On the day I was sitting and writing this, much of America was locked into a deep and raw freeze. For the second winter in a row, temperatures in January have dipped into the teens in some areas as far south as Texas and well below zero in the Dakotas and upper Midwest. It’s cold out, the snows are piling up, and the winds are raw. It’s winter.

So what can anyone who wants to hunt, search for shed deer antlers, run a trap line, or scout for turkeys do to stay warm while outdoors in winter? Be sure to dress in layers and cover all your skin.

  1. The layer near your skin should be soft and permit—or wick—moisture (alias sweat or perspiration) away from your skin. The secret to staying warm is staying dry on your skin’s surface. Moisture equals cold. Most clothing manufacturers label these type garments with wicking power as base layers, including Under Armour’s Ridge Reaper series. These are often thin garments or feel silky to the touch and are often crafted from polyester. Cotton does not make a good base layer, so avoid garments with cotton construction.
  2. The second preferred layer should permit wicking to continue as well as provide pockets of air to provide insulation. Think fleece for this layer. Another option to help increase your warmth factor is clothing such as Under Armour’s ColdGear® with Infrared technology. This high tech clothing uses a soft, thermo-conductive inner coating to absorb and retain your body’s heat.
  3. Over your inner layers should be a barrier shell that prevents snow, sleet and rain from dampening the layers. This is often a Gore-Tex lined rain suit or other type shell with a breathable membrane.

Moving along…

As you move, your body produces heat. Overheating equals sweating equals cold. As you heat up, remove clothing layers to reduce the sweat factor. When you stop the activity, such as when you begin sitting in a treestand or duck blind, add back removed layers or those stashed in your daypack before you become chilled.

Remember also to wear a hat or head cover. An estimated 50% of your body’s heat can escape via an uncovered head. Add on gloves, a scarf or balaclava such as a UA Scent Control ColdGear® Infrared Hood. Then slip on insulted boots with layers of socks inside and you are ready to take on winter’s cold temperatures.

And a solution for those who complain about cold feet while sitting in a treestand and hunting deer? Stand up for short periods. Standing permits warm blood from your body’s core to circulate down to your legs and feet. When you sit, clothing normally restricts blood flow around your knees and down to your feet and toes. Be certain to always wear a safety harness when in a treestand.

It’s also a great idea to have a small thermometer on the zipper of your outer or shell layer. When temperatures drop below zero, you need to be more cautious, spend less time outside, and let someone know when you will return. Cold can be a killer, so layer up and stay warm.