Week Nine of my walking challenge has consisted of snow, snow and more snow!
The Kingdom of Fife was covered in a thick and chilly blanket of snow and blasted by bitterly cold winds from the East.
It has been a while since we have seen such a coverage of snow across the region and this is thanks to the extreme weather front that headed in from Eastern Europe. Unsurprisingly, these near to arctic conditions did slow my progress but it did not succeed in stopping me from getting out and gaining some miles.
This past week’s walking has been great fun although very tiring thanks the depth of snow, blizzards and snowdrifts that I have had to make my way through. I really enjoy walking in snowy conditions like the sort we have had. After my ankle sprain last week, I took extra care to make sure I was watching where I was walking which was made trickier by the deep snow.
As I wandered through the Fife countryside, I posted a number of photos from my wintery walks to the various Walk Fife social networks and as a result of the posts, I received quite a lot of questions about the kind of kit I was wearing to keep myself warm, dry and comfortable while out in the snow.
In my first challenge post I mentioned the importance of adopting a layering approach to your winter clothing – http://www.walkfife.com/week-one-seans-4000-mile-walking-challenge/ . While I described how layering works I didn’t cover what I personally use and this week many people asked if I could give a break down of the clothing I wear in snowy conditions.
My base layer consists of a full sleeved top and bottoms manufactured from bamboo fibres by Highlander. Bamboo base layers are soft to touch, thermally efficient and effectively trap warm air above your skin’s surface, they form well to the shape of your body, dry very quickly and are excellent at wicking moisture away from the skin. Additionally fabrics made from bamboo are normally eco-friendly.
Middle torso layer
My mid-layer is a basic lightweight micro-fleece top. I am very fond of the Selby Fleece made by Craghoppers and own quite a few of them. I have found that these recycled fleeces are suitably lightweight and a great insulator for the walker. If the weather is really cold and biting I sometimes slip a fast wicking t-shirt underneath the micro-fleece as extra insulation but this week I haven’t felt the need to do so.
My all-year favourite are the Kiwi Trek trousers from Craghoppers as they fit me well and are tough and lightweight. If the temperature is particularly low, I have a pair of winter lined trousers but these often lead to overheating if I am getting up a good pace.
My outer layer consists of a shell jacket and a pair of over-trousers both of which are ightweight, waterproof and windproof. I own a mix of different jackets and trousers and they are each made from a breathable fabric which is essential for harsh conditions. The jacket I have been wearing this week has been the Dare2b Vigilence and the waterproof trousers have been the Berghaus Deluge both of which have performed well. I also wear a pair of gaiters over my boots as a defence against deep snow.
I am often mocked about my choice of gloves by friends as I have a pair of tough snowboarding gloves that I bought in 1996 when I was a keen snowboarder. These gloves have admittedly seen better days but they still are waterproof and very warm thanks to a removable micro-fleece liner. If the temperature demands, I can were a pair of thin liner gloves underneath to add a extra layer of insulation.
Head & Neck
A little while ago I was encouraged by the Walk Fife team to write up a review of my favourite / signature winter beanie and you can find this review over at – http://www.walkfife.com/berghaus-ulvetanna-beanie-review/ . To keep my neck and face warm I use a British Army issue headover (snood) which I have owned for many years and can be put to many uses. There are many civilian alternatives available in better wicking and modern materials but I find this one serves me well.
My favourite boots for winter are the Chillkat II’s from The North Face. These waterproof and insulated boots are well suited for sub-zero temperatures and really help get traction in snow and ice. Sadly the manufacturer has discontinued them now but they can still be found online. You can watch a review that I filmed for Sumo Survival in 2016 at https://youtu.be/r-NeuJh0–g
When heading out into the snow I always make sure that I put a few things in my day pack to make sure I have a safe and enjoyable time these include a day-glow safety vest, ski googles or glasses, a small flask of tea or a bottle of water alongside some snacks to keep me going.
Week nine lessons
Over the course of this past week I have to admit to being slightly alarmed by the sheer amount of people venturing out on foot and in cars while being really unprepared for the weather conditions and I hope that this is something that Walk Fife can perhaps address through our website and podcasts.
Week ten is going to be a bit easier to gain miles as I have a few days off from work and I will be heading out with friends to explore some more of magnificent Fife. One thing I know for sure is that I will have to be prepared for lots of mud and slush as the big thaw takes hold.
If you have any questions about this challenge or anything Walk Fife related, then please drop me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me through my twitter account @SDMakin.
Catch up with you again next week.