Dressing For The Cold With Suspenders

Dusk at forty below in northern Quebec

The old loggers who spent their lives in the woods wore suspenders to keep their pants up in cold weather. They were practical people, and as such there was a reason they did so. Tight clothing was always avoided, as it is uncomfortable and doesn’t insulate nearly as well as loose clothing. Having your pants tight around your waist, either by the nature of how they fit or the use of a belt, stops the warm air generated by your legs from rising to warm your upper body. In warmer weather this warm, moist air contributes to overheating and sweating, which can be uncomfortable or worse on a long trip. Using suspenders and a loose waist allows it to rise and escape through an unbuttoned shirt. In bitter cold conditions it helps to keep you warmer by allowing the warm air generated by your legs to rise and warm your upper body.

Suspenders usually come with button holes, which fit around buttons on the pants, or clips, which clip onto the fabric of the pants. Extended use of the clips has chewed through pants I’ve owned, so I’ve gone to sewing buttons onto some of my wool pants or putting metal suspender buttons on them.

It may be a fashion faux-pas in the era of skinny jeans, but I’ve always been of the belief that fashion comes after function in selecting clothes.


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