If you’re an outdoorsy person, or you know people who are, at some time you’ll probably hear these words, usually said smugly, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. Or something equally unhelpful if it’s chucking it down and you’ve been caught out in a t-shirt.
Luckily when I go away I normally have a pretty good idea of the conditions I’ll face, so I know what to pack to “dress to survive”. As pretty much everyone loves kit I thought I’d share here in my Field Notes some of the brands I trust.
Top of my wish list in really bad weather is the clothing made by Austrian firm Carinthia. I’ve used their insulation layers in -65 Celcius, a week when our survival training area in the Canadian Arctic made headlines for being colder than Mars. When it gets that baltic I use the ECIG jacket and trouser combo (the suitably named Extreme Cold Insulation Garment for any pub-quizzers out there). ECIG is also what I put on if I’m doing any long trips on snow-machines (skidoos) when the temperatures are low, fast speeds over frozen lakes makes for pretty fierce wind-chill if you aren’t protected and you’re sat still.
One level of insulation down from the ECIG is their High Insulation Jacket; I wore the HIG as part of an RAF survival kit trial during filming of ‘Dude You’re Screwed/Survive That’ in Alaska. The best features were that I stayed warm even when it was really wet, the weather deteriorated during the shoot and it was on the boundary of snow and rain, I’m convinced that without that HIG jacket I’d have become hypothermic.
My most recent TV survival challenge was when I went to play out with Ed Stafford during the Himalayan Monsoon to film ‘First Man Out’. It wasn’t super cold at altitude, but it was the wettest weather I’ve ever encountered. Torrents of the stuff. Of all the folk who were on the mountain my Carinthia Tactical Rain Garment ensured that I was the only person who wasn’t wet under their coat; I was very impressed with that jacket and luckily I got to keep hold of it this time too!