Due to my friend JC Dodge’s post on staying warm when one is ‘out there’ and reading about what he recommends on winter clothing, here, I started to do some digging in my clothing & equipment boxes – I had nothing much left that was ‘old school’. Mostly modern, post 1970 gear, clothing and equipment. So, I looked around and found two very nice M-1952 wool long sleeve shirts. Two for $35, so I snagged them. When I got them home, they smelled a tad musty, I had them dry cleaned, and voila! Just as crisp and new as the day they were issued. I also picked up some 100% wool VERY old school trigger finger mitten liners (they don’t have much nylon, if any at all – they bring to mind the wool mittens my mother and grandmother knitted for me as a kid). It wasn’t cold enough yet to try them, so they’re in the queue.
I must admit, putting aside my new winter warm gear to don the older ones was a bit of a forced decision on my part, as I don’t like being cold at all, and as I get older, I like it even less. So, right now my little AO is experiencing temps that range from just above zero in the morning to mid to high 20’s by about 1500, then temps descend inevitably toward their lows. We’ve also got a good foot or better of new snow on the ground, and it’s been consistently coming down enough so that if one wishes to keep his driveway clear from the ‘snow plow spoil,’ one must do his shoveling/snow throwing at least twice a day.
When I am active in the cold, I run a tad hot, so all I was wearing (other than Schnee’s pac boots or modified USAF muks – see how, here – depending on if it was dry or wet cold), was a pair of jeans (bad, bad, bad – cotton – the cloth of death), a wicking t shirt, my M-1952 shirt, and an old OD M65 shell that has seen better days – along with a fleece cap and intermediate cold weather USGI gloves (sized one up so they’re loose enough to put on a pair of silk liners if it’s 10 below or colder). Ambient temp was about 23 Fahrenheit w/a 10 mph wind from the West.
I was so warm I had to partially unzip the M65!!
The old school wool shirts are phenomenally warm outside, and when worn inside, they regulate pretty well. I checked today to see if there were any in the large regular size on ebay, and there were a couple, so if you want to try them out or need a spare, get there quick. The larger ones are more rare these days. Large Regular equates to about a 16.5 X 34. It works for me. While your there, check out the M1951 wool field pants. They were designed to be worn over your long johns and under a field trouser (old school layering) providing more than sufficient warmth for your legs in very cold temperatures. I would think a blending of the old and new might work with these: Goretex over trousers on top of the wool pants sounds exceptionally warm, especially if you’re going to be working in wet cold!
The last old school item I have in my winter ruck are the M1965 trigger finger mittens, complete with old school pure wool liner. I also size these up one to allow for liners under the mitten. I’ve got two pair; one is OD and stays with my ‘get home bag – winter edition’ and the other is woodland. You can find them cheap on ebay, too. They’re worth the money I paid, and I piece mealed them: bought the shells separately from the liners. 4 pr of liners shipped for about $5 a pair. Mitten shells – $11 a pair. So, now I’ve got primary liners with the mittens and a spare pair in the ruck for when/if the primary pair gets wet. They weight about 4 ounces. Total cost: $21 a pair w/an extra set of liners. I’m set, as you will be when you decide to shore up your winter kit with some old school gear.
Now remember, these items weren’t designed specifically for static use or vigorous movement. You’ll have to regulate how you layer with what you’re up to. If I’m moving on snow shoes with a pack, I’m probably only going to wear the shirt itself and a wicking t shirt, no long johns, and a BDU type pant. Once I stop, I’ll add more after I dry off.
Hope this helps your winter…..we’ve got a month left of hard core temp potential. If SHTF in the next 30 days, this might be useful to you.
Addendum: Don’t forget about snow blindness mitigation. You can do that on the cheap as well, with either old school or current issue sun/wind goggles. Just make sure you treat the lenses with an anti-fog agent! You’ll be glad you did. Our post on that is here.