If there’s any time when it really sucks to be lost, stranded, or injured during a hike or a camping trip, it’s probably winter.
Granted, a wilderness emergency or survival situation sucks anyway. Cold weather just makes it suck a bit more.
It’s always good to prepare for the worst, because every adventure is more enjoyable the less it sucks.
What Can You Do During a Winter Emergency?
Here are some tips, lesser known hacks, and gear recommendations for your next winter excursion. Some may save your life, or they’ll at least make your trip a lot more comfortable.
Create a Urination Plan
If you stay properly hydrated, you’re going to pee. You might just get the urge right after you wrap yourself up for the night and start getting warm and cozy.
For those occasions, you may want to carry an extra container. Men can use bottles for this fairly easily. Women tend to find these matters more complicated.
But fear not, ladies…
Female Urination Devices (FUDs) come in a variety of forms. Most are best used while standing up. However, with a little experimentation and practice, a woman may be able to pee successfully in the tent with an FUD and a bottle. You won’t find them in camping stores, but you can purchase them online.
Before doing that, see what you can do with a wide-mouthed jar. Some field testers swear by the 18oz (532mL) peanut butter jar. 18oz should be the absolute minimum if you want to avoid hassles that could make you regret your choice all night long.
Whatever option you choose if you’re female, never skip step 1: Practice at home first. See if you can pull it off while both lying down and kneeling.
Pack Petroleum Jelly or Animal Fat
Either of these two items can work wonders if any part of your skin is exposed to extreme cold. A layer of animal fat or Vaseline can protect you from frostbite.
Use a Sleeping Pad
A sleeping bag suitable for winter is great. A sleeping bag suitable for winter plus a sleeping pad underneath it is far greater. The combo will minimize body heat loss.
Don’t Rely Solely on Water Filters
Hiking or camping in the snow means that there’s plenty of water around. Use snow for your drinking water if you run out.
Your fire kit will be more reliable than any water filter. Filters can break, or they can malfunction in cold weather. Therefore, plan on boiling snow.
Don’t just melt the snow. Let it boil. Even the cleanest looking snow can contain harmful bacteria.
Have you ever heard of a solar water boiler? The GoSun Sport Brew Solar Water Boiler is an ingenious 14oz (400mL) stainless steel contraption that fits nicely inside a backpack or a glove compartment.
Keep Your Gadgets Warm at Night
Cellphones and other electronic devices could suffer damage in the cold. While sleeping, keep them inside the foot end of your sleeping bag.
Before bringing any gadget, learn its safe temperature ranges for charging and for normal use. Batteries are especially notorious for draining more quickly in the cold.
By the way, the best batteries to use in cold weather conditions are lithium ion.
Do you need a small power station designed for the trail? The FlashFish 200W Portable Power Station may be suitable for long hikes, but it’s best suited for charging your gadgets while camping.
Remove Snow or Pack it Down Before Setting Up Your Tent
You don’t want to sink into the snow after getting in your tent. You also don’t want the snow underneath you to melt and refreeze.
If you can get rid of the snow, that’s ideal. You can use it to make an extra wall around your tent for wind protection. If you can’t get rid of it, pack it down.
Trash bags trap body heat well and keep things dry. A poncho keeps you dry while you wear it.
For extra protection, keep a waterproof dry bag handy. No poncho or trash bag will keep you or your stuff dry if you have to wade across a river. The ECOXGEAR Waterproof Dry Bag will.