Skip to main content

The Best Advice For Beating Cold Feet

Nothing can kill a cold-weather whitetail hunt quicker than frozen feet. Follow these gear tips to keep your toes warm in even the gnarliest winter weather.

The Best Advice For Beating Cold Feet

Properly insulated rubber boots can be great for bowhunters during cold weather. If you’re looking for a rubber boot that performs well in winter weather, LaCrosse’s Aerohead sport is a great choice. Photo courtesy of LaCrosse

I have talked to many deer hunters from all over the map about staying warm in a cold deer stand, and one underlying topic comes up with predictable frequency: cold feet. With today’s wool blends in base layers and highly insulative outerwear, keeping the body warm is a straightforward concept. Keeping your hands warm in subfreezing temperatures can be tricky, but with handwarmers, waist belt hand muffs and proper gloves, frozen fingers can be easily mitigated.

Toes and feet pose a unique challenge, however. I’ll be the first to admit, I can hack cold temperatures and have come to prefer frigid conditions for deer hunting, but if my feet go numb from the cold, my stand time goes south in a hurry. If my toes go numb, I can tough it out for a while; but if they get painful from the cold, my mind is on the uncomfortable bricks of ice inside my boots and not on tagging a mature buck!

nawp-2401-p951
Cold feet are a late-season deer hunter’s worst nightmare. However, a quality pair of boots can prevent Mother Nature’s worst from cutting winter hunts short. Photo courtesy of LaCrosse

SIMPLIFYING THE COMPLEX

The human body’s normal resting temperature is 98.6 F, and it is not adapted to rest 20 feet above the ground while getting pummeled by an arctic blast from the north. As core body temperature drops, a phenomenon happens to help conserve heat for the internal organs: peripheral vasoconstriction.

In short, the colder your core gets, your body diverts blood flow from the extremities by constricting blood vessels in the hands, fingers, feet and toes. Though this makes your kidneys, liver and heart warmer, your fingertips and toes suffer from the less-than-ideal blood flow. Thus, as cold-weather deer hunters, we must take proper measures to preserve our feet heat!

Complicating cold weather foot care is moisture. Foot moisture from sweating on the walk to the tree stand is a common problem for me, and if my feet initially get overheated then chill once vasoconstriction sets in, they’re shot within about three hours. Sweat in subfreezing conditions is a destroyer of hunts! Likewise, if boots are found to be less than watertight and moisture seeps in, this can be just as detrimental as sweating; however, it typically occurs in smaller “cold spots” around the toes or flexion points of lace-up boots.

Boot fit is just as important as moisture control in ultra-cold temperatures. As mentioned above, vasoconstriction reduces toe warmth and oxygen flow. If a hunting boot fits too tight, or if one adds too many layers of socks making the fit tighter by accident, blood flow to the foot and toes is reduced. Thus, foot and toe circulation suffer, further promoting icy toes and shorter cold-weather deer hunts.

nawp-2401-p952

COLD FEET SOLUTIONS

My subfreezing tree stand foot care kit has morphed over time, and I will admit, it is still in flux. I am always looking for an edge to keep my feet dry and warm when chasing whitetails, and in my opinion, cold-weather foot care starts at the skin!

One trick I employ is using some form of scent-free antiperspirant all over my feet before putting on my socks. My personal preference is Mitchum brand unscented gel antiperspirant. I know this sounds odd, but I use it like a lotion all over my bare feet and allow it to dry thoroughly before putting on my socks. I find this helps reduce foot sweat, and in frigid, windy weather, dry feet are warm feet!

Sock choice is next to consider, and the cold-weather deer hunter has a plethora of choices in this realm. Rule No. 1: avoid cotton at all costs. Cotton robs heat, holds moisture and is wholly inappropriate for cold-weather hunting. My favorite sock is a thin, calf-length liner sock made of either silk, polypropylene or a blend of the two. These materials wick moisture away from cold feet and help promote warmth.




Just like layering under one’s outerwear, I then put a second sock on. This one is composed mainly of merino wool, and I like this sock to be knee-length to prevent slippage. The combination of the two types of socks is far superior to one alone when combating cold. Finally, if cold temperatures turn dangerous, several companies offer battery operated heated insoles and socks. The technology trade off here is just that. Batteries can and will fail, and they add extra bulk and weight to one’s setup. However, they can be a God-send if frost bite is a serious threat.

huntmonkeysocks
The author believes that keeping your feet warm begins at the skin. He prefers to wear a quality liner sock beneath a heavier, wool-blend hunting sock like these from Hunt Monkey. This combination simultaneously retains heat and prevents moisture. Photo by Hunt Monkey

Boots are a hunter’s outerwear for their feet, and serious consideration needs to be made when choosing cold-weather footwear. If my target buck is taking me through creeks or flood water, lace-up style boots will not suffice, so I must use a knee-high rubber boot. The LaCrosse Alphaburly Pro is a great choice for their weight, comfort and level of Thinsulate insulation. I generally buy them a size larger than my tennis shoes to allow for sock layering, reducing boot tightness while providing good foot circulation and breathability.

Another thing I will do when using rubber boots is to pack an extra set of dry socks in my day pack. It may sound odd, but let’s face it, all rubber boots lead to foot sweat on long hikes if one over layers on socks. Thus, once I get seated on stand, as I feel my feet getting cool, I will take my boots off one at a time and put a dry set of socks on.

Recommended


When hunting extreme cold weather on dry ground, nothing beats a quality lace-up style pac boot. My favorite choice is a pair of Kenetrek Northerns. These boots sport a 6mm thick liner containing 400 grams of Ultra Thinsulate, 3mm of wool felt and an added 600 grams of Thinsulate in the rubber bottom. There is also an added 9mm of wool felt in the footbed itself.

Paired with a proper pair of socks, this boot can give me all-day staying power in negative windchills. For added wind resistance, I sometimes use Arctic Shield boot blankets over the top of each boot. I’ll also add a Hot Hands brand large body warmer inside each boot blanket for the ultimate cold-weather comfort and staying power.

nawp-2401-p953
The author’s “feet heat” kit begins with Mitchum antiperspirant deodorant and ends with a set of Arctic Shield boot blankets. This tried-and-true kit helps him prevent his feet from sweating while walking to his hunting location and ensures warmth on stand. Photo by Clint McCoy

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Ripcord Arrow Rests Rejuvenates Lineup with Three New Models

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Don't Sleep on Conventional Trail Cameras

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Browning Trail Cameras Announces Cellular Innovation for 2024

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

ATA 2024 Core SR First Look from Bowtech

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Browning OVIX Camo: Ultimate Concealment for Any Time, Any Place

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Air Venturi Avenge-X Classic PCP Air Rifle Reviewed

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Primos Edge Carbon Fiber Tripod Shooting Sticks

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Bowhunting Aoudad in Texas with Browning OVIX Camo

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Bowtech CP30: A Better Bow Made For The Whitetailer

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Browning's Exclusive OVIX Camo Gives You Complete Concealment

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Gear

Start to Finish Success for Ultimate Season Bucks

North American Whitetail's Blake Garlock shares his strategies for trail-cam use during four distinct times of the year,...
Learn

Year-Round Deer Scouting with Moultrie Mobile Edge Cellular Trail Cams

North American Whitetail Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the North American Whitetail App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top North American Whitetail stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now