Cold Weather Hunting Gear – 11 Tips We Learned During Our Deer Hunting Trips

Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by Bruce

Choosing appropriate hunting gear can be a challenge for the modern cold weather hunter. Whether you’re headed to the woods in search of caribou, elk or even whitetail, there are certain hunting items that every avid hunter should have in their arsenal in preparation for cold weather hunts. We recommend the following:

  • Outer layers
  • Long johns
  • Heavy duty pants
  • Fleece
  • Undergarments with ventilation
  • Hated boot insoles

Outer layers should be worn for cold weather hunting to help regulate body heat. If you’re not familiar with layering your clothing, begin by wearing multiple thin layers of fabrics that wick away moisture and sweat. Once your outer layer gets wet from perspiration, it will naturally pull moisture away from your skin and onto the next layer like a wick drawing water up a candle. Layering also works well because when one layer becomes cold and damp (such as a cold windy day in a tree stand), you can put on another layer to trap heat inside. When one layer becomes cold and dry, you can take it off.

Keeping your hunters warm starts with choosing the proper cold weather hunting gear. In cold climates, long johns are a great option because they add an insulating barrier against cold surfaces while trapping body heat close to the skin. Pants should be made from heavy duty material designed to keep out cold temperatures and snow if necessary.

Fleece is also a great cold weather hunting gear choice that can be worn as a mid-layer under your outer clothing or by itself when the temperature begins to drop. Choose pants and jackets that ventilate well so sweat can escape when you’re wearing them under other hunting gear layers. They are one of the best items for staying warm. It’s important to stay as dry as possible to prevent hunting gear from absorbing moisture and getting cold and heavy which could cause you to get cold and uncomfortable.

Heated cold weather hunting gear is a great way to beat the cold, because it provides built-in hand and feet warmers! Heated cold weather hunting boot insoles give hunters an extra layer of warmth that other hunting gear doesn’t provide. They’re lightweight, easy to wear in any shoe or boot, come with adjustable temperature settings, are rechargeable via USB charging ports & run for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low depending on your desired heat setting!

Choosing the best cold weather hunting gear is important to stay warm, comfortable and snag that trophy of a lifetime. What hunting gear items do you rely on most during an extreme winter conditions with high chill factor?

High-quality cold weather hunting gear is a must for any trophy deer hunter hunting in areas where the weather may get severely cold. In the northern hemisphere; especially states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Alaska, Maine, and the country of Canada, temperatures during the whitetail deer hunting season can drop well below zero degrees F.

Past Experience – A Good Teacher

I remember a couple of years ago in Minnesota, opening rifle season, I was in my portable hunting stand, and it was -16 degrees F. That’s cold weather, and I do not include extreme cold. Sorry, most of us from the northern latitudes that deer hunt in this cold climate doesn’t even consider the wind chill effect. Oh yes; we feel it when sitting on the stand overlooking a large field facing a stiff Northwest wind.

It just gets cold, and you need to be prepared and spend the bucks for good cold weather hunting gear. If you are hunting the second rut in one of those hunting areas I mentioned above, you’re going to need good hunting gear and hunting equipment. Believe me when I say, “things freeze up and you will get cold”.

If you’re cold; you are not hunting. You’re thinking about getting warmer. You’re moving around, you’re shivering, your toes hurt, your fingers hurt, your face feels like a block of ice. That trophy deer you hope to bag sees you from a distance, and you will never get that opportunity to harvest that nice buck. Hypothermia may be setting in, and you need to be aware of it (see the signs below).

Remember that scene in the movie “Dumb and Dumber”? The one where they ride out of the cold mountains into Aspen, Co., on that small scooter. They were shivering, making all kinds of noises, and ice was formed on their faces; well, that is what you’re going to look and sound like to that trophy deer if you’re not prepared properly.

Check recommended Men’s Cold Weather Hunting Jacket at Amazon

Cold Weather and Hunting Gear Tips

1. Dress in layers. Carry some of your heavier, warmer hunting clothing to your hunting stand and put it on once you get there. That way you won’t get all sweaty and wet before you even get on the stand. Believe me, if you get wet, then cold, you’re done. You might as well go back to camp and start all over. Also; fallow all hunting regulations pertaining to the color of your outer hunting clothing for safety.

2. Once you put on your outer hunting clothing, seal as best you can all exposed openings; neck area, wrists, waist, pant cuffs, top of your head and etc.

3. Have some wool hunting clothing on. Not right next to your skin, maybe after a layer or two. Wool will retain most of its insulation qualities even when it is wet (but not soaking wet). I like to carry a wool sweater or two with me to my hunting stand and put them on under my hunting jacket when I get there. It will retain the heat.

4. Wear a lightweight hunting cap to your stand. Then once there, put on a good quality thermal face mask and a wool/insulated cap on over that. I prefer a wool stocking cap or something very well insulated with ear and neck protection. This way you can stay nice and toasty. Face masks are great for preventing cold air getting into your sinuses.

5. Long underwear – I use layers of Military long underwear. If it is good enough for our men and women in uniform, it is good enough hunting gear for me. You can buy the more expensive and cute stuff if you want.

6. Gloves and mittens – Get the good stuff so you don’t get cold hands, and can keep your hands dry. I like lightweight gloves inside of mittens that let you extend your fingers out for shooting that trophy deer. You can get waterproof items if you want. I have found in our climate it is often too cold for ice to thaw, but sometimes it does, so I have both just in case. Fingerless merino wool gloves may be useful for certain tasks but it helps to have a few different pairs.

Check recommended Cold Weather Hunting Glove at Amazon

7. Hunting Boots – Can you say “spend the money!” Don’t be cheap here. It needs to be water resistant. In real cold weather – below zero degrees F. – I wear ice fishing packs that have rubber soles! My feet stay warm! The good ones are rated for over -100 degrees F. In real cold weather I have no problems with them as long as they stay dry. This means keeping them dry or drying them every night while you’re dreaming about that trophy deer. There again, if you have to carry them to your hunting stand and then put them on, do it. Check out rubber boots on Amazon. 

Check recommended Hunter Cold-Weather Boot at Amazon

8. Use those chemical small 8-10 hour heaters in your gloves/mittens, boots, pockets and wherever you may need a spot of heat. They’re cheap, only a buck or so for a pair. Well worth it to help you build up maximum warmth in your extremities.

9. Big Tip Here! – Do not, I repeat, do not over lubricate your hunting weapon when deer hunting in cold weather. It will freeze up on you when you need it the most! Try to pour a quart of regular oil at anything below zero degrees F. It doesn’t flow, pour or move very well. And neither will your hunting firearm of choice if it is nice and gummed up with frozen sludge. Wipe all lubricants off your firearm, gun or bow. If you must lubricate any hunting gear or equipment, use a graphite-based lubricant, sparingly.

10. Hypothermia; learn and teach your fellow deer hunters the signs and stages of it, you may save someone’s life – or even your own.

The states of Hypothermia

Stage 1: Your breathing becomes quicker, and you start to shiver. Your bodies core temperature has dropped 1.8 to 3.6 degrees below your normal temperature of 98.6 degrees. You need to warm up soon before you slip into the later stages of hypothermia. You should drink warm fluids, walk about or do other exercises. You may even need to seek a companion’s body warmth.

Stage 2: You start to lose coordination of your body. You may even feel you are starting to warm up, but in fact, you are getting worse. Your bodies core temperature has dropped by 3.8 to 7.6 degrees below normal. You have slipped into the moderate to severe stage of hypothermia. You need to get out of the hunting area or woods and get into a dry, warm place, and may even need to seek medical attention.

Stage 3: You’re having difficulty thinking and speaking. You may experience stumbling as you try to move about. Your shivering may have stopped. Your bodies core temperature has dropped below 89.6 degrees; you are in danger of passing out and dying. In stage 3 you need to warm up immediately and should seek medical assistance.

11. Finally; always let your deer hunting partners or family know where you plan to hunt and when to expect you back. Accidents can and do happen. Carry a cell phone or walkie-talkie on you. Do not put it in your backpack, you may have an accident and not have it by you. If you get stuck up on deer hunting stand (when your ladder breaks) you may not be able to get down. Also, in cold weather, keep it close to your body to keep it warm and operable. Stay safe and have fun deer hunting in the cold; it can be rewarding.

Guide to Deer Hunting Stands – 5 Styles Compared