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Need advice for cold weather clothing

Alvin Yap , Sep 08, 2009; 09:02 a.m.

Hello everyone!
I am going up to Scotland to visit the highland wildlife park to do some photography in the 2nd week of October, and I would like some advice on suitable clothing. From what I gathered asking some acquantances (living in glassglow), they mentioned that the weather is very unpredictable, and I could expect temperatures from 4 to 10 degrees C.

When I was living through a south australian winter, what my layers would be like would be:
- thermal underwear
- T-shirt
- Fleece jacket
- semi water resistant outer jacket
- snow gloves
- jeans
- waterproof shoes + thick socks
- Bush hat

I'm planning to get the following, and would like to know if it's practical, or I'm just insane (keep in mind I come from an equatorial country :P )
- long johns or some kind of thermal underwear for my legs.
- some sort of thick water proof/resistant pants
- liner glove, and some sort of glove on top of that so that I can adjust my camera
- may get a balaclava?
- waterproof boots?

I also happen to shoot very low, kneeling, proning etc. - do people use like a ground sheet or poncho? I hope my bean bag doesn't freeze up.
Also, I shoot with a D300, D200 as backup. I don't think there will be any issue with the camera's functions at this temperature range? Lenses will be 70-200, 300/4, 1.4x tc. I only have an optec rain cover, do I need stuff like head pads? I have 4 batteries for my camera.

Thanks!
Alvin

Responses


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Monika Epsefass , Sep 08, 2009; 09:20 a.m.

To work on the ground, pack a thick plastic plane into your bag. It's available at your local hobby market (the plastic covers you use when painting your apartment, for example) - these exist in a bit thicker and sturdier variety. They fold small, weigh near nothing, and are spacious enough for you to lay down on them, if you need to do so.

And get a waterproof jacket at least, if not a waterproof cover to wear on top of your pants.

William Kahn , Sep 08, 2009; 09:33 a.m.

With Monika's additions, what you plan sounds good. But, avoid cotton undergarments, which tend to retain sweat - not good in cold weather.

Kent Staubus , Sep 08, 2009; 09:44 a.m.

Don't wear anything cotton at all. Scotland tends to be very damp, so a waterproof GoreTex shell would be very nice to have on. GoreTex boots, GoreTex pants, GoreTex coat, GoreTex & Thinsulate insulated hat. Buy a medium weight fleece shirt, maybe lightweight fleece pants or synthetic fiber (NOT COTTON!) long underwear for under the GoreTex pants shell, good quality wool blend boot socks. Socks are very important--don't wear cotton socks. Don't wear anything cotton. The temperatures you mentioned aren't really at all cold. What you need to be sure of is that you stay dry. GoreTex will do that. Be careful to not overdress for those relatively warm conditions. Otherwise, you will become soaked with sweat and when you stop, you'll be cold & damp. Don't wear anything cotton.

Kent in SD

Tony Bynum , Sep 08, 2009; 10:11 a.m.

nothing will freeze up at temps between 4-10 C. get some mittens and glove liners put disposable handwarmers in each, youre golden . . . unless youre moving around gloves wont do you very well. If they are warm enough to keep you warm they are too bulky to shoot with. I use a mitten with a built in glove liner and disposable hand warmers. . .

enel3 batteries stink in the cold, i would bet yourself some double aa's for backup, or the grip and the enel4 for the d300. I've done extensive testing of the enel3 and they are junk in the cold. . . at 0c you will lose about 80% of their capacity. . . dont rely on enel3 batteries. I know some other's will say this and that, but i lab tested more then 20 enel3's and the conclusion is the enels is not a good cold weather battery . . .

Gary C , Sep 08, 2009; 10:39 a.m.

Having lived there I can simply say, layers, layers, layers as if it hits 10c you may feel really hot. Your outer layer should all be waterproof, coat pants, walking boots and hat. I use Berghaus but its really up to you. The key with outer wear is to make sure its breathable so you don't trap any sweat inside. I would use fingerless gloves (I use them when I salmon fish even in the snow and they still keep you warm). If you are stopping in somewhere like Edinburgh on the way check the local shops, the locals live with the weather and will have a much better idea.

Kent Staubus , Sep 08, 2009; 10:49 a.m.

Tony--
I've been using IMENL3e battery from Impact and two Nikon IMENL3e out in temps as cold as --30F, and most of the time it's --0F. I haven't had any problems with these particular ones. I photo in the Dakotas and Minnesota, and it does stay relatively cold here. OTOH, I don't use the LCD viewscreen too much, don't use pop-up flash, and am very conservative with using the autofocus. I also tend to not take all that many shots, maybe 100 or so at most. I've used these three batteries in both D80 and D300. I do always carry a couple of spares, in my inner shirt pocket. I've not had any battery trouble at all above freezing. Will check into the ENEL4 battery though, as it sometimes goes past --40F here. Haven't tried my current batteries in that yet.
Kent in SD

Bill Clark - Minnetonka Minnesota , Sep 08, 2009; 12:04 p.m.

Don't forget a flask just in case, figuring you've got auto focus!

Greg S , Sep 08, 2009; 04:42 p.m.

When I was in Scotland in September I found it a good idea to take advantage of the beautiful wool sweaters and vests they sell there. I then crossed over to north Ireland, bought a heavy wool sweater and lived in it for the duration. But that was 1984, and gortex may be a better option in today's world. :)

Ryan Long , Sep 08, 2009; 04:54 p.m.

How much moving around are you planning on doing? Will you have shelter? Are you going to be out there for more than one day?

I live in Alaska and am out in the woods every chance I can get. Since I live in the Tongass, which is a rain forest, I have to say that no matter what gear you're wearing you stand a good chance of getting wet if the conditions aren't cooperating. If you're in a fully waterproof outer layer (Watershed or even rubbers) you're going to sweat. If you're in a breathable outer layer then you are going to get damp from rain.

What I do is put on a lightweight layer (pants and lightweight rain pants, T-shirt and breathable rain shell), and I pack what I'm going to need to keep warm while I'm shooting, where I'm moving much less. When I get to where I plan to shoot I change. No matter how good your clothes are at keeping you warm, they aren't going to do a thing if they're wet, and if you're hiking then you're sweating and if you're sweating you're going to be wet. You can mitigate this some by wearing synthetic underclothes, but if you can change once you're stationary then you're going to be infinitely warmer.

So, bring dry clothes, don't depend on what you wear out to keep you dry and warm if you're planning on doing any substantial moving around. If you're not moving around and not staying out for more than a day, then 4-10C isn't cold and you'll just enjoy coming in to a warm shelter after a day of shooting! Everything is a compromise.


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