Cold fingers and toes cause quick misery in the backcountry. The key to feeling as warm as possible is keeping your digits toasty. Take care of your hands and feet and you’ll have a much more pleasant winter camping experience.
The numbness you feel in your extremities when you get cold results from a lack of blood flow and stressed nerves. There is no set temperature at which this happens, since blood circulation varies from person to person, but it can be expedited by restrictive clothing, wetness, or lack of insulation. Combat the cold with these quick-and-easy remedies:
• Cover your head. Wear a hat that goes over your ears. Keeping your whole body warm is the first step to maintaining bloodflow to the extremities.
• Swap out damp socks and glove liners. Sweaty, wet liners and socks will keep you feeling cold and can cause frostbite, so change into dedicated dry pairs at camp.
• Loosen your boots. Tight footwear can cut off circulation. Go for a relaxed fit in camp, but tie your laces so you don’t trip.
• Use toe and hand warmers. Toe warmers with sticky bottoms work great, as they’ll stay in your gloves or footwear. Stick them on top of your hands and toes for maximum effect. Rechargeable heating elements work too, but they are heavier.