Cold Weather Camping: Tips And Gear To Stay Warm

About the Expert:

Nancy Jo Adams is an avid hunter and member of organizations such as the National Turkey Wildlife Federation (NTWF), National Deer Alliance (NDA), and more. Although her home state of Alabama sees mild temperatures year-round, she often travels the nation during late fall and early winter to pursue various game animals—so far, she’s hunted in 23 states, including Wyoming, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois, to name a few. A hunter for 15 years, Nancy Jo is no stranger to spending upwards of 12 hours at a time in a tree stand or ground blind in subzero temperatures. Through trial and error, she’s discovered what works and what doesn’t.

When Mother Nature is spitting snow or casting below-freezing temperatures your way in the midst of a hunt, there’s nothing worse than finding out a product doesn’t work as promised. Having the right gear can mean the difference between a bearable experience and a miserable time. When you’re comfortable in the field, not only will you be able to endure the cold longer, you’ll also have an easier time concentrating on the hunt, resulting in a higher success rate.

What to Consider

The type of hunting you do will determine which gear you need. If you spend most of your time sitting idle for hours on end in a tree stand or ground blind (also known as still hunting), you are not generating body heat in the same way you would if you were on the move (or stalk hunting).

Bulky or heavy items, like a portable heater or full-body insulator, work great in a ground blind, but they’re not convenient when you’re on the go. Likewise, disposable warmers, like the air-activated packs from HotHands, are easy to toss into a backpack for stalk hunting.

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Another critical factor to keep in mind when choosing gear for harsh conditions is what it’s made of—whether it can withstand rain, snow, or subzero temperatures—as well as where you hunt. Higher elevations with deep snow, for example, can threaten hypothermia or frostbite, so it’s imperative to be prepared. Gear should also work properly for its intended use. The portable heater on our list shuts off automatically if tipped over or if oxygen levels are low, making it safe to use in ground blinds.

And, finally, fabrics are important—not only for your own comfort but also for the hunt itself. Wool, soft natural fibers, and other blended materials will keep you warm and dry. Cotton is a poor choice, especially as a base layer, because it doesn’t wick moisture and can cause your body’s core to chill. And nylon, in addition to absorbing moisture rather than wicking it, is just plain noisy—not ideal for hunting, as most wild game animals rely on their keen sense of hearing for survival.

How I Evaluated

As an avid hunter, I do my fair share of extremely cold hunts—often spending as many as 20 days in the field—and I am always on the lookout for gear to make my experience more tolerable. My recommendations include products that complement the cold-weather hunting clothing you already own, such as pants and a jacket. Every product on this list is in my arsenal of gear for cold-weather hunts, and I’ve found all of them to work exceptionally well in various situations—from still hunting to stalk hunting. My recommendations are based not only on my personal experience using them but also on consumer reviews, product ratings, and suggestions from my peers.

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