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Winter survival tips every outdoor adventurer should know

  • Dec 12, 2016

Winter weather creates difficult conditions for outdoor adventurers, and taking a wrong turn while hiking, skiing or snowmobiling can quickly create an unsafe situation. As Wildwood Survival reported, wind and snow can quickly cover your tracks, possibly ushering in a true survival situation.

By preparing before any excursion and following a few basic guidelines, you can stay safe during an outdoor trek this winter.

Plan accordingly
It's always wise to be proactive when heading out on an adventure, but during the colder months this becomes especially important. This means researching the area you'll be exploring, telling a loved one of your itinerary and packing the right equipment.

Layers are your best friend in cold conditions. Even in warmer regions, winter can usher in freezing temperatures that can leave you vulnerable to hypothermia. By wearing multiple layers, you can stay warm while also avoiding over-heating. Traveling, setting up camp or gathering firewood can cause you to sweat even in sub-zero conditions, and any moisture exacerbates your risk of hypothermia or frostbite. For that reason, be sure to pack plenty of layers in your pack.

It's also key that you bring a few survival items along with you, even if you're hiking or camping in familiar terrain. A fire starter, space blanket and multi-tool are just a few of the items that can prove instrumental when trapped during the winter months. Your PRO TREK PRW6000SY-T Triple Sensor watch can also provide useful information. During the coldest parts of the year, there's no reason to leave helpful equipment at home or in the car.

Prioritize fire and shelter
Because one of the biggest threats during winter is the cold, shelter and fire are essential considerations. If you realize you're lost or standard, you could begin to panic. Focus on these two tasks to not only protect yourself but also to give your mind something else to think about.

When it comes to collecting firewood, more is always better, and scrambling to collect sticks and twigs in the middle of the night can leave you vulnerable. If you have an ax or hand saw, work slowly to avoid over-exerting yourself. Otherwise, do what you can to collect the easiest available wood. Gather a solid pile and add to it each day to avoid running out.

A shelter, meanwhile, must protect you from the snow, ice and wind. Find an area that is already protected and use natural structures like a boulder or big tree as the foundation. Lay down branches of pine trees to get yourself up off the cold ground. Try to have a small fire close to where you'll sleep to stay warm but not too close as to create new risk.

Don't eat the snow
A report from the National Weather Service stated that eating snow may seem like a good source of clean water but this can be dangerous. Too much cold snow cools internal body temperature and if you are already struggling to stay warm this is a serious hazard. If at all possible, warm up or even boil snow before drinking it. This can even be done with a plastic bottle if you hold it high above the flames and is a small but useful survival skill.

Stay calm
Above all else, panicking can be the biggest risk in a survival situation. A clear head is critical for making good decisions. If you told a family member or friend of your plan before heading out, odds are they will contact authorities shortly after you go missing. Use bright clothing or big fire to signal rescue parties, and follow survival best practices while you wait. Try to stay in the same location unless there are immediate risks.