Guest Author - Erik Moeller
The best preparation for winter survival is PREPARATION. Do as much as you can to avoid getting in a winter survival situation- check the weather; pack the right clothing; bring extra food and water; have access to blankets or some type of shelter material; let other people know your route and check in as you make progress. Despite your best efforts, something happens and you need to survive in the cold. What do you do?
Maybe the best way to survive in the cold is to remember C.O.L.D:
C - Keep clothing CLEAN.
O - Avoid OVERHEATING.
L - Wear clothes LOOSE and in LAYERS.
D - Keep clothing DRY.
These four concepts all work closely together. CLEAN clothing is more efficient at keeping you warm. You can avoid OVERHETING by dressing in LAYERS and wearing LOOSE fitting clothes. By not overheating you reduce sweat, which tends to keep you DRY.
All this is really good for preparation, but what happens if your clothing still gets wet? One way to dry clothing is to hang it on your pack as you are hiking. The sun, wind and even the cold air can help dry clothing. If there is a shelter when you get to your campsite, hang out a clothes drying line. Since warm air rises, the higher you can hang the line the warmer the drying air will be. You can also dry individual items on racks or stands near your camp fire. Make sure to watch these items closely or they will make the migration from wet clothing to burning camp fire fuel. Leather boots will dry very slowly, so investing in a good pair of boots that can allow you to travel even when they are wet is a good investment.
Whenever you go on a trek, in cold weather or hot weather, you should always include some basic survival items. Below is a starter list. Yours may be better adapted to your specific needs or your environment:
Waterproof matches and a waterproof container
Compass and map of the area you will be traveling
Emergency food supply
Extra water container
Watch- to tell time and help with directions
Flashlight and spare batteries
Waterproof ground cloth
Signaling devise- mirror, whistle, etc.
Thermal blanket- compresses well and can make all the difference in staying warm
Thin rope for clothes line or other items
Basic first aid items
Once you have your survival items selected, pack them in your pack so they are always ready to go. When you go on a trek, all you have to do is check to make sure nothing is missing or needs to be replaced. Always pack your survival gear in the same place in your pack. That way you will always know where it is. If you get in a situation where it is dark or you are disoriented, you won’t have to grope through your pack trying to find these survival items.