Two years ago this month, I moved from Southern California--where I grew up--to Tennessee--where I was born, and probably where I'll die. There were times I thought I knew what cold was about in SoCal, but moving to a slightly less temperate locale taught me that really...I knew nothing. The old group would gather around the blazing chimnea at 45 degrees in SoCal, but these days, I consider that a perfectly reasonable temperature for enjoying a cigar. It's amazing what you can get used to. With that in mind, I thought I'd pass on a few tips in "cold weather herfing" that I've learned in the last couple years. Those of you in even colder climates than I'm in might be able to use these...or you might just want to build a separate building with its own heating unit...because 30 below and 10 feet of snow is probably something you can't get used to!
COAT - Simple, right? Mostly it is, but just a few things I wanted to point out. I bought a coat at Old Navy about 9 years ago. It's black, made of a wool and synthetic blend, and is considered pretty warm for SoCal. It works to some degree here, too, but only when used in layers (which I'll get to next week). What I like about this coat is that it provides a good amount of insulation without being too bulky. A parka would undoubtedly be far better, but it would also limit the movement of your arms and make you look like that kid in A Christmas Story. Not a good thing. I've also found that my coat doesn't reek of tobacco smoke very quickly. Something about the wool tends to shed the odor pretty quickly...at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
GLOVES - The first pair of gloves I tried smoking with were insulated leather Isotoner gloves. While they kept my hands warm, I always found it difficult to hold a cigar with completely gloved hands. It was just too hard to tell if I was holding too tight or too loosely so my cigar was always in danger of either dropping out of my hand or getting squeezed flat (in cold weather, a broken wrapper would be the greater danger of squeezing too tight). Also, if I was reading a book or magazine, gloved fingers would make it absolutely impossible to flip pages. So I found these great knit gloves with cut off fingers. They are lined and the knit construction does a great job at keeping the majority of my hands very warm. Yes, my fingertips get cold, but I'm able to hold on to my stogie easily and play Angry Birds on my phone, too. (The gloves pictured are not the exact ones I bought, but they are very similar.)
PANTS - This was an issue I was not sure what to do about. The first two winters in Tennessee, when I went out in the cold, I just wore jeans. They were not terribly warm, but I figured there was not much that could be done. Then I got an advertisement for 5.11 Tactical Flannel-Lined Pants! They were on close-out and marked down to half price. Not having bought any before, I opted for one pair and have been very, very pleased. The flannel lining is goofy looking--but you only see it when you take the pants off, not while you're wearing them--and it keeps my legs very comfortable in temps down to the low 30s.
BOOTS - One way to keep your feet warm and prevent cold air from creeping between the bottom of your pants and top of your shoes is to wear boots. Hiking boots, combat boots, cowboy boots...it probably does not matter that much as long as the boots are decently comfortable and fairly well insulated to begin with. I just picked up these 5.11 ATAC Storm boots this month. They are very comfortable, waterproof and slip-resistant...which can be an issue for wet or icy conditions. The bonus part is that came with a boot knife and a place to conceal it, so if anyone tries to lay hands on my stogie...they might just get what's coming to them! :)
There are a few other things to talk about in next Friday's part 2 of "Cold Weather Herfing." In the meantime, leave a comment. Let us know what tips you might have for staying warm in the colder months.