Wednesday, November 18, 2009
A quick, easy fix... (And cheap!)
I hate being cold, but I love winter backpacking. How does one reconcile these two things? Gear!
Having already spoken of the miracles of the Capilene 3 Baselayer, sleeping in a coffin tent, etc., I will now switch gears and tell you about my non-essential, supplemental, juuuuuuuust-in-case method of ensuring my feet don't turn into little blocks of ice while I am snuggled up in my mummy bag on a 15 degree night in the mountains - the Mylar Blanket.
Our #1 fan/naysayer might reply with a comment about how these "blankets" (it's more like a piece of plastic with a shiny side) are not the best option, they cause a buildup of moisture, etc. This is correct. It's definitely something that can happen, though I haven't considered it bad enough to stop me... Don't get me wrong, this is no substitute for appropriate winter gear!
The mylar blanket, known most often as a "safety blanket" or "emergency blanket", or, for the nerds out there, "space blanket", is given out for free at the finish of most half marathons and marathons, or can be purchased at Walmart or Target for a whopping $1.00. It weighs almost nothing, so I say, "Why not?" I usually bring one or two of these on a trip "just in case", and I would never know it was there...
Its use? When you are curled up in your mummy bag in your coffin tent in your Capilene 3's, and your feet are still cold and your teeth are still chattering... Throw one or two of these bad boys over the sleeping bag, reflective side facing your cold body. This lightweight, free to one dollar, "blanket" will reflect your heat back on you, and the blocks of ice on the ends of your legs will thaw nicely...
So, as I repeat my disclaimer that this is no substitute for appropriate winter gear, I will also repeat my sentiment, "Why not?" This may just be something you carry that adds virtually no weight to your bag, or it might be something that you consider a life saver on that cold night when your feet just can't seem to get warm. Would you rather take the chance?