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Double Duty Dressing

Loud wing beats and excited cackling nearly startled me from the deer stand as I fought to stay alert in the warmth of the rising sun. Turkeys flying down from a nearby roost! My breath steamed in the November morning air. I considered my options. What the heck, I thought, the deer aren't moving; why not try for a bird with my bow?

My only concern was that I had dressed too warmly. Breaking up fall flocks involves a lot more activity than sitting still in a deer stand. With the morning sun warming things up I knew chasing the birds would cause me to overheat beneath my heavy coveralls.

It's a problem hunters often face: how to dress for changing temperatures and activity levels. Clothing warm enough for sitting out the dawn chill can become uncomfortably hot and sweaty once you start moving around in the morning sun. This is especially true in the spring and fall, prime time for turkeys.

The Three Layer System:

The secret to dressing for temperature extremes lies in layering your clothes. Layers will keep you warm and dry in cold weather and can be removed when things heat up. Most layering systems involve wearing three layers: a base layer, an insulation layer and a weather protection layer.

Base Layer:

This layer should be made from a non-absorbent material that draws moisture away from the skin. There are many kinds of inexpensive, lightweight, warm and quickly-drying materials that work perfectly as base layers. Most are synthetic. Don't wear cotton clothing like jeans, cotton T-shirts or cotton long johns. Cotton dries slowly and keeps moisture close to your skin.

Insulation Layer:

This layer traps heat against your body. Again, synthetic materials often work best as insulation, they retain heat when wet and dry more quickly than natural materials like wool or down. They can also wick away moisture from the surface of your base layer. Thicker garments work well in really cold weather, but you should be able to remove or ventilate them easily. Zippered fleece sweaters, light jackets and vests are good choices as insulating layers.

Weather-proof Layer::

To keep warm in adverse weather, your outer layer needs to be water- and wind-proof. If possible, your outer layer should also be lightweight and easy to store when not needed. Lightweight outer shells made with breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex are great if you plan on wearing them while active; they allow moisture generated by your body to pass through so your other layers stay dry. It's also a good idea for your weather-proof layer to have a hood and a waterproof zipper.

Layering Tips and Tricks

Looser clothing keeps you warmer

Buy your outer layers large enough to fit over your inner layers. Blood carries heat from your body's core to its extremities and a tight fit can restrict circulation.

Keep your clothing clean

Even the most technical fabric won't function effectively when dirty. Wicking, waterproof and breathable fabrics become clogged by dirt and dried sweat. Wash your clothes according to manufacturer's recommendations in unscented detergent after heavy use.

Wear a warm hat!

A lot of blood circulates through your head. Wearing a warm hat can be one of the most effective ways to regulate your temperature. Take it off when you're moving around and put it back on again once you sit down. In really cold weather you may want to wear a headband to keep your ears warm while you move.TO PAST ARTICLES


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