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Staying Warm as a Dog Musher

Staying Warm as a Dog Musher

Dog mushing is a sport and a method of transport that utilizes dogs. These dogs, primarily Siberian Huskies, are grouped into a team to pull a sled for either races or cargo through snow. The term mushing came about from the French word “marche,” which means “to go” or “to run.” While the practice of mushing goes as far back as 2000 BC., it originated in North America when natives of the area would use dogs to pull sleds.

Every year, in Anchorage, Alaska, mushers everywhere prepare themselves for the 975-mile Iditarod. Years of experience and months of preparation are needed to get them ready. Worrying about the temperature is not on their list. While racing across snow and ice at 60-below, staying warm is crucial to crossing the finish line.

Layering is crucial for everyone participating in the Iditarod, especially when activity levels involve bouts of running to standing still. Thermal underwear for women, fleece pants, snow bibs, fleece top, and a jacket can be used for reflecting body heat. Then putting a sown parka on top of all those with an outer shell will help your overall warmth and comfort. It all starts with long johns for women.

Since the weather is extreme, many mushers use chemical warmers for their hands, feet, and back. Some also use liners and waterproof covers for their boots. Many also adopt a lot of native clothing for their gear. Many mushers have found that as the storms hit, the old style of insulation of the indigenous people is the best.

Protecting the face is essential, especially with the subzero temperatures and winds. Goggles and special cream along with fleece neck warmers are used to protect from frostbite. Some mushers have even used duct tape to help prevent frostbite. For the rest of us, a simple face mask will work perfectly as duct tape may give you some odd looks.

Fueling the inside is just as crucial to staying warm. Your body needs food and water to keep your body temperature up. Regular nutrition and sipping on warm water or tea can warm you up during an afternoon of wintry fun. If you really want to go the route of many mushers, there is a treat called Eskimo Ice Cream, which is Crisco mixed with berries. 

Constant movement is important. The dogs pulling the sled are more adapted to the weather than humans are, so moving regularly will help generate more heat for your thermal underwear for women to retain. Since you’re wearing your long johns for women, you can even invest in leggings for dogs along with booties to protect their feet. Their fur is enough natural protection for the rest. 

While watching videos of the Iditarod can prove exciting, participating in it takes a lot of preparation. The chance of you taking part may be slim, but understanding how mushers stay warm in the cold can help you prepare for winter yourself. The weather can always change reasonably quickly, but it doesn’t mean you can’t dress right and have fun with your dogs at the same time.

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