Looking for pointers on cold-weather dressing for your next adventure in Canada’s northern territories? Yukoner Frank Turner, the iconic top musher who competed in The Yukon Quest, the annual 1,000 mile international sled dog race between Yukon and Alaska for 24 years, shares his secrets:
- Comfort and safety are essential. Look for function, not fashion. Self-sufficiency.
- It’s all about layering. Focus on what is on your skin and build layers outward. Heavyweight Merino wool (600 – 800 grams) is Frank’s favourite. As it can be costly, he recommends rounding out the next two or three layers with alpaca wool, pure wool or garments made with natural fibres that retain their thermal value even when damp.
- As soon as you start to sweat, remove a layer and ventilate, especially when climbing. Stay cool not cold, and always keep your body dry.
- Wear loose clothing so air can always circulate, as well as for mobility.
- Choose pants with a tough exterior fabric and protective cuffs so ice does not stick. Look for pants with a bib (down or synthetic) and lots of pockets you can keep things in. Women need pants with a bib and a back drop seat (with zipper). Men may find a front relief zipper useful to ensure a dry system.
- Warm feet = happy feet. Wool socks (ideally thick Marino wool) and liners are the most important pieces you can own. Frank loves Sweden’s Woolpower socks. Beyond the sock layers you wear, always carry a spare, dry pair of socks.
- Boots should be loose on your foot. Frank favours Extreme Cold Vapor Barrier Boots (Bunny boots) used by the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Make sure you have a great hat that covers the ears and the back of the neck
Frank’s famous last words? “Always carry water and be the best you can be at making the right decisions at the right time.“