Cold hands and feet are the bane of my outdoor existence. My dad suffered from Raynaud’s Syndrome, poor circulation in the fingers and toes, and I think he passed a milder version of it along to me. I remember Dad was always buying new gloves of one kind or another to keep his hands warm. He had a pair of Eddie Bauer goosedown gloves with huge, down-stuffed fingers. They may have kept his hands warm but I’m not sure he could do anything with them on.
I struggle with cold digits, too. The first half hour of a cold weather pheasant hunt is miserable. There are no gloves thin enough to shoot in that can keep my hands warm. My fingers go numb, then as I move around and blood starts to flow into them they hurt. Once I am warmed up they’re fine, and I can even think about shooting.
Waterfowling, although a colder pursuit, is actually better in some ways, because I don’t have to be ready to shoot all the time as I do in the uplands. I can wear heavy gloves and pull them off as needed so I have tried a lot of gloves and a pair of glomitts.
My mother-in-law sent me a terrific pair of Barbour knit fingerless gloves for Christmas this year. They are great right up until the minute they stop being great, then they’re worse than no gloves. I wore them for the first time on a very cold goose hunt and loved the way I could keep my hands a little warmer yet still have full use of my fingers for setting up my blind and decoys. Eventually, though, all ten fingers went numb and I found that balling my hands to warm my fingers with the heat of my palms doesn’t work in fingerless gloves. I took them off and my fingers actually warmed up.
My big discovery this year was a handwarmer muff. I don’t know why it took my so long to try one, but I am a fan. Mine is the Cabela’s MT050 Exteme II Handwarmer Muff. I am not sure it’s necessarily better than anyone else’s, but it sure worked for me. With a chemical handwarmer inside I could hunt bare-handed, keep my fingers warm, and still be able to call and shoot when I had to. The only time it didn’t work perfectly was when my hands got wet with blowing snow, which is exactly the time you need to warm your hands the most. The muff still kept my fingers thawed and functioning, but wet hands kill chemical handwarmers. I am hoping to try an electric muff next.