By Brian K. Strickland
It had been a waiting game as I sat perched over the well-used northeast Washington trail the past five days, and I was hopeful my December all-day vigils were going to pay off. Although temperatures barely broke the low 20s most days and snow piled up by the inches nearly every day, there had been no shortage of deer.
In fact, I was covered up by whitetails every day; however, it was the heavy-horned variety that were elusive.
After over 40 hours strapped to a frozen evergreen tree, my 5x5 prize finally materialized. When his wide and heavy mahogany rack came into view, I knew instantly he was the one I had been waiting for…
I enjoy late-season bowhunts. Although the game is generally spooky, if you put the time in, you’re often rewarded with an opportunity. That being said, unless you’re hunting in the Deep South, once December and January roll around, it’s the elements that tend to keep most of us inside. You’re often forced to deal with bitter cold coupled with brisk northerly winds and snow, and unless you have the right gear, it isn’t very much fun. Luckily for us, quality cold-weather gear is easy to find.
The Heater Body Suit ($379.95) eliminates any and all excuses for not being in the woods during the late season. A “sleeping bag” you can effectively hunt out of is the best way I can describe this one-piece system, which I’ve personally enjoyed on many subzero whitetail hunts. It easily slides over garments, trapping warmth inside. The polyester tricot camo fabric is super quiet, and the suit is filled with 300-gram Thinsulate Ultra Insulation. A DuPont wind barrier and DWR treatment further add to your comfort. It’s easy to slip in and out of the suit (quietly), and it rolls up for convenient packing and on-stand storage. The Heater Body Suit’s chest straps allow you to free your upper body for shooting, while also preventing the suit from falling to your knees. Proudly made in the U.S.A., it comes in seven sizes and color options of Mossy Oak, Realtree, Predator, and Solid Black. And if you do get cold while wearing one? You’ll get your money back.
FORLOH is the newest member of the technical hunting apparel community. Used as a mid-layer or water-resistant outer layer, their ThermoNeutral Down Jacket ($469) is designed with truly impressive technologies. Lightweight, breathable, and warm, it features Activ-dri down, which reduces moisture adsorption by up to 60% to ensure the 650 fill RDS stays dryer. Also, FORLOH’s Perf-Weld advanced sonic-weld construction removes seams that cause weakness in baffles, while also providing exceptional breathability through micro-perforations.
Adding to Browning’s already impressive Hell’s Canyon collection, their Hellfire-FM Insulated Windstopper Jacket ($299.99) and Pants ($249.99) are designed to keep hunters on the move when the temperatures drop and the stiff north wind blows. Besides being fully articulated, lightweight, and packable, both are engineered with three-layer GORE Windstopper technology with a warm interior fleece pile that is completely windproof, water-resistant, and breathable.
Available in their new vanishing Tarnen camo pattern, Huntworth’s Heavy Weight Soft Shell Jacket ($149.99) is constructed from a triple-layer fabric. The shell is a quiet, low-pile “InVelvet” fleece with a water-repellent DWR finish that is bonded to a windproof film. The interior is a warm Sherpa Fleece bonded with Microban antimicrobial protection for scent reduction.
One of the newest members of ScentLok’s line that will certainly take the chill off this year is the Reactor Vest Plus ($199.99). Besides being equipped with Carbon Alloy odor-adsorbing layering technology as you’d expect, it also features battery powered, built-in heating elements. With three settings to choose from, it will produce warmth ranging from 100 to 118 degrees, depending on the mode selected. Its quiet micro-tricot outer shell, along with multiple pockets, put the finishing touches on this cold-crushing option.
Offering up to 1,200-gram PrimaLoft insulation, the Atlas Boot ($200) from LaCrosse offers a blend of warmth, comfort, durability, and support for hunters on the move. Its molded rubber toe cap, combined with nubuck leather and abrasion-resistant material uppers, provides extra protection, while the DuraFit heel gives you a secure fit for added stability on uneven terrain. The secure traction of the LXG rubber outsole will keep you upright, and with the Dry-Core lining, stepping across that creek won’t be a worry.
To see a dozen more great products for cold-weather hunting, see our full article on pages 24-26 of the February 2021 issue — our Winter Special — on newsstands today!