Sunday, July 26, 2009
cold gear...i'll never leave home without it
Anyone who's been caving with me knows that I have a very difficult time staying warm when I'm not actively moving around. I'm the kinda girl that wears Cap3 on a cool summer evening. This cold is not limited to caving, mind you, as I've frozen my butt off in my fair share of grocery stores, movie theatres, restaurants, and countless other exotic locales. My awesome superpower best shows itself underground and in water, though.
After one particularly frigid trip last year to Limrock Blowing Cave, managed by our friends over at SCCi, wherein particularly hilarious video footage was shot of me dancing to get warm (cue up Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me" in your preferred music player; they've disabled sound)...I resolved to get a better handle on the situation.
I bought any number of base layers to test them in the miserable conditions that caves present: a steady temperature of 56F with even colder water that you often get to swim and crawl through (goodie!) and zero sun to add warmth (because, you know, there's no sun in caves). The key is to be fully flexible, not overheated when I'm moving around, and warm when I'm stationary or swimming. This is harder to achieve than one might initially think. But, yesterday, one particular set of layers fit the bill and proved to be way more valuable than gold.
We ventured out to Steward Springs Cave, and spent most of the time partially immersed in water, or so it seemed. I started with one set of base layers, and about halfway through finally decided I'd had enough chattering of my teeth and tough-gal efforts so I switched to my magic layers: Coldgear Compression (under my wet clothes).
I immediately felt the difference. I don't know what took me so long, honestly. I never overheated, and I was not cold for the rest of the cave.
They can be pricey for a budget shopper, but I swear it's some of the best money I've spent on gear. Coldgear is a flexible base layer with some kind of magic membrane that keeps you warm but not too warm. I know there are some cheap knockoffs at places like Cabelas that you might check out (my fiancé swears by them) if you don't want to spring for the $50. They claim the wicking will keep you dry, but obviously that's fairly null and void when you're swimming.
Seriously though, I'm in lurv.