Here in the Inland Northwest, nighttime lows have been in the 30’s and 40’s since early September.
These sudden low temps have been a strong reminder of what’s to come.
We’ve been hustling to get our living quarters winterized, find a 4wd vehicle, and switch out summer clothes for winter gear at our storage unit.
I say winter gear rather than winter clothes because in this climate - far colder than many parts of Alaska - once the snow falls, it doesn’t go anywhere, it just builds and builds as the season progresses. So, doing anything outdoors requires a great deal of preparation.
But sitting silent and still in such cold extreme temperatures (e.g. hunting!) is a whole other level and demands the proper apparel, otherwise you’re going to have a miserable and short-lived experience.
Personally, I don’t do much hunting at this point in life. But I do go along with my husband because I enjoy it (and seem to have a sharp eagle eye!). And nothing ruins a hunt quicker than getting cold, for either of us.
So this article is to list the hunting gear we rely on to keep us warm and alert.
THE WINTER GEAR WE RELY ON FOR HUNTING IN A COLD CLIMATE:
FEET: Let’s start at the root of things - our feet. Many of you might agree, this can be a problem area. Even when I lived in Kentucky, which is multitudes warmer than here in northeast Washington, cold feet would push me out of the woods a lot sooner than I had anticipated.
So I’ve gotten serious about keeping my feet warm, and I cannot recommend enough these two things: heavy SmartWool socks and Arctic Sport Muck Boots. In my opinion, this is an unstoppable combination. If you’ve never worn Muck Boots, get ready to be oh so pleased - they just make all outdoor work more enjoyable.
Here I am enjoying the freezing winter days here in the north, with the warmest toastiest toes imaginable:
BODY: Base layer - for now we just use thermal underwear or sweatsuits as a base layer. In the future, we’ll probably invest in something better, but for now this works okay.
Where we really put focus when it comes to keeping in overall body warmth is on our main outer layer.
I have been wearing these Women’s Quilt Lined Bib Overalls (in black) for two years and I really love them. They’re great for all kinds of winter work, too. Just toss a coat over, pull your Muck Boots on, and you’re ready to go for most scenarios.
My husband oscillates between Carhartt’s Arctic Quilt Lined Biberalls with their Yukon Coat (also great for outdoors winter work) and the Sitka Incinerator Coat and Fanatic Bibs (highly reknowned in the cold weather hunting community not only for their intense warmth but also for the quiet stealthy material).
HANDS: Much the same way cold feet can ruin a hunt, so too can cold hands.
Gloves are always a little tricky because you want to have optimal function of your hands, while also figuring out how to keep them warm.
Let me introduce you to the Sitka Incinerator Flip Mitt.
(And always keep some Hot Hands in your pack, just in case).
HEAD, NECK & FACE: Last, but certainly not least is keeping warm in the upper extremities. Just like feet and hands, cold ears or a frostbit nose can throw in the towel on an otherwise great day of hunting.
For this - we use balaclavas. It’s one piece that covers all three bases.
That said, some days we wear glasses and other days we wear contacts, so we need balaclavas that can fit either situation. As most of you know, many garments that cover the face can result in foggy glasses. Not good.
For glasses wearers, people whose faces don’t tend to get too cold, or people in climates that are a little more mild than ours, I recommend this super affordable all-purpose balaclava. My favorite part about is that it doesn’t get all moist from being breathed on like the fleece varieties.
Otherwise, for the same price, this heavyweight balaclava will keep you good and snug.
With such a low price, it wouldn’t hurt just to have both. We love ours and use them a lot throughout the winter for a variety of things.
Have something to add to the list? It would help us all if you leave any further recommendations or things you can’t do without when hunting in cold weather in the comments below!
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My husband and I left the rat race and moved to the Washington wilderness to build an off-grid homestead from scratch. You can follow our journey here!
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