Dec 06

Wearing Only Underwear in Cold Winter Weather: A Primer

Santacon looms this weekend, plus the  Santa Skivvies Run Sunday — wherein hundreds will run in the streets of San Francisco wearing nothing but Santa caps and a pair of undies to raise money for the SF AIDS Foundation. Plenty of you will be out there wearing just underwear or lingerie in public, in December. Weather Underground is calling low temperatures in the mid-40s for Sunday in San Francisco. These may not be ideal conditions for streaking or undie running, but we can learn much from the legacy of cold-weather sports fans who go shirtless or topless in frigid temperatures.

Like for one thing, it’s a good way to get yourself shown on television or the internet.

If you’re stripping down in public in very low temperatures, you’re probably already breaking three of the most fundamental rules of staying warm outdoors: you’re not wearing the right clothing, you don’t have adequate shelter, and you’re probably drinking alcohol. Alcohol does not help your body stay warm in the cold, it dilates your blood vessels and increases your body’s heat loss. But I would not discourage you from drinking, nor do I have the moral authority to do so.

This means that good, healthy cold weather streaking requires greater focus on the second tier of warmth retention strategies. You’ve already blown it in a big way on the fundamentals, so make up for it by tending to a number of the little things.

  • Cover Your Feet and Head Really Well – You’re skimping on the rest of your body, so be sure to have on well-soled shoes and heavy socks. If you’re not wearing a Santa cap, you should be wearing some kind of hat. Gloves would also be recommended if you’re not exercising, but if you are exercising then gloves are likely to overheat you quickly.
  • Stay Dry – If your bare skin is wet, your body will lose heat nearly 25 times faster . If it looks like rain, take an umbrella. You can still enjoy the benefits of exhibitionism in rainy weather if you’re covered by an umbrella. Plus you’ll fucking look better. If you’re sweating, wipe that sweat off of you as frequently as possible. Sweat will contribute to windchill in cold weather.
  • Drink Water – I know, they say this every time you’re doing something you shouldn’t do to yourself.
  • Pick Your Favorite Cold Weather Booze – You are hurting yourself, but at least choose a warm-feeling booze that gives you at least some psychological comfort. Heather Hawkins, fitness blogger at FitLIfeSF who is also running the Santa Skivvies, recommends Rumple Minze. “It warms from the inside out,” says Ms. Hawkins. “During Santarchy 2009, I had a “Jingle Stick” full of Rumple Minze and we ran into (Former SF mayor) Gavin Newsom as he was leaving the Safeway on Church and Market. I offered him his choice of Rumple Minze from the Jingle Stick, flavored lube or candy canes and he “no thanksed” them all. No wonder his career has taken the turn it has.”
  • Don’t Drink Coffee or Smoke Beforehand – Pick your poison — and you’re probably picking alcohol — so try to exclude the other vices.  Caffeine is a diuretic, and will dehydrate you. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, and limits your blood circulation.
  • Do Drink Ginseng  or Green Tea Beforehand – Hot drinks other than coffee can serve you well when near-naked outdoors. While green tea has caffeine, it has substantially less than coffee –plus it’s an antioxidant, and encourages thermogenesis. Ginseng is a good, energizing antioxidant containing no caffeine. Hot drinks are great, but avoid sugar.
  • Eat a Hot Meal Two Hours Beforehand – Chowing down on complex carbohydrates a couple hours before your streak helps your body produce heat and insulation. Soup, chili, pasta, or potatoes are a great idea. Meats and cheeses can also be beneficial, but make an effort to go lean or low-fat.
  • Stay Close to Your Scantily Clad Friends – You guys really need body heat, so stay close to one another. Frequent hugging or snuggling will benefit both parties, and requires no supplies or advance planning. Plus this can also lead to you getting some action that you would otherwise not have gotten.

In San Francisco, you’re not going to get hypothermia unless you jump in the ocean. You might, however, get cold and put your clothes back on earlier – and then everybody loses. In colder regions with a legitimate windchill factor, attention to secondary warming strategies will be critical for you when going naked or near naked outdoors. And I will look forward to seeing your shriveled package or your unshriveled nipples on television or the internet!