Gear Up For Winter! My Tips For Cold Weather Survival.

Winter Gear

If you haven’t noticed, Winter is officially here!

When frigid temperatures hit, it’s time to make life-saving changes and additions to your gear kits. Whether you’re heading out on a weekend backpacking and bushcraft adventure or preparing for a true survival situation, the principles and preparations remain mostly the same. When it comes to the gear you bring you will quickly notice that the basics match many of the other kits we have put together in the past, (8 essentials kits), but there are some important considerations for the winter need to be highlighted.

Click here to get your gear list with names and links for your winter survival/backpacking. Watch the Youtube video here for details on why your essentials must change in the winter. You’ll learn tips for each kit like these: 

You need 4 different ignition sources in your FIRE KIT, particularly important in the wintertime because fire is so critical to stay warm. 

Bic lighters are a go-to first option for most people in the back country but they are effected by extreme temperatures. I always carry one of my backup lighters either in my pocket or on my Arctic necklace near my body to keep it warm and ready to use.

What’s an Arctic Necklace? It’s a lanyard with lip balm taped to it for chapped lips that can also be used as fuel to get a fire going. Keeping it against your chest will not only keep it warm and dry, but also prevents you from losing it! 

Beeswax birthday candles are great lighter extenders, and 6-hour candle tins are good for tent lighting or a little extra heat. 

Your SHELTER KIT is something to sleep under, something to sleep on, something to sleep in and cordage to tie it together. Keeping extra cordage with you will be useful depending on if you are able to create a ridge-line for your shelter or if you need to resort to some sort of artificial structure for a free standing shelter.

I like to keep some sort of reflective emergency blanket with me in the Winter. Not only will it’s reflective qualities aid in warmth when used as a blanket, but you can incorporate it into your shelter to contain and actually reflect radiant heat from your fire back onto your body. I also generally carry a large, clear, plastic drop cloth with me in the winter. This can be incorporated in your primitive shelter to create a sort of green house effect that allows heat and light in but not out. 

It’s important to remember that most water filters like the Grayl and Sawyers will actually freeze and become unusable in extreme temperatures. That’s why in the Winter you will need alternate methods of purifying water for consumption. Boiling your water is an option you should always make available to yourself. This is one of the many reasons I always take a single wall stainless steel bottle with me. I can put it right on top of hot coals to boil water or char punk wood.

In addition to your stainless steel water bottle and nesting cup in your WATER KIT, include a cotton shemagh (a protective head/neck scarf). Many manuals will call this a “snow generator” though I refer to it as a “water generator” because that is what we are procuring. Simply suspend the shemagh from a tripod near your fire and the snow will melt through into whatever water collection vessel you have beneath it. Obviously you can also use the shemagh for many other things like keeping your face warm, using it as a handle for hot pots, or creating emergency char cloth.

A flat-pack stove is great for your FOOD KIT along with your skillet and bush pot. Our custom GB2 IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) has everything that you need. Surviving in harsh, cold conditions means you will need more fire resources than in the warmer months. This usually means you will be spending more time around sharp objects as you prepare wood for your fire. Any time we are swinging an axe or sawing through logs, there is opportunity for serious injury. Having the proper training and tools in place to stop major bleeders is a must.

Your NAVIGATION pack should include signals and batteries. Batteries are not as energy efficient or reliable in the wintertime, so pack more than you think you’ll need. 

As mentioned, colder conditions means you’re going to need more firewood. Depending on my environment, I will generally bring my larger axes and saws to procure fire wood more efficiently. Conserving energy is extra important in cold conditions and efficiency with your tools will make that task much easier. A proper TOOL KIT for winter should also include a Marlinspike to help loosen knots when your fingers are cold! 

Interesting ideas for extra tools and mobility items are included in the video and the GEAR LIST. Follow our recommendations so you will have the essentials you need for your survival preparations or next winter backpacking trip. And stay safe!

Hope to see you in the woods,

Josh (aka the Gray Bearded Green Beret)

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