Need advice for cold weather clothing

Discussion in 'Nature' started by alvinyap, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. With Monika's additions, what you plan sounds good. But, avoid cotton undergarments, which tend to retain sweat - not good in cold weather.
  4. 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
  5. 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 . . .
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. Don't forget a flask just in case, figuring you've got auto focus!
  9. 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. :)
  10. 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.
  11. If/when there is ice, I use Yak Trax...they fit nicely over my Sorrells and I can easily take them off when I don't need them.
  12. I strongly agree with what was said about cotton and wool. Never cotton socks and if you sweat in a cotton tee shirt, you may not warm up.
    Wool blend socks still retain warmth even when wet. If I am out hiking even below freezing, I will wear lightweight Gortex so called waterproof shoes. Even at those temperatures my feet will be warm. However if I am out and not active, the feet will get cold. Boots need to breath and if they don't your feet will sweat and get uncomfortable, especially in cotton.
    My experience with Gortex waterproof boots is that they are waterproof, maybe for one or two outings and thats it, even with waterproofing treatments. I just wear woold blend socks and don't worry about.
    I think your choice of boots depends on how wet it is and if you are moving or being still for longer periods of time.
  13. I'm with Ryan on this one. 4-10C isn't that cold unless it is very wet, very windy, or you are going to be out for several days at a time. That being said, better to have too much than too little.
  14. Scotland in October can be quite balmy and pleasant (depending on what part of the globe you come from). The two things to be prepared for are driving rain and strong winds, particularly if it's the western highlands you're visiting.
  15. Hi everyone!
    Whoa thanks for the responses.
    @Monika: I'll give that a go, maybe I can find some people who have recently painted their house, could re-use those sheets.
    @William: Good advice. No idea about this cotton thing (warm weather boy I am ;-))
    @Kent: Thanks for the no-contton re-enforcement :) And also good tip on the thinsulate, I'll keep an eye out for items made using that. My shoes are goretex at the moment, they rock in wet weather :)
    @Tony: Don't have a grip on either of my cameras atm - personally I dislike grips in general. My D200's grip is like a few thousand miles away though :( But sounds like this is one time they will come in handy :(
    @Gary: Berhaus is a brand I've seen in the shops near work, I'll go check them out again more carefully. You may be surprised - I'm really bad in cold weather, 15 degrees C indoors and I'm already shivering :p
    @Bill: Flask? Of warm liquids?
    @Greg: I will arrive in Kingussie, not sure if there will be shops around there selling clothing but I would definitely love to increase my warm clothing count for the upcoming winter :)
    @Ryan: I will spend 2 days shooting in the wildlife park, the first and last days will be arriving/leaving scotland. I am not sure of the lay of the place, but the info booklet I got says there should not be too much movement, mostly staying in places to shoot. That's good advice on the clothing, will keep it in mind when shopping :)
    @Jennifer: I doubt I will encounter ice, but that is a good tip! Never seen stuff like that before, will be useful if I do visit an icy area. Or when london freeze over :)
    @Kerry: Good advice about the boots, I probably will look at regular goretex shoes instead.
    Thanks to Craig and Peter as well :)
    That's a lot of stuff to chew on, thankfully there's a Kathmandu down the road, and another outdoor clothing store just two streets away. I know where I'm spending my lunch hour :)
    Cheers all!
  16. If you buy things in layers, you might get more use out of them. Buy uninsulated GoreTex shells (pants, jacket) and you can use those in warm climates too. I mention GoreTex brand only because it's a breathable waterproof fabric that I know performs well; there are other brands. It will shed rain. Warmth comes from the layers below, such as synthetic fleece. GoreTex/Thinsulate hats are warm and fairly inexpensive. Some American mailorder places with good selection are Cabelas, Sierra Trading Post, CampMor,
    Kent in SD
  17. Alvin,
    I visited the Highland Wildlife Park approx. 3 years ago in winter. Although it was damp and overcast it wasn't so cold that I or my partner needed to bundle up, no issue with the cold and camera batteries either. Your biggest issue will be the fencing. As I remember the animals are in enclosures with tight fencing around, you will have to be right uptight against the fence except for the auto route, try to get there as early as possible as they feed the animals (Red Deer, European Bison) in the morning and they will come close to your vehicle. Some of the enclosures for the smaller animals (Scottish Wildcat, Capercaillie) where very dark and difficult to get any sort of decent picture. But don't be dismayed I still got some good shots and it's still nice to see these animals that used to live in Scotland.
    Shot from Highland Wildlife Park.
    This image can also be viewed here.

  18. Another shot from HWP.
  19. I live just down the road from the park and to be honest, at that time of year it can be warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt, or cold enough for a down jacket!
    I feel the cold but I get by most of the time at that time of the year (when its reasonably cold) with a thin non-cotton base layer, fleece shirt, and fleece zipper jacket, with a goretex wind/water proof shell top, fleece trousers on the bottom half with goretex shell trousers will be sufficient. If you think you'll need a wee bit more cosiness take a down vest that will fit under your goretex. Fingerless mitts and a hat to do the extremities. Best gloves are glomitts - cross between fingerless mitts and gloves - the top flap pulls back to leave your fingers free to work controls - if you get the gore windstopper version they're superb. Dont get wool - it can put hairs into your camera.. Various makes - like this:
    There's several good outdoor gear stores in the area (in Aviemore, about 10-15 mins away) and anything you dont have with you will be available with no problems.
    Once you're happy with the clothing - think about the cameras - a bunch of plastic bags and rubber bands to keep rain off, and LENS HOODS ARE A MUST to keep rain off the lens front. Take several soft well-washed cotton hankies in various pockets to use for wiping rain off. Rain is not a real problem - you can easily work in the rain, but rain and wind is a pig.
    I've lead photography groups in the area for over ten years now and despite some grim weather we've rarely had to go indoors. You'll have a great time - its a fantastic area and the park has some good opportunities - the red deer rut will be getting under way and that can provide some nice images.
  20. @Kent: Good tip!
    @Paul: Nice shots mate. Critters coming up close is good, and bad for me. Don't have good wide angle glass :)
    @John: Those glomitts are quite interesting, I will check them out. ALso, thanks for the layering advice :) My lens hoods are almost on 100% of the time, except when I'm shooting through glass/fencing, so I'm good there :) Had odd issues with condensation on filters as described in another post. Hopefully some cloths will do the trick this time round.
    Thanks everyone for the wonderful tips!
  21. david_henderson


    A couple of things to add, from someone who spends a week or two each autumn in northern Scotland.
    The thing you simply have to appreciate is how wet it is underfoot. Waterproof shoes won't cut it, you need boots offering ankle protection, and IMO anyway a rigid sole with great treads. Scotland is the one place where I wear boots from the minute I walk out my hotel in the morning to when I get back at night. I came back from the Outer Hebrides last night. Two days ago I opened a gate and walked into a field to walk over to a corrugated shed I intended to photograph. As I walked into the field I was 4/5" deep in black ooze, completely invisible under the grasses.
    The temperatures you indicate are not cold, and if its dry and not too windy then you can wear just about anything. The problem, as John indicates, is when the wind blows. In October I wouldn't visit N Scotland without a windproof (Goretex lined) sweater.
    If its cold and or windy you will need a hat, and something that clings close to the head so you're not always expecting it to blow off. Anything with a brim is pretty useless IMO and you really need a pull-on wool, fleece or combo.
  22. I hike, camp and photo often in cold sometimes freezing weather, sometimes wet and almost always windy. Dressing to keep warm and dry depends on your activity level. Just standing around requires extra insulation while walking will require much less while you also sweat. I have water proof boots and still manage to get water inside so I wear wool or synthetic socks with the boots tied a bit loose for better insulation thickness. Usually med nylon wind pants with med thermal under wear are enough for my legs when moving a little. Layers on the upper body consist of wool or synthetic, light and med as many as needed with the outer layer wind and waterproof with well fitting hood. If dry and you are still, down can be great just do not get it wet. A good pullover cap is very important as well as the mit/gloves which I started using last year. You can also do a search on ultalight hiking for layering ideas at different temperatures and climates.
  23. north face makes some great insulated stuff!

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