Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
catfish hunter

Surviving the night in cold weather

38 posts in this topic

Thought this might be a fun one to put up while waiting to go to Christmas dinner. It's sure timely, wind chill is expected to hit 14 below tonight.

 

Say you were forced to leave your home today, taking only your BOB, favorite rifle & sidearm, and vehicle. Your vehicle quits 35 miles from the nearest safe man-made shelter and is in a place unsuitable to use it as shelter. It is 90 minutes before dark.

 

You are spending the night, and forseeable future outdoors with only what you are carrying.

 

What items are in your bag to keep you alive, and what will you do with them in what order?

 

I have practiced this with my little kit in my hunting pack, and with my BOB. Having a plan that you have used before helps making good use of these precious minutes more likely. I sure fumbled around and wasted some time my first attempt. Post what you would do in what order and see where it takes us. I bet there is at least one important step that will be missed by many.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First item I would use is my cellphone, I would call for help....ok that was too easy.

But if that was not an option, I would grab my BOB and other goodies and head for a spot where I could see my car, and yet not be seen by someone who might cause me harm. I would find some firewood, and maybe set up my rocket stove, heat up some water for a freeze dried meal. Then if it was getting late in the day, I would set up my tent and sleeping bag. I've got enough food in my BOB to get me by for about 3-4 days and enough water to last 2-3 days. After day one I would probably start walking to the nearest civilization, if it wasn't colder than 10 below without the wind, if it is colder than that, or windy, I would probably set tight, or start a signal fire, if I had extra firewood or some other combustable, maybe the spare tire from the car. If there was no help coming, I guess walking in short stretches and not overexerting myself so I wouldn't sweat and freeze would be the best I could do. I would start a fire and curl up in my sleeping bag to warm up when necessary. I have a warm hat, gloves/mittens, and extra wool socks, as well good cold weather coveralls and jacket, so I think I could stay pretty comfortable. The biggest problem I can think of would be a shortage of water, but if I am in snow-covered terrain, then no problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AND if I can find some stream or pond I would bust a hole in the ice with my hatchet and boil some water if I have something to burn. If not I would just drink it with my lifestraw. If I can't find water, and there's no snow to melt, THEN I might be screwed lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Set up camp. Get the biolite stove out and wrestle up some grub. I have a decent tent, and can use the truck as a wind break. My bag is rated to zero... so in a pinch it could handle more, especially with some of the goodies in my pack. Depending on what broke on the truck I may be able to make the repair myself and limp it back into town. Could always use the rearview mirror to signal for help too. I have enough chow to get me about 3 to four days. I have some water, and a water filter. I could probably make it to town. If this were a non SHTF event and I basically just broke down... Follow the highway and hitchhike. If it were a shtf moment... well.... its easy enough to disappear in the brush and hills.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my propane torch and a dozen 1 pound bottles a 30 pound bottle and a radiant heater to go on it I carry a oil lamp gallon of kerosene a candle lamp bag of candles all of this requires that you have the windows cracked and one person should stay awake in case of carbon monoxide problem but 2 cracked windows should keep that from happening just before light store what ever you cannot carry

at a spot that gives you a bearing point to find it again a couple hundred yards out and try to cover tracks or confuse direction.

 

get to bug out and then start bringing in stowed stuff from vehicle with a drag or a skid.

 

find a hill dig in cover and hold up until you decide what next

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Set up camp. Get the biolite stove out and wrestle up some grub. I have a decent tent, and can use the truck as a wind break. My bag is rated to zero... so in a pinch it could handle more, especially with some of the goodies in my pack. Depending on what broke on the truck I may be able to make the repair myself and limp it back into town. Could always use the rearview mirror to signal for help too. I have enough chow to get me about 3 to four days. I have some water, and a water filter. I could probably make it to town. If this were a non SHTF event and I basically just broke down... Follow the highway and hitchhike. If it were a shtf moment... well.... its easy enough to disappear in the brush and hills.

 

 

How do you like that biolite? I'd like to get one someday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should have been a little more specific. For my scenario I was intending going to civilization to not be an option for at least 2-3 days. If I ever have to bug out I'll likely be avoiding civilization anyway, my main plan is to stay put unless that isn't an option. Terrain is definitely the biggest factor in any situation like this, but I wanted to leave it up to those who replied to gear it toward their area. Here is my method for a situation like that. I haven't had to do it in a life or death situation, but have practiced several times just to test my system. I treated it like an emergency situation and went out in tough weather, just had the cell phone along and vehicle within a half mile if things went south. I gained confidence I can do it if I have to and got experience in what needs done when.

 

1. Head for a suitable location to hole up. Ideally I'm looking for a place about midway up a slope out of the wind with firewood and water nearby. Natural fire reflector is also a big plus. Along the way I'm keeping an eye out for tinder and making mental notes of the terrain I pass and what it offers. Worst case I'm hunting a windbreak to get behind.

2. Gather dry firewood. A few 2-3" diameter dry sticks and some smaller starter sticks. Also a larger log or block to chop the larger sticks against. Get them stacked near my shelter location.

3. Set up my Kifaru Paratarp. Set up annex, move gear inside.

4. Set up Parastove and get a fire started ASAP. (if no firewood use Esbit stove)

5. (this is the one I thought might be missed by many) Get water started heating immediately on stove.

6. Set up groundsheet and sleeping system.

7. Get wood downsized for stove, Get enough ready for anytime I wake up during the night.

8. Get any clothing that is damp drying from the stove heat

9. Use the hot water, mountain house meal and hot tea

10. Get into sleeping bag with gloves, thermal baclava on leaving mouth and nose open. Remove boots and remove insoles from boots. Elevate them and put them where they can dry from stove heat without getting to hot. Err on side of caution. Zip outer jacket up and slide it over the bottom of the sleeping bag covering my feet and lower legs. If jacket is needed elsewhere use the pack for this. Wrap heated water bottle in other layers and bring it into the bag in a cold spot.

 

Next morning

 

1. Start stove if not lit, heat more water, dry condensation from clothing and tarp

2. Find water and transport it to camp. If this isn't possible move camp closer to water

3. Firewood for the next night, make improvements to situation necessary, varies from here depending on situation

 

What I found when practicing the first time was that having a general plan wasn't good enough. Every situation is different and you need to be adaptable, but having a prioritized step by step plan speeds things up immensely. It eliminates trying to decide what to do next, keeps you focused and on task. Even with all the camping I had done and nights I spent outdoors I made some mistakes the first few times on what should be done when. I sat down with a pen and paper the next day and came up with the first version of this plan.

One thing that is easy to forget is that anytime you have a fire water should be heating on it. I waited way to long to start this my first time. There are enough different uses for the heated water that it needs to be going all the time. It is very easy to become dehydrated in cold weather because your body doesn't feel the immediate need for water but still needs it. In addition to boiling to sterilizing water, warm water alone or with a tea/chocolate raises your core temp rather than your body having to warm the cold water. A warm drink and meal never taste better than when you are really cold. The heated water bottle in your sleep system will stay thawed until morning and provide a first rehydration before heating more water. Heading out in the morning with a bottle of warm water heated up and insulated in your pack isn't ever a bad idea either. In really cold weather I use my water filter as kinda a last resort. I'm always worried that I will have water freeze up inside and ruin it. I'll boil whenever possible or use chemical purifiers if necessary, even my filter straw before using the filter. I'm probably paranoid but I'd hate to break the only one I had when I might need it for a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

catfish, you have obviously put some thought and practice into your plan. Surviving in temperatures below freezing is difficult. Surviving in temperatures below zero is only for the highly skilled. Zero temperatures also means zero mistakes. It is incredibly hard to be outside for two or three days in those conditions.

 

One of the keys is placing natural insulation under your tent. We pitched tents over spread out hay bails in -25 degree weather. Boughs from evergreens is also a big help. Better yet is finding a big evergreen tree with branches high enough to pitch a tent under or set up a lean to shelter. The ground is usually well insulated under the tree from years of needles piling up. When a lot of snow is present getting under those trees is also very effective and dry.

 

Fire is number one. Keep it going all night by dozing, not sleeping. With only 90 minutes before dark in your scenario, I would spend virtually all my time gathering firewood. I also would prefer the lean to with a fire at the open end rather than a tent. The tent will rapidly "ice up" below zero just from one person's breath. A couple large logs behind the fire to reflect the heat towards the lean to is a big help.

 

There are a lot of other tips and tricks but camping out with an experienced person is really the only way to learn them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Autonomous is right, it is seldom a good idea to leave the vehicle in really bad conditions until the weather breaks. I was just trying to come up with a scenario to get people thinking about what they would do past a generic plan, and encourage them to test that plan before they actually need it.

 

Natural insulation is a great thing to have, and nothing is much better than evergreen boughs for that. Sleeping on cold ground even with a really good bag sucks away lots of heat without a natural insulation or insulated sleeping pad. Condensation is also bad in most enclosed single walled shelters, which is the reason most 4 season shelters are double walled and therefore heavier. Also the poles and material are stouter for snow load, but still need to be cleaned off regularly if snow accumulates.

 

Lean-to's or other built shelters can also be good especially with the fire reflector like Rod mentioned. A fire reflector like that can be improved greatly with one of the cheap mylar space blankets. In both my hunting survival kit and my BOB I have those small cheap blankets for that use. I much prefer at least an emergency bivy, or better a sleeping bag to a blanket for actually keeping myself warm. A cheap space blanket attached to a log or rock fire reflector can really send alot more heat back your way. In a long term survival situation I'd want to build a natural shelter to use rather than just my Paratarp. The UV would eventually destroy the tarp, and I'd want to have more room and a sturdier structure if I was going to be staying in one place for a while.

 

My favorite outdoor shelter that is light enough to pack while still providing the necessary shelter is the Kifaru line of tarps and tepees. They are definitely not cheap, but they are quality. I have the Paratarp with annex and Parastove currently which is spacious for 1 person and gear, and can fit two when necessary. I really want to add a Megatarp, one of their new products, for my girlfriend and I with our gear. Having a wood stove burning inside the shelter keeps condensation to a minimum and the dry heat really helps dry gear that has gotten damp or wet. Can't find the link right now, but I have read where the owner of Kifaru tested the stove and tepees and was able to increase the temp inside up to 70 degrees over the outside temp. The tent will condensate after the stove goes out, but as Rod mentioned if you are more dozing than sleeping you can keep it going pretty easy. The stove will quickly dry the condensation also once it gets going. Also condensation that runs down the walls isn't trapped in a bathtub floor but can soak away. Not saying it fits everyone, but I have sure been happy with it. I use a poncho, heavy 5x7 Grabber space blanket, Thermarest Z-lite pad, or Seek Outside Bathtub floor in some combination for planned camping with it while hunting or fishing depending on weather and how far I have to carry everything. In my hunting daypack when I don't plan to camp I just throw in a 9oz poncho and the 11oz Paratarp with a few pegs for emergencies and don't include the rest. The Paratarp can be used as a normal tarp and configured in many ways besides the intended design making it very versatile. Another new addition to my set-up is the Mountain Serape I got that is kinda a combination insulated poncho/sleeping bag. I haven't got it fully tested on how cold it is good for yet but it kept me warm during deer season on stand and is roomy and comfortable enough when used as a bag. It isn't a replacement for a good quality sleeping bag in really cold weather, but is a nice multipurpose item for my hunting pack and emergency use.

 

When I first started taking off from home to go hunt elk and muleys in the mountains I was just out of high school and pretty nervous about getting stuck up there for the night. It got me started thinking about getting my emergency gear up to snuff. I became friends with a retired outfitter who spent 25yrs guiding hunters in the mountains and have been learning from him for years. We still hunt together every or every other year in his country or in mine and have a great time. Anyway, much of this came from his knowledge combined with modern equipment. He spent many nights out in these conditions while chasing mountain lions with hounds, you never know where those chases will lead you.

 

https://kifaru.net/shelter.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good information catfish! I have been a long-time user of Sierra Tents and Mountain Hardware. I have to say that those Kifaru products look pretty appealing. I like the idea of integrating the compact stove into the tent.

 

I really enjoy camping out in the snow and will sometimes go up in the mountains for a weekend when there is a storm forecast. There is something about being snug in a bag with a fire while the snow drifts down. Get some of my best sleeping then. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I probably got warped in my thinking during college. I was in a fraternity and slept on a sleeping porch. Before getting judged, it was an ag fraternity and all the people in with me were farmboys from across the midwest, I don't regret it for a minute. Anyway, I had a heavy waterproof sleeping bag from Cabelas that I used as a comforter. Windows had to stay open on the porch to keep colds and flu from spreading. I loved that and had a window bed. I remember lots of mornings I got up and threw the snow built up on my waterproof sleeping bag out the window before getting ready for class. I couldn't get an electric blanket because after my friends went to bed I had a tendancy to turn theirs all the way on high. Didn't want retribution so I slept with a Crossman CO2 .177 revolver under my pillow. Their fault for going to bed to early I figured at that point in my life.

 

On a side note my girlfriend is gone for the weekend, set the thermostat on 50 and slept like a baby last night. Not sure I'll ever convince her that is a comfortable temperature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good information catfish! I have been a long-time user of Sierra Tents and Mountain Hardware. I have to say that those Kifaru products look pretty appealing. I like the idea of integrating the compact stove into the tent.

 

I really enjoy camping out in the snow and will sometimes go up in the mountains for a weekend when there is a storm forecast. There is something about being snug in a bag with a fire while the snow drifts down. Get some of my best sleeping then. :rolleyes:

 

Thanks, Both those brands are known for being innovative and high quality or they wouldn't have been around this long. Their products are definitely proven and undeniably quality. I still love my integral stove on a system that is versatile about being an emergency shelter, a reasonable bivy camp, or a true comfortable back country camp depending on how much of it I want to carry. My friend that was a guide shakes his head and says he can't keep up with modern improvements his old stuff works and he knows how to use it. Can't argue with him, but when I'm buying gear that may save my life I'm going with the best and lightest option there is same as he did when he bought his. The best because I want something quality as my shelter between living and dying, the lightest because I don't want to have decided to leave that excess weight at home the time I really need it.

 

Rod sounds like you have more extreme cold planned camping experience than I do. What degree bag do you usually use and is it synthetic or down insulation? I know down is lighter but the weight increase and warmth decrease when it gets wet always has me packing the extra pound or pound and a half for synthetic. Some of my friends have been packing down bags with the DWR coatings and been happy with them. Think they are worth the extra expense and dampness issues for the weight advantage?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
you folks are rich LOL

 

I always used 2 military wool blankets and a 10 ounce canvass tarp

 

So what is wrong with being rich? It is just a goal! LOL

 

And, yeah, I have an old plaid (as in redneck plaid) wool blanket that still goes with me camping.

 

catfish, a number of years ago I came across a 0 degree synthetic Mountain Hardware mummy bag that was extra long (stuff next days clothes at the bottom) AND had an accordion-style design. Before that I had always disliked the mummy-style bags because there was no room to move my legs. With the accordion design I could easily lay on my side and stretch my legs. Bought it on the spot and have been using it ever since. It won't pack down as tight as other bags but I consider that a small penalty to pay for the comfort. I don't know if they still offer that design any more.

 

I read in Popular Science last month (I think) that there is a new process for treating down to make it water proof without all the disadvantages that other similar methods had. Is that the DWR coating you mentioned?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, but that sounds like a great technology. The DWR coating is on the outside of bags or clothing to make it shed water.

 

Snake I have spent quite a few nights with a set-up about like that on the creeks or river when I was young. I didn't get into nicer lighter gear until I started having to carry it up mountains.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stay with the vehicle if it's safe enough to do so. My bag has enough to keep me warm until morning including warming packs that last 10 hours.

In the morning if there is no sign of life I head for water. I have a demo box of Just Water products so i'll be okay (no boiling required). Fire is next and some sort of signal if it's safe to do so..

After that, it's time for a long hike. A lot of things could happen to change this scenerio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, as it happens, Christmas night was pretty cold and snowy here (A RARITY!). I actually considered this because I left home wearing a cotton t-shirt, cotton socks, scrubs, and Danner GTX boots along with a North Face softshell. Yes, I wear boots in the hospital, lol. I'd get my wool socks and sock liners out of my bag and put on in place of my typical cotton socks. Then I'd probably get my Hot Hands opened and warming up. I'd try and phone for help while it was still warm inside and start formulating a plan. I actually grabbed the liner for the poncho I keep in my truck, a fleece throw that I won at a Christmas party on the 20th, and a pair of 5.11 taclites just in case so I had better pants and a couple extra warm things to throw on. I'm rather paranoid in out of the norm events.

 

I suspect I'd look for natural shelter hidden from the wind and snow, stake up my poncho with the aide of a tactical tomahawk and paracord, and put a roof over my head. I've got a couple contractor trash bags and space blankets in the truck to use as needed, and I'd have built a fire with the aide of vaseline and dryer lint. I keep a fleece jacket in my truck all the time because the hospital gets cold at night so I could've put that on under my softshell. I have a couple pair of gloves in the truck too as well as my bag. I have a cap and a fleece heck gaiter I could've used.

 

Once a fire was going, if I was fortunate enough, I could've opened up a bottle of water, poured it in my Kleen Kanteen and warmed it up over the fire for something warm to drink. I could also snuggle with the warm bottle. Sadly, my finest truck cuisine would've consisted of Nutra Grain bars, cheese crackers, and Clif bars.

 

Mostly, I don't have a developed plan but an inkling and some supplies.

 

 

OR, I could've cracked a window in the truck, covered up with all my stuff, got in the backseat, and set up some tea candles which I also keep along with the Hot Hands and hoped for the best, lol. I'd rather stay in the truck, and it'd been warmer and dryer. However, I happen to know that it gets VERY cold inside of a vehicle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good thread! The boys and me will probably be spending new years eve in the rough, they have been asking to do a cold weather camp and Santa filled some holes in their cold weather gear( that Santas pretty smart) so they don't know it yet but I plan to get up new years eve and tell them they have 1 hour to be in the truck. We will be testing if they have been listening to that annoying old man who keeps say things like " see that clump of cedars there in the low spot there's a place to get out of the wind, get good kindling and hide a fire" and " someday soon your going to wish you'd kept your gear together better because one of these days I'm going to get up in the morning and give you 1 hour to be in the truck and your going to wish that you had time to grab breakfast"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recent Topics

  • Posts

    • Mini bikes are great on gasoline consumption, my view of them is that they lack the height clearance if one is heading into the woods, if their is a path / trail then your fine, not so easy to move around if one is heading into virgin bush forest areas. One of the areas I enjoy heading into Canada is Crown Land, where I’ll see at most is  about 1/2 a dozen folks in there, & that’s on a gravel road at best. Most people don’t dare going deep into uncharted areas of Crown Land,  that’s where I like going to explore the wilds of the land. No humans to deal with , just me & Mother Nature. From my evaluation of things , a dirt bike / dual sport / enduro motorcycle would be best suited to the terrain. Oh ATV’s will not cut it, deep in the heart of Crown Land / The Queens Land . In my guesstimation, less than 1 % of the Canadian population actually know where Crown Land is. Their are no-posted signs stating that your in Crown Land & I like it that way.
    • The simplest answer is an old mini bike, one with a magneto fired brigs and Stratton engine....but these are actually harder to find and more costly than one would think for as many of them were around when I was a kid, but any magneto fired bike would be a good start as they are as simple of an electric system as there is and the components are very durable.
    • I’ve looked at a used ZERO MX model at a motorcycle repair shop, that the owner purchased new in 2010, he’s willing to let it go for around $2500 Canadian. I have it on hold for me, until the end of the month. He says that it takes 3 hours for the battery to charge from almost empty to full charge.  I did ride it , it’s not as fast as the newer 2018 models. This used one will hit 55mph / 85kph ,still quite fast for a electric dirt bike.  I’ve poped wheelies with it, the torque is there if needed. It was a fun ride even though it’s used. The only maintenance is oiling  the chain & sprockets & your good to go.  
    • Yeah I'll looked at them a few times. They don't say the battery capacity , but it plugs into a standard outlet(110vac 15 amp (Max)) and charges "overnight" ....so 8hrs(?) and that would include a full discharged battery...right? Then a few solar panels and invertor dedicated to charging it and you would have a 100km plus every few days. Yeah in a hard grid down a really must have.....
    • Anyone own one of these electric motorcycles? I did a test ride on one 3 day ago. Wow , they are fast  & very quite when  your moving along, Stealthy indeed. A viable option as a bug out bike, in a EMP event I’m guessing the bike is toast, unless it’s stored in a EMP cage Buying one new is out of the question, pricy like $8,000 US funds. http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/ca/zero-fx