A Prepper’s Guide to Cold Weather Gear: 10 Must-Haves to Stay Warm in the Harshest of Conditions

by Jeremiah Johnson, Ready Nutrition:

ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, this piece is akin to a checklist with a few extra suggestions you can use to prepare for the coming of the cold weather before it arrives.  In past articles, we talked about the necessity of having go/GOOD/Bug-out bags packed seasonally.  Those preps for the seasonal changes are critical and can mean the difference between life and death when the need arises.

Read The Green Beret’s Winter Survival Training Guide for more information on surviving in extreme weather conditions.

A Prepper’s Guide to Cold Weather Gear

Let’s cover some of the important concepts of gearing up for the Fall and winter.

Proper sleeping bag: remember to switch off those lighter summer bags for a winter-weather/extreme cold weather sleeping bag, preferably with a Gore-Tex cover. Don’t forget a good, reliable ground pad to rest on…remembering the importance in preventing conduction (the passage of body heat into the ground, and cold from the ground into the body).

Gore-Tex “Monster”: That’s right! Become the Gore-Tex Monster!  You need a good Gore-Tex top and pants to protect you from the cold and the moisture.  Gore-Tex breathes and it is reliable. They have Gore-Tex jackets too. Just remember not to lean too close to the stove or the fire and melt it. Read more on what to wear in the harshest of environments.

Footgear/Thermals/Socks: All of these are vital to winter weather preparedness. Make sure that you pack heavy socks and have at least one change of each packed in a waterproof bag and stuffed in your pack. Read more about protecting your feet and how important it is.

Foods to pack: Stick with dried and dehydrated stuff, such as jerky, dehydrated vegetables, and fruits. The canned stuff is tough to protect from a freeze.  The dehydrated stuff can be reconstituted easily enough with water.  If you have snow, you have water.  Don’t forget “Vitamin R” …that’s Ramen!  Pasta is great stuff for a base and some carbs.  Load up also on vitamin c and multivitamins in your pack.

ORS: Oral Rehydration Solutions. I wrote a good bit about them in past pieces.  These guys are the next best thing to an IV and you don’t even need a catheter.  Dehydration is a biggie in the cold months…this is because people become cold and they naturally shy away from drinking water.  Remember: thirst is a late sign of dehydration.

Fire starting equipment: waterproof matches, lighters, and material to start it with. Another option is to buy a “fire log” and saw it/cut it down into manageable pieces.  That’s what Firestarter is that you buy from all these “pioneers” such as Coleman for 3 or 4 dollars.  The Fire-log costs you a little more and then supplies you with enough material for 100 of those Coleman packages.

First Aid supplies: remember that things freeze. Not alcohol!  There are your disinfectant pad and any kind of stuff for sanitation.  Also, pack some hand warmers to warm up IV fluids if you ever give one in the fall or winter.  It’ll take away the shock of that cold fluid hitting into your patient.  Also for thawing out water or IV bags if needed. Read more on requirements for cold weather injuries.

For water, if you’re going to be out for extended periods of time, you may wish to empty some of the water out of your canteens for if it freezes to prevent canteens from splitting (although I’ve never seen this with military issue canteens. During the winter months, I carry stainless steel canteens from WWII and fill them up ¾ of the way.  Should it freeze, then I’d just set it on the coals and thaw it out.

Radios: check out your commo gear and make sure your batteries are fresh with spares packed.

Ammo, knives, and weapons: safeguard and make sure (the former) is packed with protection from plastic bags. The latter two: ensure they’re cleaned and coated with a good coating of oil and fully operational.

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