Vakava Team Photo

Vakava Team Photo
Vakava Racers at the Mora Last Chance Race

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Screaming Barfies

I’ve purposely published this blog in the middle of summer when the Screaming Barfies are as far away from us as possible (unless you happen to be reading this in Antarctica). Hopefully this will prevent anyone from actually puking at the thought.

Perhaps some of you have heard the term “Screaming Barfies” before, but I first learned about it last winter when, you guessed it, I was in the middle of the Screaming Barfies.

So what are the Screaming Barfies? It’s that really really intense pain we feel when our fingers or toes are thawing after getting them really cold. It makes us want to scream and vomit. I’m guessing most of my readers have experienced this at some point and you’re probably starting to feel a bit nauseous even though it’s a tropical 80 degrees outside.

After yet another experience with the Screaming Barfies last December, I decided to try to prevent this from ever happening again. I’ve already resorted to some crazy measures in the past like wearing my really really warm mittens for the coldest skis but I decided to take an even more bold move and get battery powered gloves.

Oh, wow, these sure look warm! The fingers are just glowing red!

My first ski with these was under relatively “balmy” conditions: 9 ℉ with a windchill of -6 ℉. The gloves came with 3 settings and I mistakenly thought the coolest of the three would be adequate. A big problem with these bulky gloves was getting them into my pole straps. With my big mittens, I’ve previously taken my hands out of the mittens, then used my bare hands to pull the mittens through the pole straps. I did this with the new heated gloves thinking that because they were heated my fingers would immediately warm up but this wasn’t the case.

Here you can see the battery pack. It fits into a pocket in the cuff.

I increased the setting on the gloves to the warmest setting (making the button glow red in the night causing lots of questions from fellow skiers) but I only felt a mild amount of warmth coming from them and my fingers still got cold. After I did a couple intervals my hands warmed up nicely and they stayed so until I felt a sudden coldness. Uh-oh, maybe the battery died? Sure enough, the left battery died (so the button no longer glowed) and shortly thereafter the right battery died as well. My fingers got cold again as we were at a Vakava technique practice. I ended up splitting my intervals on either side of the technique practice and my fingers got super cold until I returned to doing intervals. It took until my third interval before my fingers finally warmed up and when they did so it was a mild case of the Screaming Barfies. And so my first ski session with the heated gloves ended with the Screaming Barfies!!!

I decided to give these gloves a try a few days later. This time I made sure to charge them to their full value. Temperatures were again similar to a few days previous. This time I put them on the warmest setting. I skied for 2 hours, the maximum battery life. They worked- but just barely.

After these two encounters with the battery powered gloves, I was done. They were super bulky, difficult to get through my pole straps, and limited to two hours of charge assuming I had remembered to charge them. And they barely worked under what I considered mild conditions.

The battery fits inside the zipper compartment. The button that looks like it has a knight on it is how the gloves turn on and off and what glows!

I went back to using good old fashioned mittens on the cold days. What I like about mittens is that all of my fingers stay together and if they get really cold, I can ball them up to my palm to warm them- although that really only works if I’m no-pole skiing. I also have a pair of lobsters without separators between every finger and these tend to be my go-to lobsters.

My old-fashioned mittens
My go-to lobsters
On the really cold days, I use my super mittens. Yeah, I know I look ridiculous, but especially for the short skis these are a game changer. As I get older my tolerance for frozen fingers is decreasing and I want to avoid the Screaming Barfies.

My super mittens. An absolute must for those -20 skis!
I also use nitrile gloves inside my mittens or lobsters on the cold days when I ski for longer than 1.5 hours and thus risk my fingers getting cold again from the sweat on my gloves. And in general I try to dress a bit warmer- often wearing a big vest for the beginning of the workout- and then shedding clothes as I get warm.

Of course, there’s also those air-activated disposable hand and foot warmers. Maybe I’m just too cheap to use these but I find that they are worthless in gloves where they can’t directly heat the fingers. They provide the best benefit in ski boots when sticking them on my socks over my toes inside my ski boots.

After that case of the Screaming Barfies last December, I haven’t had a bad one since. Maybe if I play it smart and keep using mittens if the temperature warrants I can avoid the Screaming Barfies indefinitely. That would be really really nice.

There are many brands of battery powered gloves and perhaps if I kept searching I could find some I like but my first experience deterred me from wanting to try anymore.
Just a reminder of what the cold days can look like- here I am immediately post sub-zero ski. I used my super mittens this day.

1 comment:

  1. Consider ice climbing as a way to raise the pain bar...

    ... makes ski racing and training seem like lawn bowling. 😎