The winter season may appear to get in the way of going out and shooting or beating, however, with the right equipment, it is something you can do all year round. Here's how to brave the elements and enjoy a winter's day in the country: Layering… Layering is the term that refers to wearing several layers of clothing rather than one bulky garment. The science behind this is that air is trapped in between the layers of clothing — air is a very poor conductor of heat so these layers of air prevent heat from escaping from your body. Layers can be broken down into three categories; Base, Middle, and Outer layers: Base layer — Modern base layers are usually made of a close-fitting comfortable synthetic fabric designed to wick moisture (perspiration) away from your body as it is produced. The importance of removing moisture will be explained later in the waterproofing section. Middle layer — This is often referred to as the insulating layer, and can actually be up to two or three layers of insulating clothing such as a microfleece, thick shirt, and jumper. How many middle layers you wear will depend on just how cold it is, but in the UK one or two is the norm. Outer layer — The outer layer, usually a heavy coat or waterproof, is designed to protect your base and middle layers from the elements (wind and rain). If cold air or water is able to get to your other layers they will be rendered useless. Waterproofing… Water conducts heat from the human body 20 times faster than air, so the moment perspiration builds up or rain gets in you are set for a miserable outing! In my opinion, there is no such thing as a breathable waterproof coat! Better quality coats will be rain-proof to a point, but after enough driving wind the rain will be driven into the pores that usually allow air to circulate. That isn’t to say that some coats will not keep you dry all day in the rain, but it is a rarity so don’t expect too much from such items if the weather is utterly foul. To be truly waterproof a garment needs to be made of something that will hold water, such as PVC, heavily waxed cotton, or treated leather. It will also need to have either no seams or very well made and placed seams. The trouble with true waterproofs is they tend to be heavy, as well as rather sticky inside once you start moving around. There’s no magic trick here unfortunately, heavy waxed outers are probably the best all round compromise in wet weather country days out. Hats… Contrary to popular myth, you only lose approximately 10% of your body heat from your head. Nevertheless this is enough to make you feel uncomfortable, so a hat & scarf to keep your noggin warm and dry is always a good idea. Footwear… I generally wear a pair of leather and Gore-Tex wellies, then vary the thickness of my socks to suit the weather. However everyone’s needs will be different as no two people or environment are the same. My choice was struck on a compromise between comfort, waterproofing, durability, and style (in that order as those are my personal priorities). Probably the most popular option is to have a pair of Neoprene lined wellies for the wet and cold, and a pair of brogues when conditions are more civil. Alcohol… Alcohol does not warm you, this myth comes from a basic misunderstanding. When we are cold our blood vessels contract and move away from the surface of our skin (making us appear pale or blue!). When we then enter a warm environment we find it difficult to absorb external heat as our blood is being kept away from the external environment. Alcohol Expands blood vessels, so drinking when you are outside will actually make you colder, because more blood vessels will be exposed to the environment and heat will be exchanged from your blood to the cold air around. Drinking once you get back into the warm will however aid warmth as it allows your blood vessels to expand and absorb the external heat. It’s worth mentioning that this can also result in broken blood vessels as often blood vessels expand too quickly due to alcohol. Having said all of this, what would a day’s shooting or beating be without the customary end-of-day tipple or sup from the hip flask! Always drink responsibly — www.drinkaware.co.uk Getting on with it!... Ultimately the best way to stay warm and dry is to simply get on with it — a bit of wind and rain won’t kill you, and the right clothing will soften the effects. Moving around will generate warmth and help dry you off. Smile, enjoy yourself, and wear the right kit!
Tagged with 'beating'
If you’re new to beating then you may be wondering what it is you’ll actually need to wear and take with you. Whilst all shoots differ, here is the basic kit that you will definitely need if you are going to enjoy yourself. Boots & Gaiters — Wellies are great but very few, if any, offer the proper foot and ankle support you ought to have when spending an entire day tramping up and down hills through rough ground. A good pair of waterproof boots in conjunction with a decent pair of gaiters will keep your feet and lower legs supported, protected, and relatively dry. Waxed Leggings/Chaps — personally I prefer chaps as they are very easy to remove, and allow your nether regions to breathe! If you’re worried about a wet backside then leggings are the best way to go, they also tend to be a little better at keeping you dry. Base Layer — If you aren’t sweating when you’re on a beating line then there’s something wrong. When you’re clothes become damp from the inside it’s far more uncomfortable than when they become damp from the outside. A simple way of combating this is a wicking base layer, which also helps to keep you warm. Fleece— As well as being a good insulator to help keep you warm, fleece is also quick drying and helps to wick moisture away from your body. It is also lightweight, reasonably rain-proof, and tends to be reasonably priced. Waterproofs— if the weather gets truly savage, it may be necessary to break out the waterproofs. Thin plastic-type waterproofs will last about a minute when you’re beating your way through dense undergrowth. You will need either heavy PVC/PVC lined waterproofs, or heavy waxed waterproofs. Gloves — No one likes having cold hands, and you can’t walk along with them in your pockets when you’re beating as you need them for balance. You don’t need anything too special as long as they make and attempt at being waterproof, and you’re able to hold your stick or a warm drink. Stick — A stick is always a useful thing on a beat. It gives you additional support and allows you to spread your weight on a climb, and also is useful to whack against trees and ground to help corral the birds in the correct direction. Hat — Keeping the rain out of your eyes, as well as your head warm! Dog & Whistle — Dog’s aren’t for everyone, and neither is gundog training. An untrained dog has no place on a beating line, and best case scenario is it will ruin the paid-guns day (you can forget your invite in the future!). Worst case scenario is it will be accidentally shot or seriously injure itself. If you want to be able to take your dog beating, it will need a considerable amount of training first. The basics can be found in our gundog training articles, after which you should seek the advice of the shoots keepers as to who can help you bring your dog along.