Chill or Danger

Dangerously cold and aesthetically cold are different. One will kill you.

The other is just chilly. You’ll live just fine anyway.

The reason we don’t usually think of a difference between the two is the primal fear that if we’re cold then we’re about to be extremely cold and, at our funeral, friends will say we were stupid to freeze like that.

They don’t understand. You can’t be responsible for other people not having caught up yet. Try walking around in fifty-degree (Fahrenheit) weather without a wind and test your boundaries. (I walk around in mid-thirties perfectly well. It’s brisk and I’m brisk right back.) Carry a sweater in case you decide to put it on. Now you’re insured against failure. Think of it as a positive experience, or as survivalism rehearsal if you prefer, and see if you really find it as difficult as armchair mythology would fear. Probably not.

To Canadians, who know what’s “cold”, when there’s no wind and the temperature is just below freezing, there’s “Low Risk” and only a “[s]light increase in discomfort”. Anything above freezing is even easier to handle.

Fashion models sometimes work dangerously, but we’re not hearing about them dropping dead, and some are famous celebrities, so I think we’d hear about it, so maybe they’re taking precautions. And they do. One, posing in a bathing suit baring as much skin as on a beach in the summer, was modeled outdoors when the temperature was -50° F., that’s a full fifty degrees far below zero. She worked within a five-minute frostbite alarm, and she’d stay outside only for two minutes, then go indoors for five. She was only two feet from a door to indoors. During setup, she’d wear blankets. (I hope they were heated blankets.) One photo shows a model’s hands on the roof edge, which likely is not heated, but maybe she’s not really touching, just leaning as if she is; or maybe she was resting her hands firmly on the roof edge but only for seconds; either way, that day the temperature was 24° below zero. Better have good precautions in place before you risk anything.

You can enjoy the crisp air. Even if you don’t, that’s just aesthetics.

Aesthetically cold is not dangerously cold. One will kill you. This is about warmth without risking your health or dressing like a walrus.

Websites of Interest

These websites have some interesting content, although I disagree with some of it:


Hiking organizations:

General retailers of outdoor products:

General information: