Layering for cold weather

As the first day of winter approaches, I thought it would be a good idea to write about the importance of layering for cold weather.  Most people that I know think I am crazy when I tell them about walking out on the ice or sitting in a deer blind in December.  What is the point they say.

I find that most of these people have tried ice fishing or hunting once but they found it too cold or boring.  Most of the time, the reason they get cold is because they do not practice layering for cold weather.  They make their way out on the ice or field with nothing but a heavy coat, hat and gloves then normal clothes underneath.

The activity is boring to them because they are more worried about their hands and feet falling off then catching fish.  I also thought ice fishing was boring the first couple of times I tried it but anything is boring when you think your toes are going to fall off.

The key to staying warm and having a good time is proper layering.  The more layers you have on the harder it is for your body heat to escape.  Think of how easy body heat can escape when you have nothing but a loose fitting shirt and then a coat... pretty easy.

Now think of how hard it would be for heat to escape when you have a tight fitting garment on as the first layer followed by a thin layer, followed by a warm layer, followed by a windproof layer... a lot more difficult.

You cannot tame this if you aren't dressed properly

My system

The first step in layering for cold weather is the base layer.  This layer is probably the most important along with the outer layer.  You might not think so but the initial layer can make or break your day.  When picking out a base layer think Under Armour type material.

You do not have to pay the big bucks for Under Armour but a tight fitting garment that wicks away sweat is key.  Most people that get cold do so because their body heats up on the initial walk out to the stand or ice and then they start to sweat.  Cotton will soak up the sweat causing you to freeze once your body temp cools.

The second layer for me is a simple t-shirt followed by a long sleeve shirt as the third layer.  This may be a little overkill but when you live in Michigan like myself, the more layers the better.  As the old saying goes, you can always take off a layer but you can never put one on that you don't have.  On a bitter cold day, I will add a heavy sweatshirt as a fourth layer.

The last layer of my ensemble is the outer layer.  This layer is also very important.  If your outer layer cannot handle the cold, your other layers will do nothing.  The most important thing when picking out an outer layer is to get one that is windproof.  If your jacket is not windproof, the wind will chill you to the bone and you will be heading for the car sooner than later.

If you already have a heavy duty coat that is not wind-proof or prefer that type, don't worry.  You can buy a windproof liner to go on before your heavy coat and this will work just as well.  I prefer to go with a windproof jacket but to each his own.

When it comes to your hands, it is always a good idea to wear a thin pair of gloves followed by a thicker pair.  When you need to work on something, you can take the thick gloves off and work on whatever it is with the thin pair on.  This will keep your hands much warmer than taking your gloves off and letting your bare hands get chilled while you work.

The last tip for layering for cold weather is to remove the outer jacket as you initially walk out.  Once you arrive to your destination, let your body cool down for a second before adding back the outer coat.  You will find that this will keep you much warmer because you probably won't build up as much of a sweat.

Now that you have mastered the art of layering for cold weather, get out in the woods or on the ice and find out what you have been missing.  If you are wondering what to wear on your head and feet, check out this article.

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