Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chill Challenge Embraced

December fishing on the Nantahala River. Photo by Asher Samsel.
Duluth Trading Company proposed a Chill Challenge -- a test of one of their Flannel Shirt Jacs against the elements during my winter fishing excursion. Two rounds into testing, the Shirt Jac has moved to the top of my favorites list for when I need a seriously warm layer that fits comfortably. Beyond casual coat wear on cold mornings around town, which it also works well for, I've used it for a few days of trout fishing in the North Carolina mountains and for a recent ice trip to northern Minnesota.

The trout outing brought snow and sleet on two different days, and pretty cold brisk lows. My hands reminded me of the cold when I fished without gloves, but I was how impressed by how warm my body remained. Same story in Minnesota, where lows hit close to zero and the highest high in a few days was somewhere around freezing. I admittedly wore an insulated ice suit for kneeling on the ice and fishing in fresh falling snow, but the Shirt Jac provided the most important body-warming layer.

The DTC Flannel Shirt Jac seems somewhat heavy when you simply pick it up because it combines 8-ounce flannel as an outside layer and 200 gram fleece as an inside layer. The cut must be perfect, though, because it is amazingly comfortable to wear despite the weight in hand.

Of course, the Chill Challenge has only just begun for me. Existing winter plans include trout in Missouri and more ice-fishing in Minnesota and most likely will include several days in local trout streams and on nearby ponds, plus some other ice fishing, possibly in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and/or South Dakota.

Lots of unknowns about fishing plans for the rest of the winter. What I do know is that I'll remain plenty warm!

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