If you’re planning a cold-climate hike or you may be stranded in colder weather, there are a few very helpful tips and skills that will keep you moving in relative comfort. This article will briefly cover the basic materials you should carry with you when traveling in a cold climate and offer a few hints on what skills you’ll want to arm yourself with if the going gets chilly.
Carry It Along
Whether you’re driving or striking out for an extended hike, there are a few items that could be the difference between suffering from exposure and survival in case of emergency. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Water: keep some in bottles in your car or a canteen with a treatment kit with your camping gear.
- Tinder: matches and an old pill bottle stuffed with dryer lint and sealed in a plastic baggie can be a literal lifesaver.
- Car Hat: if you live in a very cold climate, keep a blanket, extra pair of gloves, and a warm hat in your trunk.
- Flairs: again, this works best for car-kits, but in case of emergency, a road flair can provide a guide for any help that may be in the area.
- Snacks: a few vacuum-sealed snacks never hurt, especially if you’re stranded.
- Cold climate sleeping bag
- Survival knife
- Nesting pots
- First Aid Kit
Skills for Hikers
Along with water, food, and dry tinder, being able to keep your wits about you in the colder climates can save fingers and toes, as well as your life. Be aware of the first signs of frostbite—pinch your fingers and toes to determine nerve activity. Travel specialists from BCMI Mgmt, who encounter many hikers and mountaineers venturing out into the chilly outdoors, recommend always dressing in layers. Start these layers with a lightweight polyester shirt and build outwards, adding sweaters and jackets as needed. Wool will keep you warm, even if it gets wet, but there are a number of other, lightweight synthetic fibers that can be good to carry along, too. Other skills can be life-saving, such as:
- Fire-building skills
- Map-reading and interpretation
- Building a pine-bough mattress
- Seeking camp sites exposed to sunlight
- Water purification skills
- Shelter-building skills
- Knowledge of hypothermia signs
While you may never be stranded, knowing how to fend for yourself can also enhance intentional cold-climate camping. By educating yourself on traveling lightly while carrying what you’ll need, you can go farther and derive even more enjoyment from your time in nature. It always pays to be informed and prepared, especially in harsh environments where anything can happen.
Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston. When she manages to tear herself away from the computer, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and film noir.