Layer up to stay warm

During my brief stint as a full-time wildlife photographer, I was out in the field more often than inside at a computer, and this time of year, that comes with low temperatures and plenty of wind. If you’re spending any time outside, make sure you keep yourself warm.

As a wildlife photographer, I was out in the cold a lot this time of year. Sometimes, it was just simply cold; other times, it was cold, windy and wet. Dealing with cold is tricky enough sometimes, but when you add in the wet and windy conditions, it can be downright difficult – and possibly dangerous.

On those mornings when I was preparing to go look for coyotes, moose, waterfowl or other critters that don’t have the good sense to go south for the winter, I found myself dressing much the same way I would if I were hunting these animals. And it all started with a good base layer.

I have several sets of long underwear, ranging from light insulation all the way up to “polar.” One thing all of them have in common is that they’re all made from wicking material, like polypropylene. The heavier insulation versions are a mix of polypropylene and merino wool. The wool is great, because even if it gets wet, it keeps me warm.

The next layers were the insulating layers. I tended to go with several layers, so I could shed layers if it got warm, or add them if I started getting cold. If I found myself walking from one place to another, I’ll take a layer or two off so I didn’t work up a sweat on the walk, then put them back on when I got situated again, so that I keep that self-generated warmth trapped near my body.

Again, these layers tend to be polypropylene and wool.

The final, outer layer was a water- and wind-resistant shell. I have a few different ones, but they’re all either nylon or a treated cotton blend. I avoided cotton unless was treated, because cotton doesn’t insulate if it gets wet.

Stay warm out there, and use those layers to regulate your temperature.