Hunting, by default, demands more than just a bit of roughing it in the wild - it necessitates commitment even when the weather conditions are not as ideal as one may have hoped them to be.
I remember stacking clothes upon clothes on myself, thinking that all I needed were as many layers as I can get in order to be warm.
Boy, was I wrong. Not only have I decreased my ability to move and weighed myself down, but I have also never felt as cold as I felt that night.
From then on, I began to research and test out tactics and techniques to keep myself as warm and as comfortable as possible, without hindering my ability to move stealthily, without alarming any prey nearby.
Over the years of hunting (and freezing outside due to my inexperienced self), I have gathered knowledge that I can translate into pieces of advice and tips for my fellow hunters and all of the future, aspiring ones.
No matter if you are elbow-deep in snow or if it’s bitingly cold outside, I will help you navigate the chilling weather conditions.
Stay tuned and read the best ways to keep your body warm while hunting if you want to make sure that your next hunting trip is as rewarding as it should be!
1) The Key to Warmth - First, Warm the Feet
It all starts with your feet.
Feet play a big role in maintaining bodily heat (as well as hands), which is why I chose to focus on them first. They need to be the first thing that you take care of.
How do you do this best, you may wonder? Through various trials and tribulations, failed and successful experiments, I have found the winning combination of good socks and more importantly, high-quality boots.
Now is the best time to mention this: do not skimp on your hunting equipment.
With this being said, expensive doesn’t always necessarily translate into quality - but make sure that you do not buy something just because it is cheap.
Picking the Right Boots and Socks
When you choose your boots, make sure that they are not too tight as you do not want to cut off blood flow, because no blood flow means no warmth. A loose fit will do you more good.
In addition to this, always bring an extra pair of socks (wool or wool blend). The material of your socks is crucial as well; you want to avoid cotton at all costs because it absorbs moisture, which means that your socks will become damp.
The color of your gear is your choice, but there may be some regulations.
Paired with good socks, an excellent pair of boots will go a long way in ensuring that you are warm.
Hot Tip: You can also use heated insoles and heat packs to make sure that you are always warm.
2) Layers Are Important:
As I have already mentioned, I used to think that piling clothes on myself was the right way to do this part.
I had no idea that there was, in fact, the right way to layer clothes, but a person learns as long as they live, right? Needless to say, I had my fair share of complete wardrobe malfunctions and catastrophes, but rest assured - these methods are tried and true.
When temperatures drop, it is important to have the most suitable clothes and to utilize them wisely.
The Winning Layer Combination
Once Winter temperatures sneak in and you feel the need to stack as many pieces of clothing on in order to be warm, refer to my rule for the best layering combination:
Cover your base - this sounds simple enough? A rookie mistake here would be to turn to cotton, once again. Cotton is a material that you want to avoid as it absorbs moisture. Long underwear or long johns can indeed go a long way. Opt for polyester or fleece instead of cotton.
Keep the warmth in the middle - keeping your core warm is important, so this step is as crucial as the first one. I usually rely on shirts and vests to ensure that warmth does not leave my core. The essential part of your midwest section is a heated vest.
Make the last layer count - the outer layer is equally important as the ones that are closer to your body. They maintain and upkeep your temperature. I found that bibs are an excellent way to make sure that cold air doesn’t break your layer system. Bib overalls, in combination with a jacket, are an excellent way to make sure that there are no creeping cold drafts.
Now that you are familiar with my layering system, you can rest assured that cold weather will be problem.
3) Choosing the Right Jacket:
It is really important to seal that final step of the layering system that I mentioned before. You will find that choosing the right jacket and again, not skimping on it, will be rewarding in the long run.
In addition to keeping you warm, the right jacket should be both waterproof and windproof in order to keep the cold wind, rain, and snow out, where they belong.
The best jacket should always keep you warm, period.
There shouldn’t be a discussion or a debate about this; it is of utmost importance that you stay warm at all times, no matter what the thermometer says. So, make sure that your hunting jacket passes the following criteria:
✔ It must keep you warm
✔ Needs to be waterproof
✔ Needs to be windproof
✔ It shouldn’t be heavy and uncomfortable - remember, you need to move
A bonus is if your jacket allows you to move about freely and if it also has a lot of pockets.
4) Protect Your Head and Hands:
Some hunters prefer to wear full-face masks and gloves, and while I am not opposed to that, it is just not my style.
Keeping warm and being able to move and shoot freely should not be in opposition; practicality should tie them together.
So, facemasks are indeed a good idea, but they shouldn’t obstruct your shooting angle and range. I prefer not to depend on it. The same goes for gloves: thick gloves make it impossible to shoot.
So, How to Select the Best?
If you are like me and cannot stand wearing thick gloves, opt for the lightweight options when picking gloves.
Not only do they allow precision and a firm grip on your weapon but they are also a good way to keep warm.
But who says you must only choose between the two? You can use thick gloves with lightweight ones in combination; it is always a good idea to have more than one option.
When it comes to keeping your head warm, I feel like there isn’t a simple “win-win” situation. Again, I always opt for a solution that won’t obstruct my shooting range and angles, so that is why I don’t wear facemasks. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend them - quite the contrary!
My strong preference lies in something light - a simple and inexpensive black beanie will do. After all, what is truly important is that you have something on your head and hands.
Stay Warm and Be Smart:
Hunting doesn’t have to be less enjoyable just because it’s cold outside.
Expensive hunting equipment and garments can’t what keeps you warm; choosing and combining the best out of those, along with some tried and true techniques, is where warmth truly lies.
Instead of putting yourself through situations that could potentially risk hypothermia, you should simply follow my tips and tricks on how to keep your body warm while hunting, and you will ensure that your next hunting trip will be nothing short of amazing.