7 Tips to Beat the Cold on Winter Adventures
by Scott Vance
I came very close to freezing to death in Florida. Yes, I said Florida. I was hunting ducks on Lake Kissimmee, and the temperature was in the mid-40s. I fell into an alligator run while setting out decoys in the dark and got soaked from head to toe. I stubbornly wanted to hunt, so I stuck it out. By the time I realized I was in trouble, I had a 20-minute boat ride back to the vehicle. I was in mild hypothermia by the time our group arrived at the truck. I learned an important lesson.
The following are a few tips I’ve learned to stay warm when hunting or fishing in cold weather:
- Always pack some extra dry clothes if you might get wet. I pack a dry bag full of thermal wool clothes.
- Don’t skimp on winter clothes. A high-quality, windproof, waterproof outer layer and quality Merino wool base layers is the key to comfort and success in extreme cold temperatures. Most folks try to go cheap on their winter gear, and it costs them comfort and time afield.
- Don’t sweat it! Getting moisture on your skin is the enemy in cold weather. Make sure you wear a high-quality base layer that will wick moisture away from your skin and still maintain its thermal qualities. It’s hard to beat Merino wool garments for this purpose.
- I’m a wimp when it comes to being cold. I could never tough it out on a deer stand for more than just a few hours when the temperatures dipped into the teens or below. Then, I discovered the Heater Body Suit. It’s basically a big thermal sleeping bag with legs, and it’s proudly made in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It is a game changer. You can walk to your stand with minimal clothes on and avoid getting sweaty. Once there, you slip into the suit and zip it up. The only bad thing is that you have to unzip it to shoot a deer.
- Take a Buddy. If you are hunting in an enclosed blind or sleeping in a tent in the extreme cold, consider taking a Mr. Heater Buddy. It’s portable propane heater that creates radiant heat in a safe way. It has a sensor that will shut the unit off immediately if it detects carbon monoxide or the unit tips over. These can be game changers when taking youngsters out in cold weather, and they can extend anyone’s comfort level.
- Don’t take your gun, muzzleloader, or bow inside at night. Leave it in the temperature you plan to hunt. Taking your weapon from a warm place to a very cold place can cause many issues including fogged optics, condensation in the barrel, cracked bow limbs, and even broken bow strings. I always leave my hunting implements in outside in a case in a secure, locked place.
- Take care of your clothes on multi-day adventures. When you get in from the cold, don’t peel off your clothes and toss them in a pile. Lay everything, including your boot liners and underwear, out where they can dry out overnight. Otherwise, they will still be damp in the morning, and you’ll pay the price quickly.