We must always prepare with seasonal considerations such as tempature and precipitation.
Our gear, our training, physical conditioning and even our diets change with the seasons in most climates.
Cold weather preparation and survival is probably the most challenging of all our operations.
- Cold weather can kill you
- Cold/wet weather can kill you even faster
- Cold and moisture work together to rub you of body tempature
- Wind chill is a real factor. It's not just for the weather man to scare you with.
- Being cold can be painful.
- Cold can lull you into submission and even death.
- Being properly prepared and outfitted give you a major edge in winter survival.
- Tempature conditioning four your body should be part of your seasonal conditioning.
- Caloric intake and proper hydration are essential to fuel your body furnace.
- Prepare to survive in your home without electricity, fuel, or running water.
- With proper conditions, training and preparation, cold weather survival need not be a torturous experience.
Primary Considerations In Cold Weather Survival:
- Maintaining body tempature
- Staying dry
- Staying hydrated
- Avoiding cold weather injuries ie: freezing and frostbite - first aid
- Proper nutrition
- Shelter and fire
- Safety and securities
- Dress for succes - staying alive that is!
- Don't overdress when it is not necessary
- Layering of clothing allows you to regulate your body heat.
- Hats, hoods and scarfs are absolutly necessary in extreme cold weather. You can lose up to 80% of body heat through your head.
- My favorite gloves are still the black leather military shells with wool liners. More modern thermalite, neoprene and poly pro golves are also excellent. Gortex gloves afford you flexability and water proof hand protection.
- In extreme cold weather, mittens are warmer than golves although manual dexterity is impeded.
- The U.S. Military "gauntlet" style mittens are excellent.
- Wool is still the standard for clothing warmth.
- Poly Pro and ECWCS underwear are moisture wicking and superb cold weather clothing. Some are rated 40 degrees below zero protection.
- Cotton is not a good choice for clothing, gloves, or socks. North woods guides call cotton "death fabric".
- Merino wool, Belgum wool, and quality wool blend socks are best. They wick moisture and form a warm pocket of air around your feet. There are other sock choices such as a new blend polyester and seal skins that afford good protection.
- Wool watch caps, mad bomber style hats, snorkle hoods, balaclavas, foam, poly pro and polar fleece face masks --- all will help protect your head, face and neck.
- Remember your face, ears, nose and eyes are extremly vaulnerable to freezing, windburn, and frostbite.
- Moisturizing skin cream, lip balm, and sun screen should not be forgotten. The combination of cold, wind, and highly reflecting snow can badly damage your skin.
Boots are a major consideration in cold weather preparedness. Staying warm and dry is again our primary goal. Feet can easily frostbite. Recovery from frostbite is a long and difficult process.
There are a number of quality boots on the market. I'll mention several boots that I recommend.
Military Mickey Mouse boots are hard to beat. They are 100% waterproof and will protect you well below 2 degrees below zero F.
The military cold/wet intermediate boot is another good choice. This is a double gortex lined leather boot tath is completly waterproof. With a single pair of quality wool socks it will protect you well.
Lacrosse, Hodgson, Baffin and Bata all make boots rated down to 100 degrees below zero.
There are too many good cold weather boots to mention them all. It's worth the time to shop credible outfitters to find what boots will work for you.
Sleeping Bags & Sleep Systems:
Your monetary investment in quality sleeping gear will repay you many times over.
Everyone that is interested in serious preparedness should own two military (US is best) ponchos and a poncho liner. Aside from being great wet weather gear, a poncho can serve as a shelter, back pack cover, and when combined with the liner can be snapped together to make a sleeping bag. This is an effective, light weight system that is a very good choice for bug-out situations. Light weight paratrooper size sleeping bags are also good choices for emergency travel and can be bolstered by using the poncho liner.
Heavier bags provide more warmth but add more back pack weight.
US Military bags are first class equipment. The intermediate, extreme cold weather adn 3 piece bags with Gortex cover (bivy) provide more comfort, warmth, and ruggedness than many of the higher priced commercial bags.
Gortex bivy covers can be purchased individualy and turn mediocre bags into super bags.
If you are forced to shelter in your home without power or heat, sleeping bags can make life a whole lot easier.
Most sleeping bags now use highly effecient, man made insulations such as hollowfill. Down is also excellent until it gets wet. Wet down has almost no insulating capability.
Coming soon: Cold Weather Nutrition & Hydration