December 08, 2013 at 10:30am
After finishing grad school at LSU in the mid 80’s I moved to New York City for 15 years and very quickly figured out two things: I’d never experienced true cold and I had never really been shown/taught to dress for the cold. Years before I bought my first deer camp in the Catskills I went to scout public land (no internet or Google Earth) and was shocked to see official State signage that stated that cotton long underwear was banned beyond that point as it amounted to a potential death sentence! After talking to fellow outdoorsmen I came to learn the basics: NO COTTON! Wool, fur, feathers, and synthetics are the only way to go. Layer! More layers of thinner garments that are somewhat loose fitting will keep you warmer and give you more freedom of movement. You need the looseness to allow air to be trapped more efficiently. As for feet this loose fit is key. ! When hunting as a guest at a 5000 acre 19th century Camp (one of the “Great Camps” of the Adirondacks) my host went over these basic rules of comfort as iron clad regulations to prevent my potential death or injury from hypothermia or frost bite. As for feet he explained that even though I had good socks that if I couldn’t wiggle my toes freely in my boots with layered socks, on stand, my toes would get too cold fast. To this day if I’m going to stand hunt (or walk less than a few miles a day) I wear boots that are a full size larger than normal. Thin poly-pro liners under heavy wool work well for me. The liners help wick sweat but you need that ROOM to allow movement and air circulation so that moisture can get out. I’ve got a bunch of boots and regardless of leather, nylon, or rubber, insulated or not, layering and fit are key to toasty toes and a comfortable hunt.