Dressing for minus fifty (or less): what people in Yakutsk wear out in the coldest city on Earth

Originally published at: Dressing for minus fifty (or less): what people in Yakutsk wear out in the coldest city on Earth | Boing Boing


“This is a cold city, a windy city; a city of 1 million tongues stuck to lamposts…”


It was 30 degrees F. in my shed gym this morning, that’s where I draw the line.


At least it’s a dry cold. (Because at that temperature, most of the water vapor has crystalized out.)


I live where the average winter temperature is -20 C. Layers are key. Animal protein materials (wool, down, fur) really are the warmest materials. But you don’t have to spend $500 on a jacket. A $50 jacket won’t be good enough, but a $150 jacket is usually pretty decent.


That’s what it does to exposed human skin, in seconds.


I’d be worried about my eyes. There would be no “go out” at all for me, unless the temps were about 20 degrees F or higher. Bears have the right idea…


BTW: gasoline freezes at negative 150 degrees F. Don’t ask how I know that…


Back in my boy scout days, we went winter camping and skiing at a mountain in northern Maine. The camping part was fine, we were borrowing insulated tents and heavy sleeping bags from a local troop that had the right gear, but the skiing went a bit higgedly-piggedly when a few of us who thought we were ready for the top of the mountain. We had ski-pant, ginormous down parkas, thick woolen hats with pom-poms, and ski gloves.

When we got to the gondola lift to the top, the operator told us they’d just been authorized to allow people up by the ski patrol – it had been too windy and cold in the early morning. So up we went.

When we got to the top, the operator congratulated us on being the only people who were going to ski down from the top that day, as the winds had picked up again and the temperature dropped from the balmy -20F we had been told at the bottom of the lift down to -40 as the sun went behind some clouds – he was taking the gondola back down. Oh, an the only trail open was an “intermediate” trail that wound through the woods, as the main slopes had been scoured overnight of most of the snow, leaving behind only the moguls of solid ice with bare ground between them.

So we took to the trail, but the temperature continued to drop, and the added wind from our skiing cut through our inadequate gear. We made it without major issue, but the cold snuck in through every opening, up through the skis and ski boots and thermal socks, right through the fabric and down of our clothing.

And that was the coldest I’ve ever been, or ever want to be. A sojourn at a mid-slope lodge got us back up to normal temperatures, and we stuck to the lower slopes for the rest of the day, but living at those sort of tempertures? No, thank you.


:cold_face: My car is 18 years old. If I try to start it when the temps are too low, I translate the noise it makes as, “Did you think I was going anywhere when it’s this cold?”

i dont think so the incredibles GIF


Little confused when Dayana introduced her sister Dayana


The explanation is that you have to really conserve your energy at those temps.


The narrator is Klun, and the woman modeling the cold weather gear is Dayana.

While Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan never got as cold as Yakutsk (-20C was the coldest I remember, nowhere near the -45.6C max cold I experienced in Minnesota), I had very similar winter gear as the temperatures on the steppe just settle and stay. I had the felt boots, the sheep skin coat that was so heavy it felt like I was wearing the actual animal and not just the skin. I still have my malakhai, the Kazakh hunter/herder hat that is perfect for extreme cold.

-20C is cold enough to cause your eyes to water and tears freeze on your cheeks. And I was often in the freezing markets for half a day for work. Feeling a little nostalgic, now. I think I’ll make myself some black tea with butter and brandy.


I read an account by a motorcyclist driving in the arctic. He couldn’t work out why it was getting dark early in the day; until he realized it was his eyeballs icing over. Apparently, the defrosting phase was the most painful.


The seat heater and heated grips won’t help you with that issue. Be safe folks, frost bite is a real mofo.


What brand is the steel blue parka she is putting on in the first half of the video? Looks quite nice.


Amazon Essentials makes a decent $50 jacket for temps down to the teens F°

As the video said, layers are important. When we get to -20 to - 40 temps here, I’ll usually have at least 3 pants layers, 3-4 upper body layers, and a couple for my head too if I’m going to be outside.

The biggest mistake people make in the cold is using cotton socks and shoes that aren’t waterproof.


Having lived in that area for eight years courtesy of Uncle Sam, I say


So much of our temperature bias is relative, also.

Here in Tijuana, it’s been dipping into the mid to high teens Celcius (40s Fahrenheit) and 20 degrees midday. I’m fine with jeans and a t-shirt at 20, but I see many of my neighbors wearing coats and scarves.


Another place to cross off my retirement list.