Mike Dean Outdoor Professional
Original post, 17 August 2017
Updated 27 August 2021
Advisor Mike Dean is, among many other things, a retired Registered Alaska Hunting Guide. Mike has spent almost all of his 60 years hitting it hard in the outdoors. These last 20 years or so, Mike has returned to his roots in Northern Maine.
We first got to know Mike in early 2017 and he gave our All Around Jacket the most serious field-test report we have ever gotten from anyone. I found out later that Mike has done formal testing for some of the major outdoor clothing brands. He has a huge knowledge of Nature and her extremes and the gear that will enable people to survive and thrive in whatever Nature dishes out. Mike also gave us some input on our ShirtJac and some great feedback on the things he's done in WeatherWool and the types of activities and weather he's been experiencing. Mike's Northern Maine adventures are coming in too quickly for us to keep up with. He recently told us about a family on vacation who got caught in a sudden storm while on a lake ... they were quickly soaked and cold and disoriented and unable to reach shore. With two inexperienced adults and two small children, what had been a light-hearted, pleasant family outing could have turned into a very very bad situation if a professional guide hadn't just happened to be nearby. Mike always has some of our wool available, and it helped solve problems. Things happen in the North Country and for that reason Mike always has wool ... and WeatherWool has become Mike's favorite clothing ... and he is the first WeatherWool Advisor.
Mike spends a lot of time alone, off-grid in far Northern Maine. He has also lived for years in very remote Alaska. And for quite a while he brought groups out into Maine's North Woods to experience that vast wilderness. Just after graduation from high school, Mike headed South to Springer Mountain, Georgia, and walked the entire Appalachian Trail. I guess you could say he basically walked home from Georgia, which is a pretty cool thing to do!
Mike likes the All Around Jacket for fishing ... people usually don't think of wool on the water, but in fact it is excellent because cold and wet situations is where wool really shines ... and spring fishing on the big lakes of North Maine is cold and windy and wet ... and as that vacationing family has learned, even summer fishing on those cold waters is not something to be undertaken without real preparation. Here is a picture of Mike with a nice rainbow trout and his seriously-tested All Around Jacket:
Mike told us that his April fishing usually takes place in a very rural lakes, some quite large, with temps typically in the low 40s Fahrenheit (about 5-7C) with wind and rain common, maybe even usual. Mike’s description:
“The weather conditions for all these pictures are 37-45 degrees and raining ... sometimes a lot sometimes just a little ... out in the weather for 3-6 hrs depending ... WeatherWool rocks in these conditions. I stayed warm and dry no problems. I go fishing about every day.”
Mike says nothing performs like wool in these conditions.
Mike got his ShirtJac about three months after his All Around Jacket and often fishes these same conditions in the ShirtJac. The Largemouth and Pickerel, like the Trout, are headed for the dinner table ...
This is a picture of Mike in his ‘ready for anything’ outfit:
As Mike describes this outfit:
“I'm fully dressed for ANY winter weather. WeatherWool and Woolpower underneath, Steger mukluks, old school wool mittens with leather shells. Can handle anything from 45 above to whatever below ... coldest so far is -43F wind-chill -65F ... not bad for one set of clothes ... quite a temperature range.”
The white overlayer in the picture is a very tightly-woven cotton Anorak that is both windproof and waterproof.
Mike has a great deal to say about how to dress in order to be prepared for a variety of weather, including severe weather. Here is some more input from Mike, lightly edited, but still in Mike's high-speed, high-energy way of writing ... which is the same as his way of talking:
Maine is a good winter state but not as good as it was when I was younger as it's warming up 2x faster than other places in the country not good.
Yes, LL Bean has done very well selling to hunters and none but their products don't have the quality they once did as at their level there's too much competition so they have to sell at a certain price point
I would also trademark the LYNX pattern if you haven't done so already it's really good. [We have a copyright on LYNX Pattern.]
Yes, that's basically it with the NMDJ [North Maine Double Jacket] ... two full fabric layers overall plus cape on chest/shoulders (like AAJ) [All Around Jacket] and the third layer on forearms (like AAJ ). This would be the best wool coat/ jkt made by anybody anywhere in any part of the world, period.
The inspiration came from years of observing animals in the wild specifically caribou they can handle all the weather the north can throw at them here's why; they have TWO layers of fur and a third layer on the neck/shoulder area ... I thought wouldn't it be good if somebody could make a top of the line wool coat similar to that, that was in 1983 in Trapper Creek Alaska ... it's taken that long to find a company that's willing and has the skill to do it. The reasoning is this: when it snows or rains the outer layer of fur will eventually wet thru BUT the inner layer will not it may get damp? But it will still keep the animal warm and the third layer on the neck/ shoulder area which gets the wettest the fastest will do the same ... first two layers will get wet but again the inner layer won't and when it gets too wet it shakes it off. Wool is fur, thus a coat built the same way could do the same thing for humans that work and play outdoors the majority of the time, if it was made right, the NMDJ will be it the triple layer forearm area makes sense because that area gets used the hardest as it's closer to your hands which do most of the work, hopefully, this makes sense as you'll never see a sheep, wolf, caribou freeze to death why two layers of wool/ fur and a third in the neck shoulder chest area.
So the North Maine layering system;
This system will work anywhere in the country with a few exceptions (Fla, lower Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, not the northern part of those states)
INNER LAYER (base layer for the modern types, which was coined by Patagonia )
1st of December thru middle of April ( winter )
Wool power 200 gram. Top and bottom
PANTS: WeatherWool FullWeight fabric wool (these can handle most any weather)
SHIRT: WeatherWool light weight ShirtJac (a lot warmer and can handle more weather than you think)
MID LAYER: WeatherWool full weight ShirtJac
OUTER LAYER: WeatherWool North Maine double jacket/coat
WIND LAYER: Empire wool and canvas Arctic Anorak (completely windproof and the best built, designed, rugged wind layer you'll ever own) made of 7oz Egyptian cotton upper body, lower body Artikis wind pants,
FEET: Steger mukluks double-wide (nothing is as light, breathable, warm or as comfortable, call the girls at Steger for sizing and use in your weather conditions) mid-weight or heavy-weight wool socks you will only need to wear one pair at a time
HANDS: wool mittens with leather choppers over them
HEAD: wool balaclava and /or hood on your coat (which it should have)
This will work for any northern tier state in the world whether USA, Canada, mountains of Italy, Germany or elsewhere
May thru end of November
INNER LAYER: lightweight wool t-shirt or long-sleeved t-shirt from duck worth (Helle Rambouillet merino wool sourced from Montana). boxer shorts on the bottom same material. This wool is very well made and lightweight I have worn it in 45-85 degree weather works all the time, almost see thru
SHIRT: same as winter
PANTS: lightweight wool whipcord or single tin cloth lightweight both from Filson
FEET: lightweight /medium weight wool socks and lightweight hikers or Cota kayaking mukluks, depends on what I'm doing
HEAD: fur felt hat or straw depends on weather i.e. Rain or the sun
NOTES: this system is simple versatile and will work in any condition you will want to be in. I personally have used it from 85 above to 43 below and wind chill at 63 below.
Examples if you're snowshoeing and it's 15 above with no wind, the lightweight wool shirt will probably be enough. Add the wind and put your Anorak on. Still chilly, add FullWeight ShirtJac. -25 with heavy wind: lite shirt, NMDJ, Anorak. Snow light to heavy and anything in between - any combo of the wool shirts. Light to medium rain any combo of wool shirts - just mix and match to fit the weather, heavy rain with wind. Or stay inside as nothing can be accomplished anyway.
What about the city person or businessman: same thing. As an example, about 3-4 yrs ago when the big storms hit NY and NJ, cars were all along the main roads because they couldn't move. The above system would work great when you had to stay in the car or walk out of it. Just get the Lynx or Black colors or both.
Will need the following amount:
- Woolpower lightweight T-shirts, 3 pr (very breathable and comfy and better than any synthetic tops)
- Woolpower 200 gram bottoms, 2
- Woolpower Lite boxers, 3
- One Long-sleeve shirt
- Two lightweight wool shirts,
- One FullWeight ShirtJac
- One NMDJ or standard AAJ
- One FullWeight wool pants
- One MidWeight wool pants
- One windproof anorak,
- One windproof bottom
- Lite weight tin cloth work pants, 3
- One expedition grade down parka for sitting around when it's really cold and you are not generating any body heat. My preference is from Feathered Friends - the fully baffled Himalaya. NOBODY makes better down products than them. Period, and I have used most of them
As you can see, not that much clothing but maximum versatility and all the best designed, best built and very durable clothing that can be found today. When you're canoeing/ kayaking (my preferred way on the water) on the northern waters it can get cold or chilly even in August, the lightweight wool and FullWeight ShirtJac will come in very handy, especially in the mornings and evenings or around the campfire. Also in a light-medium rain, the wool will keep you warmer than a fleece jacket/Gortex combo. The northern lakes are a lot bigger than people think. As an example, Chesuncook in northern ME is 22 miles long and always windy. When the storms come over the mountains you'll appreciate the way your WeatherWool is built as you head for shore asap. I can use lots of examples but this would turn into a book on backcountry living/ camping. Anybody can mix and match to fit the weather conditions, whether a city businessman, canoeing, vacation camping, etc. It's bulletproof and will last for years.
To all who read this - please understand that I don't work for any of the company names that I've mentioned, nor am I paid to endorse them.
Mike, somewhere in northern Maine:
Hi everybody wait before you write it up some additions and clarifications are in order already have ?.I will start with the easiest first
Socks ... I use smart wool hvy mountaineer sock because it has a thick sole as my medium wgt and -40 below socks you can get these from Steger mukluks they are tall thick and warm great socks
Hands ... you can get wool chopper mittens and shells from ll bean or Steger or empire wool and canvas. Steger or empire will be better in quality and last longer buy extra mittens
Pants ... Filson no longer makes these pants. No problem for wool head straight to WeatherWool for the lightweight ones. You'll want the mid weight fabric. It will probably outlast the people that buy them. For work pants go straight to Piragis and get there canvas canoeing pant (It works great), built for the outdoors or Duluth Trading. Look for the lightweight firehouse stretch pants (I will probably never wear these out; I use both and haven't even put a dent in these things.)
Feet ... stay away from goretex in your lightweight hiker boots as they are very hard to dry out in the outdoors and most of the fabric and rubber or fabric/ leather have too many seams and if the seams let go or get cut the boot can come apart, what you want is a boot with no seams above the sole and a stitch down sole (no glued soles) stay away from the ll bean all leather hikers as the soles will come unglued in about 2 years, spend the $ and get good ones as your feet are very important go to schnees meindl filson need to be looking in that area danner also mine are filson up landers not insulated had for 5 yrs now Excellent boot made by the Russell moccasin co.
Shirts..... WeatherWool clothes are made from a very high grade of merino wool, you can substitute a good flannel shirt for one of the lightweight wool ones go straight to filson and get their Alaskan guide shirt they make a fabulous line of cotton clothes period I own two of these and probably will not live long enough to wear them out same for WeatherWool.
Wool underwear.......Woolpower is the best long winter underwear period nothing else on the market is as lightweight or as warm and over the yrs I have tried everything but the 200 gram the 400 gram is more like a sweater I have a set of 400 gram that I use for emergencies or if your not really dressed for the weather you can double up on the underwear but be advised Woolpower is very warm for its wgt. The summer weight is out of Bozeman Montana called duck worth built very well and thin comfy breathes better than any wgt of synthetic and if you get caught in a shower it will keep you a lot warmer also and you can dry out by the fire made of a fine merino wool did I mention soft and comfortable go straight to schnees ... get boxers short sleeve t- shirts one long sleeve and one long pants ... on a northern lake/ river you will appreciate these if it turns cold which happens a lot and it's a good layer against the bugs
Outer coat/ jacket....... The NMDJ is not available yet but it's coming think the AAJ on steroids double fabric and cape on top of chest and shoulders do you need it well let's see what this coat can do ... it will be able to handle a 18-20 mph steady wind which is a lot of wind steady is the key, double fabric means snow will never get thru I don't care how much or how hard it snows, rain will take a very long time to wet thru and with a cape probably never but if does wet thru it's still not wet like clothes out of a washer and truth be told most people are not going to be out in the rain long enough for that coat to wet thru, so for the serious outdoorsman yes it's that good or you're a city businessman absolutely lose the standard thinsulate/ wool blend business coat and get it in the LYNX pattern you'll be a lot warmer and if you get caught in a storm or got to walk a distance you'll love it and lastly a lot more stylish and you'll never wear it out
Hoods ... get one if your winter coat doesn't have one get one but be careful you don't want a fishbowl a hood can keep your head warm and prevent moisture from going down your back.
Mix and match. This system will work year round in all types of weather. I work and live outdoors 90% of the time. I am not indoors very much as I think it's better to be outside and there's not much to do inside anyway. I realize that a lot of people work indoors but you have vacation time, and walking outdoors off and on, it will work for you also. Maybe even better, as most people are not accustomed to the outdoors temperature changes as somebody like me who gets warm indoors very fast.
Now, do you have to buy the all the clothes at once? Of course not. Start with your inner layers as they are the most important. Then your outer layer, as that's the protective layer etc. Keep in mind that wool and down are the original high-tech fabrics and it's what fleece and synthetic insulation are trying to mimic. Stick to the originals. They are a lot better. Buy the best you won't be sorry.