This past winter was an eye-opening experience, and one that I wished to have shared but couldn’t figure out how to draw any readers towards a series of blogs saying “today was cold, my hands went numb, and we had to chop ice to get the boat off the ramp.” Since this isn’t what the blog will consist of moving foward (at least until December,) I figure I can at least recap.
When I first helped Don out, it was late October of 2012, and I figured that there was no way I would be out on the flat during the winter. A short month later I experienced my first snowstorm in a boat, and two months later found myself waiting for my hands to go numb so I could get started with harvesting without the pain. I’d get home from work each day and crawl under my covers for an hour before I felt my core temperature rise again, and found myself walking around the house in shorts and tank tops on my days off, sweating. Below is my gear list over two seasons, but I think it warrants a mention first that the biggest difference, hands down, was better waders and gloves that fit.
2012 Winter Gear List (worn all at once)
- 3 pairs socks
- Silk longjohns
- Fleece longjohns
- Polartec longjohns
- Nike Running Sweatpants
- Nike cold-weather running turtleneck
- Smartwool winter turtleneck
- Hooded sweatshirt
- Insulated foul-weather jacket
- Neck gaiter
- Lined beanie
- Lined rubber gloves (snowblower gloves)
- Waders (off-brand, fall weight)
The hardest part was undoubtedly the ride out to the grant, a 15-minute ride in oftentimes sub-35° weather that chilled you to the bone before arriving to work. With all of my hiking experience, I do look back on this list as rather foolish and inefficient, but I learned.
This past winter, I came to play. I spent the summer reflecting on why my hands and feet went numb, how to keep the cold away from my chest, and how important it was to wear better waders.
2013-14 Winter Gear List
- 1 pair Smartwool Ski socks, 1 pair Smartwool Heavy wool socks – Quality > Quantity
- 1 pair Under Armor ColdGear tights
- 1 pair fleece longjohns
- 1 pair fleece sweatpants
- Nike winter turtleneck
- Smartwool winter wool turtleneck
- Insulated hooded sweatshirt
- Gage rain/wind jacket – If I learned anything from hiking other than how to walk all day, it’s that wind and water protection is the number one key to staying warm.
- 700 gram Thinsulate neoprene waders – Worth their weight in gold
- Buff gaiter – One of my favorite accessories
- Neoprene facemask for ride out/back
- PROPERLY FITTING INSULATED GLOVES – This part was major: The gloves I wore were too big the past season, and the additional effort it took to maneuver them ruined my circulation.