So much of hunting is simply being still and patient. But being out in the elements, especially early in the morning, and keeping still will let a terrible chill overtake you.
Most hunters, and especially tree stand hunters, know that cold feet are just part and parcel of hunting.
But with time the pain can turn intense, particularly in colder weather or regions you can actually risk frostbite. That’s no good, and in any case, nobody wants to be miserable while waiting for your quarry to come along.
To help you keep your toes from going numb and your feet from experiencing that pins and needles sensation I’ll share with you 11 proven tips to keep your feet warm while hunting.
Table of Contents
1. Keep Dry!
One of the single most important things you can do if you want to keep your feet warm while hunting is to simply keep dry.
Being cold is bad enough, but if you’re in cold conditions and your skin or clothing is damp, you’ll have heat sucked out of your body so much faster.
Accordingly, it’s a good idea to keep dry while you are hunting, and do so by whatever means necessary. You want to keep your feet dry at all costs, but also control moisture elsewhere if you can.
This is a comprehensive solution, one you can enact by moderating your exertion, wearing moisture wicking clothes and layering your clothing smartly to provide better thermoregulation of your body temperature.
Done right, you’ll stay noticeably warmer no matter what else you’re going through…
2. Move Your Toes and Legs
It sounds simple and it is, but it’s commonly overlooked in my experience. You want to keep your feet and your legs moving. The exertion will generate heat, and the attendant blood flow will help keep you warm.
And before you protest, yes, I know that we’re trying to stay as still as possible so we don’t alert or spook the animals.
But no matter where you are hunting and how, whether you are in a tree stand or blind, it is possible to perform some simple, meaningful movement even while you are sitting still.
You can flex your toes and your feet inside your boots. You can apply alternating pressure with your feet almost as if you’re marching in place.
Shift your weight to one leg and then the other. Things like that. It doesn’t seem like it will do much at first, but keep it up and you’ll definitely notice your feet warming up.
If you’re fortunate enough to be inside a full or partial blind, you’ll be able to move even more without risking being spotted.
3. Make Sure You Wear Adequate Clothing
Obviously, if you’re going to be in cold conditions, you need to wear adequate clothing. Sure, that’s obvious, but it’s easy to forget that keeping the rest of your body comfortably warm will help keep your feet warm.
Heat loss is cumulative, so if your arms, neck, or head are exposed, even comfortably so, you’re still losing heat and that will disproportionately affect your extremities and your feet in particular.
So even if you are enjoying some crisp, cool weather on your upper body, keep in mind this could be contributing to your chilly feet.
As I said above, make it a point to layer intelligently and wear seasonal and weather-correct clothing to stay comfortable all over, and your feet will thank you.
4. Eat and Stay Hydrated
If your body doesn’t have enough energy or if you are dehydrated, weather is going to affect you more.
You’ll feel hotter in hot weather and colder in cold weather, and particularly if you haven’t been eating, you’ll notice that you feel distinctly chilled.
Eating enough carbs and fat can help boost your metabolism which will make you warm up, and together with the other tips on this list can make a serious difference in the overall comfort of your feet.
Always make it a point to have a big, hearty breakfast before you head out in the morning and eat regular snacks when you can do so without compromising your position.
5. Wear Wool Socks, Not Cotton
If there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it is cotton… at least as far as my hunting trips are concerned!
Cotton loves to soak up moisture and that will keep your feet clapping, and if your feet are clammy, they’re going to get chilled. And cotton just can’t hold a candle to other materials when it comes to keeping you warm and thermally regulated.
My choice for the superior hunting sock? If I’m going with traditional materials it has got to be wool, period. Occasionally, a majority wool synthetic blend is okay.
Wool has a huge advantage over cotton in that it’s naturally moisture-controlling, temperature regulating, and even if your feet do get wet it will still keep them warm.
Wool costs more and requires a little more effort to take care of, but the difference is marked and absolutely worth it in my opinion.
6. Try Heated Socks
If you really want to take a big step into the future when it comes to keeping your feet warm, you should try heated socks.
I know it sounds like something out of science fiction, but the future is now, I guess! You can buy rechargeable or battery-powered socks that have built-in heating elements at various points in the fabric. Some even have cordless remote controls!
The benefits of heated socks are obvious if you are in seriously cold weather, and even if you aren’t they can do a lot for you.
You can keep them off when you’re moving into position, and then easily click them on when you settle in and the chill starts to take hold.
Yes, you’ll have to keep them charged or fed with batteries, but virtually all of the models on the market today have more than enough power for a long day afield.
7. Good Boots are Invaluable
Good boots make for warm feet when hunting. As far as I’m concerned, it’s worth investing more in your boots than any other part of your clothing when it comes to your overall comfort.
Any good, rubber hunting boot that keeps your feet dry will do the lion’s share of the work, but make sure you get one that is insulated appropriately for the climate and weather conditions you typically experience when you go out.
But, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing: boots that can’t breathe at all will fill up with sweat and precipitation in time, giving you swampy, cold feet.
Also, consider buying boots that are a little bit bigger than what you actually wear day to day; you’ll want to leave room for thicker socks and for a few other helpful items later on this list.
8. Wear Boot Covers in the Coldest Conditions
If your boots aren’t quite up to the task of keeping you warm, or if you’re dealing with particularly nasty conditions, get some boot covers to slip over the outside.
Boot covers are simple, and basically another layer of insulation and weather protection that can help your feet beat the elements. As always, make sure they fit properly, and if they are an all-around cover that you still have adequate grip on the soles.
9. Heated Insoles are a Good Option
Swerving back to technology once again, and one of the best reasons to buy a slightly larger pair of boots: heated insoles.
These work very much like heated socks, relying upon a rechargeable battery and built-in heating elements to keep your feet toasty warm from the bottom up.
Compared to socks, they don’t give you all-around warmth, but they’re usually more than adequate enough to keep your feet comfortable in all but the very coldest weather.
But, compared to socks, I think it’s worthwhile that you take the time and actually experiment with them for performance; some just don’t get warm enough, while others get way too warm in my experience.
You don’t want to be out in your stand or in the blind and have to deal with taking these things out if they’re failing you…
10. Try Toe Warmers
You’re probably already familiar with hand warmers and know how they work. You can get the same type of technology to keep your toes warm using toe warmers.
But compared to using hand warmers, there are a few more things to know with toe warmers. For starters, you’ll actually need extra room in your boots in order to fit them comfortably and also for them to work.
These devices use a chemical reaction with air in order to generate heat, so if you have them crammed into your boot without any extra room they will not work optimally.
Also, they have something of a drawback and that you’ll need to activate them, put them in your boot and then lace up your boots, and whatever heat you get out of them is what you get. You can’t remotely turn them up or turn them off as with heated insoles or socks.
Nonetheless, they are a time-tested and reliable option that won’t set you back very much money.
11. Keep Your Feet on a Pad
Sometimes it’s the simplest solutions that can do the most good. If you are in a tree stand or sitting in a blind, place a heavy swatch of old carpet or an old rug, or else use a foam pad to put between your feet and the ground.
This will act as a highly effective insulator that will keep your body heat from draining out through your boots.
Metal tree stands in particular get extremely cold and will keep your feet just as cold unless you remember this fundamental but important tip.
Whatever material you use, the better the insulator it is the warmer your feet will stay in all conditions.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.