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Cold Weather Survival

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To survive, you must dress for the weather

Cold weather survival is really dependent upon a number of things, but the most important is shelter. While one can survive for 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food, in extreme weather conditions one can die in three hours. There are two basic types of shelter; structural and wearable.

Structural shelter is what first comes to mind when one hears the term “survival shelter”. In an outdoor situation that can be anything from a tent to a brush teepee to a cave. However, most people don’t really consider clothing to be a source of shelter, but anything that will protect you from the elements can be considered “shelter”.

Clothing Vital in Cold Weather Survival

"...clothing is your first line of defense..." Wilderness Survival Handbook

Now in the winter, clothing is your primary defense against the elements and essential to cold weather survival. There is also one element that is often overlooked that can threaten winter survival; that is sweat.

Sweaty clothes can be deadly to cold weather survival. Not only is damp clothing uncomfortable, but in extreme cold it can actually freeze next to the skin. This lowers your core temperature, eventually leading to hypothermia and death. To avoid the threat of sweat, there are three keys to selecting survival clothing:

  • Protection
  • Convenience
  • Breathability

Protection: Your clothes must provide protection during the day, yet help to retain your body heat during the night. This is one reason that many people still choose outdoor clothing of silk, wool-blends, fleece and newer lightweight materials.

Convenience is provided by the multiple layers than can easily be removed, a piece at a time, during the day to prevent overheating. Then when activity has lessened, then they can be slipped by on just as easily.

Breathability: Cold weather clothing must allow for ones body moisture to escape. This is one reason many people used to prefer natural fibers, such as silk or wool for winter wear. However, clothing industry has developed many new fabrics with the ability to actually wick the moisture away from the skin.

Layering your clothes is the basic trick to cold weather survival. Wearing a extreme cold weather crew undershirt, topped by a wool-blend button-down shirt, a fleece vest and water-proof, lightweight jacket provides the best of protection, convenience and breathability.

When putting together you own cold weather survival clothing, don’t forget to outfit your children. They don’t have the ability to judge their own vulnerability to cold, so make sure that you apply those same guidelines to the kids’ survival clothing

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