We Don’t Lose Most of Our Heat Through Our Heads

November 27, 2012 at 2:00 am 2 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

Winter hat, stocking cap, beanie or toque; whatever you call it, it keeps your head warm. But, it doesn’t necessarily keep you warm.

An old US Army survival manual suggested wearing a hat since “40 to 45 percent of body heat” is lost through your head. This recommendation is thought to have come from a military experiment over 60 years ago when participants were dressed from neck to toe in Arctic clothing, but no headwear. Over time, this has snowballed into “most” heat is lost through our heads.

Where you lose heat comes down to what is exposed or poorly insulated. If you’ve worn shorts on a day that was way too cold to wear shorts, you know how quickly you can get cold when half your body is exposed. I know I could last longer on a cold day without a hat than wearing shorts.

Some areas of your body are more sensitive to temperature changes, including your head, face and chest. Protecting these areas will make a big difference in comfort even though it may not have as big an impact on actual heat loss compared to properly insulating all other areas of your body.

New studies in body performance show that less than 20 – 30% of heat loss is from the head, depending on environmental temperature. In extreme cold, this 20 – 30% could make a significant difference, so don’t skip the hat.

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Sources: healthline.com, guardian.co.uk, bmj

Entry filed under: Despite Popular Belief. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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