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This is the first of a two part series of articles concerning surviving in extreme outdoor cold conditions.  This article will cover that basics of food and water gathering.  Part II will be an overview of just how harmful extreme cold can be.

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 is vital for performing physically demanding manual labor in sub freezing temperatures.

In cold weather, the body will rapidly lose fluid even if you extensively readjust and ventilate your clothing. Therefore, whenever in the cold your body fluids, preferably through hot drinks, need to be routinely replaced. And if the drinks contain sugar, they will supply extra calories.Face of the Neumeyer Glacier, 1915 / by Frank Hurley


     The difficulties and hassle of food preparation in the wintertime may tempt you to skip meals. Nevertheless, it is essential that you don’t skip meals, and that you consume a maximum amount of calories.


     You can get water either from lakes or streams. Otherwise, you will have to either make a fire or use fuel via 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, ice or snow must be thawed. Whenever you’re melting snow, you will need to set a small amount of snow into a container and then 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.