From the web – Dec 13th

Happy Friday the 13th!  As some wags noticed, might this be…A Nightmare Before Christmas?


  • A 1975 interview with Benton KacKaye is an excellent piece of trail history to watch.


Jake Palma joined the Bureau of Land Management as an intern in Nevada after leaving Utah Diné Bikéyah in 2015. (American Conservation Experience)


 But I have to say I’m with Paul on this one: for a measly $20 you can get a good-looking hiking shirt that’s lighter, more breathable, and dries faster (or just as fast) as the Kuhl or Montbell at a quarter of the price.    Oh, and it won’t kill you.  

Science! From Deposit Photos.


From a trip to I did to the wolf rescue near Florissant, CO

  • And here’s some satire about Black Friday. 🙂


View this post on Instagram


Originally from Reddit. (Satire)

A post shared by Paul Mags (@pmagsco) on


8 Replies to “From the web – Dec 13th”

  1. Maybe “thin poly-cotton shirts don’t kill” is OK.

    But “cotton kills” is still the best advice for too many people who venture into the wilderness wearing common t-shirts, flannel, blue jeans, or cutoffs.

    As a whitewater raft guide, I took hundreds of people dressed like that down rivers in the summer. They usually wound up wet, cold, and shivering by the end of the day, despite air temperatures above 70° F. The best remedies were to remove the cotton clothing or cover it with something that blocked the wind. People sitting next to them wearing synthetic clothing (like me) rarely got cold.

    One time I accidentally wore a cotton t-shirt under a full body wetsuit on a spring rafting trip, and wound up cold and shivering until I took the t-shirt off. Yet I’d worn thick polyester shirts under the same wetsuit on similar trips without trouble. I can’t even guess what the physics might be.

    I’ve also watched lots of inexperienced backpackers shiver in wet cotton t-shirts and blue jeans during otherwise mild weather.

    We could say something like “thick clothing with a cotton percentage greater than 60 percent kills.”

    But “cotton kills” or at least “t-shirts, flannel, and blue jeans kill” are simpler messages that need to be heard by a lot more people.

    1. No doubt. But we (Americans) love our debates with no nuance, context, or space for qualifications.

      So, yes… “Cotton kills” is good for myopic discussion. But if you want more to learn things, put an asterisk.


      Ps. Sitting in a raft is much different than hiking all day in say, Utah or even Colorado. Perhaps it is my trades family background, but I am a firm believer in various tools that are best suited for different jobs.

  2. What Mags said. I once met Dick Cook, a backcountry hermit in Alaska. He told me he favored cotton coveralls for winter wear. He also wore mostly cotton clothing the rest of the year.

    I still commonly carry a 100% cotton t-shirt in the backcountry. Often it’s more comfortable. I can use it as a towel, and to clean my glasses. For most other purposes I avoid cotton for the usual reasons.

  3. I often wear poly-cotton shirts and T-shirts and I still wear blue jeans, most of the time. I think that people often lose sight of the fact that what you wear is not as important as how you wear it. One important cold weather rule is “Don’t sweat”. If you start to sweat, you either need to slow down or take something off until you slow down. I was out for a walk this morning and I was fine until I started to shovel snow. I only had a little snow to shovel, so I didn’t bother with my clothing and then came inside to cool down. If I hadn’t had a warm place to go to, I could have been in trouble when I quit shoveling and started to cool down.

  4. So the cotton thing has been very interesting to me. A cursory search will reveal hundreds of articles where the fact that “cotton absorbs 25 times its weight in water” is repeated over and over. So I’m to believe that if I take a 100g cotton shirt and get it soaking wet it’ll come away weighing 2600g? It’s a statement so obviously ridiculous that it made me start to question a lot of the truisms we take for granted in the outdoors.

    I’m still trying to understand wet cotton and insulation. I’ve seen 25x cited as the multiplier for heat loss for wet skin vs. dry, can the same be said about wet clothing against the skin? I’d assume so but I don’t I don’t know of a good way to measure it myself. I’ve read articles stating that since cotton is hollow is loses insulation when it becomes wet. How much? And aren’t polyester and nylon non-hollow to begin with? Are we comparing individual fibers or fabrics? If I recall correctly Nisley stated that the surface of a wetted-out rain jacket would be 20-30F colder than one that wasn’t wetted out, greatly contributing to cooling. So is it just any wet layer – skin contact or otherwise – or is cotton somehow extra bad? Show me the numbers!

    I’ve done similar tests for hiking pants and I was going to do one for hiking boots (since you always hear about how trail runners dry sooo much more quickly – well, how much?) but it turns out that boots of any flavor dry so ridiculously slowly that I’d have to take time off of work to find out.

    On local summits I’ll often see people decked out in what I call the “Seattle bus stop” uniform – head-to-toe Patagucci will all the latest bells and whistles. And then I’ll see a guy in flip-flops and cut-off sweatpants carrying nothing but a Gatorade bottle. They both got to the top. They’re both enjoying the natural beauty of the world. Neither of them are going to freeze to death or need a rescue. One of them just spent several hundred more dollars to get there. Is that a good thing? Is it necessary?

    I think the takeaway for me has been a healthy dose of skepticism. There isn’t tons of data or hard numbers to support a lot of the conventional wisdom that gets tossed around in outdoor circles.

    1. Thanks so much for that article. It’s sparked some conversation here and elsewhere! As Abbie Hoffman once said – “Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.”

      One of them just spent several hundred more dollars to get there. Is that a good thing? Is it necessary?

      Indeed. I think it is all in context. For the gentleman above who guides rafting trips, I can see why a cotton t-shirt somewhere down a canyon with no sun could be challenging. OTOH, on a warm, sunny day here in Moab, would a person be in trouble hiking Devil’s Garden in a cotton t-shirt? Arguably they might be safer with this shirt in the high desert than a nylon shirt from REI.

      I readily admit I don’t have the science to back up what my experience dictates; good to know my experience and what works for me is not wholly imagined. 🙂

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