Winter Camping

Winter Camping


The material in this article is but a small part of winter camping training. Taking this course by no means makes you trained enough to take your unit winter camping. There is so much more to cover that can't be covered in the time frame of this course. Before you take you Troop out winter camping, you need to take the winter camping training given by the High adventure team (HAT). This course has a 43 page booklet that comes with the training that the material for this course came from and as you can see it is only 6 pages long.

Your Body and The Cold

  • Keep the body core warm
  • Make sure blood circulates freely
  • Select proper type and amount of clothing
  • Pay attention to internal signals


Clothing the primary function of clothing is to retain a layer of warmed air close to the body.
Perspiration: When the body sweats
Evaporation: Loss of water from the skin and lungs (In short loss of heat)
Respiration: Inhaling cool air, exhaling war air, this accounts for heat loss
Solution: Replenish body by drinking plenty of water

Frost Bite

  • Cover and insulate to prevent further injury
  • DO NOT Rub with snow, or hold over fire
  • DO NOT Attempt to thaw frostbitten limbs in the field
  • It's less harmful to walk out frostbit then to try and thaw


  • Prevent heat loss with proper insulation (cover exposed skin)
  • Guard against wind-chill and moisture (dry is 240 times better then wet)
  • Maintain good nutrition, drink water, keep a good metabolic rate and core temperature
  • Use buddy system to check (face, nose. Ears, from frostbite and frostnip)
  • Periodically make faces, exercise ears, hands, feet ... etc.
  • DO NOT: use restrictive clothing (Dress in Layers)
  • When pain goes away you are in DANGER of server frostbite, if not treated may be fatal

Snow Blindness

  • Accrue when the sunshine's brightly off the snow


  • Wear sun glasses that have a UV rating


  • Prevention: Individuals must drink 2 quarts of water per day (Not coffee or soda)
  • Fluid Intake: (WATER) - the first sign of change is color of urine
  • In Cold Weather: Avoid dehydrating foods and fluids

Dehydration Symptoms

  • Increase pulse rate
  • Loss of appetite - Nausea
  • Dark urine color - Constipation
  • Irritability - Fatigue - Sleepiness
  • Thirst (may not be noticed in cold weather)

SYMPTOMS - felt by victim Note: Body water deficiency 6% - 10% body weight

  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Tingling in extremities
  • Absence of saliva
  • Inability to walk
  • Cyanosis (blush or grayish color skin)


Note: Body water deficiency of 11% - 20% of body weight

  • Swollen tongue - Inability to swallow
  • Dim vision - deafness
  • Shriveled numb skin
  • Painful urination
  • Delirious
  • Unconsciousness (death)


  • Mild Cases: Fluid replacement by oral intake
  • More Server Cases: requires professional medical treatment
  • Victim should be kept warm and provided with plenty of rest


general - lowering of the temperature of the inner core, can and usually does happen above freezing in temperature 50 degrees tp 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Victim may not recognize the signs and symptoms. Victim may not be able to think clearly, injury or death may result.

  • Poor condition of victim
  • Inadequate nutrition and water intake
  • Thin build
  • Non-protective clothing
  • Getting wet (drizzle, snow, rain)
  • Inadequate protection from wind, rain, snow, greatly increases chance of exhaustion

What Happens

  • Loss of ability to reason
  • Body heat production cannot keep up with heat loss
  • Skin cools, shivering accrues
  • Shivering will increase, heat loss continues, the body will try to protect vital organs
  • The body will cut off blood supply to non-essential parts: hands, arms, feet & legs
  • If heat loss continues the heat will become over taxed and cardiac arrest will occur
  • The meaning (Frozen from inside out) is in place


  • Slowing pace, drowsiness, fatigue
  • Stumbling
  • Thickness of speech
  • Amnesia
  • Irritability, poor judgment
  • Hallucination
  • Loss of contact with environment
  • Blueness of skin
  • Dilating pupils
  • Decreased heat and respiratory rate

Treatment: reduce heat loss

  • Shelter from wind and weather
  • Insulate from ground
  • Replace wet clothes with dry ones
  • Put on wind proof and water proof gear
  • Increase exercise (if possible)

Add Heat

  • Put in pre-warmed sleeping bar or blanket
  • Hot drinks followed by candy or high sugar foods
  • Huddle for heat from others

Survival & Equipment & Food

First Stage

Get out of the rain - wind - storm Make body shelter - improvise quickest adequate type of terrain and conditions Analyze the approximate length of the emergency and chances of assistance Analyze personal danger - Severity of body heat loss - Local environmental hazards - Amount of remaining energy Analyze Resources - Adequate clothing - insulation - Emergency Equipment - shelter - warmth - fire - signals - Transportation Add body insulation - lose fitting wool clothing in layers - Shelter the head and the neck from wind and cold - Close all clothing openings Put on windproof and rainproof clothing to reduce heat loss Improvise artificial heat - fires, stoves, etc. Stay put in shelter until conditions improve. Conserve energy.

Second Stage

Don't get wet: Wet clothing losses body heat 240 times faster that dry clothing. Don't sweat: Indicates excessive energy loss and get clothing wet from the inside Stay Calm: Worry causes imagination to blossom; imagination causes poor judgment Conserve Energy: Don't travel in a storm - The remaining energy is all you have to produce body heat Stay Comfortable: Add clothing insulation as needed Nibble Food and Drink: - Get artificial heat - fire if possible. Drink hot fluids it is better if it is around 98.6 degrees - Nibble on food - to resupply energy - If no food is available, conserve what energy you have Stay Put: Don't fight the storm

Tips: - Pre-warm inhaled air by breathing through a wool cloth or scarf - Sit and stand on thick insulation, wiggle toes and fingers - Keep stored water from freezing - Stay dry. Don't sweat - If skin is numb, watch for frostbite.

When traveling or working, watch for signs of stumbling, poor reflexes, care-less attitude, they indicate exhaustion and exhaustion can be 30 minutes from death. Watch for equipment damage by cold. Protect flue and water supply. The clothing you wear may be all you have when the storm approaches. Analyze its effectiveness, then act judiciously to protect the body. For clothing to effectively keep you warm in cold enviorments, remember this word COLD

  • Clean: Dirt clogged air interspace don't trap insulating dead air
  • Overheating: Ventilate. Perspiration wet fabrics the same as rain.
  • Layer System: Easy on, easy off layers helps regulate body temperature
  • Dry: Keep all fabrics dry. Wet clothing loses 90% of its insulation value

Surviving the unexpected wilderness emergency Written by Gene Fear


There are many different types of shelters from long tern to emergency types. 1. Snow block house 2. Tree-Pit 3. Basic Shelter 4. Snow Cave 5. Power snow shelter 6. Power snow pit shelter 7. Trench Shelter

The basic purpose of shelters are to get you out of the weather. When making a shelter you need to keep the living area small so your body heat can keep it warm. When building shelters don't forget to put some vent holes on one of the sides. As you should know heat causes condensation which means water and water will get you wet and when you are wet you are cold. The sleeping area should be higher then the floor of the shelter this will help keep you warmer, cold air sinks, believe it or not this can keep you 3 - 5 degrees warmer. Snow makes a ver good insulator from the cold.


Underware Layer: While the underware layer provides some insulation. Its primary function is to control moisture on the skin. Warmth is provided by the middle layer: Clothing &Insulation. In cold weather you want to warmth of dry, snug-fitting garments against your skin.

Clothing Layer: the shirt, sweater and pants you wear over your underwear are important parts of your layering system. This layer provides more insulation, some protection from the elements, and absorbs perspiration.

Insulation Layer: Thickness is warmth. By varying your selection and the closures on you insulation layer, the many moods of the weather can be matched. Remember that in sever conditions, you need complete protection; be sure to insulate you legs and extremities as well as your body.

Shell layer: Outer shells are designed to protect you from the wind, rain, snow and even sun. Three basic types of clothes are used in constructing shells. 1. Cloths that are windproof, but not water proof (allows evaporation). 2. Cloth that is both windproof & waterproof (doesn't allow water evaporation) 3. Cloth that is both windproof & waterproof (allows water vapors to evaporate)

Sleeping bags


  • Hollofil 808:
    A hallow, short, polyester fiber that is about two long. The larger size and hollow core trap more dead air per ounce of material. Hollofill II has a silicon - slickening agent has been added. This makes the fiber more resilient and more compressible.
  • Polarguard:
    A continuous filament polyester fiber manufactured in bats. The long intertwining fibers don't shift, mat or clump. This prevents cold spots from forming and prevents loss of fill material if the bag is torn or punctured.
  • Quallofil:
    A hollow, short crimped polyester fiber that has a four-hole, macroscopic construction to create more surface area, resulting in superior insulation. It has soft down like fell is non-allergenic and retains most of its loft when wet.
  • Down The finest, fluffiest feathers of geese. Once for once, down is still the best insulator and most compressible fiber.

Going To Bed

Sleeping pads are a must, they need to be closed cell pad to help keep cold out from under yoy, a open cell pad will get as cold as the air around you. Always put on clean dry clothing before going to bed. You should eat before going to bed so you body has energy to burn that night to keep warm. Wear a hat to bed to keep body heat in, you loose 80% - 90% of your body heat out of your head ane neck.


Breakfasts: Breakfast should provide moderate energy but fat enough to satisfy.
Hot cereals: Oat, Rice, corn, Grits
Hot Drinks: coca, teas, egg nog, hot cider

Lunches: Lunches should provide the high carbohydrate energy & minimum preparation. Peanut Butter, Jelly, Honey, Jam, Cheese & Meat, Crackers, Fruit, Fruit Drinks

Dinner: Dinner should provide the highest protein of the day & adequate calories to give warmth and tissue repair during the night rest. Dinner should include a starch (rice, noodles or potatoes), a sauce (beef stew, gravies) and meats (chicken, beef, ham) blend into Crackers, Fruit Drink, Hot Drink, Dessert


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