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Gear Guy

Q:

As a Raynaud's sufferer, how can I beat the cold?

I have a medical condition known as Raynaud's, which basically means that I have real problems staying warm in temperatures below 50 degrees. This past winter was a killer for me. Unfortunately I can't hole up inside during the winter as my 100-pound insulated dog needs to walk (and loves the cold). What do you think would work best for me? I assume down, but the women's down parkas don't seem to be that warm. Faith Reston, Virginia

I have a medical condition known as Raynaud's, which basically means that I have real problems staying warm in temperatures below 50 degrees. This past winter was a killer for me. Unfortunately I can't hole up inside during the winter as my 100-pound insulated dog needs to walk (and loves the cold). What do you think would work best for me? I assume down, but the women's down parkas don't seem to be that warm. Faith Reston, Virginia

A: Raynaud's Disease is a tough nut to crack. Insulating garments work by trapping body heat. But Raynaud's sufferers don't put out much heat—the syndrome causes the blood vessels near the skin to constrict, turning the skin white and cool. You almost need something that generates heat.


Still, there are a few possible solutions. Certainly, a good down parka—and good handwear—is one. Not sure what you mean by "women's down parkas," as lots of down parkas are unisex and extremely good. Case in point: Feathered Friends' very, very warm Frontpoint Jacket ($310 with nylon shell; www.featheredfriends.com). That'll trap just about any warmth you can generate. Wear that with layered gloves: a silk glove liner, then a very warm overglove such as Mountain Hardwear's Gravity Gloves ($49; www.mountainhardwear.com).


Meanwhile, it's just a theory, but I think products made with Outlast would be extremely effective in your situation. Outlast is a material that captures heat, then redistributes it as needed. I should think it would help keep you warmer in the first place, and would even counter the discomfort that Raynaud's sufferers (from what I've read) go through. Manzella makes an Outlast liner glove that costs $13 at REI (www.rei.com). Marmot makes a heavier-weight Outlast glove called the Alpinist that sells for $40 (www.marmot.com), though you can now find it on closeout for $30. Outlast, like some other good but hard-to-explain products, has been a tough sell and some makers that used the stuff a year or two ago are cutting back. I recommend it highly, though. It works.

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