Have you ever been really cold?
If you have ever been really cold, than you know the importance of good cold weather gear. When I write, “really cold,” I don’t mean the kind of cold you feel when you walk out to your car and your hands hurt or your eyes water. I am talking about the kind of cold that you never forget. I have been that cold at least once in my adult life, and I don’t ever want to feel that cold ever again.
The coldest I have ever been was when I was a member of my Department’s Honor Guard. I was working a coworker’s funeral and it was -5 degrees with 10-13 mph winds. We stood outside at the cemetery for a very long time with minimal cold weather gear. We weren’t provided with coats, boots or gloves and I knew I was going to be physically suffering because of it. My fingers and toes were the first body parts to get cold. Worse than feeling cold was when that sensation turned to pain. That pain spread from my fingers to my hands, then up my forearms and into my shoulders. Honestly, it was a relief when that pain transitioned to a burning sensation. Suddenly, I stopped shivering, which I thought was good, but then I began sweating, which I knew was bad. I stood there struggling in a mental hell. I began talking myself through the experience, telling myself, “It’s mind over matter.” Well I’m here to tell you it’s not always mind of matter – it’s physical, too.
When the funeral ended, I felt physically sick. I was nauseated and later that day I suffered from some serious gastrointestinal issues. I never got medical attention, but I’m going to assume I was hypothermic. Since that moment, being cold takes on a whole new meaning for me. I almost can’t tolerate it and I will spend any amount of money to stay warm. The hardest part of staying warm has always been finding products. Last winter I did find some products that allowed me to participate in winter outdoor activities and enjoy it. They are worth the investment.
Danner Women’s Pronghorn Boot
Cold feet suck. They end my hunting trips early and steal the joy out of any outdoor activity. Over the last 16 years as a police officer, know that I am nothing short of an expert when it comes to boots. Danner’s Pronghorn GTX Women’s Realtree AP HD boots are the warmest boots I have ever owned. They are made with 1000 grams of Thinsulate™. I wore these boots to a winter survival camp last year, and my feet were actually hot – even after over 12 hours outside!
The key to these boots seemed to be that I had to make sure my feet were warm before I put them on. That’s not scientific, but I noticed that made a difference. These boots are not bulky and they are comfortable while walking. The Pronghorn boots MSRP at $205. I wish Danner produced this boot in black so I can wear them on duty, because the next closest boot they have in black has only 600 grams of Thinsulate™.
What’s in the boot?
- 100% waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® liner is engineered to keep your feet dry and comfortable – even in extreme conditions
- 1000 grams of Thinsulate™ Insulation offer lightweight warmth for those needing protection in extreme cold climates
- Durable full-grain leather plus breathable 1000 Denier nylon upper for excellent durability and abrasion resistance
- TERRA FORCE™ X platform provides lightweight, durable traction, heel-to-toe energy transfer, side support to enhance maneuverability, and protection from arch overwork and fatigue.
- Fatigue Fighter™ footbeds are deeply padded for all day comfort and high-mileage arch support
- Scuff-proof Tech-Tuff toe and heel
- Realtree AP™ is neutral, open, high contrast, and realistic. The High Definition® printing process stands up to the real-life effects of nature
- Mountain Goat TF™ outsole was designed with the mountain goat hoof in mind. The tough outer lugs cut into the terrain and the soft inner padding offers superior traction mimicking the goat’s ability to side hill in any condition
- Nylon shank
- 8″ height
- 67 oz
Próis Xtreme Pants
The next product I found this winter was Próis Hunting Apparel’s Xtreme pants. These pants are phenomenal. They are very warm, but not bulky. I like the pants because they are so warm, but still feminine. I was a little nervous when I saw they don’t unzip at the waist, because I have wide hips. I had no problem getting them on and they weren’t loose at the waist. They have been quiet when hunting. Additionally, I wore these pants during my winter survival course as well and they kept me warm and dry. I cannot wait to try the jacket!
Heater Body Suit
Last, but definitely not least, is the Heater Body Suit, from Heater Body Suit, Inc. I got the Heater Body suit late in the hunting season. I was able to take it out to bow hunt in January and I was glad to have had it! In the blistering Illinois cold, climbing into that suit was like climbing into a SnugiÒ or a warm cocoon.
The suit has suspenders on the interior. It sounds weird, but it doesn’t have armholes. As you sit and await your prey, you can unzip the suit from the inside. You might think that would be noisy, but by placing tension on the zipper, you virtually eliminate any sound. The suit rolls up and the suspenders serve as carrying straps. There is plenty of room inside the suit for other cold weather gear; however, it wasn’t necessary.
Thanks to Danner, Próis and the Heater Body Suit, I hunted the entire season for the first time ever. I never felt cold. I look forward to a long, cold, Illinois hunting season because I know the competition will be slim. Some people just can’t tolerate the cold!
Sara Ahrens’ OffBeat is graciously sponsored by Otis Technology.