Natalie’s Thermals for Christmas

Natalie Pastor is an outdoor enthusiast, blogger and an adventurer.  She says:

I’ve always been an outdoors fan, but didn’t get really excited about it until a 7 day canoe trip in Quetico Provincial Park the summer I turned 17. The best blueberries I’ve ever tasted, quiet campsites on secluded lakes, and a sky full of bright stars drew me in. Since then I’ve explored whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, skeet shooting, and other activities, finally discovering that what I enjoy most is backpacking through mountain wilderness and fly fishing. Living in the Midwest means I can’t do this as often as I would like, but there are plenty of distractions here too. I like to share my trips and interests on my blog to give others some tips for outdoor recreation or ideas for trips. Most recently I was in Glacier National Park, Montana crossing high alpine passes with pika and mountain goats.

Although I have never met Pastor in person, our paths have crossed at the same places in different times.  Baraboo, Lake Wisconsin and Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin; Polebridge, Glacier National Park and the Flathead River in Montana and perhaps other places she hasn’t written about yet.

The Cairn Handbook Blog

Devils Lake Boulder Field

A Boulder Field
Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin.
By Natalie Pastor

Ms Pastor’s blog “The Cairn: An Outdoor Recreation Handbook” is named for her penchant for creating her own guidebooks before visiting a place to explore.  She says, “I have found that when I know a little something about where I am, the trip is more enjoyable.”  Toward that end she does her research and prepares her own guidebook to take along.

One example is her book Glacier National Park: A Pocket Guide for the Backcountry Traveler.  Besides her handbooks,  her blog includes posts on a wide variety of topics that she classifies as articles, reviews or recommendations.  Her blog also includes a collection of photos from her adventures.

She has given me permission to repost one of her articles, so here is one of a seasonal nature:

Thermals for Christmas by Natalie Pastor

The secret to staying warm and not looking like a puffy marshmallow ball or wild furry animal throughout the cold winter? Thermals. Formerly referred to as long johns and now best known as technical base layers, thermals help you keep that lean and mean athletic look when the temperature drops.

Thermals trap heat next to your body. In cold weather the only available heat is generated by your body, so it’s good to keep that heat close. You work so hard to make it – don’t let it get away! For best performance, make sure the fit is next to skin. If the garment is too loose it can’t do its job as well. Those who can’t afford to lose any heat (freezy cats like me) should wear both upper and lower body thermals. Remember to pull thick socks over the bottom base layer to keep that precious heat from escaping! Once bundled in toasty thermals, you can choose lightweight, less bulky outerwear without compromising on warmth.  This allows you to remain mobile for active pursuits and keeps you looking slim and stylish.

Ranging from micro to heavy, there is an ideal thermal layer for every cool/cold weather condition. These can be worn alone or as part of a layered system depending on your level of activity and the weather forecast. A bonus feature of wool, silk, or synthetic thermals is that they move moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and preventing chills.

Patagonia Capilene Top

Capilene 3 Midweight Zip-Neck Long Underwear Top – Women’s

My recommendations below are guaranteed to be among your favorite cold weather garments.

Smartwool – merino wool, lightweight pattern crew or midweight turtleneck.

Patagonia – Capilene® midweight zip-neck and Capilene® midweight bottoms.

Ditch the oversized coats. Try out some thermals this season and start to enjoy walking in a winter wonderland!


I hope you enjoy reading about Natalie Pastor’s adventures at “The Cairn: An Outdoor Recreation Handbook” perhaps you will be inspired to get out there and explore on your own.


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