How To Stay Warm In A Winter Forest
Updated: Apr 11
Here's how to stay warm in the winter. Staying warm is paramount. Forget about food and predators, if you're not warm you will not make it to sunrise. Different winter climates around the world behave differently. If you want to survive the winter in a tent, you need to understand a few core principals.
Firstly, wind is killer. Anyone who's stayed in the snow will tell you the same. The wind will suck away any heat you have and heat you generate from a fire. So first thing first, find a place that shields you from the wind. Maybe the edge of a mountain, maybe some dense trees you can stack from branch against. You need something to hunker against. If you have absolutely nothing and are surrounded by snow or soil - dig. Dig a ditch and you want to be at least a foot into the ground. Easier said than done if the ground is frozen but that's why you might want to spend a little extra time looking for a better spot.
If you do decide to dig, try to figure out which way the wind is blowing and pile the soil or snow against the wind, so when you're in the trench you will get some shelter from the wall of soil you'd have built yourself.
Next, consider how and where you will place your fire. You want to make sure the fire is in line with your tent, so your tent gets some heat but the fire must be shielded from the wind too, otherwise the wind will just blow away the heat.
A pro tip is the place any tins or bottles with water on the other side of the fire, away from you. They will capture some of the escaping heat. Always be boiling snow. Always. That heat is going to escape anyway, might as well use it to heat some snow. You need to drink lot of water in the cold anyway so drink the hot water but if you're that full, the hot water can be used to heat up your tent. Just take the hot bottle or a closed hot tin and (safely) place it inside the the tent. The heat from the water will heat up the air inside the tent like a mini heater. It's not that effective - but in a survival setting, you'll be very pleased.
Also remember, some places mention that you should heat rocks in the fire and then keep them in the tent or bury them under the tent and the heat will heat the ground etc. This is a good idea but ONLY if you are 100% sure the rocks are COMPLETELY dry. I can not stress this enough. If there is any moisture inside rocks, as the rock heats, the moisture becomes heater vapour. This pressurises the rock inside until the rock explodes. Put this rock inside your tent or next to you and you have yourself a mini grenade waiting to go off. This is insanely dangerous. Personally, I don't feel brave enough to heat rocks that I find in the wild for exactly this reason.
And here it is caught on camera:
But beyond all of that, the most important thing to being warm in the winter is dressing appropriately. You want layers. Plenty of layers mean you can take some off if you get too hot and start to sweat. You always want to be dry. If you sweat, that moisture will suck away any heat you have left. You never want to sweat in the wild winters. So wrap up warm and self regulate. Hats, gloves, waterproof boots are all essential.
Finally, always make sure you have some form of contact either by cellular phone or satellite phone. You never want to travel to a place you can't get back from. Especially if the cold is a concern. Be safe. Stick to known hiking routes, close to civilisation. Also consider hiking with others. As fun as it may sounds hiking by yourself, the risks compound dramatically when you're on your own. Safety first.
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