Make Your Own Extreme-cold-weather Clothing

If you love the feel of winter wind on your cheeks but don't want to spend your last dime, here are some sewing patterns for extreme-cold-weather clothing.


| January/February 1985



091-161-03

Making cozy-in-the-cold clothing like Jim's is both easy and inexpensive.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS EDITORS

When most of us think of a winter vacation, we dream of sunny tropical islands with white sand and gentle breakers. When Jim Philips headed off on his snow season voyage, though, he went several hundred miles above the Arctic Circle to a deserted place on the frozen ice north of Point Barrow, Alaska.

To make this "dream trip" more unusual, Jim Philips didn't dress in the latest cold-weather wear from L.L. Bean or Eddie Bauer. Instead, he and his father wore winter clothing (and even used sleeping systems and mukluks) that they developed and made for under $100!

The pair started to design their own clothing when Jim was a boy. "When I was in Boy Scouts," Jim says, "I could barely afford what was offered on the market for winter camping. Then, when I did spend a lot of money on something that was supposed to be 'winterproof' and it didn't do the job, I was so disappointed that I decided to make some gear myself."

Jim adds that he didn't just get out of bed one day and decide to go camping on the polar ice cap. In fact, that expedition was the ultimate challenge after years of testing. Previously, Jim and his father had camped in subzero temperatures at 13,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies and in blizzards on the infamous Mount Washington in New Hampshire, to name a couple of chilly spots.

I asked Jim how he could stay warm without the standard equipment that seems so essential to winter survival. Immediately he corrected me. "Survival," he said, "is the wrong word. I prefer to use the word living in reference to arctic conditions. A person can survive but be uncomfortable, perhaps get frostbitten and lose limbs. That's not good enough for me. You should be able to stay warm and not suffer adverse effects. The clothes I've developed aren't fancy, but they work because they insulate, they breathe and they're practical."

Learning how to make your own extreme-cold-weather clothing like Jim's is both easy and inexpensive. You need no special tools or sewing skills for the job. Just gather up a 4-by-8-foot piece of 1-inch supersoft polyurethane plastic foam (foam rubber and other substitutes will not work), a very large shirt and pair of pants, a sharp knife, a supply of Velcro strips and an aerosol can of urethane glue.





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