Bushcraft Skills for Outdoor, Winter Survival
Under most circumstances, the winter months are the most dangerous for the outdoor enthusiast or winter traveler. During summer, if you are overheated, you can usually stop, rest and rehydrate. However, if you are either not adequately clothed or sheltered during a winter storm, you are in big trouble.
A Note on Wind Chill
The wind chill is a combination of both wind and temperature. Temperature level alone does not offer an accurate indication of how cold weather will affect you. So, To efficiently gauge the difference between temperature and the effect of the cold, you must use a wind-chill scale. Below is a wind chill chart that also helps you realize when you are in danger of frostbite.
Different Types of Winter Weather
When temperatures are near freezing and high and low temperatures alternate between freezing and thawing, cold-wet conditions occur. These conditions can be accompanied by damp snow and rain, triggering the ground to become slushy and muddy. You will require clothing that is waterproof or water-repellent with an external layer that is resistant to wind. And the coat’s inner layer should be insulated. Also, proper waterproof shoes are essential.
Cold-dry conditions occur when average temperature levels are lower than 14 degrees Fahrenheit, the ground will likely be frozen, and the snow will be dry.
Winter Survival Clothing Tips
The following are the basics for clothing that you should remember when you are outdoors in cold weather. Wear your clothes loosely and in layers (this includes your underwear). And keep your clothes both dry and clean.
If your clothes become damp, change them as soon as you are able. Also, to reduce sweating, remove excess garments when you are working or near hot areas like a campfire.
Your body will lose a lot of its temperature, in cold weather conditions, through your head. So, be sure to cover your head when you are outdoors during the cold winter months.
Layering up your clothes is essential when traveling outdoors in freezing weather. Follow these below guidelines:
- Inner Layer-Wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and don’t absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will keep more body heat than cotton.
- Insulation Layer-An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers like wool, goose down, or fleece work best.
- Outer Layer-The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, preferably water and wind-resistant, to reduce the loss of body heat.
The key to protecting your hands from the elements is proper gloves or mittens. You need to purchase mittens or gloves with inserts. Also, waterproof your gloves or mittens by applying waterproofing treatment like a snow seal.
Face and Ears
You need to cover your ears and face with a scarf or other clothing. The ideal hat would be a cap with flaps or a balaclava. You can warm up your face and ears by putting your hands on your face. But don’t rub any part of your face.
To prevent snow blindness, wear sunglasses or goggles. If you don’t have glasses with you, try to make improvised sunglasses where you can put two slits into cardboard where you would then attach the cardboard to your face through a string or, if you’ve them, an extra set of shoelaces.
Don’t Forget Your Feet!
You need to have many winter socks with you and, of course, keep them clean and dry and change your socks if they become wet. Additionally, lace up your shoes as loose as you can. You need to remember to change your socks even if they become wet from sweating. Use foot powder on your feet and your shoes whenever you change your socks and clean your feet.
Miscellaneous but Important Things To Remember
- Physical Activity-Keep moving to keep and stay warm. Notably, move your arms, shoulder, and other big muscles. And if you’re are stuck in a tent or other area with limited mobility, keep your feet, fingers, hands, and toes moving.
- Don’t Drink or Smoke-. When it is cold, avoid drinking alcohol as alcohol makes you lose your body lose heat quicker. Tobacco also is terrible, as smoking can decrease blood flow.
- Keep Hydrated, and Eat-To keep your energy up, you need to eat regularly and remember to hydrate by drinking water and warm beverages regularly. You are in danger of not hydrating correctly if your urine is dark and yellow. You should at least try to drink 3.5 quarts of H20 per day if you are doing physically strenuous work.
- Sunburn-Your exposure to the sun is doubled when you are on the snow. So, you need to use 30 SPF or more sunscreen. This link is an excellent guide to protecting your skins from the sun in snowy conditions.
- Be Prepared– Know how to recognized and deal with sudden weather changes.
- Get Help– If you or a partner have signs of any cold injury (like hypothermia, frostbite, etc.), get help ASAP. This means that you may have to shorten your camping or hunting vacation.
- Don’t Rub Your Body Parts-Whatever you do; you should not rub parts of your body that are cold. This is especially true if you think you may have frostbite, as rubbing frostbitten body parts will likely cause additional injuries.
Food and The Cold
Firstly, most of what you drink and eat in the arctic is used for maintaining body heat. And only a small portion is used in producing energy for manual labor. So, around 4,000 calories per day are vital for performing physically demanding manual labor in sub-freezing temperatures.
The difficulties and hassle of food preparation in the wintertime may tempt you to skip meals. Nevertheless, you mustn’t skip meals and consume a maximum amount of calories.
The body will rapidly lose fluid in cold weather even if you extensively readjust and ventilate your clothing. Therefore, your body fluids, preferably through hot drinks, need to be routinely replaced whenever in the cold. And if the drinks contain sugar, they will supply extra calories.
You can get water either from lakes or streams. Otherwise, you will have to make a fire or use fuel via a stove to melt snow or ice. And, if at all possible, make sure that most of your everyday consumptions of fluids are warm drinks. Soups and chocolate are ideal fluids to use in the arctic. A fundamental rule should be that your meals need to start with soup, and between-meal snacks should contain hot beverages. Whenever running drinking water is not available, you must thaw ice or snow. Whenever you’re melting snow, you will need to set a small amount of snow into a container and gradually add more snow.
If possible, when heating water, you should use multiple stoves as it takes a long time to melt snow. Thawing and simmering enough snow for drinking water may take 30 to 40 minutes. Furthermore, don’t drink any alcoholic beverages when you’re in the arctic. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to a false sense of security. For example, if you are drunk, you may forget to use your gloves or go outdoors without shoes when going to the bathroom.
The following is only essential background information that you should know for outdoor winter survival. Winter, outdoor survival, requires a whole different set of bushcraft skills. Therefore, if you are serious about learning winter survival skills, you need to practice these skills when you are not in a life or death situation.
As a result, I recommend that you practice the following during the winter months in both snowy and rainy, cold weather conditions.
- Building a snow cave
- Build a campfire
- Build a fire during rainy, winter weather
- Hunt for small-game during snowy
- Forage for food
consumption can lead to a false sense of security. For example, if you are drunk, you may forget to use your gloves or go outdoors without shoes when going to the bathroom.