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Winter Gear For Wildlife Photography

Left to right: Patagonia Down Sweater, Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket, Amazon Essentials Sherpa Lined Hoodie.

Left to right: Patagonia Down Sweater, Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket, Amazon Essentials Sherpa Lined Hoodie.

I don’t want to blab on in the intro and scare you off with a long article, so without further ado, the following is a list of gear I use for photographing wildlife in cold environments:

Patagonia Down Sweater

Amazon Essentials Sherpa Lined Hoodie

Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket

These three items make up the entirety of my outerwear. Since I travel frequently, I picked two items (both Patagonia jackets) that can be packed down into their own pocket and stuffed in my checked luggage without taking up much precious space. The other I will wear on the plane to keep warm, and so it doesn’t take up space in my bag (a North Face Base Camp Duffel - M).

Just a brief description of how I use these: If it’s slightly chilly I will just wear the down jacket or the hoodie. When it gets quite cold I will wear the down jacket over the hoodie. When it is below freezing, I will add the rain jacket on top, to further insulate, break the wind, and keep any rain or snow off. Of course the rain jacket can be worn alone on any rainy day.

A white-tailed deer (odocoileus virginianus) stands under a snow covered evergreen in the winter in Virginia, USA by Ricky Kresslein. Shot at 1/320 sec., f/2.8, ISO 800.

A white-tailed deer (odocoileus virginianus) stands under a snow covered evergreen in the winter in Virginia, USA by Ricky Kresslein. Shot at 1/320 sec., f/2.8, ISO 800.

Under these I wear a simple long-sleeve shirt (typically a cheap Henley from Amazon Essentials).

These three items when paired together have kept me warm in just about any situation I’ve found myself in.

For the bottom half of my body, I wear long-johns, like these from Patagonia, and a pair of Air Force camouflage ABU pants, though any camo pants should do. On snowy or rainy days you will want to have something waterproof over these. I haven’t found a good one at a decent price yet (Patagonia makes nice ones but at a high price) so I can’t recommend one. Just search for waterproof pants and you should find something to suit you.

As far as accessories, I’ve gone cheap again with an Amazon Essentials Beanie. I tend to go expensive on the stuff that matters and cheap on the everyday stuff if you haven’t noticed. My good jackets are all quite expensive, but the long-sleeve shirts that go underneath I skimp on. I recommend always buying the best when it comes to the stuff that really matters.

Gloves are one that I go hard on. I recommend a nice pair of photographers gloves from Vallerret. These will keep your hands extremely warm while allowing you to pop off the finger and work the camera. Make sure you get a pair of glove liners too, so your exposed finger doesn’t go numb.

Ricky in a Balaclava.jpg

As for socks and shoes, any good waterproof hiking shoes will do the trick, but a nice pair of rubber boots will allow you to wade into creeks and ponds where you may not otherwise be able to get the shot. I like WigWam socks because they last a long time and keep my toesies nice and cozy.

I also just started wearing a camouflage balaclava, and it has been a game changer. Definitely pick one up. My body always tends to be hot while my face is frozen and this thing takes care of that issue.

And that’s it. If there is anything I missed, leave a comment letting me know. I’d also love to hear what you wear or if you have any suggestions for things I should add or change. Hope to see you out in the cold!