by Bob Jensen
Winter is making its annual visit. Some folks really look forward to winter, others don’t. One of the reasons some people don’t like winter is the cold. However, with all the improvements that have been made in outdoor clothing, there really is no need to be cold. Sure your nose and cheeks might get a little cold, and when temperatures are extremely cold you should stay inside, but even when the temps are moderately cold, by dressing properly, pretty much anyone can enjoy outdoor activities throughout the winter months. Following are some ideas for staying comfortable outdoors in the winter.
One of the keys to staying comfortable outside in the winter is to not get too warm. When you get too warm, you sweat. When you sweat, you lose body heat, and when you lose body heat, you get cold.
Let’s say you’re going ice-fishing. Most ice anglers, especially the mobile ones, like to cover territory. They drill lots of holes, then move frequently to the holes they’ve popped in search of fish willing to bite their lure. Drilling those holes, then walking around to all of them keeps us warm. We don’t want to get too warm though. That will make us cold. Strange but true.
Layering is a clothing technique that really works well. Instead of one big bulky coat, it works well to wear several layers of lighter garments. The base layer, your underwear, is really important. Put something like Cabela’s Polartec underwear next to your skin. This stuff comes in several weights and styles: You need to decide what’s right for you. Polartec is constructed from a material that wicks moisture away from your body. Getting that moisture away is how you stay warm.
So, if you’re popping holes in the ice to go fishing, if you’re on a walk in the woods, or if you’re shoveling snow, put the proper underwear on. Next add a hooded sweatshirt, these are also available in moisture wicking materials from Cabela’s, then a light to medium weight jacket. If you’re going to be active outside, that’s generally all you need.
If you prefer a more sedentary approach to ice-fishing or any other winter outdoor activity, you’ll just need a heavier outer jacket. Cabela’s and Frabill both have new suits that were designed for ice-fishing, but also work well in the boat fishing in open water on the river. Cabela’s is called the Guidewear Ice Angler, Frabill’s is the Icesuit: Both have unique features, and both will keep you warm and dry in extreme conditions.
When it comes to the outer jacket, I really like a parka length coat.
Boots and caps are also very important. A stocking cap prevents heat from escaping, and anyone who has been outside with cold feet knows what that’s like. Again, what you wear on your feet next to your skin is very important. Socks that wick moisture away will help your feet stay warm. If your feet get too cold, nothing else matters.