Layering - Staying Comfortable in the Outdoors

Last week the temperatures were in the high 70’s, low 80’s; this week it’s in the 30’s and 40’s. Welcome to wintertime in Texas. ¬It’s a guessing game as to how to dress for a day on the water. I can remember checking the weather conditions the night before a fishing trip, noting the temperatures were forecasted for the 60’s. No problem—jeans, short sleeve shirt, and a light jacket if needed. The next morning, speeding across the lake in a bass boat at daybreak, can make you wish you had dressed warmer.

The answer is layering; wearing outer layers of clothing, such as hat, jacket and pants made from waterproof and breathable fabrics. Underneath the outer clothes, layer multiple layers of lighter clothing. But it’s more than putting on layers upon layers. It’s how you layer, and with what that counts.

In a recent article on layering, professional bass angler, Bill Lowen shared that keeping bulk to a minimum is the key to being comfortable.

The process of "layering up" begins with underwear and builds outward, said Lowen. He typically wears a set of thin, moisture-wicking long underwear. He’ll put on a lightweight pullover, followed by a heavy shirt (cotton on cool days, wool on cold days). The base layer is thin fleece, wicks moisture away from the skin, and lets you move freely.

Besides a jacket and hat, on cool mornings I wear my rain gear pants over my jeans. The rain gear cuts the wind off on my legs. I remember a trip my buddy and I make to a warm water power plant lake during late January. We knew it was going to be cold, but the bass would be basking in the artificially warmed water. We were layered up, but not with the great outer gear you can get now. Having to make a bathroom break, getting to the plumbing, was a major task.

Because body heat tends to escape from your head, neck, and wrists, it's imperative to keep these areas well covered to slow down the process of heat loss. There’s a variety of caps, facemasks, and neck gaiters designed to insulate the head and neck. A good pair of hunting gloves with adjustable wrist straps will ensure that your hands stay warm while reducing heat loss at your wrists.

All of our conversation so far has pertained to anglers, but so much more to waterfowl and deer hunters. Many duck and goose hunters suffer from cold feet because of a common problem: their boots are too tight. Boots should be roomy enough to allow you to wiggle your toes freely while wearing hunting socks. Tight boots can restrict the circulation in your feet, which keeps the blood from flowing freely to your toes and warming them.

In cold weather, waterfowlers should wear boots that have 600 to 1,000 grams of insulation. Another suggestion is to layer socks, a thin pair of liner socks to wick away moisture away, and then a thick pair of high quality wool socks.

There are a number of other state-of-the-art accessories to help anglers and hunters stay warm, including electric gloves and socks, gloves with the finger tips open so you can tie the knots and feather those long casts. Electric gloves, battery-heated boot insoles, chemical hand and body warmers, and the lists grow each year.
The last thing is that all of this outerwear layering won't do you much good if you don't keep your body's internal furnace stoked. A hearty breakfast, snacks in the boat, blind, deer stand, and a thermos of soup or hot chocolate will warm your body and soul at the same time.

I know I may be talking to the choir here as you already know all of this stuff about layering, but sometimes we forget, or throw caution to the “cold” wind as I have done in those cold rides at daybreak in a speeding boat. Even with the sun coming up, it takes a while to shake the shakes off. By layering, you can always take a layer off if not needed. Stay comfortable in God’s creation and enjoy the outdoors.

Photos courtesy of, Drazy, OZERO Stocking Hats, Sportsman’s Guide, and Best Hunting Boots 2019


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Fishing Report from TPWD (Jan. 19)

GOOD. Water stained; 55-58 degrees; 3.33 feet low. Fishing remains the same as we head into another cold front. Bass are good on Carolina rigs and crankbaits in the points, ditches and drains. Crappie are good on live minnows, then jigs after the live bite subsides. You will find them in creeks and river channels. Catfish are good in shallow to 15 feet of water, moving towards the creeks. Report by Lynn Atkinson, Reel Um N Guide Service.

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