Surviving Sleeping in the Great Outdoors this Winter

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When spending time out in the wilderness, be it by choice or because TEOTWAWKI forced us there, there are many dangers with which we can be faced. With fall well underway, the days are getting shorter and the mercury is dipping lower. These dropping temperatures combined with time spent in the great outdoors can be quite the recipe for disaster if you're not prepared for what's to come.

Whether you are on a recreational camping adventure, hunting trip, or bailing out after the SHTF, it is the time of year to prioritize staying warm while sleeping outdoors. If you get too cold for a lengthy enough period of time, hypothermia can set in as well as frostbite which can cause severe pain and even disfigure extremities. To avoid risking such issues that can ultimately take your life, here are some survival tips for staying warm in the great outdoors.

1. Have with you a change of clothes and be sure to use them. After a long day trekking about, you are probably going to be damp. It could be damp from walking through precipitation or moving across wet ground and it could even be your own sweat. Whatever the case may be, you should change clothes before bedding down for the night. You will warm up faster going to bed in dry clothes than wet ones. Don't forget to throw on some extra socks and a beanie hat to help with heat retention as well.

2. Speaking of going to bed, a way to give yourself a quick infusion of bedtime warmth is through exercise. You don't want to exert yourself to the point of sweating or you will nullify the reason for which you just changed clothes, but a 30 second jog in place or a few pushups to warm up your body will help you stay warm once you climb into your sleeping bag.

3. Since you've been carrying that sleeping bag wound up in a compressed ball all day, go ahead and give it a vigorous shake before you climb inside. This will loosen up the bedding fibers and allow them to trap and hold more heat than in their previously compressed state. Also make sure your bag is up off the ground, such as with an additional barrier layer between you and the actual soil, grass, etc.

4. Midnight snacks may be frowned upon under normal circumstances, but when you're sleeping out in the cold they can actually work in your favor. By eating something small before bed, you give your body a job do to and doing that job will generate beneficial warmth. Snacks that are fatty (nuts, trail mix) are better than sugary ones (candy bars).

Surviving Sleeping in the Great Outdoors this Winter - GPS1504 - camps-guru-867.jpg
Photo: Camps Guru

5. Don't breathe into your sleeping bag. It may be tempting to ball completely up inside a sleeping bag, but resist that urge and instead sleep like a mummy with only your mouth and nose exposed. The reason for this is that you exhale moisture when you breathe. As that moisture becomes trapped in your bag, it will accumulate until you wind up damp and cold.

As we roll from fall into winter, knowing what it takes to stay warm can mean the difference between life and death. Sometimes it really is the smallest thing that can save you bigtime. With this in mind, make a note of what it takes to keep you warm and be ready for whatever it is that comes your way.

What are your tips for staying warm in the outdoors this winter? How do you practice cold weather survival? Tell us in the comments.

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2 COMMENTS
Posted: 
November 5, 2015  •  10:22 PM
Hot drink (even if it's just hot water) before settling into bed to raise core temperature from within - in addition to a late-night snack as described in the article.

Layer up with clothing if it's really cold.

I can't stress enough the importance of carrying spare dry socks at all times and changing into them when going to bed (and out of them again in the morning). I've camped out in the snow and I can testify that just putting on a pair of dry socks before getting into bed does absolute wonders.

Absolutely NO cotton anywhere. Invest in woolen underwear - quality Merino wool is comfortable (unlike the cheap sandpaper that used to be passed off as woolen underwear).
 
Posted: 
November 16, 2016  •  12:31 AM
Useful post!
 
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