The Spirit of Alpinism

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Staying Dry on the Mountain

AAI debunks the myth, "Once your gear gets wet, it stays wet!"

From the November 2005 edition of AAI's enewsletter

Few things are worse than crawling into wet clothes on a multi-day trip in the backcountry. When keeping everything dry is not possible and bringing three of everything doesn't work either, here are tips to help you revive your wet gear and get by with less.

To dry wet socks, gloves, and other clothing on overnight trips, pack them around your chest and upper arms while sleeping since this area of the body generates the most heat. Place the items between your long underwear and your next layer, as close as possible to the body but not directly touching the skin. Hopefully, you'll wake up with dry, toasty items for next day's adventure. Or, pile your damp clothing on top of Nalgene bottles filled with hot water and place them inside an empty sleeping bag. Your gear should dry while you're off doing something else. For maximum results put gear on top of water bottles since heat rises. Be sure lids are screwed on tightly ( ! ), and be careful about putting overly wet items in down sleeping bags.

Bonus tip: To quickly warm cold fingers, simply place them on the back of your neck for a few minutes. Never blow on your fingers or into your gloves. This deposits moisture inside your gloves and can make warming even more difficult and, in extreme circumstances, can contribute to evaporative cooling and eventual frost nip or frostbite.

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