Winter Fairbanks Trip Clothing Review
In preparing for our winter honeymoon to Fairbanks, one thing I found was a lack of any clothing/gear lists with brand and model, that wasn't all $100+ per item clothing. I did a lot of research and reading and here is what we took and how it worked for us. AT the time, I thought it would might be useful for other visitors if I wrote up what we used and how it performed. This was a big deal because basically, everything but the underwear/tights/t-shirts was bought new for the trip. It took a while, but here it is.
My wife is much more sensitive to cold than I. Temperatures during our stay varied from -30F to +8F. Activities ranged from walking to the grocery store, to visiting museums, walking to dinner from UAF, and learning to mush (and playing with the dogs). This clothing kept my wife comfortable enough that she is now interested in moving to Fairbanks after getting her PhD, and visiting it a few more times at other times of the year, to make sure she still likes it then.
One of the more difficult things to remember was to unzip my jackets when we came inside (like into a store). If I forgot this, I got overheated inside very quickly.
Another observation: In Houston Texas, the weather hits you in the face as you go outside. Houston is humid and windy. You know it is hot or cold when you open the door. In Fairbanks, there is no wind (which is why fleece is so popular there), and the humidity is pretty low. When we arrived at Fairbanks, in jeans and fleece jackets, at 3 AM, we went outside into -30F weather. My response was "This isn't that bad" followed 5 minutes later by "I can't feel my legs." :-) I exaggerate a little there, but the weather in Fairbanks didn't feel as cold as it was when we first stepped into it. Everyone I talked to and my reading say this is because the lower humidity in Fairbanks make the cold (and heat) less immediately felt.
On the Land's End stuff, I noticed some reviews of their stuff says some models/manufacturing have changed and are not as fluffy/warm. So be sure to check recent reviews on their website if ordering there.
Sweat Wick (both - all) : t-shirt and tights, like UnderArmor, Tesla, Adidas, BCG
This is stuff we already had.
Socks (wife - town) : Under Armour Hockey Liner Over-the-Calf Socks and Regular Socks
Socks (wife - mushing or -30) : Under Armour Hockey Liner Over-the-Calf Socks and Darn Touch Socks - Mountaineering Extra Cushion
Socks (me - town) : Darn Tough Socks - Mens Paul Bunyan Over-The-Calf Cushion Socks (my regular socks)
Socks (me - mushing or -30) : Under Armour Hockey Liner Over-the-Calf Socks and Darn Touch Socks - Mountaineering Extra Cushion
I love the Darn Tough socks. I did have a regular pair that I wear normally start to unravel at the toe soon after purchase. Darn Tough replaced them under their lifetime warranty without any questions.
Thermals (both - all) : Duofold Varitherm Expedition Weight Thermal Top and Pants
These are great. The Duofold website is great about giving suggestions depending on the weather and activities. I think we wore these most of the time.
Shirt (both) : "Normal" shirts like we would wear in Texas.
I think my wife might have brought some of my "cold gear" stuff from UnderArmor for her shirts. I can't wear it indoors as anything above the mid 20s F and it is too warm for me.
Pants (wife - town) : Dickies Women's Flannel lined Jean, Stonewashed Vintage Blue
Pants (me - town) : Carhartt Men's Washed Duck Work Dungaree Flannel Lined Pant or Lined Jeans
The lined pants were great and comfortable. It also helps you "fit in" so you don't look like a tourist over-bundled against the weather.
Pants (wife - mushing) : Women's Polyester Fleece Pants (Amazon)
Sorry there is no brand name here. Land's End did not make polyester fleece women's pants and that time, and the stuff we ordered from Amazon is no longer available. Women's fashions change so much that things go out of availability pretty quickly.
Pants (me - mushing) : Men Regular Fleece Pajama Pant (Land's End)
Fleece (both - all) : Polartec Aircore 200 Fleece Jacket (Land's End)
This probably wasn't needed all the time, but it made adjusting to changes in temperature between indoors and outdoors a lot easier. The fleece jackets were also our "travel jackets" on the planes.
Pants (wife - mushing) : Women's Squall Insulated Pants (Land's End)
Pants (me - mushing) : Men's Squall Rain Pants (Land's End)
The pants were wonderful and kept us dry even after falling off of running sleds into snow banks. I did a really nice Aikido roll off one corner.
Parka (wife - all) : Women's Squall Insulated Parka (Land's End)
Parka (me - all) : Men's Tall Squall Parka (Land's End)
The parkas were warm and dry, without being cumbersome.
Cleats (both) : Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats for Snow and Ice
These were used more to try them out than through any need. They worked very well.
Boots (both) : Columbia Bugaboot Plus II XTM Omni-Heat Winter Boot
These boots are honestly waterproof and warm and very comfortable, without being clunky or awkward. I think we wore them all the time, mostly because we brought "airplane" shoes and these boots.
Mitts (both) : Outdoor Research Alti Mitts
We never used these. It was warm (1F) when we were learning to drive dog sleds, so they weren't needed. Walking to the store in -30F, the Squall gloves or fleece gloves below worked fine.
Gloves (both): 100 Fleece EZ Touch Gloves (Land's End)
Gloves (both): Polartec Aircore 200 Insulated EZ Touch Glove (Land's End)
Gloves (both): Squall EZ Touch Gloves (Land's End)
We usually carried the Squall Gloves and one set of fleece gloves, and switched depending on the temperature. The Squall gloves are warming and water proof/resistant. For dog sledding, if you are learning to work the dogs, you want a pair of gloves under your mitts (if any) to let you have extra dexterity when hooking up the dogs. If you aren't used to keeping track of gloves, having 2 pair of fleece gloves also gives you a backup when you lose a pair.
Hat (wife) : Columbia with silver lining
Hat (me) : Outdoor Research Men's Frostline Hat
I forget the model of hat my wife used, but it was a Columbia brand with the silver lining with the long hang-down ties.
Balaclava (both) : Smartwool Balaclava and a couple of others
I wear glasses to see and my wife wears sunglasses all the time to cut down migraines from bright or flashing/flickering lights. We tried 2-3 balaclavas and none worked. Our glasses constantly fogged over. We're going to try some of the Seirus Innovation models next time.
For luggage, we took three Samsonite Luggage Fiero HS Spinner 24 inch models. We used paint pens to put our initials on them for easy identification. These are wonderful.
Thanks for the write-up. And congrats on keeping yourselves warm enough to enjoy Fairbanks in the winter. I spent several winters there and am in no hurry to return in the winter. The summers on the other hand are spectacular.
We loved it last February. We walked from the Museum of the North to Wolf Run about 1.5 times in 0-1F. I now know that Farmer's Loop Road becomes University Avenue. I did not know that before. So we walked back to a map to check. ;-)
Originally Posted by ChugiakTinkerer