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5 January 2011

January - Just Ask Yogi

I am utterly focused on conditioning and training my dogs right now and they have responded with the same unnatural driven iron will. Seeing this in their eyes is thrilling and intoxicating. I have split my 15 adults into two teams and have been in the thick of endurance runs with them. I head out with one team and return to immediately take out the second. Once I have been out with my dogs nothing changes my determination to keep myself hellish fit. The biggest days are two hours of running snowy trails followed by a horrible hefty weight training session. It is hell but my dogs know why I do it. We all eat, sleep, focus and run. Eat, sleep, focus and run.

Yogi has shone and proved a new asset leading alongside Vital. At the head of the other team Loads alternates up front with either Girly, Bigness or Plet. Today spindrift hurtled over the sea ice as we curved a course through ice rubble. As usual winter has been darker than being nailed inside a coffin. We still have no sun here. It returns January 20th. We have a couple of twilight hours now but that is all. I must be sure of my footing when I am out with my dogs or training alone. Every pace I take I have to be careful not to trip. Petzl headlamps are most excellent for making sure I don't stumble. I continue to love the Myo 3.

I love the cold but hate being cold. Via emails I am often asked about how to stay warm. My nutshell reply (without the detail) is this:
  1. Put on more clothes.
  2. Eat food.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Do not hold on to your toilet.
There is nothing else to know, except having gear that raises the bar through design development such as Rab’s Infinity Down Jacket. Rab is about gear for extreme conditions. I choose to wear it because it keeps me alive. I’ve read a few of the very good recent Infinity reviews from southern latitudes. So here is an Infinity review from me in the Arctic.

If a jacket hood will not stay up in the wind you can always wear your goggles over the top to keep it in place. But do that and it of course means the hood is a hopeless fit. I want my goggles around my hat not my hood. If you want to down your hood and have to take off goggles to do it, the wind will be howling. And surprise, surprise the goggles fill with snow and vision is rendered useless. Dangerous.

In my opinion hood design singles out what is great about a garment because it is consistently the one design feature critical in keeping you warm. We all know how much warmth can be lost through our head. The Infinity hood design is classic Inuit style. It stays up in belting wind and fits so well it has no need for adjusters. Even with goggles on and the hood up, the Infinity gives a clear view as I sweep 360° looking for polar bears and bad ice. Wonderful. Bears skulk upwind and stalk downwind to kill. Not so wonderful. And bad ice tends to spoil my day too.

With balaclavas and a neck gaiter on, some jackets are not designed to zip right up which I find really annoying. But the Infinity does. I love to be snug and want to know that if I want to do a zip up all the way up, it will. The only modification I have done to the Infinity (and you cannot expect the jacket to be like this as standard because it’s unlikely to suit most peoples’ needs) is the one I do for every coat I own: I sew the zip together at the base because I can always do without bringing zips together in the wind with mittens on. Also, for me a jacket is easier to pull over my noggin rather than through arms first, especially in winds going helter-skelter off the Greenland Ice Cap. It has been windy here. For a few nights I have not been to bed before 3 am, after a final check outside on my dogs. If anything came my way in the air it would have taken my hooded head off.

In the minus 20s one system that works well for me is wearing an over sized Vapour-rise over the top of the Infinity Jacket. In the depths of my winter, the Infinity has been a wonderful, warm layering jacket. Although this winter hasn't been cold (by cold I mean minus 40 and falling) the Infinity Jacket over a long sleeved Aeon, two sets of Vapour-rise and sometimes layered under another jacket, Rab’s Neutrino Plus, is a safe and very comfortable combination for me. Working my dogs brings intense activity followed by lulls and more hectic exercise. Harnessing my dogs is hard work and I do not want to sweat at all because I head straight out from my house on to sea ice. The winter temperature change from shore to frozen Arctic sea is marked. I mean really marked. Add only a little wind and this marked change becomes extreme. I work my clothing zips without taking layers off.

Today was windy and cold. My Infinity Jacket is a glossy colour that reminds me of Yogi’s russet gold fur. He’s also fun, super friendly, always smiling and wants to get going. Him leading now makes a third of my adults capable of leading from the front. So I have nicknamed my Infinity, my Yogi Jacket. Winner. If it keeps me warm here in Greenland throughout January consider Rab’s Infinity Jacket a great choice. The clever part about enjoying bad weather is clothing selection.

It is amazing how light the Infinity Jacket is for the warmth it generates. I’m no scientist so I cannot divulge component secrets. All I can say is, I live in the Arctic full-time and this jacket rocks. You might not intend using an Infinity Jacket to keep you warm in the Arctic but what you will have is one that is capable of doing so. Just ask Yogi.


2 comments:

  1. Up to three layers of vapour rise, I suppose if it works don't change it!

    Got the VR Trail jacket for Xmas and must say i'm impressed so far, although I have yet to wear it in anything that could be considered extreme conditions..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment. With my active lifestyle I live in Vapour-rise. Yes there are some people who prefer one bulky layer. I don’t. I like layering. Through a temperature range of 81ºC (30ºC to minus 51Cº) I’ve worn Vapour-rise almost continuously in the Arctic since it was first produced. In 2008 I wrote a review about Vapour-rise, here's the link if you’re interested:

    http://www.rab.uk.com/news/latest_news/article/default.asp?article=11

    A pull out quote from this link is, “ Vapour-rise is special. Word will spread.” It has.

    I cannot afford to wear anything less than special else it means cruel injuries. I don’t want that ever again. I believe Vapour-rise now has a cult following because it is that good.

    Best of luck,
    Gary

    ReplyDelete