What gear/clothing would you deem essential for a cold winter?


In general for cold weather:

  • One piece long underwear eliminates that air gap when you bend over.

  • For a shirt I use Henleys at sea and at home. They come in different weights and wool or cotton. They layer well, one layer in the house two outside, three including one wool in colder temps.


I wear a tight knit navy style watch cap in the winter, if it’s very cold I use a hat like this;


I originally got it for wearing as ahelmet liner but I use it on very cold days helmet or not.

  • The vest is a great garment. If you are active it can be unzipped but left on and it doesn’t hold much heat. Gets cooler zip it up, keeps the core warm. Gets colder put a jacket or coat over the vest.


Hats: “Goat Roppers” are great. I think they are s Patagonia brand product, looks like the hat Kennebec Captain posted, but a little more stylist and with a chin strap.

Atlas gloves: come either lined or unlined. The lined gloves are quite warm. Any light, porous , tight fitting , glove that can be worn as a liner layer will make a big difference.


The OR products are great too, as I wear these as helmet liners. HellyHansen makes a great Balaklava that withstands the brute wind. The work gloves as shown above are ideal on my ship. Most of the deck members wear these when hauling in gear and lines from the icy sea, however they provide little warmth after about 2hours of contiguous work in arctic conditions.
When it comes to parkas, Canada goose down jackets are top of the line, even though this brand has become more of a hipster fashion, now sold at Nordstrom’s. Despite this, Canada Goose Down parkas have a proven track record with industries in high latitudes. Just be prepared to fork over the $$$. Second to Canada Goose Down product is F.A.T. (For Arctic Temperatures) parkas, which are just as comparable, yet cheaper. I have both jackets and recommend both.


Wearing inner and outer gloves is a good idea in many cases, easy to change out inner layer if it gets wet. Also the outer layer can be pulled off outside for tasks can’t be done with heavy gloves on without exposing skin to the cold.


I made a number of voyages during winter time on a tanker between Rotterdam and Swedish and Finnish ports. Temperatures between minus 20° - 30° C. We had no real thermal clothing but we got by on deck with a lot of layering. The only problem was with our feet, we had no real good warm boots. A number of socks helped only partly.

A good trick which we used with ice skating, especially when there was with a lot of wind, was tucking old newspapers between the layers of clothing in front of the upper body. They absorb sweat and the wind is totally blocked. However, there was a lack of newspapers on board but other packing paper material was readily available and was just as good.


Until it gets soggy, that is. If cotton kills, what are paper products likely to do?


Depends on the temp, Around freezing the trick is staying dry. In colder weather it’s less of a problem. in 20 F or - 7 C its about staying warm, being dry not really an issue.

In that photo looks like sticky wet snow, hard to stay dry without good gloves, good boots too if you’re going to be on deck long.

If you’re using leather boots there are a few ways to waterproof them, or at least keep dry longer then untreated.


Up on the Great Lakes we see temperatures down in the -10 to -20s during our last month of the shipping season. My favorite pieces of gear are my Baffin Barrow boots, smart wool socks, and my ski goggles. I have clear and tinted goggles. When it’s cold and the wind is howling in your face it is really nice to have them. Before I got them it was always miserable trying to call distances while the snow was blowing in your eyes and they were watering like crazy.


Winter comes early in Newfie.


The airport scanner guy took my nikwax for safety reasons. What else do we know about waterproofing boots? I have form-a-gasket and rubber sheeting… oh-ah. shhh: an idea begins to form.

Premium Best Kind. The socks are the key. I have so many tips about socks I could write a book. One time, I was taking … maybe BOSIET? Something about survival on the water, in Aberdeen UK. The instructor tells us that the key to survival is moral, and the key to moral is warm hands and feet. I believe in this maxim, it is a basic truth about human life. The Scots: so wise in the ways of wet weather.


#1 tip is to stay south of the Mason Dixon Line from November to April

However A few years ago I did buy a waterproof neoprene fleece lined jacket made by an outfit called stormr. A T-shirt was a sufficient under layer down to about 20* and at anything above 40* you would have to unzip it and loosen the cuffs or you’d break a sweat. I am a weenie when it comes to cold so this thing really saved my hide on a couple occasions. If I anticipated spending any significant amount of time on deck in the higher latitudes again I’d probably purchase the matching bibs as well.


I already said something about the clothing on board the ship that I mentioned before. Another matter were the sleeping conditions under those circumstance. This tanker was built for the tropics and certainly not for a kind of Arctic trade. The only rather smallish heat radiator in my cabin could not cope with the cold and the temperature in my cabin was always not more than a couple of degrees above 0° C. Inside we always kept our coats on. On top of that the steam radiator was leaking and the engineers could not repair that so everything was totally damp.

There was not enough bedding material so I covered myself with clothes and only half undressed. Some did even take down the berth’s darkening curtains and used that as extra cover. On the wall side of my berth was a deepened porthole to which the ice, due to the leaking steam, grew per day till it was about 10 cm thick. I could touch the ice while I was in bed. Like sleeping in a refrigerator…


That’s horrific. I’m going to buy myself blankets for xmas, not because I don’t have enough, but because I fear no one can ever have enough.


I worked on a tug that had a burner running steam radiators that sometimes didn’t want to work. (If the blowers were down the suction from the engine was so strong it sucked the flame out, that was a problem during one run.) I got in the habit of talking a 0° mummy sleeping bag with me just in case it went down and my normal bedding wasn’t warm enough.


On the plus side I had a Swedish girlfriend there, Irene Åsberg, who kept me warm every now and then and also in Finland there was Tiina Kaila so generally speaking I could not complain too much about my predicament.


This is what I like to call The Canadian Boyfriend Test: don’t flinch or cry when the cold hands/feet are applied.


Irene’s dad was a MD, she was a medical student, with four daughters and all prospect suitors were supposed to take his litmus test of approval. They had to eat under his supervision ‘surströmming’, a tin of fermented fish some would say rotten fish. Ma ushered us into the garden because she didnot want the pungent smell of the fish, when the tin was opened, in her house. The lid of the tin was bulging but that was regarded as a good sign, a kind of quality stamp…

The Dutch also have there own version of fermented fish so I could handle it, apart from that first horrible smell that hit you like a hammer. Dad was delighted that I passed the test with flying colors and said that I was a true Swede now. What also oiled the gears with him was the fact that every time I came by the house I brought along a bottle of whiskey which was and still is liquid gold over there.


Barf. I’m never going to pass the Swede test. I’m still half skeered that some enthusiastic local is going to skreetch me in here. I like NF, but I don’t like baloney nor am I an ichythionecromantic, and I don’t find rum to be much of a balm, either. But I’ll do it if they let me keep the rubber gear: that would make it all worth it.

Will accept hazings for gear if needs be.


Maybe it will blow down the building where the office is that isn’t sending me my gear.


military grade light thermal next to skin, some wool if you can find it covered by Filson Oil Skins.


Good idea but the last time I saw SNOW it was in Pascagoula, MS on Christmas Eve 2004. This was the one and only time I ever wore my company supplied Carhartt Insulated Coveralls. They were one of the many choices that we had for uniforms each year and my crew and the guys in Supply thought I was crazy as we only worked the GOF. Joke was on them that night. LOL 6 hours of Bunkering and I was nice and toasty. LOL