My first winter jamboree with the Boy Scouts was a misery. Oh boy, do I remember it well. Despite what I thought at the time was a sufficiently well rated sleeping bag for colder temperatures and warm clothes, I sat up two nights, shivering and wondering what made me think I wanted to do this in the first place.
|The author is fond of Under Armour's Scent Control EVO line of products for cold days.|
It was in the middle of January somewhere up in the Catskill Mountains in the northeast, and a weekend I will never forget. I was probably no older than 12 years old at the time. I am a bit older now and a bit wiser, but that memory lasted me an entire lifetime and probably was the reason that kept me for the longest time from doing any overnight trips into the woods during the winter months. That was the way it was, at least until the development of synthetics and the blends of fabrics that eventually replaced cotton for outdoor activities.
Today, whether I am deer or duck hunting, winter fishing, hiking or occasionally snowshoeing, I always layer myself with long Johns. And with today's advancements in textile development, there is plenty to consider and plenty to choose from. Depending on conditions and my chosen activity, I can custom-buy a wide range of blends with features and benefits to fit any of my outdoor adventures.
If I know, for instance, that I am going to be sitting in a duck blind and sitting all day, I might go heavyweight. If I know that I am going to chase deer down in the woods or just hike through the woods, I can go lighter. I am particularly fond of Under Armour's Scent Control EVO crew and leggings. But there are plenty of choices to fit everyone's budget, which include such great brands as Ice Breaker Merino Oasis, Badlands Latitude, Drake's, RedHead, etc.
The first feature I look for is a "second skin" style of fit. I want to know that I have an extra layer, but I don't necessarily want to feel it. I want it to move with my body, not gather at my waist or in the seat of my pants. But it also cannot be too tight either. Never restrict the body in anyway, especially around the ankles, waist, neck or wrists and especially not in the winter. It might take some research and a couple fittings to get your brand right because everyone's body is different; but long Johns need to work "for you," not against you, meaning they have to feel right and perform right according to your own body chemistry.
I like Under Armour's Scent Control technology, too, which in UA's terms, "traps and suppresses" body odor, yet prevents the growth of odor producing microbes. Which brings me to their next feature, their signature Moisture Transport System that "pushes" sweat off your skin to the outer layer of the fabric where it evaporates, keeping your skin warmer and drier. And the last feature that I will mention, which is important to me, is a working fly. Let's be honest, coffee and hunting go together like French fries and ketchup, and if I can't get through those layers fast enough, when I need to, it won't matter what wicking technology I am wearing!
The point to all this is that you can really plan your hunting and fishing trips to be more comfortable in every way — to stay drier, warmer and impermeable to colder temperatures. Years ago, long Johns were made mostly of cotton, mostly weaves, and there wasn't much choice in the features and benefits that they offered. It is different now. Take your time in your research; buy the features and benefits that work best for you so you can be more comfortable in the outdoor activities that you want to enjoy.