The Temperature Wimps of San Francisco 

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I don’t get it.

I will never understand why men will step out of their houses wearing a jacket or coat when the temperature is in the mid 60s, when they know it will be sunny and 70 F in an hour or two. They trade a slight increase in comfort for increased discomfort later when the sun is beating down on them.

Homeless people wear coats all the time, because they have no home to put their coat inside. The rest of us have no excuse.

telegraph hill

Photo by Sam Agnew. Do you really need a jacket to walk this terrain in the summer?

If it sounds like I’ve written this post before, it is because I have.

Here is what I said in 2011:

Your body is fully capable of adapting to a wide range of temperatures. It wants to be challenged. Always living in 100% comfort does not provide the body with an opportunity to overcome a minor risk free stress. When baby your metabolism, you lose the resiliency that is your birthright. If you are always reaching for jacket and fear the cool breeze on your skin, how will you react when life throws you a major stressor?

I thought Seattle was bad in late spring and early summer. Seattle is hardened lumberjacks compared to San Francisco. Most weekends I arrive in the city early in the morning and explore. Of course I wear shorts. It has never been lower than 60 F when I arrive. Even if it were 50 F, I’d still wear shorts, as I will be walking a city with hills and both my body temperature and the outdoor temperature will rise. The last thing I want to do is lug a jacket around.

It is not just the tourists. I am everywhere. In fact, the tourists are less likely to wear a jacket.

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

We’ve all heard that quote. It is false and absurd. The coldest it gets in SF during the summer is the mid 50s F, which happens in the middle of the night. By the time the sun is up, the temperature has already begun moving towards 70 F.

You Don’t Need a Jacket

Not only is it not cold, but your body is fully capable of adapting to a wider range of temperatures, providing you allow it to happen. Like I said in my 2011 post. You aren’t just wearing a jacket because you are cold, you are cold because you are always wearing a jacket. Remove the jacket and let your metabolism do its job. You’ll be warm soon enough. And you won’t need to lug around that coat all day.

To quote myself:

When the body is exposed to colder temperatures, it learns to generate heat, provided you don’t interrupt that lesson.

11 thoughts on “The Temperature Wimps of San Francisco 

  1. D Fresh

    I’ve always been one to lug around a jacket as I figure I’d rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. That being said, I’ve been trying to go without a jacket a lot more and it seems to be working except when it is windy. I live close to the ocean in Central California…the damn wind gets me every time.

  2. JM

    What about the fashion angle? I find that a jacket can really elevate the look of an otherwise mundane outfit. Looking good helps to boost confidence.

  3. @JM – Maybe. I hadn’t considered that. My hunch is that might only apply to a few cases. Nothing has really struck me, but I also haven’t been looking for it either.

  4. The weather cooled off noticeably here in Montreal the last couple of weeks, and I’ve noticed that as soon as it started to cool, out came the long pants and fall jackets. There was only one kid in shorts yesterday at the playground. I’m still wearing shorts (except on laundry day) because they’re more comfortable, and I’m still in just a t-shirt because my old jacket no longer fits (and is falling apart) and I haven’t sewn up my new one yet (though I did cut it out yesterday). Of course, I don’t want to wimp out this early, not with winter coming. I need all the cold prep I can get. But even if I did want to, I don’t have the clothes ready yet.

    Also I’m eating more now and my body temperature has increased somewhat, so I’m curious as to how much more I can cold acclimatize this year than in previous years.

  5. @Anemone – My only advice is to not push it. Temperature exposure should not go from being a mild stress to a major one. A good goal is to be comfortable at temps 10 degrees F lower than the average person. That is probably enough. Beyond that are diminishing returns.

  6. julie

    I think you lucked into some nice weather. I’ve seen whole weeks of July where the fog never clears, and it never gets above 60, in general. Furthermore, the neighborhood you are in might get into the 70s, but I wouldn’t assume the whole city gets warm like that. My ‘hood, the Mission, may be mid-70s, but if you’re out at my fave gym on Ocean Ave, or even in the Haight, it may be 10 – 20F cooler. And if you’re out at dusk, it may get cold and windy real fast.

    I’ve seen people trying to use newspapers as blankets and jackets, because yesterday it was nice and warm, and they assumed today would be. Your experience is not universal, and not everyone wants to wear shorts when it’s 50F.

  7. Mike K

    I used to shovel snow with a t shirt and shorts on. I would start sweating after a few minutes. I never got sick from doing that. It is amazing what you body can adapt to. Mind you shoveling snow is hard work, if all I was doing was walking in snow it would be different.

  8. Michael, that was last week. This week the temperature dropped quite a bit lower (highs around 60°F, lows as low as 40°F) and the furnace most likely won’t kick in until late October, so now I’ve gone from smug in shorts at 70°F to turning the oven on so I can get warm enough to sleep. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

  9. @Anemone – My goal is to be at comfortable with at least 1 less layer than the average person. So when they wear a jacket, I wear nothing. When they wear a coat, I might wear jacket.

  10. Jo-Anne

    @MAS What about us in the tropics re: body temperature control? I do tend to hold off putting the fan or the air-conditioner on much longer than others and I have it warmer than most….hot flushes aside of course.

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