July 14, 2007
New Link - OuterSports
In mid-December of that year, the mountains received quite a dumping of new snow, and my friends and I decided to make the trip to Vail to enjoy the fresh powder. While carving down one of the resort’s legendary bowls, I accidentally caught an edge and ended up sliding face first down the steep incline. By the time I managed to stop myself, a good couple feet of snow had jam-packed my jacket and pants. I was soaked to the bone, freezing cold, and standing in an almost full whiteout blizzard. When I finally reached the lodge, my Wal-Mart thermal underwear was soaked beyond repair, and I had managed to catch quite the nasty cold. Needless to say, I traded the snowboard for a warm bed and a couple gallons of Ny-Quil for the remainder of the weekend.
The following season, I decided that it was time to invest in some quality thermal underwear. Something warm. Something waterproof. At my local sporting goods store, a young salesman recommended the store’s featured product, Under Armour cold gear. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first. I was under the impression that Under Armour was created to keep you dry, not necessarily to keep you warm. However, the young man swore by the new cold gear, and claimed that it was the driest and warmest cold weather protection on the market today. Taking his advice, I purchased a crewneck, pants, socks and an outdoor hood. Although the gear came to over $200, I felt it was worth it to keep my body warm and dry during the next ski season.
The first couple weeks of the season were great! The cold weather gear kept me warm and dry in the mountains, and seemed to be serving its purpose perfectly. Then right around the end of December, we made the trip to Vail. Once I reached about 12,000 feet, I could no longer feel any of my appendages due to the bitter cold. The remainder of the season was miserable. The weather got colder and colder, and my new Under Armour cold gear, although doing a great job to keep me dry, was no match for the cold mountain winds. For the rest of the season, I was forced to wear my old Wal-Mart thermals on top of the Under Armour to keep warm. Once again, my thermal underwear had failed me.
This year, I was determined to solve my problem and enjoy what was predicted to be the coldest and snowiest season yet. After running some Internet searches, I found a product known as military thermal polypropylene underwear. Apparently, the military uses unique cold weather technology to develop a special kind of clothing, known as polypropylene, to keep their troops dry and warm in combat situations. According to my research, polypropylene thermal underwear was only recently approved for use outside the military, so I decided to see what the stuff was all about. Again, I purchased a polypropylene crewneck, pants, socks and neck warmer. To my astonishment, my total price was under $70, less than one third what I had paid for my Under Armour cold gear. At this price, I honestly didn’t expect it to work very well, but decided to give it a try anyway.
Over Christmas weekend, my friends and I once again decided to make the trip to Vail to enjoy some of the best snow Colorado has received in years. Again, we dropped back into their legendary back bowls, and again I took a nosedive right down the steep incline. Once again jam-packed with snow, I sadly stood up, waiting for the cold wetness to sink into my skin. I waited. And waited. All day long, I took falls in pile after pile of fluffy powder. And all day long I remained dry and warm.
Seriously, this stuff is dirt cheap. I have some Hot Chillies that are getting ratty and the boys have UnderArmor thermal pants that cost a fortune. I am probably going to load up on new thermals this winter. Cotton is getting old. Outersports explains it this way:
Polypropylene is hydrophobic meaning it is water hating or does not absorb water. So unlike cotton, the polypro fabric repells the water spreading it evenly across the fabric. This allows it to dry very quickly. When I say quickly, I mean within minutes. It also allows the fabric to stay dry next to your skin keeping you dry and comfortable.
Polypropylene also has the lowest thermal transfer rate of any other fabric. This means that it retains the warmth your body produces keeping you warmer than other thermal underwear material. Polypropylene's ability to retain heat works even when it's wet. So the bottom line: Even if your polypro thermals get wet, they will still keep you warm and dry making them the ideal thermal for skiing and other mountain sports. As a side note, the US Navy and Coast Guard are required to wear polypro under their wetsuits to keep their body temperature up in the cold ocean water.
Posted by Justin at July 14, 2007 11:55 AM