Tips, on how to dress, with Johan Skullman


Easily explained, it’s about how many people misunderstand the layer principle. It is easy to understand in theory; You dress up in underwear, insulation layer and a shell layer. What is easily forgotten is that you do not always have to use all three layers.  The Swede, Johan Skullman, knows what he is talking about. After 30 years in the Swedish Armed Forces, where he mainly worked as responsible for the development and testing of personal equipment and clothing, he knows how to dress for wind and weather. Skullman is currently working as a freelance consultant for Aclima, Hestra and Fjellräven, and he is happy to share some important tips about how to dress.


Starting on the outside; The outer shell layer is usually a membrane that is designed to be used when it is very windy or very wet. It does not necessarily mean that it can be used under all types of conditions. If you wear windproof and waterproof outerwear at all times, you overload both the body and the clothes you have underneath. We humans are a mix between being active and passive - it requires that we use the layer principle actively, that we change clothing often depending on weather and activity. Perhaps, at best, you can let the membrane shell layer stay in the backpack until it’s really needed. I would rather recommend that you use all kinds of cotton or cotton / polyester for all round use. Cotton alone, or in combination with polyester, is relatively windproof if the weave is tight, the fabric's quality is good and it has the best breathing properties of any garment used as an outerwear. In addition, these materials are tightly woven and water repellent, to a certain extent.


When it comes to mid-layer, and underwear, it has been a big development in use of wool. The breeding of fine-wool sheep, knitting methods have been developed and this makes the garments very comfortable. I think Aclima is unique when it comes to woolen garments. They have worked experimentally with different combinations of wool and other fabrics, and they are also experimenting with different knitting techniques to develop garments for any need. All in all, there is now wool that don’t itch, which has special protective properties, have a higher wearing strength, and the wool now has lighter and thinner qualities, which in turn allows you to use it under warmer conditions.


What's so great with wool is that the body thrives incredibly well along with wool. It does not start to smell and it is very hygienic. By comparison, I do not think many are so proud of themselves after spending a few days in polyester underwear, he smiles. Johan also points out that it is important to keep in mind the wool's disadvantages during use. The wool fiber is not very durable like many other fibers, and if you walk in dense woodland, just take extra care!


Johan also mentions another important layer: - It is important to include an insulating layer – either one extra layer of wool, or a down jacket. When you stop for longer breaks along the way, or has finished the day’s march, it's important to put on more clothes right away. It is also important that you do not use this garment during the activity. It is obviously tempting to start wearing a warm jacket when you start out from the tent camp in the morning, but it will not take long before you are overheated and your clothes are saturated with sweat. In addition, the insulating jacket gets wet and loses the effect you need when you have a lunch break. Then it's better to freeze a bit in the beginning, he emphasizes.



Use the layers actively
Johan sees it as the greatest challenge to teach people to adapt. "If you manage to get a system integrated, a routine on your clothing when you're out, you're a step in the right direction. It can be simple things like having a beanie available so you can put it on while walking, if there is a need, or changing to dry socks when you have a break. It is important that we think total outfit when we dress; everything from head to hand, feet and the rest of the body. When we lose body heat a significant part is lost via the head and neck, and the loss increases as the temperature drops. Therefore, it is important to think twice before heading up a steep hill. If you do not take of garments before a heavier physical exertion and you, for example, have a hat on the whole time, you get too hot. The result is that you take off the beanie on top of the hill, and then the hypothermia occurs quickly. When the body is told that the head is cold, it will always "sacrifice" hands and feet to keep the head and brain temperature up. This again can result in local frostbite on the hands and feet.


Heat and cold
"To me, cold and heat are not so different; Physiologically, it is very similar, but it feels different. In many ways it is easier to handle cold. The strict cold is dry and if you are active outside, for example by pulling a pulk, you produce a lot of heat yourself. The most difficult weather to dress for, is when the weather changes rapidly. When you get cold, warm and humid weather, on the same trip, it is important that you actively dress by the layer principle. You dress on and off, ventilate and change the extra layer of garment as the activities change, you take a break or the weather is changing. That’s the key to be able to enjoying a trip outdoors, Johan says, and continues, "I think many people lose the joy of a trip because they have too much focus on being uncomfortable.

My conclusion on clothing tips must be that you do not wear too much when you're going to be active, always save the insulation garment; do not use the down jacket while skiing so it becomes wet and useless for the breaks. When in activity, vary the use of hat / headband, change gloves / mittens, and change to dry socks as soon as you can. Ventilate for a short while if you start to get hot and sweaty and make your own routines. In the end, it goes without saying, and you do not register that you constantly adjust to keep your body at a constant temperature through all activities - all day, Johan says. Even though he is interested in clothing, he thinks it is important to point out that clothes are only a small part of the requirement for success in an expedition, or for a good trip. All parts matters, like; diet, hygiene, getting enough to drink, being prepared for the environment, physical and mental strength. It does not help to have the best clothes and equipment if you can’t use it properly! It is also important to have a good physical condition and mental attitude in order to develop your outdoor life.

It is important to keep that in mind, concludes Johan Skullman


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