Best fabrics for staying warm in frigid cold

Merino wool, performance synthetics get thumbs up from outdoor experts

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Best fabrics for staying warm in frigid cold
Best fabrics for staying warm in frigid cold: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on January 2, 2018.

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- As the frigid temperatures continue so does the danger for hypothermia and frostbite.

We know dressing in layers is key, but so is wearing the right fabrics.

We went outside today with this thermal imaging camera.

It can show you where people are losing heat. In most cases, that's any exposed skin.

We also talked to an expert about the best fabrics to help lock heat in.

As the blustery and brutal cold weather lingers...we found most people outside bundled up.

Our thermal imaging camera shows people missing layers like James Elish without his hat, seem to be losing body heat--

"Definitely your head and not too bad but your legs because you only have jeans on," we noted.

"No hat for now but I'm going to say 1-2 more blocks the hat comes back on," Ellish told us.

While waiting for the bus, Loretta Singleton seems to be staying warm.

Only her face lit up.

"My cheeks feel a little chilly but other than that I'm fine," she told us.

"So those are really nice," notes Stephen Desch at R-E-I.

Desch says dressing in layers with the right fabric is key if you're outside in the cold for a prolonged period.

For your base layer, he suggests merino wool or a synthetic, polyester blend.

"These are two of the most common base layers, they're right next to the skin, they help trap body heat inside," Desch says.

Your next layer is the insulating layer.

You have three choices:

The most expensive is down...

"It's going to be really warm and really light," he notes.

Or you can wear another synthetic material, or the least expensive option- fleece.

But with all of these and especially with fleece, make sure you also have a top layer, a hard shell to block the wind.

"Usually any waterproof jacket will be windproof as well," Desch says.

To prevent frostbite, be sure to cover your ears, nose, toes, and fingers.

Mittens are warmer than gloves because your fingers create body heat together.

Desch also recommends merino wool hats and socks. Sock liners are also helpful.

A lot of people also ask about cotton.

It's not bad but if you're prone to sweating or if you get wet, it won't dry out quickly.

And damp fabric right next to your skin will cause your body temperature to drop quickly.

Down is also not a good option if it's raining or sleeting outside.


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