The early spring season here in Missouri can be very unpredictable. One day we may see temperatures in the 80's, and the next snow. We have rain, sleet, hail, wind, and, if we're lucky, sunshine. Often the weather changes quickly, and the saying around here is, "Don't like the weather? Just wait twenty minutes and it'll change."
Umpires working early season games in the Midwest must be prepared for all types of weather. Packing cold gear is especially important and a review of some cold gear is the subject or today's article.
I have used the Under Armour Cold Gear Longsleeve Mock for the past three seasons. It is a compression fit, which works well for layering. This mock is made of a double knit fabric and has a brushed inner layer for warmth.
My Under Armour Cold Gear Longsleeve Mock has held up well and I continue to use it. When it is warmer, this mock shirt and a jacket works well, but when the temperature dips into the 30s and the wind blows, this shirt requires extra layering to keep warm. The Under Armour Cold Gear Longsleeve Mock is available from $36 to $46 with free shipping from Amazon.com.
I use the Under Armour ColdGear Legging Bottoms when it is cold or very cold. These leggings are very comfortable and, like the mock shirt, wicks away perspiration to keep me dry. I have never had a problem with the leggings keeping me adequately warm. The Under Armour ColdGear Legging Bottoms sells for $54.99 with free shipping from Amazon.com.
This year, instead of purchasing "performance wear" from Under Armour, Nike, etc., I decided to look around at the available options. Polypropylene was recommended to me as a cold weather alternative. Polypropylene is a plastic polymer used in many consumer goods. It can be used both as a structural plastic and as a fiber. Polypropylene is often used for food containers, particularly those that need to be dishwasher safe like Tupperware.
Well, I was a little skeptical about purchasing a plastic shirt, but during a little research I discovered that polypropylene thermals are issued to the U.S. military. Having served in the military in Alaska, I felt reassured about giving polypropylene a chance. I purchased a crew neck top, bottoms, sock liners, and a balaclava (hood) from Amazon.com with free shipping (I dig Amazon and their free shipping). The total price was, get this, $49.27!
The polypropylene shirt and bottoms are very thick. In fact, the bottoms are too thick and I have not been able to comfortably wear them. However, the crew neck top is fantastic! While considerably thicker than the Under Armour and loose fitting, this top is comfortable like a light weight fleece (only stiffer). While everyone will have their own personal preference, I think the fit and feel of the polypropylene is just fine.
This spring I have been able to test this gear. Last night I worked a double header and the wind chill was 22 degrees, my coldest date this year. I wore the polypropylene crew neck top, the Under Armour tights, and the balaclava (worn for the first time). I also wore a pair of gloves, thick socks, and a jacket. I stayed comfortably warm. Both base and plate hats fit over the balaclava. My partner wore Under Armour Cold Gear and complained that he was freezing (been there).
I am highly impressed with the polypropylene shirt and balaclava for cold weather wear. When the weather gets extremely cold, my choice is polypropylene. The price for this gear is also very impressive compared to name brand "performance wear."