Outfitted and Equipped: Cutting Down a Christmas Tree

by Brett & Kate McKay on December 4, 2013 · 20 Comments

in Outfitted & Equipped, Visual Guides

Cutting Down Xmas Tree 3

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It’s time to get your Christmas tree, and of course only a real one will do! Instead of procuring your tree from a sterile lot, start a new tradition with your family by cutting down your own tree this year. Visiting a local Christmas tree farm is a wonderful choice, or make the experience more of an adventure by finding one out in the woods. Harvesting a Christmas tree is allowed in many National Forests, as long as you obtain a permit. If you plan on heading deep into the woods in search of the perfect tree, here are some suggestions on how to outfit and equip yourself for a warm, dry, and merry excursion.

1. The Base. Carhartt Union Suit. Dressing for cold weather is all about layering. Wearing multiple layers will keep you warmer than one big, thick layer, and it also gives you the option of removing layers if you get too hot. For the base layer, something made from warm, wicking materials like wool and synthetics is ideal. But if you don’t think you’re going to be sweating a ton, the comfort and coziness of this 100% cotton Carhartt Union Suit can’t be beat. Plus, you know you’ve always wanted to wear something with a flap in the back to do your business.

2. The Sweater. Steam Horse Dry Goods Co. Sawmill Paul Wool Sweater. On top of your base layer, you want to wear an insulating layer that will trap heat, like this handsome and functional wool sweater. Made of 100% ragg wool and sewn in America, it’s got five buttons so you can easily adjust your level of ventilation.

3. The Coat. Stormy Kromer Mackinaw Coat. Your final layer is your outer protection layer. You’re going to need a warm jacket and this hand-stitched, made-in-the-USA Mackinaw coat from Stormy Kromer is perfect. Made from virgin wool, with 6 pockets for all your accoutrements, it’s a true classic. I own this jacket and get tons of compliments on it wherever I go.

4. The Hat. Watch cap. Double-layer ragg wool, made in America, and cheap.

5. The Gloves. Insulated work gloves. Bring a pair of gloves that will allow you to handle the tree comfortably, while also keeping your hands from freezing.

6. The Rope. Nylon paracord. To affix your trophy to the car.

7. The Socks. Monkey socks. Made in the USA with soft cotton & acrylic blend to absorb moisture. An American classic.

8. The Shoes. L.L.Bean Boots. You might have to tromp through snow and mud to find your tree, so wear some boots that will keep your feet warm and dry. These L.L.Bean boots are still made in Maine.

9. The Pants. Steam Horse Dry Goods Co. Railroad Gauge Gusset Work Pant. These super rugged, made-in-America pants are perfect for cutting down a Christmas tree. A functional gusset in the crotch gives you extra mobility as you crouch down, and their water-repellant duck canvas material will keep you dry when kneeling in the snow.

10. The Thermos. Stanley vacuum bottle. Bring along some tasty sustenance in the form of hot cider or cocoa.

11. The Tool. Bow saw. To cut down your tree, you’ll of course need a trusty bow saw.

12. The Heat. Zippo Hand Warmer. Slip one of these babies into your pocket to warm up your hands while you’re on the hunt for your tree. Runs on lighter fluid and lasts for 12 hours (in case your search becomes Captain Ahab-esque).


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kyle December 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I’d really advise against using paracord (or any synthetic line) to tie down the tree onto a moving car. It tends to stretch under load, which could cause problems. Natural fiber is a better, if bulkier, option.

2 Tina December 4, 2013 at 5:34 pm

you forgot traction tires or chains for the vehicle. 4WD does not cut it if you’re on unpaved unplowed NF roads. :)

3 Brady December 4, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I’d suggest differently for a few things…

Boots – Steel-toed boots, pick your favorite brand. (You’ll see why in a second)

Pants – Those suggested would be fine, but you’ll want cutting chaps on top of them.

Tool – Stihl MS 250 – Best saw on the market for the price.

Other stuff – You’ll want all of the protective equipment when cutting a saw (glasses, hearing protection, etc.)

Then again, I prefer cutting with a power tool as opposed to a hand tool. Great rush of adrenaline.

4 J Zorn December 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I use pull clamp straps to mount the tree to the roof and spray WD40 on the saw blade to keep it from getting sap on it and eliminate it from sticking in the tree when cutting it down. A plastic sled helps make dragging it out easier also.

5 Jay December 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Fun stuff, I plan to make this a family tradition! Brett, I’ve been thinking of buying some bean boots for a while now … An thoughts on the insulated boots vs, the non-insulated?

6 John Thompson December 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I’ve lived in North Dakota my whole life and don’t know one single person that works outside that owns a pair of L.L. Bean boots. They are what a wimpy, smarmy, wannabe wears to feel ‘outdoorsy’. I applaud your other choices. Carry on.

7 Dalton December 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm

The O&E posts are some of my favorite from here, keep them coming.

8 mbmoser December 4, 2013 at 11:55 pm

We just cut our tree down and I wish I had some rope and a sheet to drag it. We were on a hill so it was kind of pain to drag it down to our truck. Next time I think I might take a sheet to wrap it in and then just drag it instead of having to worry about stripping one side of it. Maybe that fear is unwarranted.

9 km December 5, 2013 at 8:06 am

I second the opinion above regarding bean boots. They are great for city goers on rainy/snowy days, but if your going out in the woods get some goodyear welted boots and waterproof them. Want to stick with USA made, look at Chippewa, Thorogood or Wood n’ stream they all have good options.

10 Joe December 5, 2013 at 9:11 am

Red Wing logger boots that are made in the US. Theyve got vibram soles, goretex, and insulated. They can take the abuse I give them on jobsites (well drilling, carpentry, masonry, heavy equipment operation) so I think they can handle cutting a tree down.

11 John Watts December 5, 2013 at 9:38 am

I have to respectfully disagree, to a degree, with John and km regarding the L.L. Bean boots. I agree 100% with them that they are not proper outdoor work boots, but I really don’t think that is what Brett is suggesting they be used as. Remember this post is for venturing into the woods to cut down a Christmas tree, not for working a rig in the Athabasca oil sands.

I spent the last 2 years living in Edmonton, AB walking to over a mile to/from work, every single day. With proper socks, my L.L. Bean boots never let me down once. They were plenty warm, even when it was -40 (F or C, they actually meet at that temp) and thanks to their 100% rubber lowers, my feet never once got wet, even walking though tons of slush and puddles. I also wore them, combined with some microspikes, while hiking (nothing too technical) in the Rockies.

A good pair of work boots definitely has its place (I had a pair that I would use when on the job site), but the L.L. Bean boots are a versatile winter boot.

12 Michael December 5, 2013 at 9:55 am

Brady, It’s just a Christmas tree. There’s no need for a chainsaw. You’ll expend more energy lugging it around than you’ll save cutting the tree. The noise of the saw will interrupt the serenity of the forest and may disturb other families also getting trees.

13 Rob December 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Brady, contrary to Michael, I completely agree with you. We typically take down 18 to 20 foot white firs for our Christmas tree. I’ve used the manual saws and the DeWalt battery powered recips. This year, we went with my gas powered chain saw … went through the 7″ diameter trunk in less than 5 minutes.

Other suggestions: Bring lots of good line (rope for you non-Navy types). Learn how to tie a trucker’s knot, half hitch and a clove hitch.

14 Chris December 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I loved this post. I cut down my first tree from a farm and loved it. I just wish I could use my axe. Suggestion – don’t forget the pocket knife for the rope and a blanket to protect your car roof.

15 Zach December 5, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Glad to see the plaid jackets and union suits making a comeback! That’s what I wore this year for hunting season, now everyone wants one. Love this post.

16 Beemo December 6, 2013 at 2:27 am

“Hot cider”, did i read correctly??
Sounds damn badass, can you share the recipe, please?

Thank you

17 luke cage December 6, 2013 at 10:08 am

Unfortunately, I cannot procure a real tree due to an allergy in the family. :(

18 Sister December 6, 2013 at 11:56 pm

nicely done, yet again!

19 Appalachians December 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Great. list! I really enjoy this site..thanks …oh yea, plaid never needed a comeback where I’m from…its always in style

20 Calvin December 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

If not bean boots try sorels. Great cold weather work boot.

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