Episode 76 | Vapor Barrier Gloves and Socks
Feb 13, 2023 at 9:00 am #3773159Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to: Episode 76 | Vapor Barrier Gloves and Socks
In today’s episode of the Backpacking Light podcast, we are going to explore vapor barrier systems for the hands and feet.Feb 13, 2023 at 1:29 pm #3773174Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Curious to know how others are incorporating VB layers in their hand and footwear. It’s been a cold winter in the Rockies this year, and I’ve been living in my RBH Vapor Mitts!Feb 13, 2023 at 1:55 pm #3773181Josh JBPL Member
Having secondary raynaud’s , may have to try this, if our winter ever returns…..
Wonder about tyvex for a vapor barrier liner?Feb 13, 2023 at 3:57 pm #3773185Paul SBPL Member
My wife and I use vapor barrier socks between our liner socks and heavy wool socks. That way, our heavy wool socks and boot linings stay dry (since perspirations is blocked from getting to them). For winter backpacking (i.e., over nights in winter) that’s how we roll. It keeps our boot linings from freezing, and keeps our heavy socks from freezing (Because they can only freeze if they get wet). But it does mean that our liner socks get more damp than they would in the summer. So, before bed we take off the vapor barriers, and the liner socks, and put on dry socks that we only use for sleeping. Our damp liner socks get hung to dry in our tent..but they typically don’t dry much, if at all. So, in the AM, when we wake-up we put the liner socks in a jacket pocket, and by the time we have breakfast, coffee, and more coffee(!), and pack-up our camp the liner socks are dry and ready to wear.
Our vapor barrier liners are actually just 18′ long plastic bags that our multi-grain english muffins are packaged in! :-)
A drawback is that our feet smell very badly (way worse than normal) when we take off the VBL’s and liner socks before bed.Feb 13, 2023 at 7:18 pm #3773228Albert NBPL Member
For hands, instead of oversized medical gloves, I’ve heard of people using oversized dishwashing gloves. They have a looser fit and are definitely water-/vapor-proof.
For my feet, I do use plastic bags in-between a synthetic, toe-sock, liner, and a mid-cushion wool sock in my insulated winter boots. I’ve found the long, tubular, bagel or English muffin bags to work the best. They only last a couple of days but I don’t mind it since I would have thrown them out anyway.Feb 13, 2023 at 9:57 pm #3773233Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I am not doing extreme cold anymore, but when I was I found what Ryan advocated highly effective. Originally used polypro or coolmax liners, mylar bags, and then insulation. for hands, liners, dishwashing gloves, insulated gloves. Later switched to RBH mitts and socks which were awesome. My only differences is that they triggers sweating at freezing. I didn’t switch to vapor barriers until it was <20f.Feb 14, 2023 at 2:52 pm #3773271WangleBPL Member
Right now for my gloves system I’m rocking a midweight powerstretch for a base layer, then the OR Mt. Baker II mittens which is an insulated glove and a burly Gortex shell. So if I want to incorporate a VBL in my system, do I put the VBL over my mid weight glove liner or VBL next to skin and then the mid weight liner?
I would like to take my hands out of the insulated layers and take photographs/videos during winter hikes and extreme cold (negative F).
I’d like to give the VBL a shot before fulling committing to something like the rbh mitten.
Thanks for all your help.Feb 18, 2023 at 6:30 am #3773443Iago VazquezBPL Member
@iagoLocale: Boston & Galicia, Spain
For hands, I use Harbor Freight 9mil Nitrile gloves. They come in different sizes and it’s easy to achieve a loose fit. They are rather durable compared to thinner options, inexpensive and lighter than dishwashing gloves.
For the feet, someone in the forums years ago suggested oven roast bags, and I have been very happy with those.Feb 18, 2023 at 8:05 am #3773450Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Highly recommend the RBH Vapor Mitts with or with out liners as I have worn them for many years in the cold winter season in Michigan.
The following type of glove/ mitten that that I have that can be used in a MEDIUM, Ultralight Mitt in the layering mode COMFORTABLY are:
IBEX WOOL LINER GLOVES (1.25oz)
THIN WOOL MITT LINERS (.85oz)
POSSUM/WOOL GLOVES (1.4oz)
ZPACKS MICRO FLEECE MITTENS (1.16oz)
I wouldn’t use any INSULATION under an RBH mitt!Feb 18, 2023 at 8:11 pm #3773522Paul DBPL Member
FWIW, I use a pair of gore tex infinium stretch gloves and an over glove. If I need more, I’ll use a pair of merino liners in betweenFeb 21, 2023 at 7:57 pm #3773833Bill in RoswellBPL Member
@roadscrape88-2Locale: Roswell, GA, USA
I got my first Stephenson Warmlite catalog in 1980!. It was way ahead of its time in many ways…..He promoted vapor barriers amongst leading designs in tents, sleeping pads, etc. Why most don’t practice VB I’ve no idea. The southeastern US may not be the best test ground for VB where I live. But I did try VB once when record lows of ~0° gripped the area for a while. All we had were wool Army Surplus and plastic food server gloves. I want to think VB helped but no basis of comparison. My palms and feet pass a lot of moisture. Best to keep the insulation dry via VB.Feb 22, 2023 at 6:17 pm #3773919Stephen SeeberBPL Member
I have worn vapor barrier gloves for years to prevent insulation degradation of mittens and gloves. What I have found work best for me are 2mm neoprene gloves . I wear these as liners beneath RBH vapor barrier mittens. My hands are sensitive to cold temperatures, so although the RBH mittens are the warmest practical solution I have found, I still benefit from the additional warmth of the neoprene liner gloves. RBH does make several liners with different levels of insulation. I use their Altitude liners for most of the winter but will substitute their fleece liners at warmer temperatures.
Any vapor barrier glove or mitten will get wet on the interior from perspiration. When neoprene gets wet, it retains its warmth. Without the underlying vapor barrier, my RBH mittens will start to stink in short order, and although the RBH liners can be washed, drying them takes some time. My neoprene gloves are easily washed daily.
Wearing neoprene liner gloves permits me to remove the RBH mittens for short periods to perform tasks that require dexterity.
Before this combination, I wore electric gloves all winter. I had to carry extra batteries and shell mittens for high wind periods. Fortunately, the electric gloves are now retired.Feb 27, 2023 at 12:04 pm #3774354Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Once Again With Feeling: For years here on BPL I’ve advocated using 3 mm thick closed cell neoprene divers’ socks over thin poly socks as a VBL to prevent boot insulation from becoming “sweat wet” and useless.
I find US Divers brand the best – factory seam sealed with left and right shaped socks for no bunching at the toes.Mar 1, 2023 at 5:32 am #3774521Josh JBPL Member
anyone with experience using tyvek for gloves as a VBL?Mar 1, 2023 at 8:49 am #3774525Justin WBPL Member
Tyvek doesn’t make a good VBL for two reasons. One, it has somewhat high thermal conductivity (close to water’s) and many iterations pass moisture. The point of a vbl is to block moisture from getting into the insulation of a glove etc.
I recommend butyl rubber for two reasons, it has a low thermal conductivity of .09 W/mK (significantly lower than most materials used for clothing/fabrics) and you can readily find gloves already made out of it.
I use them to get water out of cold creeks etc. (And at home for doing chemistry stuff like working with sulfuric acid etc)
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