Product Review of The Heater Body Suit by Linda Burch
First let me say, when it comes to hunting and archery gear, I am the world's greatest skeptic of new fangled stuff, and I am set in my ways. I am happy with all my gear and clothes and boots, for the most part. But you know, I still get cold hands and feet and I always will unless the temperature is over sixty degrees.
"SIXTY DEGREES ?!" you say? Although sixty degrees is considered downright tropical in Minnesota, I have a condition called Reanaud's Syndrome, where the circulation in my hands, feet and tip of my nose shut down even in SLIGHTLY cool temperatures. The rest of me can be toasty, but the feet and hands are dead. I now use a hand muff with chemical warmers for the hand problem, and a full ski mask for the nose problem, but I've never conquered cold feet. It's a real nuisance, and since I also have a high pain threshold, it is a very real danger when the temperatures dip below freezing. I constantly have to be wary of hypothermia and frostbite.
Enter the Heater Body Suit. Skeptical Linda took one look at this giant camo marshmallow thing with legs and booties, and thought "YA RIGHT !".
But since I am sick of having cold feet & sick of having that icy cold creeping up from my feet to my legs until I am so cold I cannot think straight & sick of hunts being ruined because shivering and early stage hypothermia drive me out of my treestand... well, I decided to try the suit.
I took my Heater Body Suit out of the box, put it on the floor all rolled up, and circled like a cat circles a dead mouse. It looked like a small Advantage Camo sleeping bag, neatly wrapped with backpack straps. I unfurled the critter and gave it a test run at home in my living room, getting into and out of it a few times until I felt confident I could do the process in my tree stand. Both the outside and inside of the Heater Body Suit were soft and quiet, with extra thick quilting in the lower leg and foot area. I practiced unzipping the suit and letting it fall away as if readying for a bow shot. The suit, once attached to the body with the interior straps, slid off my shoulders and fell away easily for drawing my bow. It was plenty big enough inside to allow for unseen movement or for a gear pouch to be worn. And I was impressed with how quiet the zipper was. Then I hit the woods.
Minnesota had a warm Fall and early Winter this year, so I waited for that first really cold December day to try my Heater Body Suit. It snowed the night before, and the temp was 15 degrees with winds gusting 15-25 MPH.
For that morning hunt, I wore my usual uniform: Smart Wool thermals (2 layers on top, 1 on bottom), Padagonia Expedition Weight fleece thermals over that, a Cabelas wool sweater with Windstopper lining, Browning Insulated hydrofleece quad jack and insulated bibs, Smartwool heavyweight hunting socks, Rocky 120 degree below Snowstalkers and my hand muff with fleece gloves. I had chemical warmer in both my muff AND the chest pocket of my coat. After three hours on my stand, I couldn't feel my legs from the knees down. The hunt was over.
For the evening hunt, it was Heater Body Suit time. It was now 20 degrees and the winds were still gusting. I decided to give that Suit the acid test. I wore mid-Fall weight clothes... same thermals, cotton chamois camo jeans, the Cabelas sweater, a lighter weight short thin quilted camo jacket, Smartwool hiking weight socks, and Rocky Stalkers with only 400 grams thinsulate. My 18 year old son took one look at me and asked "Are you crazy? Are you really going to hunt in this weather dressed like THAT?" Determined, I plopped my Body Heater Suit on my back, and set out for my stand, hoping he was wrong.
It was really nice not to sweat on the trek to my treestand for a change.
The Suit was lightweight and comfortable to carry and getting into my portable hang on stand with it was a snap. I hooked up my safety belt, hauled up my bow, and put on the booties and the suit. I then reattached the safety belt on the outside of the suit, put on my camo ski mask, and settled in with no chemical warmers and no heavy winter gear. To top it off, I had come down with a miserable head cold the day before and was already feeling chillier than normal. I had to slightly unzip the suit several times to blow my nose quietly, and that zipper really was totally quiet. And I just KNEW my feet would get cold, because they ALWAYS get cold. But you know, after 3-1/2 hours, I was warm, my hands were warm and my feet were pretty toasty with just the very beginnings of feeling chilly. Amazing.
If you hunt from a portable stand, I would recommend a couple of practice runs with the Suit before you hunt, both putting it on and performing some practice runs with your gun or bow like you would with any new clothing or gear item. I would also recommend some sort of stand or tree attachment to hold your bow or gun so you can access it more easily. The suit does not lend itself to placing your weapon in your lap. My particular stand has a bow holder attachment, which was ideal. Once I got the photos back from field testing this product, I was also impressed with how well concealed I was in the Heater Body Suit. I literally looked like a clump of oak leaves, and when December bow hunting from naked trees, this is was an unexpected benefit.
The Heater Body Suit comes in Advantage Camo, Blaze and Snow White, with Windproof or Waterproof options. I tested a size medium Advantage Camo with the windproof feature. I would recommend the Heater Body Suit to anyone who has a tendency to get cold, has circulation problems, wants to stay on stand for long periods of time in cold weather, wants to be invisible to deer, or simply has a long walk to their stand and doesn't want to sweat up their clothes. The Suit does what it says. It keeps you warm in the coldest weather, it's easy to get into and out of, it falls away easily for taking a shot, and it's totally quiet. Two thumbs up from this hunter.