Getting layered…

Posted: March 31, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Equipment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As the Bolivia expedition draws closer, we are starting to get our equipment together. For those of you who saw the shopping list for this training project, you will see just by looking at the list that it is certainly not going to be cheap.

Where we are going is over 6,200 metres high, and we will be going over glaciers and snow. Being so high up in the mountains the most important things that we will need are the right clothes – layered clothes. So today we spent some time at one of the mountaineering stores in São Paulo, Half Dome, looking at the different options.

By layered, what we are talking about are multiple levels of clothes on top of each other that will insulate our body from the cold, wind and rain/snow outside whilst at the same time letting our bodies breathe – especially when we are sweating carrying loads up the mountains.

A base layer (Curtlo Thermoskin Zip Base)

The inner layer, by the skin of the body, must be a reasonably snug fit and made of a material which will take the sweat away from the body. If you don’t get the right materials (generally synthetic), your sweat will be trapped and could lead to all sorts of problems as your clothes gradually become soaked from the inside out. Don’t use cotton! The salesman at the shop (also called Fabio, but no the same as our climbing trainer!) showed us the difference between materials and their affect by spraying a little water on them – on one, the spray instantly disappeared into the clothing whilst on the other the spray just turned into a drop of water on the inside of the fabric. I imagine me, sweating away going up a mountain wearing the latter, and it wasn’t nice!

The second layer, the mid-layer, will be a looser fit. The looser fit will trap the air between this layer and the inner layer, and in the cold, we may need more than one such layer, though we will need to remember that we will be warming up as we walk. Also, these layers will be designed with materials that will help transport the moisture from our bodies out – again, so we don’t get soaked by our own sweat!

Marmota Soft Shell jacket

The final layer, the outer (or shell) layer, needs to be wind and rain resistant, and at the same time, breathable so that the moisture from our bodies is drawn further out. It needs also to be pretty durable and resilient to sharp rocks as if it rips and rain gets into your layers, then your layers are no long so effective.

How much is this costing…? well here in Brazil just for these layers for the legs and the body, well about r$1,600 (US$ 1,000) per person. The advantage here is that we can pay in installments (3 to 6, depending on the store) whereas elsewhere will most likely be cheaper, but we wouldn’t be able to do this. So we are biting the bullet at the moment as we look for sponsorship – ultimately it will be equipment that will last a really long time so is a good investment no matter what.

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