The cold invariably drives us off our hunting stands before we’re ready. Not this year!
by the HuntDaily staff
Last month we had a chance to try out a new product called Heat Packs from ThermaCELL. These small, rechargeable hand and body warmers do an outstanding job of providing just the right amount of heat wherever you need it. The result…we stayed warm and comfortable in our bowstand, so we were able to hunt longer and concentrate on watching for game instead of fidgeting and trying to stay warm.
That episode led us to discover another product by ThermaCELL that is having an even greater impact on our hunting game as the temperatures keep dropping, and it will certainly make a difference when rifle season rolls around. I’m talking about ThermaCELL’s ProFLEX and Original Heated Insoles, and if you’ve ever been on a deer stand in freezing weather, you’re going to want to hear about this.
I don’t know about you, but the first thing to freeze up on me and drive me off my stand are frozen toes. After years of practice and experimenting, I’ve learned how to keep my core warm enough on those extra cold days, but when the ice seeps into the toes, it’s game over. I have to get out of my stand and walk to get them warmed back up.
We’ve all tried various portable heat solutions designed to keep some of the cold-weather misery at bay—specifically, those disposable iron-oxide packets. Some of the problems we’ve always had with these are: 1) you can’t regulate the temperature; 2) you have to continually take them out and shake them to keep them working; 3) they’re only good for one-time use; 4) they’re often so hot they’re uncomfortable and make your feet sweat (then you’re really in for it); and 5) they hurt to walk with them in your boots no matter what shape they come in.
The good news is, since we’ve been wearing the ThermaCELL Heated Insoles, all of those problems have disappeared.
At first glance, the Heated Insoles look like any other insole, except rather than being designed for orthopedic support, they’re made to keep your feet warm and dry. They come in both men’s (3.5-13) and women’s (4.5-15) sizes, and you can custom-trim them to match your hunting boots’ profile.
The Heated Insoles feature a broad and thin heating element in the toe area. This focuses the heat on your toes, but also warms your whole boot. “Warms” is the key word here. The Heated Insoles do not get hot like iron-oxide packs or other types of unregulated heated products that often create too much heat. That leads to sweating, which ultimately leads to freezing body parts. The Heated Insoles keep you warm so that you can stay comfortable without sweating.
What’s more, you can regulate the Heated Insoles to meet your specific needs. A small remote controller allows you to adjust the temperature without removing your boots. The controller is about the size of a standard key fob, which you can keep around your neck, in your pocket, or stowed in your fanny pack. There are three available settings: no heat, medium (100-degrees), and high (111-degrees). A lithium-ion battery powers the heating element, and the system is controlled by the remote receiver. Both the battery and receiver, along with the heating element, are embedded in the insoles.
The battery charge lasts for up to five hours, depending on the heat setting you are using. I’ve found that one charge will last me for a full day of hunting if I’m on the stand for the morning, do a walkabout at noon (at the no-heat setting), and then return to the stand for the afternoon shift. At the end of the day, you remove the insoles from your boots and plug them into the wall charger.
There are two versions of the ThermaCELL Heated Insoles—the Original model and the recently introduced ProFLEX version. Both offer the same heat performance, yet the ProFLEX has a couple of bonuses that we really like.
First, as its name implies, the ProFLEX insole is much more flexible than the standard model, so if you wear a more technical boot and do a lot of walking, you’ll appreciate the ergonomics the ProFLEX delivers. In addition, you can remove the ProFLEX battery from the insole. As a result, you can leave the insole in your boot and remove only the battery when it’s time to recharge, or you can buy an extra battery and take it with you in the field. That way, on bitterly cold days, you can easily swap the batteries and extend your comfort by hours.
The ThermaCELL Heated Insoles don’t come cheap. In fact, they may cost as much as the boots you’ll put them in. I look at the investment from a dollars-and-sense (that’s no typo!) perspective. I upend the coin jar every year in order to buy gas, food, ammo, tags, and whatever else I need in order to hunt. I spend my year counting down the months between hunting seasons, so anything that allows me to hunt more, hunt better, and maximize my enjoyment in the field is money well-spent. And sitting on a stand without frozen toes…you can’t put a price on that kind of happiness! What’s more, when hunting season is over, I’ll be able to use the Heated Insoles in my other boots for outside winter activities, like cutting firewood, shovelling snow, ATVing, ice fishing… Now that’s what I call spreading out an investment.
Article copyright 2015 by HuntDaily.com; promoted by Schawbel Technologies, LLC