Unless you have lived amongst people who spend lots of time outdoors in the winter, you have probably not given much thought to long underwear. (More)

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Maybe you are are skier or an urban walker so you have a pair of long underwear. If you only have one set, top and bottoms, you are a long underwear rookie. This gear comes in light weight (often silk), medium weight (think polypropylene), and heavy weight (think sled dog mushers and arctic explorers).

My first spring in the BWCA I was a bit chilly and said so. Someone asked me why I wasn’t wearing long underwear and didn’t I have any. They rightfully thought of me as a city transplant. I remember replying that yes I had long underwear but it was spring. They laughed and told me that if I hung around the north woods I would learn to dress for the weather and not the calendar. Point taken.

I asked out of curiosity how many pairs of long underwear each person had. I was shocked to hear that the lowest number was 12. I was woefully under stocked. I had two sets at that time. Over time I scouted out the sales and added some Under Armour expedition weight gear that was perfect for dog sledding. I now have 7 sets and have given up on tops and bottoms matching and other useless fashion ideas.

What brought this topic to mind was a dinner last night with my son and daughter-in-law and a group of their friends. I was wearing fleece lined running tights mainly because they fit well under my air cast which I was wearing because I broke my ankle. One woman wanted to buy her dad long underwear for Christmas. I started by asking her what he wanted them for and how much did she want to know. I told her that I had been acquiring various brands and weights for a while. We settled on Under Armour and someone googled the nearest outlet store.

The people listening to this conversation seemed awed by my 7 pairs until I told them how many pairs my northwoods friends had. The best part of the whole exchange was people thinking about signing up to go dog sledding as an excuse to buy heavy weight long underwear. They are in for a real adventure.

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