The "Bitter Blast" swept through the majority of the East Coast, bringing temperatures in the area as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold "blast" shut down schools, businesses, and transportation, but it didn't stop hunters from braving the arctic like conditions. As a hunter, this is the weather we pray for, what we hope for all season; "extra" days off during season to fill our tags! While hunting in negative degree weather may not be ideal, some great products can help us stay warm & hunt longer on those extra cold days.
I've rounded up my essential gear for staying warm in the field this late season. & when all else fails, it is ok to call it an early day, head inside and enjoy a warm cup of coffee! Let's face it, we all get cold sometimes.
Outerwear: (Shell Layer)
The weather protection later. The purpose of an outer layer (shell layer) is to protect you from the elements; rain, snow, wind. During late season, waterproof/breathable shells with a layer of insulation are key. (Gore-Tex falls into this category.) Look for jackets/pants treated with DWR (durable water repellent) and taped seams.
Jacket: Kylie 3-in-1
Moisture Management & Insulation
Your next-to-skin layer helps regulate body temperature, moving perspiration away from skin. For the most warmth, merino wool, synthetic fabrics, or silk are recommended.
Your insulation layer helps to retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Fleece or natural fibers are great for this middle layer.
Base Layer Top: D-Tech Base Layer
Leggings: Capilene Thermal Weight
Middle Layer: Performance Fleece
No Cold Toes Here
Let's face it. The minute our feet get cold, it is game over. First things is first. Once the temperature drops and moisture enters the air, it is time to put away your regular season hunting boots and break out the insulated Muck Boot (or similar product). Look for boots that are "heavy-duty", 100% waterproof, provide heat retention properties, and have a lining (the above pair is rated -60 to 30). Merino wool socks are a must! Do not, I repeat, do not skimp on good late season socks. Pick socks with a heavy cushion, this will absorb moisture and keep your toes warmer than standard socks. Personally, I size up my late season boots a 1/2 size, this allows for an "air pocket" in the toe of my boot; trapping in all the warm air, also allowing me to move my toes around with easy.
The greatest invention ever? Buffs or neck gaiters. Whatever you call them, buy them. They are sold in almost every color & fabric combination. I prefer synthetics, fleece or wool depending on the situation. Every year I battle with finding functional gloves that keep my hands warm. I do shoot in gloves, so finding a pair that can easily be pulled off in a moments notice is key. I picked these gloves up at the start of the "bitter blast" and they have not disappointed.
Buff: UV Realtree
Gloves: Shooting Gloves
We all wish for successful early seasons and ruts, but when faced with filling tags, we gear up and head out in late season. With some planning, the right gear, and a positive attitude, late season hunting can be tolerable & enjoyable. Good luck to everyone still trying to keep the tag soup at bay. Only a few more weeks, keep putting in those hours!