How To Survive In Cold Weather In The Wilderness

It is an absolute delight to go on a trip where the snow-capped peaks shelter the rich vegetation of pine cones that are saturated with snow crystals.

Your desire for a lovely experience in the cold weather may get tarnished by any unexpected mishap if you are not prepared.

This article will discuss the best tips to survive in cold weather, along with the contents that make the best winter survival gear.  

You can keep yourself warm by either the oxidation of food consumed or insulating the heat within the body by wearing thick woolen clothes.

Prolonged exposure to the cold leads to the condition of hypothermia. Frostbite and hypothermia are other adverse health conditions that attack the adventurers at cold places. 

A source from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health has revealed that the behavioral skills of adventurers play an important role in surviving the cold.

Exposure to the cold environment for a prolonged period of time results in decreased cold sensation but no remarkable physiological changes.

Therefore, an important factor to take into consideration is the behavioral skills to deal with cold weather. 

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1. Tips To Survive In Cold Weather 

1.1 Tip #1: Carry the Survival Essentials

You can survive to cold weather with the best winter survival gear.

 An ideal gear consists of thick jackets, hats, gloves, boots, woolen socks, a portable heater, packets of foods, a portable water purifier, a medical kit, a compass, and so on.

 Having winter survival gear consisting of all the basic requisites will help you to handle any hurdles that you may face in the course of your journey. 

1.2 Tip #2: Intake Nutritious Foods 

The more nutritious food you eat, the more you will feel warm. All the foods that we intake undergo a process of oxidation.

 Heat is released as a by-product of the oxidation process. This heat is beneficial to keep you warm in an increasingly cold environment. 

Consumption of food rich in complex carbohydrates such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables helps you to stay warm and active. You can stay healthy by avoiding the intake of spicy foods. 

1.3 Tip #3: Dress in Layers

Dressing in three layers leads to the transfer of heat from one layer to another. Thus, the heat gets trapped within the body.

 The material for each dressing layer has to be different. Having a thin material (cotton) as the first layer helps to dry up the body sweat rapidly. 

The middle layer can be a bit thicker than the first one. The outer layer has to be the thickest (jackets).

1.4 Tip #4: Wear Socks, Scarfs, and Gloves

It is safe to wear socks in two layers. The first thin layer will transfer the sweat to the outer pair of socks that will be relatively thicker.

 Wearing scarves and gloves will help you to stay warm in an increasingly cold environment. 

1.5 Tip #5: Build Snow Shelters

In areas having low temperatures where snow is available in abundance, snow-shelters can be constructed. Snow is a great insulator and traps the heat within the walls of the structure.

1.6 Tip #6: Stay Hydrated

Drinking water at regular intervals reduces the chances of dehydration. Bringing plenty of water to the trip is, therefore, necessary. 

1.7 Tip #7: Walk at a Slow Pace

Walking at a slow pace will help you preserve energy. Excessive talking also leads to the expenditure of energy. Preserving energy is the key to stay active at crucial moments. 

Winter Hacks ❄ Tips to Survive the Cold Weather

2. Diseases Caused By Cold Weather

A research study by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine has revealed that a majority of the adventurers and sportspersons who visit a cold place get affected by hypothermia and frostbite while performing outdoor activities or exercising.  

Knowing the remedies to cold-related illnesses is, therefore, very important in this regard.

Deadly Cold Exposure – Cold Weather Safety Tips – Safety Training Video

2.1 Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition when the body rapidly loses body heat. As a result, the victim goes into a state of mental confusion and instability.

Fatigue, loss of proper coordination, and shivering are the immediate symptoms of hypothermia. 

 The late symptoms include decreased heart and breathing rate. This results in the skin turning bluish, and the pupil of the eyes getting dilated. 

If your companion shows symptoms of hypothermia, move him/her to a warm spot. You can use blankets to heat the victim’s body parts. Intaking hot liquids or beverages help in restoring the body heat. 

In serious conditions, if the pulse of the victim cannot be felt, the procedure of CPR, that is, cardiopulmonary resuscitation can be initiated. 

What Hypothermia Does To Your Body And Brain

2.2 Frost Nip

Frost Nip is the early stage of frostbite. It can be spotted at the tip of the nose, ears, and fingers. The skin turns pale and loses sensation, owing to exposure to the cold.

 The reason for the loss of blood flow and the pale color is the rapid loss of heat from the nose, fingers, or ears. If not treated immediately, frostnip leads to frostbite, which is highly fatal. 

You can cure frost nips by wearing thick garments or jackets. Staying in the vicinity of a source of heat or moving to a warm place cures frostnip.

2.3 Frost Bite

Frostbite is the later stage of a frostnip. It shows as blisters and swellings on the skin. Also, the color of the skin turns purple or black.

Frostbite is characterized by the formation of snowflakes or ice crystals on the skin cells. As a result, the body tissue gets damaged, which may also lead to amputation of the entire limb.

 Moving to a warmer spot is a common remedy. Dressing in layers prevents the occurring of frostbite. The condition won’t worsen if you don’t massage or rub the affected area. 

In case of frostbite, avoid using electrical heaters and heating pads. Rewarming the frostbitten parts may aggravate the condition.

Frostbite UPDATE – Everything You Need To Know – Dr. Nabil Ebraheim

2.4 Trench Foot

Constant exposure of the feet to the extreme cold leads to trench foot. The symptoms of trench foot are constriction of blood vessels and stopping of blood circulation in the feet. The skin cells turn dead due to the lack of blood flow. 

Trench foot causes numbness of the feet, blisters, reddening, swelling, extreme pain in the feet, and the skin color turns to blue or purple. 

 Immediate removal of the wet socks or shoes helps to cure trench foot. Take rest and avoid walking. The skin cells are already damaged. Any strain on them may lead to irreversible tissue damage. 

IMPORTANT! TRENCH FOOT Symptoms and prevention

2.5 Chilblains

Damage to blood vessels of the skin due to prolonged exposure to cold is called Chilblains.

Redness and itching occur on the affected part: usually cheeks, ears, fingers, or toes. Burning sensation of the skin and appearance of ulcers are the common symptoms of chilblains. 

Slow rewarming of the skin and the application of the corticosteroid creams ease the pain of the blisters on the affected part. 

How To Relieve Chilblains

3. Basic Items To Survive In Cold Weather

Carrying the best winter survival gear helps you to survive in the cold weather. 

The following is a list containing the basic survival essentials needed in cold regions. 

3.1 Shovel

A shovel helps you to build shelters and to dig ice out of the frozen ground. It is an important tool to build structures out of ice.

3.2 Saw

Saw helps you to cut any tree or branches required to build a shelter or start a fire. It is essential for sawing frozen logs.

3.3 Survival Hatchet

Hatchet with a stainless-steel blade comes to aid while camping. It eases the shelter-making process by smoothly working over all types of surfaces or platforms.  

3.4 Packed Foods

Carrying foods having a high calorific value, such as nuts, biscuits, energy bars, and energy drinks, granola, etc., on the journey helps you stay energetic and active throughout the trip.  

Look for energy bars that are free of gluten and are rich sources of protein, fiber, and omega.

You can also find some good sports drink made from various fruits to provide you that much-needed energy in cold temperatures.

3.5 Burner Stoves

Starting a fire may seem to be difficult if the tinder doesn’t get ignited. Bringing burner stoves along with you eases the fire-starting process. You can easily light it and cook meals. 

3.6 A Cooking Pot or A Container

You’ll need pots to cook meals and boil the snow to obtain water. Cooking utensils form a vital part of your kitchen essentials. Bring along a fork, spoons, and knives. These will benefit you in numerous ways.  

3.7 Sleeping Bag

Sleeping directly on the icy ground is quite uncomfortable. Using sleeping bags help to trap the heat between your body and the ground. It provides you comfort and warmth in the frigid environs. 

3.8 Snow Boots

Snow boots ensure that you don’t slip on snowy grounds. Wearing these will give you a better grip and traction over the ground while walking. 

3.9 Bandana

Carrying a bright-colored bandana helps you to transmit a signal for help. Bright colors are visible from a far distance against the backdrop of a white and snowy environment. You can also use them to cover your head from snow. 

3.10 Water Purifier

Water is synonymous with life. After a few days, you will exhaust the water bottles that you had brought. However, you won’t face any problem if you have a water purifier with you. 

Collect water in a container from nearby streams or lakes and then purify it! Thus, you’ll be sure of not contracting any water-borne disease. 

3.11 Medical Kit

Medical kits are a must for outdoor journeys. Knowing the steps to administer first aid prevents the injury from aggravating further. 

4. Survivor Mentality

Survivor mentality implies the iron determination and willpower of the survivalists to emerge successfully. Keeping away the negative emotions away is a chief feature of the survivor mindset.

Staying calm and thinking analytically is very important. Panicking will only make the situation worse and will make an individual extremely nervous.

Taking tactical decisions in the moments of crisis is a significant lineament of the mentality of those trained in survival skills.

Being optimistic and having the ability to adapt to critical situations will help you to thrive in any adverse situation.

5. How To Start A Fire In The Snow

As compared to other forms of terrain, it is relatively difficult to start a fire in the snow.

Dry pine leaves, barks, moss, or other organic materials are highly inflammable and can be used to start a fire.

Similarly, glasses can be used to start a fire by making the rays of the sun to focus on inflammable material.  

You can also use portable lighters to start a fire. However, fuel is scarcely found in cold places. Therefore, use dry leaves or pine cones instead.

How To Build A Fire On Snow

6. Snow Shelter

Snow is largely available and you can use it to construct shelters. For bedding, you can use dry leaves, branches, or grasses. Also, ensure that the snow hut you make is well-ventilated. 

While sleeping, wearing dry clothes is preferable. Use sleeping bags. Keep your head and neck covered with a scarf. 

Constructing a trench will help you in evacuating the place in times of emergencies. An ideal snow shelter has five basic components that include an air vent, a proper entrance block, a cold air pump, a working platform, and a good sleeping platform.  

Sometimes, a survivalist may come across remote cabins or empty vehicles. These can act as a good shelter in the winter. Moreover, rock outcroppings, caves, fallen trees are also good natural shelters in the winter season. 

Winter Survival – 15 minutes shelter

7. How to Walk on Snow

Frozen grounds are very slippery. Hence, it is necessary to walk carefully in the snow. They must walk like penguins with short, flat-footed steps.

While walking, keep your arms spread out so that, in case you lose your balance, you can control yourself. You can also use walking sticks to support yourself.

If you spot ice that looks rough, it can imply that it has water underneath, and you must be extremely careful.

Safe Winter Walking


Surviving the cold weather is a bit difficult, but not impossible, provided that you are equipped with the best winter survival gear. Adventure trips in the winter season are quite relaxing and enjoyable.

Living in snow shelters is a unique experience altogether. Armed with the proper survival skills and survival items, a survivalist can emerge successfully by battling all the odds.    


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