Winter survival 101

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Winter survival 101

Post by Leckie » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:52 am

Introduction
Getting dressed
Heating Water with/without fire
Building a Shelter with/without a fireplace
Building a Fire

This post assumes that you have certain items, like a axe, fire steel or paracord. What to buy and where to buy it are frequently discussed elsewhere on the forum.

Introduction
Hi, My name is Fred and I'm a Alco... No wait? This is not the right place for that! Hi, I'm Fred and I'm a Norwegian! Right now it's about minus 15 Fahrenheit outside, so I figured I should share my basic winter survival skills. Those of you that are used to cold weather camping would have much more information and skills than i provide here, but this is, as you can see only the basics. Mainly for newcomers.. Or people from Miami :v: I find several threads in more or less some of the same topics, so I'll just be doing my favorite kinds of shelter, fire and water techniques.


Getting dressed
Several layers of light clothing are much warmer than a single layer of heavy clothing. Inner clothing should be fluffy and porous; outer clothing should be windproof.
Image

Base layer: The inner layer should be something like this
Image

The point of this layer is to keep you insulated and to absorb sweat and transport it to the middle layer so that you can keep warm, comfortable and dry on your inner layers. This is called moisture wicking I believe?

You can go with wool as you inner layer, but keep in mind that wool does not transport the sweat to the middle layer like the synthetic materials do. The plus about wool tho, is that it's still holds the heat inside even when it get's wet. If you're one of those people that can't handle wool directly on the body, the synthetics are your best alternative. If you decide to go with the synthetics, a layer of wool on top of that is a good way to go as well.
Keep in mind that if you go with the wool or the synthetic/wool combo you will need something dry to change in to when you stop. If you stop moving and you have a wet layer, you'll become cold almost immediately.

Whatever you do, keep away from the cotton clothing! Cotton does not hold the heat inside like wool does! So Never, ever use cotton as your base layer

Middle layer

Your middle layer goes over your moisture wicking base layer. So the purpose of this layer is basically sweat storage.
The middle layer should be thicker than the inner layer and you might need any number of layers depending on the environment you are in.
Some examples of what fabrics to use is merino wool, fleece or polyester. You must decide what you find most comfortable and easy yourself, but personally I recommend several thinner mid-layers. This provides more flexibility to adapt to the weather and the heat I produce.
The purpose of this layer is to keep the warm air trapped close to your body, so keep in mind that this layer should not be tight like a condom, but a bit more loose.

Cotton is of course still a no go.

Outer layer
Here you might want to go with a heavier fleece or a thick wool sweater. This is your thickest layer of thermo and should (In my opinion) be only one item, so choose what you find most comfortable and usable in the cold. I find that a fleece is the way to go for me, it's easy to take off because of the zipper in the front, it has it's own pockets and fleece doesn't wight much.

I choose to divide my middle layer in to two categories because you might not need the heavy fleece/wool all the time... So my outer layer is just for the more extreme situations.

Shell

This is your final layer. The purpose of this layer is to keep the rest of your clothing dry and warm so the shell must be waterproof and windproof.
You can find many types of jackets for this layer, insulated and uninsulated, so you must pick the ones you need for the environment you're going to use it in.
There are many features to be considered - weight, durability, length, warmth and waterproofing. Assess your needs closely before purchasing a jacket like this.


For your bottom half you might only need a base layer, mid layer and a shell. I recommend experimenting a little here because some of us might need only base layer + the shell and other might need all of them

Headgear
Funfacts:
As kids we were all led to believe that most of our body heat escaped through the head.. Well, as it turns out, that's not true! Only about 10% of our total body heat escapes through the head!
I'm not saying that you should neglect your cool fluffy winter hat!

Apparently this myth started with a experiment done by the US Military in the 50's. The test subject were dressed up in arctic survival gear - without the hat. This experiment that showed that over 80% of the heat that escaped, did so through the head. So it's not most you YOUR heat that escapes through the head.. It's most of THE heat that escapes, does so through the head.


Covering your head and face is important though! Studies show that parts of your head, face and chest is most sensitive to changes in temperature, making it feel as if covering them up does more to prevent heat loss.

A good wool hat and a neoprene face mask is everything you need to prevent heat loss from your head! But I have a warning for you! Do not cover your face with a scarf or a shemag. If you have to, leave an opening for the mouth!
This is a neoprene mask that will keep your face warm in minus 40, easy!
Image

Footwear
This subject is fairly basic. Don't wear shoes that's too tight, keep dry and keep moving your toes. Good socks are required. also remember to change socks often, and dry the used ones on the inside of your jacket. The most important thing is: find good shoes and accessorize.

My winter footwear is a pair of leather boots with no insulation, wool socks and something we Norwegians call "fotposer"
Image

Yes, those are insulated and can easily be folded up to fit the outside of your backpack.
I don't know how your views are on footwear, but this is some of the best equipment money can buy in Norway. 200 dollars for the "footbags" 400 dollars for the shoes and 15-20 dollars for 1 pair of socks.
The footbags are also qualified to use in a chemical attack.

Heating Water with/without fire
Will be updated

Building a Shelter with/without a fireplace
Will be updated

Building a Fire

This is my favorite method of building a fire. It's fairly labor intensive(chopping and cutting) and it easy to do. (assuming you have a lighter or a fire starter with a wick )
I have never used a normal fire starter because the one with a wick works fine for me. Takes up just as much space as well. Easier to use too I think.



Here goes..
There are 3 things you need to make the fire; tinder, kindling, and fuel wood. Some people like to use branches, grass, leafs and things naturally smaller and more easily combustible. But I like to use larger logs and chop them up in smaller pieces.. IMO chopping and cutting wood is more intensive work than walking around gathering and breaking branches. And that's good for keeping you warm until you get your fire up and running.

Gather a big pile of wood, when you think it's enough, double it! If it's really cold, or you don't easily warm up, walk fast or even jog when you're looking for firewood. Gets the job done quicker and you won't be cold while doing it!
Clear the snow off the ground where you want your fire to be.
Then you chop up some of the wood in smaller pieces about as thick as your thumb. This is kindling

You place two of the kindling sticks parallel on the ground and two on top of them. As shown on the picture.
Image

Take a couple of the kindling sticks you made and scrape the sides of them with your knife until you get a small pile of tinder
Then take a new stick and do this
Image

Light that one on fire, put it in the middle of your square, place 2 new sticks on the top, and drop tinder in the fire.
As soon as that combusts, place 3-4 kindling sticks in a pyramid formation inside the square.
Image

When all the sticks are on fire, add the rest of your kindling in the same in a pyramid formation.
Wait a little while, add the fuelwood. Congratulations, you made fire! Enjoy!

Image

I'll update more later!
Last edited by Leckie on Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:32 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by Woods Walker » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:51 am

As kids we were all led to believe that most of our body heat escaped through the head.. Well, as it turns out, that's not true! Only about 10% of our total body heat escapes through the head!
I'm not say that you should neglect your cool fluffy winter hat! But it's not as important as you might think.


Shell

This is your final layer. The purpose of this layer is to keep the rest of your clothing dry and warm so the shell must be waterproof and windproof.
You can find many types of jackets for this layer, insulated and uninsulated, so you must pick the ones you need for the environment you're going to use it in.
There are many features to be considered - weight, durability, length, warmth and waterproofing. Assess your needs closely before purchasing a jacket like this.
The first thing that gets wet during rain or snow seems to be my head and shoulders. The same goes for wind exposure. The upper body, the head in particular is often more exposed over time given the lay of the land etc etc in the real world. Wind chill greatly inflates percentages, water more so. Exposure is a process based on many factors. I think the numbers people often associate with pure heat loss in percentage only terms via the head can be over inflated so will agree with that however IMO there are many other factors involved making it more than 10% important. I guess it doesn't matter as you didn't call for people not to protect their heads. Don't forget about the sunglasses. For the shell I would avoid waterproof materials like the plague in extreme cold. I would also avoid Gortex and many so-called breathable materials used within hard shells in extreme cold unless they made a quantum leap I am not aware of. For many conditions I agree 100% that these are life savers. I very much like vests but hardly ever see them added in these type of posts. Oh well. Wool socks do rock. Boots must never be tight fitting so great call there.

As for layered clothing the most import factor for me isn't that multiple layers are warmer than a single heavier one. Overheating in winter is my biggest concern. Removing layers as activity increases is a great way to reduce sweating. I can think of a few times during sub freezing weather I removed most of my layers during hard activity. The extra layers often get lashed to my pack to be replaced when the activity slows down.

So far this is looking good. Do you have any actual photos of your clothing and gear? Sometimes that gets more attention from the community.
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by kbilly84 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:31 am

RE: the head & heat loss.... I'm with WW. Head is also one of the sweatiest parts of the body. All that moisture is a killer when temps drop. Especially with a breeze. And as was mentioned, the skin in those areas is also more sensitive. Keep that head covered, son! :D

But yeah, all-in-all a great post. When I first started ice fishing as a young lad, I went the big heavy parka/bibs, and little underneath route. As I got older, I transitioned into more, thinner, layers. Not only does that keep me warmer, but it's also easier to move. Even if I'm carrying those same heavy layers on my pack. Walking to my deer stand in the morning proves this big time. And, any sweat that I build up while walking evaporates MUCH faster, and I stay warmer far longer into the day.

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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by Leckie » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:57 am

Woods Walker wrote:
The first thing that gets wet during rain or snow seems to be my head and shoulders. The same goes for wind exposure. The upper body, the head in particular is often more exposed over time given the lay of the land etc etc in the real world. Wind chill greatly inflates percentages, water more so. Exposure is a process based on many factors. I think the numbers people often associate with pure heat loss in percentage only terms via the head can be over inflated so will agree with that however IMO there are many other factors involved making it more than 10% important. I guess it doesn't matter as you didn't call for people not to protect their heads.
Yeah, that was just a fun fact backstory about what we were told as kids. I totally agree with you that it's more than 10% important! That's not what I meant at all. What I meant was that only 10% of the bodyheat escapes through the head when you're totally naked. But that doesn't make it any less important! Like you said, exposure is a process based on many factors.
Woods Walker wrote: Don't forget about the sunglasses. For the shell I would avoid waterproof materials like the plague in extreme cold. I would also avoid Gortex and many so-called breathable materials used within hard shells in extreme cold unless they made a quantum leap I am not aware of. For many conditions I agree 100% that these are life savers. I very much like vests but hardly ever see them added in these type of posts. Oh well. Wool socks do rock. Boots must never be tight fitting so great call there.
Indeed, in extreme cold I would NEVER again go for a Gortex shell. In the army my CO had just bought himself a new Gortex set.. Everyone had to wear the same outfit, so obviously we had to wear our Gortex aswell. 9 uf us got sent back to camp for hypothermia. I got discharged because of cryopathy.. So I still hate him for that.. I loved the army! Anyways: what I meant by waterproof(didn't find a better word for it) was things that doesn't absorb water like spongebob. Do you have a suiting word to throw my way?
Woods Walker wrote:
As for layered clothing the most import factor for me isn't that multiple layers are warmer than a single heavier one. Overheating in winter is my biggest concern. Removing layers as activity increases is a great way to reduce sweating. I can think of a few times during sub freezing weather I removed most of my layers during hard activity. The extra layers often get lashed to my pack to be replaced when the activity slows down.

So far this is looking good. Do you have any actual photos of your clothing and gear? Sometimes that gets more attention from the community.
Yes, but some people are heavy sweaters. Then it's better to let the second layer of clothes absorb the sweat rather than having the jacket soaked in sweat. After all, the second layer you can replace.

Sure, I'll see if I can upload some pictures! I'm currently looking for a a jacket and pants tho. So I don't have anything to upload there.
Edit: On second thought. I'll just edit in a link here when i get the my post in the BOB thread updated with pictures and a complete list!

kbilly84 wrote:Keep that head covered, son! :D
Haha, yeah. As I said, I have a good wool beanie and a neoprene mask for the really cold days. Sometimes when it's warmer I use a 1 hole balaclava with a black cap or just the black cap. As long as it's not windy that works fine for me.
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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by 74 or more » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:39 pm

Woods Walker wrote:. For the shell I would avoid waterproof materials like the plague in extreme cold. I would also avoid Gortex and many so-called breathable materials used within hard shells in extreme cold unless they made a quantum leap I am not aware of. For many conditions I agree 100% that these are life savers
I would love to hear more about this. Whats the problem with gortex and why is it bad in extreme cold? Is it one of those things where it's only good for certain applications like the MSS bivy (for example)?
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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by Leckie » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:59 pm

74 or more wrote:Whats the problem with gortex and why is it bad in extreme cold?
Tho Gore tex is a breathing material it doesn't do so in the cold. Which results in frozen sweat on the inside of your jacket/pants. Aaaaaand you don't want that.
There are some Gore Tex clothing made for colder environments but I have never tested these. (I understand they are somewhat expensive)

So all in all, stay clear of Gore Tex in the cold!

In a warmer environment, especially on a rainy day in the forest, Gore Tex is supreme! Wouldn't use anything else!
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by angelofwar » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:19 pm

I think what was skewed with the head/body heat loss experiments was the fact that 4 of our 5 senses are located in the head...so when it get's cold, it's MUCH different than a body part with one sense getting cold...the brain is the CPU for the body, and must be kept warm before all others....
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by Leckie » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:26 pm

Yeah, like I said.. Fun fact backstory :P I'm not telling people not to protect their heads. This is of course important.

And I just now realize that I have forgotten handprotection completely! Update will follow!
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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by Merovech » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:14 pm

Leckie wrote:
74 or more wrote:Whats the problem with gortex and why is it bad in extreme cold?
So all in all, stay clear of Gore Tex in the cold!
Military Issues goretex outer shells in Alaska.

Works great in NEG40 to NEG60 (Never been in colder than NEG63F).

Warmth is about layers and staying dry.

After 4 years in Alaska, and 3 winters with a goretex outer layer. I can safely say that goretex is just fine as long as you utilize it properly.

I will say that you dont really need it for normaly use. Even in Neg 60 I was fine with this setup:

Top:
Standard Hanes TShirt
Long Sleeve Cotton Shirt
Woolrich Flannel Shirt
Fleece Jacket
Carhartt Down Jacket with hood

Bottom:
Boxers
Jeans
Carhartt Canvas Pants

Misc:
Fleece Hat
Face Mask or Wool Buff
Warm Gloves

Feet:
Snow Boots with Wool socks

I have spent hours outside in NEG45F in that setup with no problems. I realize that it may not be the best setup and flies in the face of your original post, but I can say that is pretty much the 'uniform' of every working man in central Alaska, put together by experience.
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by Leckie » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:56 pm

In a setting where you would be out in -40/-45 for day's or maybe even weeks that wouldn't work too well. Like I said, there are some goretex uniformes made for use in the cold.

Everything works if you use it properly. But my experience with goretex is that it freezes the sweat on the inside of the clothing. That was a winter exercise in -45 celcius.

If you're in constant movement or doing hard labor anything could work. But if you have to stop and make camp, that's another matter.
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by quazi » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:58 pm

Leckie wrote: Do not cover your face with a scarf or a shemag. If you have to, leave an opening for the mouth!
Is this just to avoid the slime factor? I often wear a wool buff over my face. The moisture from my breath and my runny nose make it a slimy mess, but it's a warm slimy mess.

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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by Leckie » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:09 pm

Yeah, to prevent slime, moisture on you skin that freezes if you take it off, and asthma. You breathe in and out the fibers, particles and bacteria that's stuck in the scarf from all the 8142 times you have used a scarf as a facemask.

Right now, go find your scarf and shake it in front of a light so you can see all the dust. That's the stuff you breathe in and out. And that's only the stuff you can see!
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by quazi » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:37 am

That's interesting, I was always told that the reason a person wants to cover their mouth is to prevent asthma. The theory is that if you're breathing heavily in extremely cold conditions the cold air can damage your lungs. Having a layer over your mouth serves to "pre-heat" the air that goes into your lungs. It might also serve to filter out some of the ice fog/smog, but I doubt it would really have much of an effect.

I'm not trying to argue that you're wrong, I'm just relaying what I've always been told.

I actually haven't found my wool buff this year. I tend to misplace it. I've been using my backup face mask which has small holes over the mouth and is made of neoprene IIRC.

I haven't bothered to use my face mask this year unless it's well under -20*F/-29*C, it's windy, and/or I'm going to be outside more than a couple hours.

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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by Leckie » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:52 am

A neoprene mask with holes is golden!

I always thought that one should cover the mouth with something to pre heat the air as well. But the army explicitly told me not to. I guess if you wash you buff/shemag/scarf often it won't be a problem.. But hell, I haven't washed my shemag since I bought it.. Hahah

Perhaps the "pollution" is more harmful than the cold air? I don't really know for sure, that's what they thought us, I just followed orders! :v:


We're used to -30 to -40 winters, you guys have a much warmer climate. May be you're much more exposed in the cold than we are?



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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by Canadian Guy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:42 pm

Moisture build-up in your clothing and sleeping bag is a significant problem in extreme cold (from -10 C on down) and Goretex shells only worsen the problem as they will not breathe in extreme cold. There is no need for Goretex as when it's (e.g.) -30 C there is no liquid water to get you wet unless you fall into a body of water and then that's a whole other issue :shock:

Here is a link to a great scientific article "Cold Weather Clothing" by Gordon G. Giesbrecht, Ph.D. that details the problems of moisture build-up in clothing:

http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/kinrec/re ... othing.pdf

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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by quazi » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:15 am

Leckie wrote:A neoprene mask with holes is golden!

I always thought that one should cover the mouth with something to pre heat the air as well. But the army explicitly told me not to. I guess if you wash you buff/shemag/scarf often it won't be a problem.. But hell, I haven't washed my shemag since I bought it.. Hahah

Perhaps the "pollution" is more harmful than the cold air? I don't really know for sure, that's what they thought us, I just followed orders! :v:
Maybe I should throw my buff in with my wool socks when I wash them every once in a while. I've got faux-fur on the backs of my mittens that I use to wipe moisture off my face. I have a beard, and it gets covered in frost pretty quickly.

The air quality in my town can get pretty awful. There are frequent air quality warnings during the winter. As I'm sure you've experienced when it gets cold enough wood smoke, car exhaust and the like don't rise, it just hangs around near the ground. My town is in a valley, so the wind doesn't carry the smog away and it can build up fairly quickly. :(
Leckie wrote:We're used to -30 to -40 winters, you guys have a much warmer climate. May be you're much more exposed in the cold than we are?
-30 to -40 for most of the winter? That's pretty brutal. :shock: I would guesstimate that where I live if you added all the time that it was -30F and colder where I live it would probably be 3-4 weeks a year. More of our time is between 0F and -30F. I've seen it get down to about -60F a few times, but it thankfully doesn't get much below -50F most years.

I'm not sure what you mean by exposed. More exposed to wind? Thankfully it usually doesn't blow very hard here.

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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by quazi » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:27 am

On outer shells:

Right now I can get away with cotton canvas for my outer shell because most of the winter is very cold and dry.

However, where I used to live it snowed a heck of a lot and most of the winter it was around 10F to 30F.

The snow was usually wet and it would stick to many types of clothing. The nice thing about nylon and similar synthetics was that it was slippery and helped shed the snow.

Would Goretex be good in temperatures above 0F? Is there any slick material that is breathable?

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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by Woods Walker » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:33 am

Leckie wrote:

We're used to -30 to -40 winters, you guys have a much warmer climate. May be you're much more exposed in the cold than we are?
I would take -25F over positive 30-40F with heavy cold rain any day. Just above freezing with rain can drop someone dead real fast. Shit, I once froze my ass off during a 90 degree kayak daytrip that turned ugly. No joke. Exposure cares not for bragging rights. It just is.
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by Woods Walker » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:35 am

Canadian Guy wrote:Moisture build-up in your clothing and sleeping bag is a significant problem in extreme cold (from -10 C on down) and Goretex shells only worsen the problem as they will not breathe in extreme cold. There is no need for Goretex as when it's (e.g.) -30 C there is no liquid water to get you wet unless you fall into a body of water and then that's a whole other issue :shock:

Here is a link to a great scientific article "Cold Weather Clothing" by Gordon G. Giesbrecht, Ph.D. that details the problems of moisture build-up in clothing:

http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/kinrec/re ... othing.pdf

I agree.
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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by ODA 226 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:37 am

Woods Walker wrote: For the shell I would avoid waterproof materials like the plague in extreme cold. I would also avoid Gortex and many so-called breathable materials used within hard shells in extreme cold unless they made a quantum leap I am not aware of. For many conditions I agree 100% that these are life savers.
I have to strongly disagree with you here WW. You never know when the weather can change from a dry cold to a wet cold when you are south of the Artic Circle. Additionally, when I was at the Winter Warfare Instructor Course, the wind was tremendous and therefore, we could not pitch our GP Smalls. Instead, we were forced to dig snow caves.

I would have loved to have had Goretex back then, but this was in 1982 before Goretex unfortunately, and we became SOAKED from digging out our snow caves. Our solution to that was putting our wet clothes in the bottom of our sleeping bags and usually in the morning, they were mostly dry.

In a wet cold area like Ft. Drum, Goretex is an absolute must and a lifesaver. Just my opinion, but better safe than sorry.
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Woods Walker
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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by Woods Walker » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:45 am

ODA 226 wrote:
Woods Walker wrote: For the shell I would avoid waterproof materials like the plague in extreme cold. I would also avoid Gortex and many so-called breathable materials used within hard shells in extreme cold unless they made a quantum leap I am not aware of. For many conditions I agree 100% that these are life savers.
I have to strongly disagree with you here WW. You never know when the weather can change from a dry cold to a wet cold when you are south of the Artic Circle. Additionally, when I was at the Winter Warfare Instructor Course, the wind was tremendous and therefore, we could not pitch our GP Smalls. Instead, we were forced to dig snow caves.

I would have loved to have had Goretex back then, but this was in 1982 before Goretex unfortunately, and we became SOAKED from digging out our snow caves. Our solution to that was putting our wet clothes in the bottom of our sleeping bags and usually in the morning, they were mostly dry.

In a wet cold area like Ft. Drum, Goretex is an absolute must and a lifesaver. Just my opinion, but better safe than sorry.
We actually agree. In those conditions I would also like Gortex, just not in extreme cold dry conditions. I always pack raingear because one never knows but I don't wear it till needed.
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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by Canadian Guy » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:57 pm

ODA 226 wrote:
Woods Walker wrote: For the shell I would avoid waterproof materials like the plague in extreme cold. I would also avoid Gortex and many so-called breathable materials used within hard shells in extreme cold unless they made a quantum leap I am not aware of. For many conditions I agree 100% that these are life savers.
I have to strongly disagree with you here WW. You never know when the weather can change from a dry cold to a wet cold when you are south of the Artic Circle. Additionally, when I was at the Winter Warfare Instructor Course, the wind was tremendous and therefore, we could not pitch our GP Smalls. Instead, we were forced to dig snow caves.

I would have loved to have had Goretex back then, but this was in 1982 before Goretex unfortunately, and we became SOAKED from digging out our snow caves. Our solution to that was putting our wet clothes in the bottom of our sleeping bags and usually in the morning, they were mostly dry.

In a wet cold area like Ft. Drum, Goretex is an absolute must and a lifesaver. Just my opinion, but better safe than sorry.
I wouldn't disagree with you on using Goretex in "wet cold" environments which are usually defined by being between -10 to +10 celcius. It could snow, rain or freezing rain on you in those temps and I would be the first to be wearing Goretex in such weather. Dry cold below -10 C different story, moisture build up in extreme cold is a bad enough problem but Goretex only worsens it. A good wind resistant, breathable synthetic or cotton shell is the way to go. If operating in a dry cold environment where you may get "wet" from outside moisture then you may need to pack some Goretex shells if space/weight limits allow.

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Re: Winter survival skills 101

Post by ODA 226 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 6:42 am

Canadian Guy wrote:
ODA 226 wrote:
Woods Walker wrote: For the shell I would avoid waterproof materials like the plague in extreme cold. I would also avoid Gortex and many so-called breathable materials used within hard shells in extreme cold unless they made a quantum leap I am not aware of. For many conditions I agree 100% that these are life savers.
I have to strongly disagree with you here WW. You never know when the weather can change from a dry cold to a wet cold when you are south of the Artic Circle. Additionally, when I was at the Winter Warfare Instructor Course, the wind was tremendous and therefore, we could not pitch our GP Smalls. Instead, we were forced to dig snow caves.

I would have loved to have had Goretex back then, but this was in 1982 before Goretex unfortunately, and we became SOAKED from digging out our snow caves. Our solution to that was putting our wet clothes in the bottom of our sleeping bags and usually in the morning, they were mostly dry.

In a wet cold area like Ft. Drum, Goretex is an absolute must and a lifesaver. Just my opinion, but better safe than sorry.
I wouldn't disagree with you on using Goretex in "wet cold" environments which are usually defined by being between -10 to +10 celcius. It could snow, rain or freezing rain on you in those temps and I would be the first to be wearing Goretex in such weather. Dry cold below -10 C different story, moisture build up in extreme cold is a bad enough problem but Goretex only worsens it. A good wind resistant, breathable synthetic or cotton shell is the way to go. If operating in a dry cold environment where you may get "wet" from outside moisture then you may need to pack some Goretex shells if space/weight limits allow.
No argument from me, but I think it's prudent to pack them just in case. That is why I used the example of digging out snow caves. It'll get you soaked without waterproof outers.
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Re: Winter survival 101

Post by ZombieKillingGeek » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:53 am

I have a question about winter survival. I have a very good/overbuilt BOB for where I live. Unfortunately, I live high in the Rockies. This means I have to carry some pretty extensive cold weather gear which makes my load pretty heavy and bulky. I currently have about 20% of the mass of my gear invested in a sleepingbag/tent/sleeping pad (all strapped to the outside), about 35% of the mass and probably 35% of the volume dedicated to mountain house meals and dog food, and about 40% of the mass and 40% of the volume dedicated to winter clothing on top of what I am wearing. I also have an axe on the outside of the bag. (The sleeping bag I have is extremely warm, the tent (twin sisters) is really more of a tarp with a couple of poles). This only leaves me about 25% of my bag for my actual survival gear (cooking pot, maps, compass, etc) and makes everything extremely heavy. Much heavier than I would like.

The problem I have, is I can't really wear all of the cloths I need because the sun at this altitude is so bright that it will cook you and cause you to sweat during the day, the problem is on a cloudy cold day, or if you are in the shade, you will really need those extra layers. How do you find a balance between pre-pairing for the cold and not overburdening yourself with too much gear?

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