Thriving in a Wisconsin Winter with Ranger Tess

As I reflect on this blog, I look back each winter storm that came down harder than the one previous. Living in Wisconsin, I feel for those that bore the brunt of this year’s significant snowstorms and harsh winter weather conditions. I feel for the Southerners that have never felt these temperatures. That evil groundhog in Punxsutawney that makes me want to drown out the sound of “six more weeks of winter” with my earbuds.

I spend all “four” seasons in the outdoors.  Here in Wisconsin, we get an extra helping of winter and unfortunately, a little less fall and spring seasons.  But with that extra dose, comes knowledge. I hunt, camp, fish and don’t just survive but thrive throughout the winter here, right down into the single digits.

Here are FIVE Tried and True “Up North” Tips for Thriving in a Wisconsin Winter:

Layer Up You can always remove some clothes, but you can’t add clothes you don’t have.  Start with a base layer that hugs your skin without constricting it. I have tried many types of “long underwear”.  Base layers are different. They are more breathable, advanced materials that move more freely. My cotton and polypropylene type long underwear are destined for the rag bin.  

Air is a natural insulator.  After the base layer, I like a fleece lined shirt.  Fleece traps warm air that your body makes between its fibers.  Be sure any further layers are roomy. Tight clothes lose heat. Similarly, invest in a pair of boots that are a size larger than your shoe size.  Let the extra room, the air, insulate your feet.

Control Sweat/Dampness I cannot stress this enough.  It took me years to figure out why my fingertips and toes were getting cold.  One big issue I was having – my gloves and boots were not completely dry the next time I put them on.  I now use a Peet Dryer religiously. I put my boots and gloves on them right after I come home from hunting, ice fishing, scouting etc.  

Even a tiny bit of moisture at the end of gloves and boots can cause you unbearable pain, trying to enjoy the outdoors.  To keep my toes from being cold, I also use wicking socks and loose fitting wool blend socks. Bring extra socks and gloves if you think you may get sweaty midday.  You will not regret it, even if you have to change out of your socks in freezing temps.

Prevent Heat from Escaping Depending on the winter activity you will be doing, keep in mind where heat may escape and where the wind may steal your body heat.  Generally speaking, your head and neck are an area where heat escapes most. Invest in a quality hat, neck gaiter, and a comfortable fleece face mask.  I have also found that you lose heat where your jacket and pants meet, especially if you are in a sitting position. The remedy is good base layers, with longer fleece layers and longer jacket.  Windproof yourself, insulation is only as good as what you can keep in your jacket/boots/gloves/headgear.

Add Heat –   Add heat where you can, but not too much, you don’t want to sweat.  It is important to keep your core warm. I use a good thin vest when necessary.  The warmer your core is, the less the heat will be pulled from your extremities. Your body wants to keep your vitals good and warm, extremities suffer.  

Use hand warmers – in your pockets to warm your hands.  Also, if it’s really cold, I will put some up on my wrist, to warm the blood before it reaches my hands.  Thermacell foot warmers are a great new invention that works for some. Be sure to use them sparingly. Just ‘warm’ your feet once they get chilly.  Again, we are trying to avoid sweat.

Quality gear –  Think about what’s important to you.  If you don’t mind bulkiness and noise is not a concern, then a nice long down jacket is a great option.  The down feathers do not get condensed, providing that wonderful air insulation.

If you are going to be hunting, active or just want low profile gear, look at products that use Thinsulate or something similar.  Check into the differences between 400, 800 and 1600 grams of Thinsulate. Each of them has a specific purpose. I have found that my Thinsulate items hold in heat well, but also dry slowly.  See Peet Dryer reference.

These are tips on how to keep your body warm.  One thing I haven’t had a problem relying on when the weather turns frigid is my ToughTested gear.  Over the years, I have left a few different power banks in my vehicle for days on end in below zero temps.  They do not lose a charge. From the rugged 8,000 mAh Power Pack, to the handy 6,000 mAh Power Bank with High Powered LEDs to the 16,000 mAh Solar Power Pack…none have lost a charge.  I love dependable gear! Have a safe, warm finish to this winter. Spring is just a week away!

This blog was written by Ranger Tess.

About Tough Tested®: ToughTested is a division of Mizco International Inc. Established in 1990, Mizco International is a consumer electronics manufacturer with research and development expertise in power and battery technology as well as audio engineering. ToughTested products are currently available for sales at Lowes, Cabela’s, Loves, Pilot/Flying J, O’Reilly and online at To learn more about ToughTested click here.