Astronomy Fashion – Staying Warm

I’m going to touch on this subject with a few things I’ve found to keep me warm.  Well, more accurately, things that help lower the volume of my teeth chattering.  Please chime in with any things you’ve found that help you stay comfortable through cold winter nights.

First, some guidelines:

  • Don’t wear cotton next to your skin, and minimize it elsewhere as well.  Cotton holds water, and when damp, the fabric loses it insulating value.
  • Use layers of clothing.  This helps build in insulating boundaries and allows you add or remove layers to regulate your temperature.
  • Keep your head and feet warm.  You can lose a lot of heat from your head.  You’ll feel a lot warmer if your head is warm.  Your feet are in jeopardy because the body will constrict blood flow to the extremities trying to keep your core warm.  So you need to pay extra attention to keep your feet happy.

Some specifics:

  • Head: Get some close fitting headgear that has good insulation.  I like wearing a thin poly balacava to keep any breeze at bay, and then a fur lined insulated bombardier’s hat over that.  Keeps me toasty.  I say close fitting just so it won’t flop around and get in your way while you’re doing “telescope yoga”.
  • Feet: Remember. NO COTTON.  This is really important here.  Feet sweat a lot, and shoes tend to trap any moisture.  So:  think thin poly socks against your skin, then some wool or smart-wool heavy boot socks, and good insulating boots.  Inexpensive  “after-ski” boots may be just fine, I’ve used Ugg Boots, and of course there are some hunting boots with very high insulation values…  but they’re pricey.
  • Underwear: Wear longies.  Not cotton.  Polyester blends should be okay.  Just stay away from fabrics that absorb water.
  • Outerwear:   follow the guidlines.  Layer, no cotton, wind proof an outer layer.  A nylon shell over some layers of polar fleece or the like should do well.  One of our local club members loves his ski bibs…  seems like a good choice to me.
  • Gloves: Mittens will keep your hands warmer than fingered ones.  If you poke around you can find some that have a “flap” that can be folded back and expose your fingers so you can work or type.  I’m going to buy a pair.


  • Hand warmers: These are little packets that get warm when exposed to air.  They last quite a while (some heat left even after 8 hours).  They also make bigger packets made to fit under our toes in your shoes.  Note also that these hand warmers work great to warm up the LED of your hand control so you can see the display.  I use rubber bands to hold a heat pack against the back of the hand control…  works great.
  • Portable Heaters: It’s nice to have a real warm spot nearby.  I sometimes take a catalytic propane heater with me.  Catalytic heaters are very fuel efficient and feel really good.
  • Battery powered ClothesSocks, vests, and whatnot.  I’ve never used ’em, but if the batteries last I gotta believe it would be great.

That’s all I got for now… Please comment on your favorite ways to stay warm,


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