Silk Thermals

Friday, January 08, 2010

Growing up in Mississippi, I had just enough experience with cold weather to know that it placed me in a quandary with regard to thermal underwear: Thermals could keep me warm outdoors, but, thanks to my rat-like metabolism, I would always bake to death indoors whenever I wore them. Fortunately, cold weather was not a constant feature of my life for weeks on end in those days, so this was never really a problem.

It is now, though! And, yes, just as primitive cultures discovered the color wheel by degrees, I have gradually learned to distinguish varying intensities of coldness. There is a noticeable difference between twenty degrees and thirty -- a matter about which ignorance was bliss. I had been quite happy to refer to that entire range simply as "cold" before. Not any more... I was only half-joking when I referred to, "the mercury hit[ting] a blistering thirty-six degrees," the other day: It actually felt kind of warm when it did. I am afraid I will have to revisit my winter terminology before too long.

Fortunately, I can thank my wife for introducing me to silk thermals, courtesy of a tip from some friends who moved here a few years before we did. My morning subway commute ends with a brisk eight-to-ten-minute walk in the cold, but I work in a warm lab all day. These silk long johns have made what would have been miserable (freezing my legs off) or annoying (changing out of the long johns at work) barely noticeable. They add no bulk and I notice them only when I realize it's cold and feel grateful to have them.

Sometimes a really simple thing like this can make a big difference.

-- CAV


: Minor edits.


Lynne said...

And if a language contains more than four fashion terms, these might seem an appropriate choice.

They work for this old New Englander who discovered only last year the joy that comes from wearing silk long johns.

Gus Van Horn said...

To go with something like this, of course!

Yes. Silk long johns are the only way to fly -- or trudge, anyway.

mtnrunner2 said...

Funny, just yesterday I wore some running tights (it was no more than 5 degrees out) and was impressed how much better I felt. I must have been losing warmth through my legs. Duh :)

Silk is amazing... synthetics are great but there's a lot to be said for evolution. The warmth you get for the small amount of weight always surprised me.

I had a pair years ago, but never see them in the stores, and mine had worn out. I'm going to order some. Thanks for the link!

Mike said...

It's 70 degrees and sunny here in beautiful Arizona. :)

I do recognize what you're saying about cold, because it applies to heat as well. Once you've lived here for a while, you can tell a granular difference between 117-and-dry and 107-and-humid. The levels of "approaching summer" each feel "hot" as they hit, but during the late-year cooldown they all feel equally comfortable because of the acclimation. The dankest part of the winter features highs of 55 to 70 degrees. Then in spring we have some 75-80, 85-90, and finally 95-100 before it gets really warm.

Gus Van Horn said...


"Silk is amazing... synthetics are great but there's a lot to be said for evolution."

Agreed, and it should be positively amazing when human intelligence, also a product of evolution, eventually outdoes silk! (Unless this has already occurred with said running tights, in which case I'm curious...)


I know what you mean about heat and humidity.

When I first began to attend college in Dallas, which is often drier than Jackson, I recall noticing that when I arrived, it was 100 degrees, and yet felt cooler because the humidity was far lower than it had been back home, where it was only 90.


Jim May said...

Wimp :)

I too have the ability to sense the differences in "cold", even though I now live in the Southwest and have acquired a sense of "hot" as described by Mike.

After about five years of missing winter, I had a gig in Minneapolis in December through January. After a thirty-below morning with ice fog (and "sun dogs", firsts time I've seen those), the follwoing morning felt much more comfortable -- at "only" eight below :)

I told my colleagues as I got in that morning, you can take me out of Canada, but so far the Canada hasn't been taken out of me yet :)

Gus Van Horn said...

Wow. Now ice fog I've at least heard of, but I had to look up sun dogs.