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Let's move to South Dakota! (Help me avoid becoming a copsicle)

I just accepted a position with a police department in South Dakota. I'm from New York. My idea of cold is woefully unprepared for their version of cold, according to my wife. So I'm looking for first hand advice from those of you who have had to stand outside in very cold environments - how do I prepare for this? I've got some sets of thermals but I'm looking for advice on particular brands to wear and any tips that can be offered. I've seen some of these disposable warming pads in places like True Value, but they seem like an expensive way to make it through the day - it might be okay for a once in a while thing but definitely not a regular occurrence, you know?

"Sometimes things aren't complicated," I said. "You just have to be willing to accept the absolute corruption of everybody involved."


  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    No real advice for the low temperatures, but I do want to make sure you are aware that the average summer temp in South Dakota (Pierre) is also a fair bit hotter than the average summer temp in New York (New York City), and the spikes up near the record highs are a lot worse.

    Make sure to look into methods for staying cool as well.

    naporeon on
  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    Get used to drinking hot drinks. Always makes things better. Scarves help by blocking heat from coming out the top of your coat.

    There are reusable handwarmers, go to Cabellas or similar outdoors store and you can find them in various types. Wear a hat or at least earmuffs.

    It has been 0 to-10 here in MN for a few weeks now and I haven't used any handwarmers or anything.

    Will your duties involve being outside much? If you are just in and out of the car you wont need handwarmers.

    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
  • GafotoGafoto Registered User regular
    I go ice climbing in subzero temperatures commonly. The most important thing is having some excellent baselayers. Always wear synthetic to remove any moisture that might accumulate when you get too warm. Under Armour has some good quality thick baselayers.

    Keeping the extremities warm is the hard part for me, especially having to touch metal constantly. Wear as thick socks as your shoes will accommodate, but not multiple pairs. Stuffing too much sock in your boots/shoes will cut off circulation and make your feet colder than they would be with a single sock. I generally like Smartwool socks. Super comfy and they have a lot of different weights for different temperatures. An insulated winter boot will make your life much improved as well.

  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    Depending on temperatures you can do a few different things. From that average temperature weather site someone linked above, you do not have to do anything serious, it seems to be like -10 to -20 degrees celsius a few months of the year. Important things are to make sure you have insulated boots if you freeze easily in the feet area, I regularly use regular sneakers with thick socks in -15 to -30 in northern sweden, but I grew up with it. Always cover your head, is the *most* important part pretty much. If you don't cover your head you will just lose a ton of heat trough there, regardless of other clothing. A scarf for the face and to keep heat inside your jacket is nice as well. Helps for windchill too. Windchill is hellish in case you've never experienced it, regardless of what the thermometer shows it can be twice to thrice as cold in practice due to heavy winds.

    Other than that, as said above wear layers. When it creeps down below 20 or so you probably want to have something covering your body, then regular clothes, then winter clothes on top of that assuming you are gonna spend time outside. As for gloves it depends on what you are going to do outside. My brother had a pair of somewhat thin anti knife gloves when he was working as a security guard, that also happened to be passable to keep his hands warm in -20ish that left him capable of actually using his hands. Otherwise there are many kinds of gloves, just find a pair that's comfortable and keeps you warm.

    If you get any kind of warming pads get renewable ones, not disposable. There are a lot of different kinds actually. I can't help you on brands or stuff though as I don't use them myself.

  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    I like insulated water proof boots (tims or red wings), with merano wool socks. Very warm. You'll want a coat that handles wind. South dakota is windy as all hell, especially compared to new york. Don't bother with an umbella make sure your coat is water proof, or have rain gear to go over your warm clothing. Thermal underwear is good too.

  • Chases Street DemonsChases Street Demons Registered User regular
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm not sure exactly how much of my duties will be outside. I imagine most of the stuff will be in/out of the car no matter what the weather is like but I also suspect that there may be days where I have to direct traffic or similar after an accident.

    From what I know of the area the wind chill there is the worst part. I guess we'll see as time goes by. :)

    "Sometimes things aren't complicated," I said. "You just have to be willing to accept the absolute corruption of everybody involved."

  • lessthanpilessthanpi Registered User regular
    Depending on where you've just accepted a position in SD there's a pretty solid chance any time the weather is severe enough everything will just completely shut down. They regularly just close the interstates during storms and any kind of activity/commerce just grinds to a halt.

    I always found the horrifically hot and humid summers to be far more taxing than the winters.

    Be prepared for no 24 hour anything and very little happens on Sundays.

    But hey! Maybe you'll get to arrest someone for DUI on a horse! It happens there!

    Anyways, I lived in SD for 2 years and my wife lived there for about 7. I can fill you in on other things if you wish.

  • Chases Street DemonsChases Street Demons Registered User regular
    I'm going to be in Sioux Falls. If there is civilization to be had anywhere in South Dakota, it is there. :D

    "Sometimes things aren't complicated," I said. "You just have to be willing to accept the absolute corruption of everybody involved."

  • WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    Long underwear. Its a thing. Its a thing that works.

  • nugmanagogonugmanagogo Registered User regular
    Sioux Falls isn't that cold. I live down the road in Sioux City, and it's not at all like being out in the plains.. This year for example, I think it's been under zero like twice. And I absolutely agree with lessthanpi, the summers are way worse to deal with.

    god is Love, Love is blind, Ray Charles is blind, Ray Charles is god
  • BlazeFireBlazeFire Registered User regular
    This blog post ( seems to be pretty spot on. I just found it with Google but based on my own experiences (riding bicycle in up to -40C, running up to -30C, camping up to -20C) it explains the basic ideas quite well.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    if it is going to be that cold, look into union suits. much warmer than than 2 pieces. i personally am a huge fan of merino base layers. much warmer and more comfortable than poly pro, and it doesn't smell nearly as bad

    mts on
  • Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Get over yourself. Registered User regular

    When I was working at the airport where -40 F was consider 'child play', the most important thing you can do is layer up.

    Also, cotton kills. Nothing will drain your body of heat faster then wet cotton. Wool is king, and if you can't stand the feel of wool on skin, use a synthetic base layer and then layer on the wool.

    Nothing sucks more then numb feet, I'm not sure if your department will provide you a budget for footwear, but If not I would give yourself an early present and buy high quality boots. Do your research and make sure that the boots you do buy meets the standard that your department may have. Once you have boots, but some good wool socks.

    BUT I WARN YOU! Some boots are extra 'gripy' and will pull your socks down and off, and NOTHING SUCKS MORE then having your socks be dragged all the way down to the toe box, and you can't find the time undo your laces and pull your socks back up. So always make sure your boots and socks combination works.

    Lastly, the best way to keep warm is to limit skin exposure. The best thing I've ever brought for cold weather was a Balaclava. Seriously, buy one.

  • HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
    I can't find any label other than the brand on them, but if mittens are an option then the North Face (I think the Nuptse) mittens are amazing. They're kind of pricey at around $90-110 but they are super warm and work awesomely even when the wind chill/temp has gotten down around -25F.

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