Gear Advice – Winter Photography

Winter photography is like the agony and the ecstasy. The photography is awesome, but being cold is not my favorite temperature. It is easy to get warm enough clothes to be out in the elements, the trick is how to photograph while dressed up like the Michelin Man?

My best and in fact essential advice for winter is just two words: KEEP DRY! Keep reading for my other advice. The pics are links and will take you over to Amazon for more info on these products.

Winter Weather Basics


You have got to have a hat, balaclava, beanie, stocking cap, bomber style; it really does not matter as long it keeps your that heat from escaping your head.

This is the warmest hat that I own and I do love it. The downside is that you can’t wear fur during my Winter Wildlife Workshops because the big cats will think about eating you. It is also very hard to hear when the flaps are down.
Woolrich Fur Bomber


I probably have purchased 30 pairs of gloves looking for the “perfect” photographers glove. I am not sure they exist because dexterity and warmth seem to be mutually exclusive. These are the warmest that I have found so far that still offer some dexterity. They are mittens (the warmest style) with built in gloves and chemical warmer pouches. They did work well, but when the gloves got wet from being in the snow, my hands were still cold.
Heat 3 Smart Gloves


These are a good compromise at half the price. They have decent dexterity with a touch sensitive finger, water resistant and windproof.
Arcteryx Venta Gloves

I also have one of these hand muffs. If NFL players can wear one, so can I. This thing is great for when you are waiting to do photograph. They are also great extra layer if you are not going for the Heat 3s.[/su_column]
Hand Muffler


I don’t like cold feet, who does, but they are also hard to find. Some boots look warm with leather and fur trim, but that gets wet you are sunk. You need boots designed for cold, wet and slippery conditions. Even though you may not all 3 of those, if they are designed that way, they are sure to keep your tootsies warm! Most winter boots provide a temperature range that you could use to find the best boot for your weather. My experience is that these are not real world for my feet. The boots they rate for zero Fahrenheit were not warm enough and so I’d go to at least -50 degree or even higher ratings.

My friend and workshop partner, Kevin, swears by these Baffin Boots for his Yukon workshops and he is as much a wimp about cold as me, a great recommendation. I have other Baffin Boots and they are the real deal.
Baffin Control Max Boots


The outside layer MUST be able to keep you dry. Once you get wet you are COLD! The other problem is that down jackets are very cumbersome and few are waterproof. I found this terrific option from Columbia. This jacket is lined with a metal grid that reflects your body back inside. Like your own personal microwave Sounds dumb, but it works.
Columbia Rural Mountain

Here are snow pants that are the same technology and yes, I have the suspender version.[/su_column]
Columbia Bugaboo Suspender


Base Layer

You need a base layer, aka long underwear, closest to your skin. I like the Patagonia ColdPru or the Under Armour Heat Gear the best. Another great choice is SmartWool. It is better than cotton for breathability and moisture wicking. In the real world I don’t wear synthetics, but in the winter it’s only synthetics for me!

Mid layer

Whew, a lot of clothes! You still need another layer. This can be “street clothes” style items like sweaters and synthetic pants. You know what to do here. I do however highly recommend a Patagonia Puffball Vest. I rarely travel anywhere with these amazing vests. Easy to pack and you won’t believe how warm they are.
Patagonia Nano Puff Vest


Final Thoughts Winter Photography Gear

Books have been written on this subject and Google is stuffed with other ideas. These things have worked for me and so I thought I would share and at least get you thinking about you will need to prepare for a winter workshop. I’ve tried a multitude of other options and if you would like to talk about it just leave me a comment or get in touch by email.

If I left out your favorite winter gear, I’d love to hear about it. I think that is a perfect idea for that little box below!

12 thoughts on “Gear Advice – Winter Photography”

  1. Andrew Reply
    December 29, 2016

    Those mittens with built in glove are something else!! I really get to get those. They look a little complicated but well worth it I’m sure. ?

    1. Jeff Reply
      December 30, 2016

      I agree they are a bit of a fidget, but keeping your hands warm and your finger on the trigger is also a big deal.

    2. Sammie Reply
      January 2, 2017

      A metal grid in a jacket?! That sounds crazy but I really want to try it out! 🙂

      1. Jeff Reply
        January 3, 2017

        I thought it was just another marketing gimmick, but it works. The other benefit is that the jackets are less bulky that others in the same class.

  2. Chrissy Reply
    January 1, 2017

    Oh wow that does look like a great hat but yeah, don’t want any cat trying to eat me. I hope you didn’t learn that the hard way! ?

    1. Jeff Reply
      January 1, 2017

      Well, I’ve never lost anyone yet, but it’s always good to be careful around animals that actually could hurt you!

  3. Steve Reply
    January 4, 2017

    Oh boots with a grip on them is what I need. I’m horrible on slippery conditions. I don’t want my equipment to go down with me.

    1. Jeff Reply
      January 4, 2017

      Stay safe out there my friend!

  4. Charles Reply
    January 5, 2017

    Oh those ears flaps are a great invention for warmth. But agreed they are horrible for hearing. Maybe there’s a new invention idea that we could make millions off. ?

    1. Jeff Reply
      January 8, 2017

      Maybe a built-in hearing aid? I like the way you think Charles!

  5. Paula Reply
    January 7, 2017

    I’ve seen these vest, but never thought they looked warm. I’ll check them out better next time I go.

    1. Jeff Reply
      January 8, 2017

      I love mine and have had it for years. It goes most everywhere with me…sort of like my binky!

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