With the ending of fall and impending winter, it means that the colder weather is looming just around the corner. But just because it gets colder outside, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the outdoors. There are many different things you can do to enjoy a hike, hunting trip, or day in the wild without freezing. Keep some of these tips or tricks in your bag so you can stay warm and enjoy the fall.
Wearing layers of clothing is the number one thing you can do to stay warm. While you don’t have to go to the extreme of not being able to move your arms or legs, it will help keep you warm. Start with a thin t-shirt or moisture wicking material, add a long sleeve shirt, and a coat (some even have a warm layer that can be removed when needed) that you can wear out and about. As you get warm, you can remove excess layers and keep yourself warm.
- Your body’s extremities are the first place to loose heat, this means arms, legs, hands, and feet. You should keep all your skin covered up, your head too! Whether you invest in full thermal under clothing or just keep it covered, this is essential to keep the heat in. After market hand warmers and feet warmers also work great if you’re spending a day in the cold.
- If you want to make sure that you keep all your fingers and toes, keep them covered, dry, and warm! Your body will protect your core by shunting, aka diverting, blood to your vital organs. When your fingers or toes stop getting as much warm blood flow, they get cool and begin to loose circulation. This is the dangerous point at which frostbite sets in.
- It is critical to note that you shouldn’t be sweating! Sweating means moisture which cools the body off and can take you from toasty to freezing when the sweat pulls heat from your body. It is critical to stay warm without overheating and causing your body to start cooling measures. If you are going to be out for a prolonged time, it would be helpful to throw some extra clothes in your pack: a set for when you’re moving about and a set of warmer clothes for downtime.
- Finally, make sure you stay DRY. Water pulls away heat, hence why your body sweats. Keeping your boots dry and removing wet articles of clothing can save your life if you’re in a situation in the snow.
Dressing for the weather is possibly the simplest thing you can do to keep yourself warm. Thinking ahead and wearing layers that can be removed as needed, keeping yourself warm and dry are great ways to enjoy outdoors without putting yourself at risk for hypothermia or just being cold!
Movement generates heat. To help keep you warm while outside, you should keep moving. If you packed that extra set of lighter clothes, they can keep you comfortable throughout the time while you have something warmer for when you’re sitting in the tree stand or making camp. Using your clothing to keep the heat that your body generates from escaping can keep you from feeling like a popsicle while you’re out.
3. Be Smart in the Elements and BE PREPARED
It should go without saying that being cold is worsened when you’re wet. You should make sure that above all else you STAY DRY. Other things, like siting on the ground may not be a first thought. Keeping up and not sitting (be it in the snow or dirt) will help as well. The ground will seep the heat from your body and make you feel cold.
Other things that will help you to keep toasty involve being prepared before you go out:
- Eat a fatty meal before you go out. This will make sure that your body has enough fuel to burn to keep producing heat.
- Stay hydrated. Since your body is working harder to create heat, it can dehydrate you faster. If possible, you can drink warm beverages like coffee or hot chocolate- the added sugar will also provide extra energy, but water is still a must to keep you moving. Water allows for your body to circulate the blood- which carries warmth- and also holds heat in.
- Make a plan! Tell your friends or family when you are leaving and when you expect to be back. Having someone know the area where you went and when you expected to be back will get you help sooner if they know you’re missing and where you last were. It’s as simple as texting your spouse, sibling, or parents when you leave and come back.
You should always be prepared for a worst case scenario when you go out into the woods. Going prepared with a few light items such as extra clothes, snack, flare, basic survival tools, and the knowledge of what to do can save you in a dangerous cold environment. Doing the prep work ahead of time can be lifesaving.
RECOGNIZE SIGNS OF HYPOTHERMIA
If you or someone with you reaches the dangerous point of hypothermia, there are a few steps you can take to help stabilize them to get them to help or prevent worsening. The essential 3 steps are:
- Move them somewhere warmer
- Take off wet clothing
- Use dry, warm blankets to help them warm up. (DO NOT use heater pads, radiators, or external heating devices as they can damage the tissues)
Keeping the essentials in mind, knowing what to look for when you get cold, and preparing yourself can help to keep you safe and warm while enjoying the outdoors this year. For more information on hypothermia, how you can treat it at home, when to get help, and what to take with you in the woods, check out our Hypothermia Safety 101 article. Stay warm and Stay Safe!