Brrr… can you believe that winter is already here? There is a lot I love about this time of the year, especially holidays and spending time with family and friends. But I pretty much dread it from a cigar smoking perspective. I can’t smoke in the house, and there are not many cigar-friendly lounges anywhere near where I live. That means I have to smoke outdoors. And it gets cold here.
You can’t really enjoy a good stogie when you’re just sitting there shivering and wishing you could go inside. And it can take a couple of hours to get through a cigar, unless you're smoking something really short like the Romeo y Julieta Petit Churchill or a Nub, so you have to find a way to stay warm if you’re going to get through the winter. How do I do it? I stock up on winter accessories. Here is what I recommend!
1. Pick up some fingerless gloves or heated glove liners
Keeping your hands warm is a must! But at the same time, you need to be able to actually use your fingers to hold your cigar. For that, heavy-duty gloves are obviously not going to cut it.
So what I recommend is that you pick up some of those fingerless gloves which keep your hands warm, but give you all the dexterity you need. A pair of such gloves will set you back around $10. You can even buy gloves with flaps that go over where your fingers are. Another alternative is just to buy heated glove liners. These have fingers, but they are made of thin material since they are designed to fit inside your actual gloves. So they offer you a perfect compromise between a full-glove and a fingerless glove in terms of warmth and dexterity.
2. Grab some heat packs for your gloves
I am also a fan of those little heat packs you can fit inside your gloves (some gloves have a special pocket for the heat pack). If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, these are packets which are popular with skiers and snowboarders. They contain a safe, inert mixture of chemicals that react and generate heat when they are exposed to the air. Once you activate them, they can provide you with hours of warmth. You can even store a half-used pack in an airtight container, and it will give you more heat later. These things rock!
3. Get some tubos for your cigars
Not all outdoor challenges in winter involve your own comfort. Both the dryness and the sharp drop in temperature outdoors can cause your cigar to split open. For this problem I have a few suggestions:
- Keep your cigar warm as long as possible. If you have to carry it around outside for a while, make sure it is in one of your inner pockets or in your hand.
- Consider keeping your cigar inside a tubo if you’re going to be out for a while before lighting up. This will help to lock in the moisture.
- Cut the cigar indoors where it is warm so that you don’t shatter the cap.
Usually I bring a tubo with me if I’m going on a walk or taking my cigar somewhere during the wintertime. Otherwise, I just cut it while I’m indoors and then carry it outside in my hand and smoke it right away.
4. Buy an outdoor heater
If you have a dedicated smoking spot outdoors in the winter, consider investing in a patio heater. Some are small and portable, and many of them include wheels. You can set up the heater wherever you need it and enjoy a smoke in real comfort. Depending on your patio config, you might need a bigger "restaurant" model. Keep in mind that they tend to consume propane tanks like crazy, so this will require a further investment.
5. Make sure you are equipped with a lighter that can handle winter weather conditions
Some lighters struggle in cold temperatures. Butane lighters need to be kept warm to work. If you use one of these, hold it in your hand or carry it in an inner pocket until you are ready to use it. A triple or a dual flame lighter is preferable because of wind. If you find the butane lighter unreliable, consider instead opting for a Zippo-type lighter. You should find this more dependable in winter temperatures. Make sure you choose one which will be able to perform even in harsh, windy conditions and won’t blow out.
A couple of final items of advice. First, bundle up when you are smoking outside! I usually am wearing several layers and a heavy coat. Putting a couple of those warm glove packets in my shoes also helps a lot. Also, wear a hat. You lose most of your heat through your hands, feet, and head, so if you can avoid that, you will feel a lot better.
I also tend to stick with petit coronas and short robustos. I usually steer away from stogies that are going to take two hours, and stick with those that are ideal for a shorter span of time. That way I can really enjoy myself and not worry about whether I’m going to get tired of the cold in an hour (that would just be a waste of a good cigar).
Staying warm and enjoying your cigars outdoors in the winter can be a challenge, but for me it’s definitely worth the effort! Hopefully you find some of these tips and tricks useful. But I know I can always use more suggestions. What are your favorite outdoor winter cigar accessories? What are your tricks for staying warm?