Living in a Van is live outdoors all year. In hot weather there is no real constraint, we live in shorts / T-shirt. But in cold weather it is better to have a minimum of equipment to keep the experience enjoyable. We will not talk here about heating equipment for the van (our article is already here), but lots of equipment for his little person andtips for staying warm in winter and in the off-season to take full advantage of the joys of being outdoors!
The seasons are experienced more intensely on the road. And can change very quickly from one to another without any real calendar logic depending on the geographical area... In short, we forgot the idea of having real seasons in a van for a long time, but the we quickly understood the interest ofhave good equipment!
This is the basis…
If we choose jeans, a cotton sweater and canvas shoes, don't be surprised if you're cold. There is surely no worse outfit during the so-called "cold" seasons. But even knowing that doesn't stop Joana from often donning her favorite black jeans! Fortunately our 2018-2019 winter in Quebec strengthened our cold tolerance...
The technical clothing were not created for nothing, they bring a real plus for all outdoor activities. Even for everyday life, for some years now we have found more lifestyle and at all prices. No need to have a huge wardrobe to feel good in everyday life and during outdoor activities. Remember that in this case, living in a van requires a certain minimalism, which today can and ideally should be applied to any lifestyle. With a few exceptions (Joana's famous jeans), we therefore use the same types of clothing for every day and for our hikes / treks.
But in fact, what is technical clothing? It is a garment that uses one type of fiber (often polyester / polyamide or merino wool) at a time breathable, to evacuate perspiration responsible for cooling the body (and we don't want that in winter), and which keeps the heat at the same time bodily. Add to that particular weaving techniques or even seams more or less adapted to certain specific practices, and we obtain technical clothing.
But why is natural cotton not a good solution? Quite simply, because cotton retains perspiration, it does not dry quickly and therefore cools the body.
- The body loses most of the heat through the extremities: head, hands and feet. This is why, when the temperatures plummet, these are the parts that freeze first. Hence the importance of covering these areas well! Hat, neck warmer, gloves, adapted socks and even shoes insulated from the ground (for the snow).
The technique of 3 layers which is used in hiking / trekking / mountaineering / etc... applies perfectly when you live in a small space such as a van, and/or when you pay a minimum of attention to your mode of consumption. also called the “onion technique”, she turns out to be super efficient for several reasons. The first is of course to be warm, and the second, less obvious at first glance, is for gain in volume during a long-distance trip or in his closet.
Without it, we couldn't have business for all seasons in our little VW T3.
But what is this technique in fact? Basically, it's use multiple layers (3 minimum in this case) rather than having, for example, a large "ultra warm" parka worn over a cotton T-shirt... (which is not the most effective and does not meet the different needs same day…).
- A breathable first base layer: This is a first technical layer adapted to the activity. Its purpose is to keep us dry and wick away perspiration (so exit the cotton as we explained above). Depending on our body (its tendency to sweat, its tolerance to cold, etc.), the practice and the season, it can be more or less thick and with long or short sleeves. In winter, we will therefore rather speak of thermal underwear. Anyway it must be close to the body. For the intensive practice of a sport (skiing for example or trekking over several days), it can be made of merino wool rather than synthetic materials. The advantage? This type of wool does not retain odors! Ideal for backpackers too.
- A second insulating intermediate layer: it is the layer that keeps you warm, the one that contains the heat and regulates it. Fleece or fine down jacket (synthetic material or natural down), the more or less breathable, it may again depend on the activity of the day. No need to have tons of them, just find THE second layer that suits you best depending on the sports you practice (or not) and in which you feel good.
- A third and final waterproof layer: it is the most important because this last layer is there to protect against the external elements (rain, snow, wind). It must therefore be insulating, waterproof and breathable. Basically, if it's raining and you're wet, you'll be cold anyway and whatever your lower layers... Depending on the weather conditions, it can be a windbreaker, a big waterproof down jacket or a very cold parka For example.
- If you come back indoors or during strenuous activity, justopen to ventilate or remove second layer so as not to get too hot and so regulate your temperature while staying dry. Therefore prefer zippers that open fully, more practical especially when you are in your vehicle.
You got it, so you just have to combine the clothes differently to adapt to the temperature, the weather or the season. For a big trip, there's no need to bring huge jackets that are more or less thick to "not get cold" and that you may only use for one day... In terms of volume, the three-layer technique makes it possible to save a huge amount of space in a van or a backpack, all year round in the end.
- always take a pair of socks and a spare first layer that you will change when you stop for a picnic or bivouac.
The body naturally gives off and loses heat, some clothing technologies, such as Columbia's Omni-Heat Infinity Technology, allow to keep that heat close to the body and so onbe less cold. As brand ambassadors we were able to test this technology. The latter uses the principle of survival blankets, whose effectiveness is no longer to be proven. "Golden pellets" reflect heat back to the body. This technology is even used on their thermal underwear (up and down). The space between each pellet allows him to garment to breathe to wick away sweat. Brief, a real plus when the temperatures drop! The difference is glaring. Even some models of winter shoes are equipped with it and during our visit to Iceland at the beginning of winter, it turned out to be really effective.
PS: Our opinion is not impacted by our collaboration, this article is NOT sponsored by the brand.
Hiking in the forest, strolling by the ocean or going snowshoeing in the mountains in the snow does not necessarily require the same equipment. In winter who can do more can do less, but hey, walking around in a ski suit by the ocean isn't ideal either. It may seem obvious, but for lack of knowledge or practice, many do not take pleasure in being outdoors when the temperature drops. When it feels so good to breathe the fresh air!
In short, all this to come back to what we said just before, with the right clothes you can practice all types of activities or just enjoy being outside and adapt only the first or third layer accordingly whatever the season. No need to have too many, just the right clothes and the right layers.
- To warm up during short breaks, consider the gourd isolated / Thermos to carry a good hot drink.
- For the more cautious, people suffering from blood circulation disorders, or very cold regions such as Canada, Lapland or Iceland, hand/foot warmers (or heating pads) or even heated gloves or socks can really bring you extra comfort (tested and approved). Especially at the beginning and end of the day when the days are short and the temperatures are pungent, not to say biting!