Monthly Archives: March 2015

Brrr, its cold outside…

Hat and gloves time. Brecon Beacons, 2008

Hat and gloves time. Brecon Beacons, 2008

Temperature decrease

Sitting at the desk, looking out the window, the sun is beginning to break through and leaves are budding on the trees, the daffodils are a riot of colour and the seasons are turning.

While it wasn’t the hardest of winters, the frozen rain, snow and lazy winds (too lazy to go round you so they go through you instead) all seem a long time ago. However there is still a bite in the wind.

It is worth reminding myself of just how easy it is to become cold as a result of wind chill, increase in elevation and any combination of these. There can be few amongst us that are unaware of the concept of wind chill, however a closer look at the table I have included below shows just how easy it is to experience a drop in temperature in quite moderate breezes. Just to pull out a couple of examples: Eight degrees Celsius is a quite nice temperature for hiking, especially in the valley bottom, however stick your head up next to a Trig point on a top in a 40 km/hr wind (which is only 25 mph), and the wind chill knocks the temperature down to minus four degrees Celsius.

Walking on a cold day, hovering around the freezing mark, throw in a 20 km/hr breeze (only 12.5 mph) and the temperature plummets to minus ten Celsius.

Wind speed Ambient temperature- Celsius
0 km/hr 14°C 12°C 10°C 8°C 6°C 4°C 2°C 0°C -2°C -4°C -6°C -8°C -10°C -12°C -14°C
10 km/hr 12°C 10°C 8°C 5°C 3°C 1°C -1°C -4°C -6°C -8°C -10°C -12°C -15°C -17°C -19°C
20 km/hr 8°C 6°C 3°C 1°C -2°C -5°C -7°C -10°C -12°C -15°C -17°C -2°C -23°C -25°C -28°C
30 km/hr 6°C 3°C 1°C -2°C -5°C -8°C -11°C -14°C -16°C -19°C -22°C -25°C -28°C -30°C -33°C
40 km/hr 5°C 2°C -1°C -4°C -7°C -10°C -13°C -16°C -19°C -22°C -25°C -28°C -31°C -34°C -37°C

This is the reason I now carry a light windshirt on just about any walk of decent length. The one I use is an XL Montane Lightspeed which is only 193g in its tiny stuffsack. A light pair of Extremities Windpro gloves is also an essential. Throw a light merino hat or Buff in as well and that usually suffices for the summer and shoulder seasons. Expected adverse conditions and winter walking demands better preparation, knowledge and equipment.

The story doesn’t stop there either. Relative humidity and elevation also have a large effect on temperature. Lapse Rate is the rate at which air temperature decreases with increase in altitude. Under ‘normal’ conditions this equates to a decrease in temperature of 6.4°C/1000m. This is allowing for a degree of moisture saturation to the air as relative humidity also comes into play. Rarely is the air ‘dry’, instead it is often raining or snowing, being in cloud also makes a difference. If it is dry conditions (please) then temperature decreases by around 9.8°C/1000m. If the air is saturated (100% relative humidity) this is virtually halved: 5.5°C/1000m. Combine this loss with any wind chill and it can be seen how the temperature can easily plummet between dry valley bottom and a breezy wet peak or ridge.

All interesting stuff init? Simply a bit of knowledge to file away in the memory bank, another essential addition to the ‘skills’ armoury. Just need to remember how prepared I am when considering a bit of hill climbing. Not necessarily to worry, just to be aware…

Nail care

Zwilling J. A. Henckels Pour Homme ultra slim nail clippers

Zwilling J. A. Henckels ultra slim nail clippers

Zwilling J. A. Henckels Pour Homme ultra slim nail clippers

Good nail care is an important facet of long distance walking. Overgrown toe nails quickly become noticeable on extended downhill stretches as the foot is pressed forward in the shoe or boot. Over long nails also wear through the socks and inner footwear lining. The dedicated can take a small nail file to the toes and fingers on a daily basis but this is likely to be an oft forgotten regime. The time will arise when the scissors must be bought into use, followed by a file to ensure ragged or unevenly clipped nails don’t snag or press into the skin, to cause later problems. However most little knives carried don’t have scissors and those that do are armed with quite minute affairs that struggle to do battle with the thickest of nails being attacked. Still fewer knives or multitools are provisioned with a set of nail clippers. None of the knives and multitools shown on my ‘knives’ page are so provided. A set of dedicated and separate nail clippers are the ideal tool to ensure good trimming takes place and there are quite a few pairs that can be purchased on the High Street that will do a good job. From what I have seen, none of them are quite as efficient and of as small dimensions as the Zwilling J. A. Henckels Pour Homme ultra slim nail clippers.

Nail clippers and leather pouch

Nail clippers and leather pouch

They come in a small black leather pouch that could easily be left at home if wished. Quite beautiful and of understated design, operation is simple. Slide the lever out a little, lift the lever up and push slightly forward. This provides the lever to cut the nail. The cutting edges are slightly curved and incredibly sharp and efficient. Cut nails are retained within the clipper until released by opening. This is another bonus as I am probably not alone in loathing nails that go pinging across the room or tent. There is a thin sprung piece of metal in the base that opens them up again. On the back of the top lever is a fine nail file that works extremely well. The dimensions of the nail clippers are minute: 60mm x 13mm x 4mm, weight is 16g, the leather pouch another 4g. Clippers are made of stainless steel with a matt finish. Apparently these clippers have won the international iF Design Award but I am not familiar with just how important this is, I am not really that interested either. Suffice to say, these are truly great little clippers very suited to use on longer trails. The only downside is the cost, which will make your eyes water…

Nail file beneath top lever

Nail file beneath top lever