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#266530 - 01/13/14 04:55 AM Frostbite protection?
bigmbogo Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 02/11/05
Posts: 82
This recent cold weather, and some of the posts here regarding it, have gotten me thinking about frostbite.

What is the best way to protect your face? The bank robber style face mask seems like it should cover the vulnerable spots, but I find they get wet from breathing condensation. Do the mouth and eye holes expose frostbite-prone skin?

What did the old-time Yukon trappers do? Or was frostbite the least of their worries?

And a somewhat related question. On heavy arctic parkas, why is there fur around the opening of the hood? The hood is still wide open. I understand the insulating effect of fur against your body, but why around the opening? It can't be just for decoration.

I'm interested in any info. Thanks!

David

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#266532 - 01/13/14 01:24 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: bigmbogo]
JerryFountain Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 418
Loc: St. Petersburg, Florida
bigmbogo,

The two are the question and a primary answer. The hood is the primary protection from frostbite for the face. If the hood has a proper tunnel (a deep one, mine is over 6" deep when forward) the air in front of your face is warmer that that outside, often LOTS warmer. The opening can also be closed down to a small circle. The ruff helps to keep the air in the hood from convecting. The big problem is that wind can blow away that warm air. The fur helps hold the still air and prevents wind from bouncing off the inside of the tunnel. If you don't have a ruff, you can only walk downwind. With a good ruff you can walk maybe as much as 45 degrees into a gentle wind. If the wind is strong the Inuit (and most others) will not travel. They find a sheltered spot (even a small depression), take off their mittens and sit on them. Back to the wind they pull their knees up inside their parka and wait out the wind. Some of the most patient people I have ever met. In northern villages a wind indicator is much more prized than a thermometer. The temp can be delt with but not the wind. The military and others who have no choice try to cover as much as possible using a blaclava or mask. A separate face mask (scarf or resperator cup) and goggles can be worn over the over the openings in the face mask and the scarf moved around or replaced when it fills with ice. That helps keep the moisture out of the balaclava or face mask.

The fur ruff also helps with the moisture problem. Wolf is usually considered the best because the fur is tapered and when ice freezes on the ruff a good shake or brush with the mitt will remove the frost. The Inuit go a step further with double sided fur parkas. They reverse the parka when it begins to build up moisture on the inside, let it freeze and brush/knock the ice off. The same with their fur sleeping bags.

For a very interesting discussion try "Hunters of the Northern Ice" and "Paradise Below Zero". Both excellent descriptions of the old and very successful methods of enjoying extreme cold.

Respectfully,

Jerry

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#266534 - 01/13/14 02:46 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: bigmbogo]
ILBob Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 776
Loc: Northern IL
I agree that the biggest issue with cold is actually the wind.

None of the knit or woven face masks do a good job of keeping out the wind, but work pretty well at keeping your face warm enough to avoid frost bite, at least until you get to really cold temperatures.

Anything below about -20F is difficult to begin with and even a relatively light breeze can make it all but impossible.
_________________________
Warning - I am not an expert on anything having to do with this forum, but that won't stop me from saying what I think. smile

Bob

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#266538 - 01/13/14 02:56 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: bigmbogo]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
you should have spoken to me a week ago. I was out on foot - in the middle of that polar air mass that hit the Midwest. I was also unprepared, since I was just travelling through the region. I am mildly surprised that I didn't get some frostbite. The wind chill temp was -30 to -40 degrees that night.

As an emergency measure, get ANYTHING over your face to cut the wind. A large bandana would help. I started using an old T-shirt as a bandana ... I didn't cut it. I just wrapped it around my neck and face.

Otherwise as people have indicated, get a coat with a "tunnel hood". Use a couple of pegs or clips to close off the tunnel, if the wind is very strong. The only issue is that you can hardly see when you do that. But if your face is frozen, you can hardly see anyway.

good luck,
Pete


Edited by Pete (01/13/14 02:57 PM)

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#266540 - 01/13/14 03:28 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: bigmbogo]
RNewcomb Offline
Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Iowa
When I was a kid in middle school, my mom bought me a "Snorkel" coat. It had a hood with fur around the edges, a great zipper and straps that could be tightened to keep the cold out.

I remember many of days some of my friends would laugh a little about that coat, saying I looked like an Eskimo. There was one particularly cold winter day however, where my friends teasing quickly turned to envy when we had to walk home with a bitter wind coming out of the north. Two of my friends suffered minor frostbite on their ears that day, and never forgot their hats again after that.

The coat was heavy, but I never had to worry about losing a hat. To this day, I have trouble purchasing any kind of winter coat that doesn't have a hood.

I'm rather fond of Carharrt/Dickies winter wear. (No affiliation, just a fan) Both my kids have the "active jacket" type of winter coats, and although my daughter wasn't thrilled with the "style", she's thanked me several times when she's had to walk home this winter so far.

Rod

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#266541 - 01/13/14 04:31 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: bigmbogo]
Colourful Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 86
Loc: Yukon
Fleece with a wind protection membrane makes great balaklava or scarf. Goggles tend to fog up but to avoid condensation, I exhale blowing down.

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#266542 - 01/13/14 04:48 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: JerryFountain]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1108
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: JerryFountain
..... The hood is the primary protection from frostbite for the face. If the hood has a proper tunnel (a deep one, mine is over 6" deep when forward) the air in front of your face is warmer that that outside, often LOTS warmer. The opening can also be closed down to a small circle. The ruff helps to keep the air in the hood from convecting. The big problem is that wind can blow away that warm air. The fur helps hold the still air and prevents wind from bouncing off the inside of the tunnel. If you don't have a ruff, you can only walk downwind. With a good ruff you can walk maybe as much as 45 degrees into a gentle wind. If the wind is strong the Inuit (and most others) will not travel. They find a sheltered spot (even a small depression), take off their mittens and sit on them. Back to the wind they pull their knees up inside their parka and wait out the wind. Some of the most patient people I have ever met. In northern villages a wind indicator is much more prized than a thermometer. The temp can be delt with but not the wind. ......

For a very interesting discussion try "Hunters of the Northern Ice" and "Paradise Below Zero". Both excellent descriptions of the old and very successful methods of enjoying extreme cold.
Jerry has it right. I think in an older thread I mentioned that the coldest ambient temperature I have ever personally experienced was about minus 60 F (-51 C) while visiting a seismic crew near Prudhoe Bay. There was just the faintest breeze blowing that day. Wearing the the "full Monty" arctic gear, with a face tunnel on my parka hood, I still absolutely could not face directly into that whisper of a breeze. However, at even a slight angle I was OK.

Jerry mentioned the book "Hunters of the Northern Ice". It is a great book, which talks about the traditional ways of the Iņupiat of Alaska. The author, Richard K. Nelson, is an anthropologist who studied the indigenous people of Alaska, and their relationships with the natural world. I also like Nelson's "Shadow of the Hunter" which follows the life of the Iņupiat through the seasons. Another book of his, "Hunters of the Northern Forest", focuses on the Athabaskans of interior Alaska.

Great books, all.
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#266544 - 01/13/14 06:17 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: bigmbogo]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2325
Start with a scarf; windproof is possible. I've started packing fleece scarves in most of my kits.

In extreme cold, hat, hood, goggles, facemask

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#266546 - 01/13/14 06:31 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: AKSAR]
JerryFountain Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 418
Loc: St. Petersburg, Florida
[quote=AKSARJerry mentioned the book "Hunters of the Northern Ice". It is a great book, which talks about the traditional ways of the Iņupiat of Alaska. The author, Richard K. Nelson, is an anthropologist who studied the indigenous people of Alaska, and their relationships with the natural world. I also like Nelson's "Shadow of the Hunter" which follows the life of the Iņupiat through the seasons. Another book of his, "Hunters of the Northern Forest", focuses on the Athabaskans of interior Alaska.

Great books, all.
[/quote]

Absolutely great books! Anyone who is trying to live in colder (below freezing) weather should read them.

For the purposes of this thread, Nelson was an anthropologist who was paid by the Air Force to live with native Americans in the far north (one year each with the Inupiat and the Athabaskans) to learn their methods of living and working in the cold before the skills were lost to modern society. All for the purposes of bettering the AF survival knowledge.

I think he was a little hard on the Athabaskans in "Forest". After a year further north ("Ice") he had gained so much respect for the Inupiat (which I understand) he had gained their attitude toward the Athabaskans, which is not exactly one of reverence.

ILBob,

I would disagree, I think -20 begins to solve the cold problems (water is almost not a problem and clothing is easier to live with). IMHO it is easier to stay warm at that temp than the teens and twenty's above. The coldest I have ever been is twenty above in freezing rain. -40 is cold but manageable, -60 and below becomes somewhat difficult. Not too bad with no wind, gets bad quickly with a breeze (as described above by AKSAR). I was told by the meterologist at Plateau Station in the Antarctic (not there in the winter it was only -65 when I was there) that -120 is manageable if there is NO wind and absolutely unmanageable if there is. Wind is the overriding criteria in all the above.

Respectfully,

Jerry

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#266548 - 01/13/14 07:09 PM Re: Frostbite protection? [Re: bigmbogo]
ILBob Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 776
Loc: Northern IL
I would tend to agree that cold and wet is much worse than cold.

But we were not talking about +20F and rain. The chance of rain happening in below zero temperatures is very remote.
_________________________
Warning - I am not an expert on anything having to do with this forum, but that won't stop me from saying what I think. smile

Bob

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