Also, most time I dress my body properly, but forget my legs. So,  your under thermal pants will be very helpful. Tips : alternatively, buy very good wool knee length socks. They help me heaps when I don’t feel like wearing my old-lady-like thermal pants 😉

(5) Boot – Very important especially when snowing heavily and have snow/ice accumulation on the ground. A good pair of boot prevent slips.  My boot is knee length, with fur inside, strong rubber sole with deep treads. Of course, it depends how much walking you have to do, otherwise, normal boot should be ok. Tips : Walk on snow-muddy ground, instead of the ‘shiny’ icy ground, which is extremely slippery, unless you like to roller skating 😉

(6) Scarf – Depend on the design of your jacket or if you have turtle neck top. I feel much warmer when my neck is warm, and it prevents cool wind slips inside your body through the neck opening. Tips : When I don’t wear my ugly windproof jacket with the ‘flaps’, I like to wear very large thick scarf. So, I not only use it to cover my neck, I use it to cover half my face when I have to walk against wind gust.

multiples layers and a down jacket
multiple layers and a down jacket

For this photo, I think it was taken on a day of around minus 5-8 degree or so. With the hat, an under thermal, a turtle neck (white), a 200 fleece (blue), and a medium fill power down jacket ( filling : 50% down/50% feathers), I was able to pose for photo with a smile 😉

I hope the above information helps. Shoot me more questions if you still not sure.

Haahaaa… I have too much fun here. I better go back to study for my exam !!! 🙁


20 responses to “Reply to Bryan – What to Wear in Subzero Climate”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *