We’re at the end of November and many of us are already experiencing the colder weather associated with Fall and Winter. With that comes different outerwear that can deal with the harsher climate. One of the brands I’ve relied on for a while now is Black Diamond. Known for their mountaineering equipment, I never really gave them a thought for the activities I partake in; mainly shooting and hiking. One of the ‘industry’ guys that I follow for no bullshit opinions on gear is Kyle Defoor, which just happens to wear Black Diamond outerwear. After reading his thoughts on their rain shells and jackets, I decided to give them a shot. I’ve been using the following Black Diamond products for the past 2 years and can confidently say they are worth every penny you’ll spend on them. Hell, I might even buy another of each, just to have on standby for when my original pieces get retired.
As the temperatures begin to drop, maintaining your body core temperature becomes even more important. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to wear a beanie. On average about 10% of body heat is lost through the head unless it is adequately insulated.
I’ve worn several different brands of beanies over the years; everything from polyester, synthetic, cotton, fleece and wool. The material I have found to work best is wool, whether that is 100% wool or a Merino wool. Merino wool tends to be more comfortable (less itchy). The nice thing about wool is that it can get soaking wet and still keep the temperature of your head regulated.
The beanie that I have found to be the most comfortable and able to keep my head insulated in cold/wet weather conditions is the Black Diamond Torre Wool Beanie. The Torre Wool Beanie is made of 50% acrylic and 50% merino wool. By using these materials the beanie has a nice slim fit, yet is not too tight. It also works well under a helmet for skiing or with ear-pro for shooting in cold weather.
Trying to find a pair of gloves that will both keep your hands warm, but still provide dexterity and the ability to shoot a pistol has been a long time challenge. I’ve had gloves in the past that do ok at both, but they were not something I would’ve recommended to anyone. If you’re not a shooter or don’t shoot outside in the cold weather, then this subject may be a moot point. Me personally, I always have my Glock 17 in my go-bag/day bag when hiking (in the winter months), so having the ability to access the gun, draw it from the bag and shoot it with gloves on is a must. Those gloves must also keep my hands warm and dry during my normal outdoor activities in the winter months.
Also in really cold weather, you want to try to avoid touching metal with your bare hands (this includes your firearms). To be able to safely and accurately employ your pistol in cold weather, you need a quality pair of gloves that are somewhat tight and thin, but still have the ability to retain heat and keep snow and rain out.
Depending on how serious of an outdoor shooter you are in the colder winter months, you may want to have a few different types of gloves for different temperature variations. For this article, we are going to look at a quality glove that will cover the needs of most outdoor shooters and enthusiasts. That glove is the Black Diamond Midweight Softshell.
As most of you know Black Diamond makes some quality gear and clothing for those living an outdoor lifestyle. The Black Diamond name is quite popular among those that rock climb, rappel, ski and snowboard. They are at the top of the food chain for their industry. I also know of several shooters that swear by Black Diamond and use it for shooting in cold weather and other less than ideal weather conditions. Because of their reputation in the outdoor and shooting industry, I had to give them a try. Enter the Black Diamond First Light Hoody.
This jacket is a no-frills, simple yet durable piece of clothing. The jacket does have somewhat of an athletic fit to it which I really like. That translates into less bulk making it more streamlined for rock climbing or running and gunning on the range. I recently had it outdoors during a cooler fall day. The air temperature was hovering around 40 with sporadic rain and 20mph wind gusts. The First Light Hoody kept me protected from the elements and warm. I’m going to continue to wear it through the fall and into early winter. I will give an update of how this jacket performs and how cold I can take it down to and still be comfortable. Stay tuned…
The importance of having a light source in your loadout should never be overlooked, even if you’re only going on a simple day hike. You never know when Murphy is going to visit and turn your day hike into an overnight stay in the woods.
I keep a headlamp in my daily loadout that goes with me to the office, too. You never know when the lights will go out or if you will need to change that vehicle tire at night. The primary advantage of using a headlamp over a traditional flashlight is the fact that it leaves both hands available to use.
There are a lot of different styles of headlamps on the market and many brand names. One of those brands that I trust and use is Black Diamond. The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is a powerful headlamp with easy on-the-fly lighting adjustments.
f you enjoy the outdoors and are looking for a lighting option for low light or night time, pick up a Black Diamond Spot Headlamp. These are outstanding and won’t break the bank. I’ve used this at night in the rain with zero issues. The fact that it takes the same batteries as my GPS and backup light—AAA batteries—is a nice bonus. This is very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. In fact, I’ve actually fallen asleep with it on while reading a book. This headlamp has found a permanent spot—no pun intended—in my hiking loadout.
I never really had any use for carabiners prior to my service in the Marine Corps. During my enlistment, I attended the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center where we learned several methods of rappelling, cliff assaults, and general wilderness survival. We were all issued several carabiners for the course. Carabiners soon became very convenient to clip gear to the outside of my ruck, clip my ruck to a tension line while crossing streams, tying a swiss seat and using a carabiner to clip into the line and the list goes on.
After leaving the military I don’t recall really having a use for them anymore. I still have the two I used at the Mountain Warfare Training Center (man are they heavy), but never used them. Once in a while, I would get them out and reminisce about the good ole times. Fast forward several years as I got back into shooting, backpacking, hiking and general preparedness. With a different mindset, I now see many uses for a carabiner on a daily basis. Let take a look at a few.
You’re only limited by your imagination as to what you can do with a carabiner. They are not just for climbing and rappelling. They come in handy for everyday uses if you think outside the box. I personally stay away from the cheap carabiners sold at the checkouts of hardware stores. For EDC purposes I recommend the Black Diamond Neutrino. It’s a lightweight, low profile, climbing rated carabiner.