Nine simple tips for staying warm outdoors in the winter
Over the many years I’ve spent hours sitting quietly in a stand while winter deer hunting. Usually the temperatures are 30 – 40F but sometimes they will be in the single digits. After only minutes of staying motionless in the frigid environment I would start to shiver if not for employing some of the following techniques:
This is an obvious tip that you will always hear. It’s the air trapped between the layers that helps insulate as much as the layers themselves. I start with a synthetic arctic weight base layer. Then a turtle neck shirt to keep the neck warm. Followed by a layer of goose down long underwear. On top of that are my windproof fleece parka and bib overalls. The goose down layer is usually in my backpack in warmer temperatures.
If I need to walk or engage in some other activity before remaining stationary, I pack my outer layers away in my pack until needed. A good base layer can wick away the sweat but too much trapped sweat can cause rapid cooling of your body once you cool down.
Cover your head
I am amazed at how many times I’ve seen someone dressed in a warm parka shivering because their head was exposed. I like a thick knit hat that I can pull over my ears if needed. A face mask will help hold in heat, but bet sure there are adequate openings for your mouth and nose to avoid trapping moisture.
Cover your legs
When setting stationary, a blanket over your legs hold in a lot of heat. Sometimes I pack a small scrap of fleece that I can drape of my legs. Or, if I’m not using my goose down layer, I use that.
Avoid restrictive clothing
My feet used to always get cold until I realized my boots were too tight with the multiple layers of socks I wore. Now I have some good quality felt lined boots and wear one pair of wool socks. Fingered gloves also do not keep your hands as warm as mittens. I switched to loose fitting homemade sheepskin mittens when I found my glove hands were freezing. Sometimes bare hands in the pockets keep warmer than gloves.
I always pack thermos. I usually just bring coffee but found that hot salty liquid like chicken soup broth seems to warm me up even better. Looking forward to the time for that hot drink makes the time pass more quickly.
Sometimes I use the chemical heaters packs. Usually just in a pocket so I can take the chill of my fingers when needed, but sometimes in other places too. Small ones in the toes of my boots, others tucked between my shirt and base layer. If placed in the small of your back near your kidney area they can help to warm the whole body.
Nothing cools you off more quickly than direct exposure to a stiff wind. I avoid treestand hunting in the winter for this reason. I stay tucked in a ground blind, off the top of hills, or behind some big trees when that cold wind is blowing.
Before the chill sets in I will try to warm up sometimes by tensing my muscles. I start by focusing on my toes and slowly work my way up to my arms and neck, tensing, holding for a few seconds then releasing.
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