FOAM is both a material and an acronym to us. We love to use open cell Foam as an insulation material, it is unparalled in its abilities. When we use all caps as in FOAM it refers to what we call Fully Optimized Arctic Management, as such it is a system approach to clothing, shelter and existing in the cold that allows long term living, while dealing with moisture, food, water, warmth, sanitation, and safety.
Many of us could deal with some terrible situations in the short term, the real trial comes when a person must live out some trouble for an extended period of time, every day becomes more crucial and difficult. Here is the test of whether a workable system has been established, there must be no deterioration in quality of life after a day, two days, a week, etc. Let me give a quick example. While testing some versions of the Wilderness Mattress I would lay on it in my shirt for a period of time, carefully monitoring my body temperature. At first I felt colder due to the mattress bedding material being cold, the ambient temperature, as I lay there I was watching for some feeling of warming and once that occurred making sure no cold feeling was creeping in. If I felt any of this in an hours time, there was no way I would be comfortable through a night. When you are testing gear short term for use in longer term you have to be very sensitive to monitor change in the direction of degradation. Ideally you want to maintain yourself with no loss, if you can reach that equalibrium, you are on your way to long term cold weather living or FOAM.
Let’s look at applying this to winter sleeping systems.
First of all, why do I call them sleeping systems? In the summer or milder conditions you can get by with practically nothing in the way of gear, but in winter it is imperative that you maintain your core body temperature, that is primary. Secondary to that, you need to have some degree of comfort, this in order to obtain satisfactory rest. Your body needs to rest and rebuild and good sleep is important for that to occur. Usually we just think of getting through the night but with FOAM we want to not only stay warm but also comfortable, doing this well means we can stay out for an unlimited amount of time.
What about moisture? All winter clothing and sleeping gear absolutely needs to deal very effectively with moisture. Moisture has two sources, internal and external. You can use waterproof clothing and sleeping gear and get no moisture from the outside, but still get soaked. Your body is made mostly of water, body processes give off water which normally goes out into the air, if it cannot escape easily it becomes trapped in your sleeping bag and clothes and you get wet. An effective sleeping system should allow a person to go to bed damp and awake in the morning dry. Doing this means your condition will not degrade over time due to moisture build up.
What is a simple way to do this? Lets start with the bag. Here is what unquestionably works. A sleeping bag made with Foam as the insulator, and covered both sides with breathable nylon fabric. Here’s how it works, and I’ve done this many times, going to bed not just damp, but wet, soaked. I slide into my bag or Personal Survival Blanket. My body heat pushes moisture away from me, from my synthetic clothing and into my sleeping bag, it keeps pushing, since there is nothing to stop it, till it exits the bag. I have many times gone to bed wet and woke up in the morning dry, it really works. I don’t have to try to dry over a fire, I can use my body heat to do it.
We’ll cover in detail the whole system in videos, blogs, and training material, but here for now is a brief of the whole system. A sleeping bag as described above, lays on a foam pad, which lays on a moisture handling cloth of nylon, and the whole setup is inside a plastic or fabric tube. Moisture moving downward passes through the bag, the pad and freezes in the nylon cloth which is shaken out in the morning ridding it of water crystals. Moisture moving upward passes through the bag and on contact with the tube material freezes into ice crystals, which are shaken out in the morning. Freeze dried.
This is a simple but perfectly effective system for sleeping an extended period of time in cold conditions.
Until next time for “Simplifying Survival” this is Perry Peacock