How to keep your feet warm while hunting
Thursday, December 14, 2017
I love deer hunting in cold weather late in the season. While the hunting can be outstanding this time of year, low temperatures also really increase the odds of getting cold feet out in the stand.
The last thing you want is to have to end a hunt early and miss out on a shot at a nice buck because you just got too darn cold. Here are a few tips I've learned over the years to help keep my feet warm.
Moisture is your enemy
Keeping your feet dry is the most important step in warding off the cold. One way to accomplish this is to wear two pairs of socks: an inner layer of thin, moisture-wicking socks (such as ones made from polypropylene) and an outer layer of thick, insulating wool socks.
The inner layer will help keep your feet dry, and the outer layer will help keep heat from escaping. If it's really cold, you can add a third layer of socks, but don't do that if it makes your boots too tight (more on this in a minute).
Avoid wearing any clothing made of cotton in cold weather, particularly socks. Why? Instead of wicking moisture away, cotton readily absorbs moisture (even small amounts of sweat) and traps it adjacent to your skin.
This makes cotton effective at transferring heat from your body to the outside air. While this is great in warm weather, it can make you incredibly uncomfortable or even kill you in cold weather.
Additionally, consider changing your socks once you arrive at your tree stand. Your feet will likely start sweating when you warm up during the walk in, so just take a couple of minutes to change into a fresh, dry pair of socks once you get settled in.
Properly fitting boots and socks
You can actually get cold feet from wearing socks and boots that are too tight.
If you can’t comfortably wiggle your toes, then your boots are too tight. Either get a bigger pair of boots, loosen your boot laces when you get to your stand, or try removing a layer of socks. This will improve the circulation in your feet and help them stay warm.
Cardboard is a surprisingly effective, yet inexpensive insulating material. Carry a piece with you out to your deer stand and then place it beneath your feet.
This is a trick NFL fans in Minnesota and Wisconsin have used for years to help insulate their feet from the frigid ground during games in December and January, and it will work for hunters both in a tree stand and in a ground blind.
Additional heat sources
If you're really having trouble staying warm, then you can also try using disposable heat packs. Put a pack in each boot to help warm things up down there. Be careful, though — these heat packs are almost guaranteed to make your feet sweat, so you're actually at greater risk for getting cold again if you're still out in cold temperatures once the warming packets stop working.
Drinking warm liquids can also help you fight off the cold. Hot soup, hot chocolate and even just plain old warm water are great choices. However, avoid caffeine and alcohol because while they make you feel warmer in the short term, they both actually inhibit your body's ability to stay warm in the long run.
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