How to Keep Your Feet Warm While Hunting
Cold feet can be a killer when you are hunting in the winter months, so it is important to protect your feet from the cold as much as possible. When you are hunting the cold can take its toll, especially if you are hunting from a stand, hide, or a stationary position. In cold climates, it doesn’t take long sitting in one position for the cold to set in and take its toll and your feet are usually the first to cause discomfort.
Your feet have a huge impact on your overall body temperature and if your feet feel cold it is likely that you will start to feel colder throughout your body. It is important to keep your feet warm to improve your overall experience during your hunt and ensure that you are functioning at your best. When the time comes to make the kill, you want to be relaxed and comfortable without distractions. Keeping your feet warm and your body protected from the elements will ensure you are thinking of nothing else but the hunt and are not distracted by the encroaching chill that surrounds your toes.
So, how can you keep your feet warm while hunting and how can you stay comfortably warm from the moment you head out the door to the moment you head back inside? If you have ever sat for long periods in the field with cold feet, you will know how horrible it is. Luckily for you, in this article we will be going over a few ways you can ensure your toes stay toasty warm all day. From the right sock choice, heat pads, to discrete exercises to keep the blood flowing to your feet, we have got you covered. Enjoy!
Preparing for the Cold
The best thing you can do before a hunt is plan and prepare. You probably plan out your hunt well and determine locations, tactics, and equipment way before your hunt, so plan for the cold too. Obviously, having a decent base-layer, fleece-layer, and outer-layer will keep your body warm throughout the duration of your hunt, but you need to consider your feet as well.
Packing a range of extra kit that will help keep the warmth in and the cold out when you are stalking and sitting stationary will ensure the best possible experience in the field. Wrapping your feet properly before you head out will help a lot and having some extra items in your luggage will help keep your toes warm when the cold takes its toll. Packing items to keep you warm on the hunt is just as important as bringing the correct hunting gear with you on your trip, so follow the next section closely and prepare yourself for your next cold weather trip.
Similar to how you layer up your body when you are heading out into the wilderness, you should also do the same with your feet. Wearing a thin pair of moisture-wicking socks and a thicker pair of insulative socks on top makes a whole lot of difference when you are out for long periods of time.
You should get yourself a high-quality synthetic polypropylene sock to wear as a moisture-wicking base layer. These will help reduce moisture build-up from perspiration and wick away moisture from your insulative sock that will sit over the top. Avoid any socks with a high cotton content because this material is highly absorbent and sucks up the warm air from around your feet extremely quickly.
For your second and final layer, you should wear a high-quality pair of thick wool socks. A close-knit pair of these insulative wonders will help lock the warmth in around your feet by trapping heat in the many air pockets in the fibers. Make sure they have a high wool content and are only blended with synthetics if anything. The same goes with your insulative socks as your base layer, avoid cotton at all costs!
Another option for the hunter that primarily hunts from stands and hides is heated socks. These electrically heated socks can keep your feet warm all day with the simple flick of a switch on your calf. These can be worn as a base layer, as an insulative layer, or on their own depending on the type of heated sock you go for. If you go for this option, make sure you buy a pair that is well made from high-quality materials as cheaper pairs are famously faulty.
Boots are another important factor in keeping your feet warm during the colder months. You should not try to save money on your boots as you will rely on them not only for warmth but for tackling tough terrain when out in the field as well. A high-quality pair of hunting boots that are fully waterproof, breathable, and high-cut will serve you well. You can also add an insulative insole to help keep the cold riding up from the ground.
Insulative hunting boots are another option. These are great for sub-freezing temperatures, but they are usually quite bulky so are not really suited for long-distance treks through the wilderness. However, if you are sitting all day on a stand, in a hide, or on the ground, they provide incomparable comfort and warmth.
Heat pads are handy little companions that you can wear all day or keep stored in a pocket as a reserve if you desperately need to bring some heat back to your toes. They can be placed in your boots and usually have an adhesive layer that keeps them in one place. These are fantastic when you are sitting stationary for some extra heat however they are counter-productive when you are out walking.
If you are walking around with these in your boots, they can produce too much heat and cause your feet to sweat excessively. Once their heating properties wear off, you will be left with wet feet that will quickly sap up the cold. Most foot warmers are chemically activated and boast 8 hours of heat, but you can expect a more realistic figure of 5 – 6 hours. Keep a few packs with you on a stand or in the hide and you will be sure to keep your toes toasty warm all day.
Boot Covers and Shoe Wraps
Boot covers and shoe wraps are a great way to keep your feet warm when you are stationary. They are almost impossible to walk with so don’t expect to be putting in the miles out on the hunt with them, but they will keep your feet warm on a stand or hide. Keep them stowed away in a bag until you reach your hunting spot and put them over your boots when you are all set up.
Boot covers come in a range of styles, some that are highly-insulative, some that are thinner and water-proof, and some with pockets to hold heat pads. These are great at keeping the wet, cold, and wind off of your feet by keeping warmth around your boots rather than directly around your feet. This form of heat-trapping is great because it helps keep your feet dry by preventing sweating from too much heat inside the boot.
Combining boot covers with a good base layer sock and an insulative sock is usually enough to keep the heat in and the chill out in all but the coldest of temperatures.
Keep Your Blood Flowing
When you are active, you will notice the cold much less. This is because your body is actively pumping blood at a higher pressure around your entire body. It is when you sit stationary and your heart-rate drops that you will notice your feet get much colder. There are a few simple things you can do to keep the blood pumping to your feet that make a whole lot of difference without giving away your location and attracting attention.
When you are sitting in one location either on an elevated stand or on the ground, untie your boots slightly to create some wiggle room. Make sure you don’t untie them so much that the cold or wet enters but give your feet some room to move. Move your feet around in a circular motion to help promote blood flow and generate heat inside your boot. This is a great exercise to do when you start to feel a bit of a chill. When your feet have warmed up, tie up your boots to lock the heat in and protect your feet from the cold outside.
If you are hunting from a stand and you are certain you won’t give away your location, try standing up and moving your body around. A few stretches can sometimes be enough to get the blood flowing around your body efficiently again. Doing this also prevents your joints locking up from the cold and lack of movement.
While you are sitting down on your stand or hide, you can do a simple exercise regularly to help promote blood flow around your body and feet. Place your feet flat on the ground with your toes facing together, then raise your heels up as far as possible without letting your toes lift off the floor. Hold the position for 10 or so seconds then place your heels together and lower them back down. Repeating this in a circular motion over and over is a great way to promote blood flow and generate heat inside your boots. It may sound ridiculous, but this small change really does help, and it is discrete enough to practice regularly.
To conclude, staying warm while you are hunting is simple if you know how. You should combine an excellent base layer and insulative layer of socks with a high-quality pair of boots. Keep some heat pads on you for when you really need the extra heat and keep your boots wrapped in boot/shoe covers to keep the cold out.
Make sure your feet are wrapped up and warm before you leave the house and prepare for the weather that lay ahead of you. Prepare with many ways to heat up your feet and keep the cold out before you leave the house. Help promote your blood flow and generate heat inside your boots by practicing simple discrete exercises outside. If you combine everything you have learned in this article you will never have cold feet on the hunt again! Happy hunting.