Outside Chance



Tips for a more enjoyable time outside

by Jack Payne

A few suggestions can enhance anyone’s outdoor experience. Cold weather affects many outdoor enthusiasts; the same for moisture. Late season fishing, hiking, hunting or ice fishing, the proper gear will make each trip more enjoyable.

Footwear is a priority. Are you walking or hiking? Are you planning on a long sit in a deer stand or a day in the boat or on the ice? Insulated footwear is a must. Weight might be a consideration depending on the activity.

Hikers might like a lightweight boot but insulation is a must. Most boots are rated for a set temperature that assumes that you are mobile. Great for the hiker, not so great for the angler or st and hunter.

I have two pair of hikers. One non-insulated and one with 600 gram of Thinsulate. 600 grams is plenty when walking for an hour. My knee high boots start at 1200 grams and I am considering the 1800 grams for an all- day sit in the deer stand or when targeting pike and walleye in December.

December fishing from a boat is productive but often brutal. You need a warm pair of boots and something that is moisture resistant.

Merino wool socks are a must for me. A light pair is all that is needed when hiking but the heavy weight is best when ice fishing or sitting in a stand or a boat. Merino wool has zero itch and like standard wool, it retains some heating properties even when wet. I also use the very thin white poly socks that absorb sweat and allow air circulation. Coupled with a Merino wool sock your feet stay warm and dry.

I like a wool shirt or a wool sweater worn over a merino wool undergarment or a pair of Under Armour base layers. The turtleneck collar is very nice and it holds in the heat. The only negative is on a long walk you can overheat a bit with the turtleneck collar.

A neck gaiter is a must item when sitting or late season fishing. Keeps the neck warm and prevents drafts from running down your back and chest.

A hand muff is preferred over heavy gloves. Even in zero degree temps the muff – with bare hands or with a very thin pair of gloves – keeps the hands toasty warm.

Wet feet are a problem. All of my boots except of course the fully rubber are protected with Sno Seal. This old time product works great. The key is in warming up the boot with a hair dryer. What I do is place a small dab of Sno Seal in various spots on the boot, warm it up until it starts to melt and spread it out and in. It soaks into the leather or fabric and creates a very good protective layer from water.

A compass is a must. Fog can roll in, visibility can dwindle and the good old compass will get you back. Sure a GPS or cell phone can work, but did you ever experience a dead battery? I did just in the past week with my cell phone. Keep your cell phone in a warm pocket so that  your battery does not drain down quickly.

A good hat is a must. I have two hats from Smart Wool that are awesome. You lose more heat from your head than from anything else.

Water and some energy snacks are required. Dehydration occurs quickly in the winter. A bottle of water and a snack keeps your energy level up as well as your spirts.

Rain gear is critical. You need something to keep the water off of you. Shop around and think about how often you will be in inclement weather. Cost becomes a factor. When fishing, buy expensive because the outer wear also needs to cut the wind when zipping across the water.

Last, I love a down shell garment. Nothing cuts wind better than down and its’ super light- weight. Down filled products are extremely warm but a bit on the bulky side when hunting. They work great hiking or late season fishing. Enjoy the late fall and winter activities, stay warm and dry with these tips.


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