is truly a state of many challenges when we look at the weather
found here. The State is often showcased for the diverse
beauty and the myriad of seasonal opportunities to be enjoyed.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of these seasons is the winter,
which brings with it countless outdoor activities and an
equal number of headaches for those who choose to partake.
The cold, obviously is one such consideration, as is getting
wet. Or better, staying dry. Stopping the wind can be as
vital as the other two issues just mentioned. As an avid
outdoor individual, I have been challenged by these simple
elements and have come to some very pointed conclusions.
Winter can be enjoyed very nicely if time is taken to look
at what activities are on the day's slate. The absolute first
thing to do is get the most up-to-date weather forecast and
listen to it carefully. The old quip of, "Hey, if you
don't like the weather, hang around for 10 minutes" can
very easily hold true. How you dress for the day should include
items for what will be occurring later in the day. The time
spent preparing and the extra bundle to carry may seem unnecessary,
but your life may become dependent on how well you do your
planning. Winter weather is fast changing and unforgiving.
To meet the clothing demands of this time of year, one has
merely to go to the Internet to do some studying on all the
newest apparel goodies that will keep us comfortable and safe.
You'll find the footwear that will meet your strictest of demands.
Hand and headgear will also be found that offers many conditional
uses. Something will be available for every type of situation
imaginable. Underwear-with sweat-wicking capabilities, silks,
light to heavy weights-all can be checked out without leaving
the house. Parkas, bibs, rainwear are just a button away. This
is where you start to outfit yourself, but I would urge you
not to buy from this (Internet) source until AFTER you have
gone to a store and actually put your hands on this clothing
and read what the tags have to say.
Weight of clothing will always be an issue to consider for
the outdoor-active person. Actually holding a parka and the
bibs of choice will give you a very direct idea of how much
this gear will weigh while you are wearing it. The newer micro-fiber
insulations are pound cutters as are the vapor films used to
create the water repellence properties. Often times what you
think might be your best option will be too heavy for what
you need. To meet this demand, I might suggest not buying that
parka and purchase instead a piece of higher quality rainwear
in a jacket...one size larger than you need. This will allow
you to layer your clothing beneath it. As the daily weather
changes you can adjust by removing or adding what ever you
need to maintain your comfort level. If matching bibs are available
to the jacket, get them. I will point out though that this
type of clothing can be matched according to need, not so much
fashion aesthetics. Don't be afraid to get heavily insulated
waterproof bibs to go with a jacket if you plan to be kneeling
at an ice-hole where splash will a constant companion.
Something to think about that is not really weight related
is how easy a piece of this clothing comes off in the field.
This is especially true for women and children when the urges
of nature are calling.
Water is another issue altogether, but must certainly be considered
when purchasing this type of clothing. One thing overlooked
many times is how a jacket or coat will get rid of moisture
from within. As a person gets active, he/she will sweat and
if this moisture has nowhere to go, the day will get pretty
miserable. Label reading will become imperative for deciding
what garment will suit you best. Not all clothing boasting
of being water-proof actually turn out to be that, and not
all clothing indicating the capacity to "breathe" will.
In this department, I always consider the cost...if it seems
like too good of a deal, it probably is. By the same token,
the very film, which will give the jacket or what ever it’s
waterproof, and breathing abilities will also determine its
ability to stop wind. If you cannot stop the wind from sailing
through your clothes, little else will matter. Again, read
labels before you buy.
Insulation is a new art form with today's products. The weight
and bulk are gone. We no longer have to dress like Ralphie's
brother in the Christmas Story to be happy campers. Warmth
is easy to obtain. Micro fiber technologies have gotten very
handy for the person looking to dress warm and not add forty
pounds to his being. The fleeces are nothing in the weight
department and are great for adding layers under a jacket or
bibs. Synthetic underwear is so refined today that you hardly
know you are wearing it. Thinsulate can literally wrap you
from head to foot (and hands!).
Earlier I mentioned having a system for battling the elements.
Here is how I go about it. I do not own, nor ever will, one
of those confining, restricting zoo suits known as a one piece.
I do not buy parkas. They are "one season" things.
Like a snowmobile, they just take up space in the summer, spring
and fall. I buy a high quality, uninsulated rain suit instead,
one that I know will protect me from getting wet and at the
same time allow perspiration to vent from within. That means
the jacket and the bibs. I buy one size larger than what I
would normally wear. I buy the very best that I can afford.
I can wear it all year and this gives me the best value. Buying
larger gives me the versatility in adding clothes underneath
to protect against any weather condition I encounter. I make
darned certain that these pieces of clothing are wind-proof
as well. Under it all goes the sweatshirt jacket and under
that another lightweight sweatshirt and then a tee shirt. Under
the bibs are jeans and a pair of light sweats over them. This
will get me into the zero degree range pretty comfortably.
Another sweatshirt and a pair of sweats over the other sweats
on the legs will allow me to be out when mental status is an
issue. The feet get a pair of Irish Setters with 400 gram thinsulate,
800 gram Rockies if it is below zero. Pack boots give little
ankle support and I cannot think of one reason to ever wear
them. If the temps are moderate, I wear my MuckBoots from MuckbootsOnline.
I always have something along to cover my head and my hands,
although I seldom wear anything on my hands. This is a simple
way to keep me warm and I have a version to satisfy my needs
when the temperatures are above 25 degrees substituting a pair
of rain pants for the bibs. Doing some homework and lots of
tag reading on lots of different clothing, from many makers
evolved my system. Regardless of the maker, you need to read
Gander, Cabelas, BassPro, ...everybody has their own product
line to help keep you warm and dry. They have stuff to keep
you from smelling, to hide you, to ward off chill and to combine
all of the above. But consider something. Wouldn't a clothing
maker who specializes in skiing apparel do everything you want
to stay warm and dry and without all the extra weights and "add
on". Columbia has fit this bill nicely and is a garment
maker that I look to frequently. I will use them as an example
because I am familiar with them on a first hand basis. They
have rainwear for every season. They have cold weather wear
for winter months. And who will put to test the quality of
a product quicker than a skier does. Many of the products are
really run through the mill by the cross-country skiing enthusiasts.
Columbia has clothing to wear under the outerwear and items
for the hands and head.
Columbia offers several jackets, and parkas, at moderate prices
that will serve the need of the ice fisherman. Women and children
will enjoy the warmth without looking as though they are supposed
to be in the deer woods. Ski pants and bibs are also available
in several designs and styles to keep your lower half warm
Ski clothing does everything camo gear does, but does it without
the bulk and extra weight. That holds true for and ski- clothing
manufacturer. And one of the most serious things to think about
is how much weight you might have to haul on you if something
should happen and you have to trudge through two feet of snow
for three miles to get help. Is your heart up to the extra
weight that these heavy hunting suits can put on you if you
have to do this? I am a safety conscious person. My first decision
is not what must I wear to stay warm today, but what do I have
to wear to survive today. I have my heavy camo wear for the
hunting season and my blaze as well. I do not wear these items
much after the deer season come to a close. I do not fish my
through the ice, but prefer, instead, to sit in the boat below
the dams on the Mississippi River dams. The damp from open
water really accentuates the chill, so my clothing must be
right up to snuff. I don't have the luxury of just taking things
off while in a small boat. Many of the items mentioned are
from the Columbia clothing line. My rain pants are made by
Columbia, as is a micro-fleece sweatshirt that goes on over
my tee shirt. My next rain jacket will be made by them as well.
Remember, I made mention of buying what will work for you.
You need to be comfortable without feeling like you are drowning
in clothes. Incorporating some ski clothing in your cold weather-clothing
arsenal is a good way to achieve this balance without sacrificing
Aside from the sources mentioned, look to Helly Hansen or NorthFace
for ski wear and rain wear. Check out the other makers while
in stores such as Gander, Cabelas or Galyons. Go see your larger
sporting goods shops. Get familiar with new products and read
some reviews on them before spending the money. Stay away from "new
and improved" until they have gotten to be "tried
and true". You are going to have to make an investment
in staying warm. Being in touch with how well something performs
should be a greater concern than whether things match. That
top layer is the most important one and the most for the money
will be best attained by looking at products which have evolve
over many years to serve a specific group of people- skiers.
They know what is warmest, driest, most wind resistant and
least bulky long before the hunters and fishermen see the same
technology on their shelves. Columbia has always been a forerunner
in this arena and has the broadest catalog of choices.
Fishermen are adaptable. Look at how they can take a bass plastic
and catch walleyes. Many are already getting rid of the bulk
in their cold weather wear and have found favor in what the
skiing world has to offer. If you ice fish and are looking
for an up-grade in your cold-clothes, go check out your ski
shop. Step out of the camo section and go see what the skiers
know. Before you drop that 300 bucks on a store brand of rainwear,
look at your other options. That money might be better spent
elsewhere and you'll likely have some decent change for your
pocket. You can fish lighter and warmer if you want to and
still maintain the utmost in winter safety. Footwear options
abound and hand/head protection is everywhere. One thing for
sure is that what goes on over everything else in the winter,
gets used in the summer. Like my boat, it gets year round activity.
Try that with the no-scent, heavy duty, wind proof, waterproof,
you can't see me clothes that most people fish in while on