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The 10 Pieces of Cold-Weather Gear Every Hunter Should Own

These top-rated products belong in your gear arsenal.

coldweather hunting gear
Staff, Courtesy of Ororo

When Mother Nature is spitting snow or casting below-freezing temperatures your way in the midst of a hunt, there’s nothing worse than finding out a product doesn’t work as promised. Having the right gear can mean the difference between a bearable experience and a miserable time. When you’re comfortable in the field, not only will you be able to endure the cold longer, you’ll also have an easier time concentrating on the hunt, resulting in a higher success rate.

The Expert:
I am an avid hunter and member of organizations such as the National Turkey Wildlife Federation (NTWF), National Deer Alliance (NDA), and more. Although my home state of Alabama sees mild temperatures year-round, I often travel the nation during late fall and early winter to pursue various game animals—so far, I’ve hunted in 23 states, including Wyoming, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois, to name a few. A hunter for 15 years, I am no stranger to spending upwards of 12 hours at a time in a tree stand or ground blind in subzero temperatures. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t.

What to Consider

The type of hunting you do will determine which gear you need. If you spend most of your time sitting idle for hours on end in a tree stand or ground blind (also known as still hunting), you are not generating body heat in the same way you would if you were on the move (or stalk hunting).

Bulky or heavy items, like a portable heater or full-body insulator, work great in a ground blind, but they’re not convenient when you’re on the go. Likewise, disposable warmers, like the air-activated packs from HotHands, are easy to toss into a backpack for stalk hunting.

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Another critical factor to keep in mind when choosing gear for harsh conditions is what it’s made of—whether it can withstand rain, snow, or subzero temperatures—as well as where you hunt. Higher elevations with deep snow, for example, can threaten hypothermia or frostbite, so it’s imperative to be prepared. Gear should also work properly for its intended use. The portable heater on our list shuts off automatically if tipped over or if oxygen levels are low, making it safe to use in ground blinds.

And, finally, fabrics are important—not only for your own comfort but also for the hunt itself. Wool, soft natural fibers, and other blended materials will keep you warm and dry. Cotton is a poor choice, especially as a base layer, because it doesn’t wick moisture and can cause your body’s core to chill. And nylon, in addition to absorbing moisture rather than wicking it, is just plain noisy—not ideal for hunting, as most wild game animals rely on their keen sense of hearing for survival.

How I Evaluated

As an avid hunter, I do my fair share of extremely cold hunts—often spending as many as 20 days in the field—and I am always on the lookout for gear to make my experience more tolerable. My recommendations include products that complement the cold-weather hunting clothing you already own, such as pants and a jacket. Every product on this list is in my arsenal of gear for cold-weather hunts, and I’ve found all of them to work exceptionally well in various situations—from still hunting to stalk hunting. My recommendations are based not only on my personal experience using them but also on consumer reviews, product ratings, and suggestions from my peers.

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Best Air-Activated Hand/Body Warmers
HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmer

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting and stalk hunting
  • Temperature: 160 degrees F (max), 135 (average)
  • Size: 5.19 x 6.75 in.

When the temperature dips below the teens, I go through at least five of these disposable, odorless warmers during an all-day sit: one in each front pant pocket (where the femoral artery runs down the leg) to keep the blood circulating to my lower extremities, one in each coat pocket to keep my hands warm, and one between my shoulder blades or at the base of my neck over my base layer. Each warmer is claimed to provide up to 18 hours of heat (8 hours longer than the smaller HotHands Hand Warmers). They’re easy to toss into a backpack, and they air-activate in about 15 to 30 minutes—simply remove the warmer from the package and shake. Note: The price shown is for one box of 40 warmers.

  • Heats up quickly
  • Up to 18 hours of heat
  • Disposable (all ingredients are environmentally safe)

  • Not water-resistant
Best Toe Warmers
Hot Sockee Neoprene Toe Warmers
Hot Sockee

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting and stalk hunting
  • Material: 1.5mm neoprene
  • Sizes: S/M, L, XL

Every hunter has experienced painfully frozen toes during late-season hunting from the lack of circulation while sitting idle in a tree stand or when glassing—scoping for game from a stalk position—from an elevated mountainside. The Hot Sockee toe warmers are thin and fit well in the toe box of hunting boots without having to size up, regardless of sock thickness. The 1.5mm neoprene material provides extra insulation and eliminates the need to wear thick or double socks, and there are no side seams to cause discomfort. For added warmth, I sometimes add air-activated toe warmers.

  • Not bulky
  • Machine washable
  • 100% money-back guarantee

  • Runs small (go up one size)
Best Blind Heater
Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Heater
Mr. Heater
$94.03 (36% off)

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting
  • Weight: 9 lb.
  • Size: 7.7 x 13.4 x 15 in.

This indoor/outdoor propane radiant heater can safely heat up to 225 square feet and is compact enough to carry to a tree stand, though keep in mind that it weighs 9 pounds. It’s also safe for use in enclosed elevated blinds or ground blinds and will automatically shut off if the unit tips over, the pilot light fails or goes out, or it detects an inadequate amount of oxygen. The handle folds down and out of the way, and a swivel-out regulator allows easy connection to a 16-ounce propane tank (not included). It has low and high settings, and depending on which one you’re running, you’ll get up to 3 hours of heat from one propane tank.

  • Low and high settings
  • Safety auto shut-off
  • Clean burning

  • Stationary use only
  • Max run time on one tank is 3 hours
Best All-Around Glove
First Lite Talus Fingerless Merino Glove
First Lite

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting
  • Material: Merino wool
  • Sizes: S to XL

Like most hunters, I find that thick gloves lack the dexterity needed for archery or firearm hunting. Instead, I use these fingerless merino wool gloves over my thin hunting gloves for additional warmth. Not only is wool odor-resistant and warm, but it also wicks sweat and pulls moisture away from your body and retains heat even when wet. And merino wool is softer, lighter, and a lot less itchy, making it more ideal for layering. On really cold days, I like to slip an air-activated hand warmer between the two. The seamless knit construction provides a shortened index finger for archery release or trigger compatibility and a single-layer 3-inch cuff for less bulk, making these easy to store in your pants pocket or backpack.

  • Not bulky
  • Designed for tactile dexterity

  • No grip material in palm and fingers
Best Electronic Gear Protection
Phoozy XP3 Series insulated Phone Case

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting and stalk hunting
  • Material: Waterproof NASA spacesuit technology
  • Sizes: Various iPhone and Samsung models

As a hunter who relies on my iPhone not only for communication but also for a mapping app I use to scout and study terrain, and find stands and game camera waypoints, I have experienced the effects low temperatures can have on battery life. The Phoozy XP3 pouch is designed with NASA spacesuit technology that helps insulate and shield cell phones from harsh temperatures—from direct sunlight and heat to extreme cold and precipitation. It’s also water-resistant and can withstand drops of up to 9 feet. It has a multi-point attachment system that lets you easily secure it to a backpack, belt, or other gear, and an internal stash pocket for a hunting license, tag, or money.

  • Water-resistant
  • Multi-point attachment system

  • May not fit bulky phone cases
Best Muff-Style Hand Warmer
Hunter Safety System Muff-Pak Hand Warmer
Hunter Safety System

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting and stalk hunting
  • Materials: Polar-fleece lining, brushed-fleece exterior
  • Size: One size

The HSS Muff-Pak is designed to be accessible whether you’re standing or sitting, making it ideal for both still and stalk hunting. It has an adjustable waistband for a comfortable fit, even over bulky layers, and a snap release that allows for quick attachment and detachment. Its brushed fleece exterior is quiet, and the polar fleece liner is comfortable and warm. Multiple pockets located on the front and back allow for small-item storage. The Muff-Pak keeps your hands warm and ready to use your gun or bow without the struggle of side coat pockets, and it packs easily in a backpack when not in use. HSS makes a heated version for $60, but it’s not available in solid colors. I often add a hand warmer to my non-heated Muff-Pak for additional warmth.

  • Adjustability allows for a custom fit

  • The heated version is not available in solid colors
Best Whole Body Warmer
ArcticShield Body Insulator

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting
  • Materials: Thermal (waterproof and windproof)
  • Sizes: S to XXL

For extreme cold, the ArcticShield Body Insulator is the perfect solution for tree-stand and ground-blind hunting. ArcticShield’s Retain technology incorporates an aluminized polypropylene core layer in the fabric system that returns 90 percent of body heat to the inner garment. The waterproof and windproof outer shell fabric is soft and quiet and has a detachable hood and safety-harness pass-through slot. The main zipper makes getting in and out of the suit easy, as do the oversize armhole zippers, even if you’re wearing a jacket. All zippers have EZ Pull tabs, which can be operated with gloved hands. Inner shoulder straps keep the suit on when unzipped, and a rubberized bottom on the feet provides grip on surfaces such as tree-stand steps. It comes with a blaze-orange cape that you can snap on and off and an integrated strap that lets you carry the suit when it’s rolled up.

  • Head-to-toe protection
  • Packs down and has built-in carry strap
  • Easy to access weapon

  • Sizes run big compared to sizing chart
  • Weighs six pounds
  • Bulky to stow and carry
Best Heated Vest
Ororo Lightweight Heated Vest With Battery Pack
$97.99 (42% off)

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting and stalk hunting
  • Material: Nylon
  • Sizes: S to 3XL

I have used this water-resistant, heated vest for those hunts that start off extremely cold in the morning and rapidly warm up throughout the day. It has four carbon-fiber heating elements, located in the neck, upper back, and front pockets, that can be turned on and off—and be adjusted from low (100 degrees F) to high (130)—with the press of a small button on the chest. One full charge will last 10 hours on the lowest setting. It makes for the perfect mid-layer under a jacket, and the length falls just below the waist. It has two side zipper pockets and an inner pocket for a battery. The women’s version costs $30 more and comes with a detachable hood.

  • Machine washable
  • Rechargeable batteries via USB

  • Nylon is not as quiet as a brushed exterior
Best Neck Gaiter
Sitka Gear Neck Gaiter
Sitka Gear

Key Specs

  • Best For: Still hunting and stalk hunting
  • Material: Polyester
  • Sizes: One size

Incorporating a neck gaiter into your cold-weather wardrobe is essential for keeping valuable body heat from escaping around the neck. I am ambivalent with neck gaiters and face masks; they are either too tight, ill-fitting, or result in an intolerable build-up of sweat. A neck gaiter that can also serve as a face mask is a bonus. The Sitka Gear Neck Gaiter combines the stretch of polyester knit and an exceptionally comfortable high-pile fleece liner with a Gore Optifade concealment exterior for the ultimate protection from the cold. This ultra-breathable neck gaiter is available in five patterns and offers a unisex fit.

  • Breathable
  • Not bulky

  • Not available in a solid color
Best Boot/Wader Dryer
DryGuy Force DX Dry Boot Dryer

Key Specs

  • Best For: Home and lodge
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Weight: 6 lb.
  • Dimensions: 15 x 12.5 x 7.6 in.

It’s certainly not difficult these days to find waterproof boots, but slog through mud, rain, and snow long enough, and eventually moisture from sweat and condensation will build up on the inside, resulting in extreme discomfort, especially when it’s cold. After a day in wet terrain, it’s important to thoroughly dry the inside of your boots before wearing them again the next day. If you don’t, not only will your feet feel the chill immediately, but your boots will start to stink thanks to a build-up of bacteria and sweat. I’ve tried other types of boot dryers, such as those that use warm air to heat the inside, and found the ones that use forced-air technology work the fastest—gloves, boots, and waders dry in less than half the time. The electric DryGuy Force DX can be used with heat (about 105 degrees F) or without and has a three-hour timer that lets you set dry time. Extensions are available for waders or taller boots, such as snake boots or pack boots.

  • Faster drying time compared to warm-air dryers
  • Additional accessories available for waders

  • Does not come with a travel bag
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