How do you survive in the FRIGID Northland?
My friend asked me, How do you live up in South Dakota when it is so cold? Do you guys really go outside? Then a terrifying thought hit him as he said,I think I would die spending a day out in sub zero weather.
Well folks, we do live in an extreme place. Oh granted there are many places much harsher to spend time in than South Dakota, we get a wide range of weather from 100F plus in the summer to -40F below zero. Due to these extreme climate changes South Dakota is a great place to test outdoor gear.
The answer to my friend was simple. We dress, prepare, and plan appropriately for the weather. The most important of these is dressing appropriately for the activity at hand. It is possible you can put on too many clothes on a sub-zero day. If you do, it causes you to sweat inside your layers; you don’t want this to happen because your clothes will become wet from the sweat. Then the cloth will freeze from the cold temps in turn causing your body temperature to drop.
To avoid that scenario you need to ask yourself the following questions.
#1 Plan: What am I doing to be doing outside today?
#2 Prepare: If my plans call for different activity levels – What do I need to take with me?
#3 Dress: Dress for the weather and for the day.
Today I spent most of the day outside with South Dakota temps around zero or less. I am going to mention some items I use. Please keep in mind I have no sponsors for this article; I just want to share what works for me.
Next to my skin I wear silk long underwear. I find silk to be my favorite for a light weight insulating layer, it moves well under any type of secondary layer, dries quickly, and wicks moisture away from your skin. Next layer of clothing I wear is fleece sweat pants and a sweat shirt. Yes I know, I am not going to win any fashion shows wearing sweats all day, and some days I wear jeans but no matter the winter weather I always wear layers. My outer layer today is Carhart Arctic bib overall bottoms and a Carhart arctic coat. For my feet I wear Wetland Muck boots with cotton socks, (I find the wetland boots work very well to minus ten or so) a bomber rabbit fur lined hat, Kinco insulated gloves and a silk wild rag around my neck. Of course eye protection from the bright sun glaring off of the snow. I spent over six hours in zero degree temps today and was not cold at all wearing the above items. For years our family has worked, hunted, and played outdoors year round. We have bought cheap gear, and some extremely expensive gear. I will tell you GEAR makes all the difference in the world.
Thinsulate and other new fibers are awesome stuff. Know how many grams plus the temperature rating in the gear you are buying. Take time to read some reviews, You will spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less warming up or worse, suffering from exposure.
The Muck boots I wore today weigh about 5 lbs. I use them for hunting in the fall, all winter, and throughout the spring. The Wetland Muck Boot is an extreme boot for extreme field conditions. They are rugged, durable, comfy and very warm. These boots keep my feet warm and dry even in the most unpredictable temperatures of South Dakota. You can find them via http://www.hanksclothing.com/muck_boots_wetland_premium_field_boot_buy. html
Arctic Carhart clothing holds up to the rigors of ranch work as well as hunting. Mine are still in service after ten years of hard use. I have put in a few zippers and patched a spot or two where the fence has bitten me, but the quality is unbeatable. I give two thumbs up to the folks at Carhart, this stuff works. I have many of their products and love them all. I prefer Black; it soaks in the suns warmth giving that little extra on the days when you really need it. It also makes it easy to be spotted in the snow. Shop for these products via http://www.hanksclothing.com/carhartt_arctic_wear.html
Silk wild rags can be purchased in many places, don t think you re going to stay warm by being cheap, 100% silk is the only way to go in this item. Here is a vendor I have not used, but I like the fact they guarantee the items they sell http://cowboywildrags.com/index.html
Silk wild rags are one of the coolest looking things you can wear to keep you warm.
Gloves, I should have mentioned two rules earlier, if your feet or fingers get cold, YOU ARE COLD! Buy the right gear for the activity you are taking part in. Here are a few of my favorite places to shop for gloves; yes I know I am a bit of a glove junkie. http://www.kinco.com/prods/L03.php http://geierglove.com/ http://www.sullivanglove.com/scripts/default.asp
Silk underwear is my choice, but some folks enjoy others; try them to find what works best for you and your body. Compare all kinds all prices and shop from a source you trust. Buy American made when possible. http://www.wintersilks.com/ three weights of silk http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/guide-gear-china-silk-clothing- .aspx?a=40252 china silk http://www.underarmour.com/ Under Armor http://thesocksite.com/100-cotton-midweight-waffle-knit-thermal- underwear-p-559.html Cotton
Heat escapes out of the top of your head so choosing a warm topper is a must. I prefer a rabbit fur lined bomber hat. I have several depending on the outing. The fur lining is soft and light weight, making this very comfortable as well as toasty warm. http://www.madbomber.com/store/
Over the years growing up watching my father, I learned to value good gear and how to take care of it so it can take care of you. Don t be afraid to pay for quality; research, shop, and purchase wisely. Quality never goes out of style and chances are it will not wear out or fail when you need it most. If we can help you with any gear purchase please feel free to give a call. We are consumers just like you. The above mentioned sites are for reference and research only; we are not affiliated with them. Here at the ranch we don t make any clothing or get paid to mention brands, we work hard and play hard putting our gear to the test every time we go out the door. When we find something we like, we not only use it, but try hard to share what we learn with others along the way so they might spend more time comfortably enjoying the great outdoors too.
Dave is a Team Huntress Outdoor Ambassador, South Dakota Hunt Safe Instructor, outfitter, certified concealed carry, competition hunter and President of Pheasant Phun Inc. As an avid outdoorsman he enjoys a wide variety of outdoor activities.