Staying Warm in the Outdoors

Discussion in 'Outdoor Articles' started by CaptainBrad, Dec 25, 2007.

  1. CaptainBrad

    CaptainBrad Active Member

    North Dakota
    This is my first winter as a member here at the BOC. One thing I have been noticing as I get to know the fine people here is those who fish in the winter have some issues with keeping warm. Here is an article that I wrote last year about dressing for outdoor activities in winter. It refers to ice fishing (because that is what season we have here) but the ideas are the same.


    Dress for Success

    Dressing right for the cold can change your trip for the better.

    Written by Brad Durick (Captain Brad)

    Winter is here. Are you ready to enjoy the great outdoors to its fullest? Winter in the north country provides many outdoor activities. Ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, and some hunting are huge draws to keep the sanity during the short days and cold nights of winter.

    To enjoy these outdoor activities to the fullest it is imperative that people dress correctly for the elements. It is very common to hear people complain about the cold and blame their staying in the house all winter on the cold. Most of these people need only two simple things to help them solve this problem. First is quality outdoor gear and second is how to use that quality outdoor wear properly to get maximum warmth.

    Base Layers

    Base layers are the layers that go under your outdoor gear to keep the core of your body warm. These layers are as important to keeping you warm as anything you wear.

    The first item you need for outdoor dressing and one of the most important is a high quality pair of socks. These socks can be 100 percent wool or a wool blend of some sort. The wool will help wick any moisture from your feet and keep them dry, hence keeping them warm. This is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle you will need, because cold feet make for a very long miserable day in the outdoors.

    A superior set of long underwear is also a key to staying warm. When purchasing your long underwear look for a set that also has good wicking power. Like the wool socks, you want an undergarment that is made to pull moisture away from your body to keep you dry and warm. Most outdoor stores provide a chart to help you choose the best weight and warmth to fit the activity you plan to partake in.

    Now you have your skin covered. At this point you should simply dress as you normally would. A pair of blue jeans or sweat pants to cover your legs and mid section are always good options. Depending on whether you tend to be a naturally cold-blooded person or a warm-blooded person will determine what shirt you will want. Most of the time a sweatshirt will be perfect to cover your upper body. A hood is a nice touch in case there is a wind and you find yourself needing an extra layer to cover your head and ears. If you tend to get hot, a long sleeved t-shirt might be enough to do the job for you. Likewise you may want both for the really cold days. You can always remove a layer if you get to warm.

    Outer Layers

    The outer layer is the clothing that will be directly in touch with the elements.

    Once you have the proper base layers, the outer layers will work that much better. There have been outstanding strides taken over the past few years to make the outdoor sportsman more comfortable, the ice fishing enthusiast in particular.

    It used to be to stay warm you had to have a heavy down-filled or wool suit in the coldest of conditions. There is nothing wrong with this, but one common complaint is that it is heavy and hard to move in.

    Today’s space age technology has made it much easier to find and afford lightweight yet warm clothing that is manufactured specifically for the sport you wish to participate in.

    Ice fishing has become such a mainstream sport in the north country that the marketplace has answered the call for better cold weather clothing. The newest additions to the cold weather suits that are made specifically for ice fishing are the Cold Snap suit by Vexilar and Ice-Sentials by Strike Master. These suits are manufactured by companies that specialize in the sport of ice fishing so they understand what it takes to be warm and comfortable while ice fishing. They are not only comfortable and lightweight, but also water resistant and they have padded knees to protect ice fishermen who are up and down a lot during the day. As an added bonus to being comfortable they are designed with plenty of storage in the pockets for small tackle boxes, gloves, or whatever you will need to carry with you.

    Now that your body’s core is warm it is time to keep the extremities warm. Growing up your mother always told you to keep your hat on so you don’t catch cold. She was part right. You lose most of your body’s heat through your head. A stocking cap or facemask is a must to keep that heat from leaving through your head.

    To enjoy most outdoor activities your hands are the most important part to keep comfortable. Gloves are a matter of opinion as to what you are going to choose. Some people like gloves while others like mittens. The main goal of gloves or mittens should be to keep your hands warm yet dry should you get them wet. There are waterproof gloves and mittens on the market that are made to be totally waterproof. Most people who ice fish don’t like to wear gloves while fishing. Whether you choose to wear them or not, you should have them with you.

    The last part to the outerwear equation and by far the most important is a quality pair of boots. For someone who plans on fishing in all types of winter weather, the warmer the boot the better in most cases. A boot that is waterproof and rated for 100 below zero or more with the pocket for the optional foot warmer is a can’t go wrong choice. When choosing a boot, make sure that even with your wool socks you can wiggle your toes. This will allow for a warm layer of air in your boot to help keep you a bit warmer and more comfortable. After all if your feet aren’t happy, you aren’t happy.

    Putting It All Together

    You now have your socks, long underwear, sweatshirt and jeans. You have your outerwear, hats, gloves, and boots. Once you have all of your gear on you are ready to venture outside to enjoy the outdoors. Everything is layered right so no matter what the weather you are ready. If it is blistering cold you are protected from all the elements, yet if you step into an ice shack you can take off your jacket and be comfortable until you go back outside. If the air temperature happens to rise and the sun comes out, simply start to remove layers until you are comfortable.

    Dressing correctly for the outdoors will not only keep you more comfortable on your outdoor adventure but it will help make the whole outdoor experience more rewarding and memorable because you will be able to remember more than just being cold.