Amazing! I received questions from an American lady, whose given name is Summer. It’s like “Hello from summer to winter.” She was asking:
I found some amazing stories about people who were there lately as tourists and I was wondering: Somebody on a web site who was there suggested highly the North Face Himalayan suit and couldn’t recommend it enough. But I read a few other things about how high tech parkas just don’t compare to reindeer skins etc…. What would you suggest about how to dress/what to bring if I ever decide to go there? And also any other tips for being outside in the middle of winter?
Thanks, Summer, for your interest in what to wear in Yakutia. So… my reply was as following:
Right, reindeer skin clothes can keep warmth very well. The secret is their ability to trap air. A friend of mine, Renato (btw, he is from Alaska) gave a good explanation:
Anyone living in cold areas will tell that the best way to dress is to wear layers, you must dress yourself like an onion. The more thin layers of air you trap between your body and the outside air the warmer you will get. Natural fur works excellently at doing that: trapping air layers close to the skin. Synthetic fabrics are very good too.
Nowadays, Yakutia inhabitants prefer to wear reindeer skin boots only. They are really good for feet. I have such boots, and my feet feel in them safe as in tanks. But they, especially female ones, are not cheap here. One pair of woman high reindeer fur boots may costs minimum 10, 000-12, 000 rubles (~330-400 USD). The gorgeous, really beautiful unty (унты, that’s how we call them) can be purchased even at the price of 20, 000 rubles.
On the top, Yakutians prefer to wear three types of coats:
1. A fur coat (шуба). The warmest fur is considered to be polar fox, raccoon and sheepskin (this type is more appropriate for males.) But you know female fur coat is percepted as the sign of well-being. So our ladies prefer to wear very beautiful, expensive coats. The funniest thing is that most of them are brought from Greece and China.
2. A sheepskin coat (тулуп) designed for males, especially servicemen, policemen, hunters, etc.
3. Parkas, as you mentioned. Synthetic fabrics might appear to be very good too. But you have to get such fabrics that were specially designed for extreme cold, sub-zero weather. According to a few local friends’ witnesses, The North Face Himalayan parka is really good. For instance, I have a Canada Goose Arctic parka. In the city, where I spend not so much time outdoors, I can wear it even with a light sweater.
Besides, you need to have a thick sweater plus a warm shirt/chemise, t-shirt or something alike. Also a must to have is a warm pants and double tights. Your hat must be fur and able to hide your ears. And, certainly, woolen mittens and a comforter.
Regarding outdoor being tips
Locals try to spend outside less time as possible. 20 minutes will be enough. And more time indoors or inside transports. Walking streets must be quick :)
Here is the list of taboos I prefer not to break, when outdoor temperature is, let’s say, below -25C at least. If I am good in following them, I know, I will be feeling pretty good in one of the coldest cities on Earth. Here is my don’ts top.
1. I don’t smoke outdoors, when the temp is below -20C. Breathing cold air is not good for my throat. Sorry, but I smoke. I am trying to cease smoking.
2. I don’t go outside without a wide woolen scarf wrapped around my neck. Besides, I try to cover with it my mouth and nose, so not to breath cold air.
3. I don’t wear a fur hat that cannot protect back of my head and ears. Some locals prefer to put on stylish mink hats without “long ears”, but I would like to look stupid, however, protected and healthy. The head is the first thing to protect from cooling and avoid cold catch.
4. I don’t stay outdoors longer than 20-30 minutes, when it is cold, like -40C. Even in reindeer fur boots and super warm Arctic Canada Goose parka I will start feeling chill.
5. I don’t talk much by a cellphone outdoors either. I like expressing emotions and being heard (btw, when a mobile is frozen, the microphone and speakers work terrible, as low as it can be possible). If I do that, I can get cold. Again it is not good for my throat.
6. I and my family don’t cut down expenses on good warm clothes purchases. It’s like investment into your health. Hm, but I still dream to buy a pretty “schoen” fur/mink coat for my wife. Need to have around 2000 EUR.
7. I don’t spare money on taxi at late night. I will pay 100-200 rubles for one ride rather than 14 rubles for the public transportation. Taxi brings me straight to home in a short span of time. In case with buses, it’s always a long waiting at bus stops, and unsafe…