Between November whitetails and late season mallards along Montana spring creeks, I spend a lot of time giving cold weather clothing its sternest test: holding still in sub-zero temperatures. Here are some points my experience has taught me.

A friend recently returned early to our kitchen after “freezing out” in a stand near our house. As usual, his feet were the problem. He couldn’t understand it because he was wearing high quality insulated boots–made of leather.

Leather boots just won’t make it in these conditions. Go with high quality rubber pacs instead. Even the good ones are usually cheaper than leather, and rubber boots will leave less ground scent. I like Muck Boots for this purpose, but be sure to get the Arctic model. Not only are they better insulated than the others, they also provide far better traction when hunting steep, snowy terrain.

The newer synthetic insulating materials certainly have their place, but they seldom work well for bowhunters, mostly because they come housed in nylon shells that are just too noisy. I’ve always been a fan of wool, but one disadvantage is that it’s bulky. A wool coat heavy enough to keep you warm at 20-below can make it hard to draw your bow.

Here’s a simple solution to a heavy wool coat—a heavy wool vest. Most heat loss occurs through the trunk, and a vest will cover about 50% of your body surface area while leaving your arms free to draw unhindered.