SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – September 2000

Wind Chill Bites

Wind chill can nip noses or lead to frostbite. Here's what you should know.

by: Buck Tilton


You're packing for that long-awaited, late-autumn trip into the Mule's Ear Wilderness. The ranger on the phone said to expect 35° to 40° F during the day, but the Weather Channel is now predicting 15 to 20 mph winds, with the accompanying "wind chill factor" making it feel like it's 50° F. So what temperature should you prepare for?

To answer that question, it helps to know the wind chill facts.

  • The wind chill factor refers to the rate your body cools, not to the temperature of the air.
  • When the air is dry, the wind cannot lower your skin temperature to less than the ambient air temperature. In other words, if the thermometer reads 33° F, that's as low as your skin temperature can get, no matter how hard the wind blows. That means you'll be uncomfortable if you're not dressed properly, but you won't get frostbite, even though your fingers may feel like they're about to fall off. You will cool down much faster, however, which is a setup for hypothermia.
  • Wind blowing over exposed, wet skin can drop your temperature to slightly less than the ambient temperature. Your body will cool even faster than when you're dry, and you may enter the frostbite danger zone.
  • When the mercury is at or below 32° F, exposed skin will freeze faster in the wind. For instance, exposed flesh freezes in 30 seconds if the temp is -30° F and the wind is blowing 30 mph. Just remember that when it's below freezing, limit the amount of time skin is exposed. Gloves are essential, as is a hat, and a face-covering balaclava is your best bet.

Bottom line:The effects of cold and wind can be subtle but devastating to the unprepared. Always carry a good wind shell, layer your clothing so you can easily adjust to stay comfortable and dry, and remember that the physically fit and well hydrated are less prone to cold injury.



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter

Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Montana has nasty insects!
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: Tallgrass
Trailhead Register
High Summer Heat
Posted On: Aug 29, 2014
Submitted By: TIMOTEO

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions