Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gearing Up for Winter

This summer I used public transport a lot. Both for exercise and to extend the life of my car.
This is great during our fabulous Minnesota summers, but this could be unpleasant during the winter.

The benefits have been great, so I plan to continue with the plan into the winter as long as I can.
But I need to stay warm while walking and waiting at the bus stop.
After a bit of research, I found some great gear to keep me going on the cold days.

My criteria:
  • Lightweight
  • Effective against Minnesota winters
  • Easily stashed in my bag

The Bag:
Case Logic SNMB-15 15.4-Inch Canvas Messenger Bag with Laptop Storage (Green)Case Logic SNMB-15 15.4-Inch Canvas Messenger Bag with Laptop Storage
My beloved leather bag literally started falling apart this year, so I needed a replacement.  I greatly prefer leather or canvas because I find nylon bags abrasive and scuff up my clothes when walking long distances. This cost-effective canvas bag is my new commuter bag.
Love the rugged canvas, heavy-duty hardware, and overall design.
There are a few things I would change: Main flap could be bigger to offer better protection from the rain and snow. End pockets could be deeper to hold an umbrella.

The Lids:
Outdoor Research Peruvian Hat, Olive/Evergreen, LargeOutdoor Research Peruvian Hat
The very lightweight, windproof, and comfortable hat is now a permanent fixture in my commuter bag.
The side flaps completely cover the ears and protect the neck area as well.
The drawstring (which doesn't appear in the picture) can be used to tie the flaps up when the wind isn't blowing.
Simply a great piece of cold-weather gear!

Kangol Wool 504,Sea Green,XL USKangol Wool 504
This classic wool flat hat is great for the days when just a little protection is required. Sure, they're a little pricey, but just a terrific hat. The wool breathes nicely, and there's just enough bill to help with sun (when we see it.)
And, being "flat," it fits nicely in my bag when not needed.

Columbia Mens Bugascarf, Ranger, One SizeColumbia Men's Bugascarf
Nothing fancy. Just a nice polar fleece medium-length scarf. When you need it, you really need it. A little bulky to carry in the bag when not needed, but I'm probably actually using it most winter days.

The Safety Dance:
Nite Ize SLG-03-02 SpotLit Clip-on LED Go Anywhere Light, White
Nite Ize SpotLit Clip-on LED Go Anywhere Light
Winter is a dark time in Minnesota. Literally. To make myself more visible and to see where I'm going, I picked up some of these clip-on lights. I have a white one on my front jacket zipper and a red one on the back-end of my bag.
Very solid little lights. They appear to be marketed primarily for dog collars and they are built to withstand that sort of abuse. I need both hands to activate them, but I can do it pretty easily even with mittens on.
Each light uses TWO CR2016 batteries, I recommend picking up big pack of those on Amazon.

Sony Mdr-As20J Active Style Headphones with Soft Loop Hangers (Black)Sony MDR-AS20J
Great sounding, comfortable headphones that let you hear your surroundings. These work fine with my eyeglasses and my hats.
You can read more in Portable Headphones: A Personal History.

I've been using these a couple hours every day for over six months and they've been great.

Ready to Roll:
We've only had a few cold days so far, but I was nice and comfy with my new gear. With the Daylight Saving Time change, I won't need the lights for a few weeks, but they worked great on those cold, dark mornings.

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