how to predict the weather

How To Predict The Weather In The Wilderness

how to predict the weather

Typically we count on weather services and electronic devices to know what to expect from the sky. We may alter travel plans, make a quick trip to the store, or simply pack an umbrella in reaction to an impending storm. However, these services will likely come to a halt if disaster strikes and alternative means of monitoring weather conditions will be necessary. For those that opt to head for the hills, it will become vastly more important to know how to predict the weather in the wilderness.

Nature itself provides many clues as to what is in store. The clouds, plants, animals, insects, and the moon have been used for centuries to predict precipitation, droughts, and floods. Farmers, fishermen, sailors, and others who spend long periods of time outdoors, and whose livelihood depends heavily on the weather patterns, have devised ways to foresee the weather in order to prepare themselves.

Having the skills to read the warning signs that nature provides has short-term and long-term benefits that can greatly increase your chances of survival in a bug-out scenario. Whether a major storm is brewing and you need to prepare to build a shelter in for the day or if the likelihood of flooding doubles and you need to reconsider your location for the season, learning how to predict the weather using nature is a valuable survival skill.

Observing The Sky To Predict The Weather

The most intuitive way to predict the weather is to look to the sky. The clouds, wind direction, air pressure, and even the moon are directly related to incoming weather. Paying close attention to the changes in the sky and knowing how to interpret what you see gives you advance warning of what is to come and enables you to prepare.

how to predict the weather
A red rising sun warns of rain to come.

There is an old saying, “Red sky at night a sailor’s delight. Red sky morn, sailors take warn.” At sunset, the red sky is caused by sun rays passing through dust particles which accumulate at the forefront of a high pressure system. However, in the morning a red sky occurs when a low pressure system carrying moisture is on the way. Therefore, a brilliant red sunset usually precedes a clear day but a red sunrise is a warning that a storm is coming.

how to predict the weather
A red sky as the sun sets in the west is a sign of clear skies.

Another colorful way to predict the weather is the formation of rainbows. In the northern hemisphere, a morning rainbow in the east indicates rain is on the way, as weather generally moves east to west.

Reading Clouds

Cloud identification is a science in itself but there are some simple indicators that can prove very useful, especially when trying to predict the weather in the wilderness.

how to predict the weather
When you see cumulus clouds, it’s a good day for traveling, foraging, and other outdoor activities.

White, fluffy clouds sitting high in the sky are non-threatening as they pass overhead. When the cloud cover is low and dark, a storm is building and appropriate measures should be taken to prepare your camp. Gathering extra firewood and storing it in a protected location will ensure that you have dry fuel to burn during and after the storm.

how to predict the weather
Low, dark cloud cover is a sure sign that a storm is building. Make sure your shelter is ready to withstand rain and wind.

To give yourself more time to prepare, there are two easily identified types of clouds that form prior to storm clouds: mare’s tails and mackerel skies. Mare’s tails are wispy cirrus clouds that are somewhat hazy and undefined, as the tail of a galloping mare. The same conditions that cause them to form also cause airplane trails to linger in the sky.

how to predict the weather
Cirrus clouds precede incoming frontal systems and indicate changing weather. Image credit k4dordy on flickr.

Mackerel skies are altocumulus clouds and are also a sign of rising moisture levels. Independently, these each warn of rain coming within a few days, but seen together, rain will typically fall within 24 hours.

how to predict the weather
Mackerel skies are named for their resemblance to the scales of a mackerel fish.

While clouds are often thought of as bringers of rain, they also act as a layer of insulation. On an overcast night, the radiant heat from the earth is trapped by the cloud layer, leading to a higher temperature in the morning. When the sky is clear at night, the radiant heat escapes and the morning will be cooler as a result.

Wilderness Survival Kit

Detecting Air Pressure

Though air pressure is less noticeable than cloud cover, it is a very dependable indicator of incoming weather conditions. Low atmospheric pressure leads to cloud formation and precipitation. High pressure systems are associated with rising air and clear dry skies.

One way to detect the current air pressure conditions is to observe the smoke from a campfire. If the smoke is rising steadily in vertical column, the air pressure is high but if it is sinking and swirling, the air pressure is low and precipitation may soon follow.

survival after bugging out
Studying how to predict the weather turns your campfire into a barometer.

What The Wind Tells About The Weather

Wind is named for the direction it comes from, so an easterly wind blows from east to west. A gentle prevailing wind or light, variable winds are signs of clear weather. Strong winds occur when two fronts with different temperatures meet, and usually mean that a storm is forming.

An awareness of the surrounding climates will also help you read the wind. For instance, if a desert lies to the east of your location, wind coming from the east will typically carry dry, warm desert air. Mountains also play a role in that air flowing over a mountain will usually release precipitation as it rises along the side facing the wind and will move down the opposite side with dry air.

“Circle Around The Moon, Rain Or Snow Soon.”

People have long looked to the moon to provide insight into atmospheric conditions. As the old saying states, when the moon has a hazy ring around it, precipitation is on its way. The ring is caused by the presence of dust particles building up in the atmosphere. It means that a low pressure system is on its way, bringing rain or snow with it. As it passes through, the low pressure system will push the particles along.

how to predict the weather
You can see how the moonlight reflects on the particles in the air, forming a hazy ring.

When the moon appears clearly defined and bright, it is due to an absence of particles and moisture. This is characteristic of a high pressure system and the next day has a high chance of being dry. In the short-term, this is a simple and effective way to predict the weather.

how to predict the weather
When the outline of the moon is clearly defined, fair weather can be expected.

For long-term or seasonal weather predictions, the phases of the moon can reveal clues. When two full moons occur in the same month, there is a higher chance of flooding. It is also said that when the tips of a crescent moon point upward and the moon looks like a bowl that can hold water, a dry spell is coming. When the new moon looks like a frown, or a bowl that water would spill out of, a wet spell is predicted.

how to predict the weather
This bowl-shaped moon is often associated with a period of dry weather.

Weather Signs In Nature

The natural world is built to survive and living things will make adjustments in order to maintain life and produce offspring. Sometimes the changes are so subtle they can hardly be detected but there are some common plant and animal behaviors that reveal clues about the weather. When bugging out, you can use these clues to increase your own chances of survival.

How To Predict The Weather Using Plants

Upon waking, take a close look at the ground. Morning dew on the plants, while itself is wet, can actually be a sign of a dry day to come. A lack of morning dew can occur when dry winds have been pushed through ahead of a storm system bringing rain close behind. Of course, if it rained the night before, this will be more difficult to observe and you will need to look for additional signs in order to predict the weather.

how to predict the weather
A dewy morning can mean that a dry day is in store.

The phrase “it smells like rain” has some truth to it. The moist air of a low pressure system brings out the scents of plants, as they release their waste under this condition, so the air will smell more pungent just before a rain. Swamps will also release gases during a low pressure system, making for a telltale sign that a storm is moving in.

Visual signs that it is time to prepare for wet weather are readily apparent in trees. The leaves of deciduous trees will curl upward in anticipation of a rainstorm. Pine cones will open their scales in dry air but close them in high humidity.

how to predict the weather
The increase in humidity prior to a storm causes deciduous leaves to curl upward.
how to predict the weather
It looks like a dry sunny day for this pine tree.

Plants also have the ability to foresee more long-term conditions and will adjust their growth accordingly. Crops, such as onions and corn, will grow thicker husks when a harsher winter is predicted in order to provide more protection to their seeds. Similarly, evergreens will produce larger, more robust pine cones, and acorns will form thicker shells- all to provide the seeds with a better chance of surviving extreme winter conditions. If you notice these signs, be prepared for a cold, long winter.

how to predict the weather
A thicker husk provides the seeds with better insulation against extreme temperatures.

How To Predict The Weather Using Animals

The combination of heightened senses and well-developed instincts makes animals highly adept at sensing bad weather conditions. Be on the lookout for changes in feeding patterns, behavior, and sound level that may indicate rain is on the way.

Here are some specific examples of animal behavior that can be used to predict when a storm is coming: 

  • Fish will feed voraciously at the surface prior to a storm so that they can ride it out in deeper water where food is scarce, so an excellent day of fishing usually means you should seek shelter and be prepared to cook the day’s catch in the rain.

how to predict the weather

  • Turtles begin to seek higher ground 1-2 days before a large rainstorm, so you may see them on roads or other areas above normal water levels.
  • If birds are flying high, the weather will likely be clear for a few days. Birds will fly lower in dropping pressure systems because the change in pressure hurts their ears. They will also exhibit frenzied feeding. Squabbles at the bird feeder can mean that a storm is coming and birds are stocking up in preparation of riding out the storm in their nest.

how to predict the weather

  • Along coastlines, seagulls will take shelter before a storm and birds in general become very quiet.
  • Squirrels, similar to birds, will aggressively stock up on food prior to a pending storm.
  • Cats’ ears are very sensitive and they do not tend to wash them but a change in pressure may cause your cat to rub at its ears, indicating a drop in pressure and a storm on the way.

how to predict the weather

  • Horses and cows are known to exhibit similar ear sensitivity behaviors when the pressure changes.
  • Herd animals, such as cattle, will group tightly together, usually facing the same direction, when a storm is approaching. They also tend to head for high ground.

In addition to predicting major storms, animals can also sense long-term threats in the weather pattern. This information is highly valuable when preparing your bug out camp to withstand low temperatures and difficult conditions. A harsh winter means that food will be scarce and opportunities for foraging and hunting will be limited.

bushcraft skills

Depending on the amount of snow cover, it may be challenging to gather firewood. Keeping a fire going will be vital and your bug out party will need as many warm layers as you are able to find or make. All of these preparations take time, so the sooner you know, the better.

In general, if you notice extra thick coats of fur on domestic animals or local wildlife, expect dropping temperatures. Conversely, when their fur comes off in tufts, warmer temperatures are right around the corner.

If birds begin migrating earlier than usual, it is a sign of harsh winter to come. The brown section in the middle of a woolly bear’s body is also used to predict how harsh the upcoming winter will be; the thinner the brown stripe, the harsher the winter is expected to be. While there is not much research to back it up, a 70-80% success rate is pretty good for an old wives tale!

how to predict the weather
The Isabella Tiger Moth caterpillar, often referred to as the “woolly bear,” is an age-old predictor of winter conditions. The one on the left (photo credit Sheila Sund on flickr) is thought to indicate a short winter, while the one on the right (photo credit USFWS on flickr) shows a harsh winter is in store.

Farmers have even used cow fertility rates to predict whether there will be a drought the following year- a drop in fertility occurs in anticipation of a future water shortage.

how to predict the weather
Do cows know how to predict the weather?! Many animals will make similar adjustments in breeding in response to foreseen conditions.

Resources On How To Predict The Weather

To futher explore the topic of how to predict the weather using nature, check out these excellent resources on clouds, weather, navigating, and storms.

ResourceAuthorSubject
The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs
Tristan GooleyForecasting, tracking, navigating and more by reading clues from nature
The Natural Navigator
Tristan GooleyHow to read navigational clues from the sun, plants, tides, stars and more to find your way
The Weather Wizard's Cloud Book
Jim Duncan, Louis D. Rubin Sr., Hiram J. HerbertA full guide to using clouds to predict the weather
Instant Weather Forecasting
Alan WattsCloud formations and reading the sky to predict the weather
Instant Storm Forecasting
Alan WattsFocuses on forecasting strong winds, thunder, hail storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, and waterspouts
Instant Wind Forecasting
Alan WattsLearn to read clues to make predictions for wind conditions
Truth About Nature: A Family's Guide to 144 Common Myths about the Great Outdoors
Stacy Tornio and Ken KefferGreat for families! Explore myths about nature in this interactive guidebook
Click the image to view the book on Amazon.

Conclusion

Plants and animals have been “bugging out” and surviving in nature since the beginning of time. There is much to gain by observing their weather predicting skills and honing our own. When living in the natural world, a simple thunderstorm can be catastrophic if you are not prepared for it. Anticipating a harsh winter can help you ration supplies and apply your energy effectively so you have adequate food and fuel stored. Knowing how to predict the weather will help you to make wise decisions in favor of your survival.

Your Thoughts

Do you know any other ways to predict the weather in the wilderness? Have you been in a situation where knowledge of weather signs in nature benefitted you? Share your experiences in the Comments section below, thanks!

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tactical fitness

How Tactical Fitness Prepares Your Body For Survival

tactical fitness

Note: This post was contributed by Garry Bowman, writer for 911gear.ca. Read more about him in the About The Author section below.

Fitness has a new category now-Tactical Fitness. The fitness programs for Military, Police, Fire Fighter, and Special Ops have all been clubbed under one category known as Tactical Fitness. This has become so popular that training associations like the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) have a certified program for Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC).  

So, this new category will see an upsurge unlike other concepts, such as boot camp workouts, which have lost their ground over time. The following article highlights this new genre of fitness along with a fine line difference between the tactical fitness and regular fitness.

tactical fitness

What Is Tactical Fitness?

tactical fitness

Tactical Fitness is more about work and not workouts. It is not designed for having a good workout but for facing real life situations like lifts, carries, crawls, runs, rucks, swims, and mobility, even situations which demand logical and innovative thinking.

It makes use of non-traditional tools and equipment for carrying up unbalanced loads. Tactical Fitness is more about handling life and death situations for you, your buddy, or anyone whom you are trying to help. And such situations not only demand physical fitness but mental alertness and readiness to act and not react in stressful situations.

tactical fitness

Tactical fitness demands you to be a team player as well. You need to coordinate not just between your body and mind but also with your buddies to handle the situation.

Better your workout, better you will be at the real-time situation.

Building Blocks Of Tactical Fitness

tactical fitness

Tactical fitness is not just about a healthy heart, blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight, but you need to be a master of the following elements of fitness as well:

  • Speed and Endurance – It includes running and gradually improving pace.
  • Vigor and Power – It includes lifting of various equipment, gear, and even people.
  • Flexibility and Mobility – It includes moving over uneven terrain and between the obstacles.
  • Muscle endurance – This includes moving yourself and gearing up, over, under, and through space.
  • Old Man Grip – This includes holding gear, climbing over the mountain or rope.
  • Other Skills – This includes learning to swim, river crossing etc.

Incorporating these elements into your daily workout routine will better prepare you for real situations. Systems like TACTFIT Commando and Girls Gone Strong offer structured workouts based on tactical fitness. Read on for more information on these programs and to find out how to get started now.

tactical fitness

Difference between Tactical Athletes and Traditional Athletes

tactical fitness

Although you will attain a level near to perfection with these fitness elements, it is natural to have weaknesses. So, you need to determine the weaknesses and work upon them to achieve an excellence in them.

Being a Tactical Athlete and getting trained for all of these elements is not going to land you among the strongest or fastest persons in the country, but you will develop a good level of strength, endurance and stamina- all of which come into play in survival situations.

tactical fitness

An advanced Tactical Athlete can easily do 20 pull-ups and dead lift twice his body weight of 200 pounds and still can run for several miles.  Even after such exceptional numbers, a Tactical Athlete may still be beatable by a cross country runner but maintains an upper hand in strength events.  

tactical fitness

There are many fitness elements that are not even in the dictionary of a normal athlete but a Tactical Athlete is a master of all those fitness points.

Training of a Tactical Athlete

tactical fitness

There are particular stages of training for a Tactical Athlete. The aspiring candidates have to be exceptionally good to grab a chance for these public service professions. The typical fitness tests includes: pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, 1.5 mile runs, and sprint or swim test.

Growth Cycles of Tactical Athletes

tactical fitness

Training and active-duty scenario are entirely different worlds in a career of a Tactical Athlete. The training years prepare you for jobs that demand running, swimming, diving, lifting, etc.

tactical fitness

Maintenance programs include conditioning programs that make you strong, fast, well-conditioned and flexible. Learning about periodization is the key to arrange workouts that can help you to cope with the demands of job -country, overseas or your community.

Therefore, tactical fitness is about winning real-life situations which can be a matter of life and death for someone.

Where To Get Started

Finding an effective tactical fitness regime that fits into your busy life can be challenging. Below are training options for men and women that maximize results in a manageable amount of time, so you can stick with it and achieve your goals.

TACFIT Commando

The TACFIT Commando system by Scott Sonnon packs a full body workout into just 20 minutes per day. Using only your body weight as resistance, you can improve your strength and agility without the need for expensive equipment or gym memberships. And because the workouts can be performed anywhere, it is easier to keep up your program even when you travel.

tactical fitness
Click to transform your workout into tactical training with TACFIT Commando TODAY!

The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training

Specifically designed for women, The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training by Girls Gone Strong is a step-by-step system to help you actualize your fitness goals. Develop a strong and healthy body without spending hours at the gym. The workouts are aligned with the Minimum Effective Dose approach and you progress at your own pace to keep yourself challenged.

tactical fitness
Click to get started with The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training TODAY!

About The Author

Garry Bowman is a blogger and content writer at 911gear.ca, the finest dealer of tactical gear in Canada. 911gear.ca also provides superior quality of tactical equipment for law enforcement, military, EMS, security professionals, corrections officers, and preppers.

Your Thoughts

Are you ready to motivate? What are your fitness goals? Share your prepper workout tips in the Comments section below, thanks!

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cold weather survival gear

Cold Weather Survival Gear & Tips For Battling The Snow

cold weather survival gear

Winter can be a beautiful and highly enjoyable season with lots of holiday celebrations and exciting sports; however, if you live in an area where snow is inevitable, winter presents some unique threats to your survival you need to be prepared for with appropriate cold weather survival gear.

The temperature drop itself can be a huge threat. In the cold, your body will need to work harder and require more calories and warmth to sustain itself. Additionally, basic survival activities such as harvesting water, gathering food, and lighting a fire become increasingly challenging when faced with snow-covered ground.

cold weather survival gear
Be prepared for winter survival scenarios that can leave you out in the cold.

However, the best reason to prepare yourself and your family with cold weather survival gear is that you need not only be prepared for bugging out, but also for the chance that a major blizzard could leave you stranded in your home without power, or worse, out in the elements. In this article, we will address the challenges and threats you could possibly face this winter and provide some key tips and recommendations on cold weather survival gear to help you be prepared.

Maintaining Core Body Temperature

For your body to function properly, it must maintain a temperature of 98.6℉. If your body deviates from this temperature, there are built-in mechanisms that kick in to help restore the core temperature and warm you up.

cold weather survival gear

Typical outward signs that your body is working harder to keep you warm include shivering, teeth chattering, and goosebumps. If your body goes through prolonged periods of exposure to cold temperatures, your heartbeat will decrease and blood pressure will slow, reducing the delivery of oxygen to your organs.

This will effectively cut off your extremities from heat sources as body warmth is focused on vital organs (at this point, your hands and feet will turn purple, becoming tingly and then numb; for more information, please click on this link). These changes can severely affect your ability to think and move, becoming life-threatening in the worst-case scenario.

cold weather survival gear
Hypothermia isn’t only a concern outdoors. Without electricity, your home can become dangerously cold.

The best way to protect yourself against the cold is to dress in layers. Three layers are best, beginning with a thermal layer, then an insulating layer, and finishing with a shell or outer layer.

What to Look For in Thermal Layers

cold weather survival gear

For the most effective thermal layer that will keep you warm and dry, look for the following fabrics:

  • Synthetic polyester blends. These fabrics will wick moisture away from the skin and are lightweight; they include rayon, nylon, polypropylene, and spandex. An added benefit is that they move well with you due to their stretchy nature and can fit tightly under other layers without restricting movement.
  • Merino wool. This fine-fibered wool will not cause itching as traditional wool does and evaporates moisture within the fabric to help keep you dry. It is naturally antibacterial, unlike synthetics, which makes a big difference when you will need to wear your thermal layers for an extended period of time.
  • Silk. Silk fabric can be treated to enhance wicking and is very soft, however it typically requires washing after each wear, making it an unfavorable choice for survival conditions.
  • Cotton. While cotton is a soft and comfortable fabric, it also retains moisture, which is not only uncomfortable but also works against keeping you warm as evaporating perspiration will actually cool your skin.

In terms of fit, look for a close-fitting thermal layer, as this lends itself well to adding on additional layers. Ensure that the arms and legs are long enough that they completely cover your wrists and ankles, and that the waist and shirt overlap in order to protect your back when squatting or bending.

Thermal Layers For Men And WomenKey Features  
Carhartt Men's Base Force Performance Super Cold Weather Crew Neck Top
• Heavy knit Polyester-Spandex fights extreme cold
• Wicks moisture away from the skin and resists odors
• Crewneck and droptail back lock in body heat
Carhartt Men's Base Force Performance Super Cold Weather Bottom
• Heavy knit Polyester-Spandex fights extreme cold
• Wicks moisture away from the skin and resists odors
• Long, fitted rib-knit cuffs prevent riding up at the ankle
Rothco ECWCS Poly Crew Neck Top
• 100% Polyester with ultra-soft fleece lining
• Tiny air pockets trap heat close to the skin
• Same Extended Cold Weather Clothing System used by U.S. Armed Forces
Rothco Gen III Level II Underwear Bottoms
• Highly breathable Polyester-Spandex grid-fleece with moisture-wicking technology
• Microban fabric ideal for long-term use
• Level II of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System used by U.S. Armed Forces
The First Outdoor Women's Thermal Underwear Set
• Polyester-Spandex fabric with suede lining for added comfort
• Fabric resists pilling in high friction areas
• Athletic seams on shirt and pants for ease of movement
Duofold Women's Heavy Weight Double Layer Thermal Shirt
• Double layer Polyester-Spandex blend designed for extreme cold
• 4-way stretch and princess seams provide a contoured fit that moves with you
• Anti-microbial fabric ideal for long wear
Duofold Women's Heavy Weight Double Layer Thermal Leggings
• Double layer Polyester-Spandex blend designed for extreme cold
• Flatlock seams prevent skin irritation
• Drawstring for an adjustable fit
Sportown®Women's Odor-resistant Merino Wool Base Layer Shirt
• 100% Merino wool is extra soft against the skin
• Moisture wicking technology keeps you dry
• Lightweight and designed for active use
Click on the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

What to Look For in Insulating Layers

Once you’ve established a solid thermal layer, your next layer should be made of insulating material such as wool, fleece, or down. Wool, and some types of fleece, will still insulate when wet, however down is best in dry conditions as it loses its insulative qualities when wet. In extreme conditions, there is always the option of adding additional insulating layers.

Insulative Layers For Men And WomenKey Features
Columbia Women's Fast Trek II Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
• 100% Polyester with four-way comfort stretch for mobility
• Full zip doubles as a jacket in warmer weather
• Zippered pockets on front and sleeve for keeping gear close at hand
The North Face Womens Glacier 1/4 Zip
• Polartec Micro fleece dries quickly to keep you warm
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation during rigorous activity
• Lightweight and great for layering
Minus33 Merino Wool Women's Sequoia Midweight 1/4 Zip
• 100% Merino wool with interlock knit construction to trap heat
• Flatlock seams make for a low profile when layering
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece Jacket
• 100% Polyester filament fleece is soft yet rugged
• Standing collar provides extra neck protection
• Zippered pockets ideal for hand warmers
The North Face Mens TKA 100 Glacier 1/4 Zip
• Ultra-soft TKA 100 fleece insulates against the cold
• Reverse-coil 1/4 zipper reduces bulk around the collar
• Thin and comfortable for layering
Minus33 Merino Wool Men's Isolation Midweight 1/4 Zip
• 100% Merino wool with interlock knit construction to trap heat
• Flatlock seams make for a low profile when layering
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

What to Look For in a Shell or Outer Layer

The ideal outer layer for cold weather survival is breathable, allows for movement, and protects against the elements such as wind, rain and snow. Breathability is key in order to allow perspiration to evaporate, otherwise, it will condense on the inside of your shell and cause you to feel colder. Good options for lining that allow for air circulation while keeping you warm include Gortex and eVent.

For outer fabric, look for something treated with weather proofing, such as teflon, as this will keep out wind, rain and snow to keep you dry and retain body heat. Also opt for a hood in your cold weather survival gear to provide protection for your neck and head – some hoods even have a built-in brim to keep rain and snow off your face, helping to prevent frostbite.

cold weather survival gear
Protect as much skin as possible from exposure to the cold air.

While heavy, bulky winter coats are a great source of warmth, they do little to allow for sufficient movement to perform survival tasks. Look for an ‘athletic fit,’ which will typically be trimmer and stitched to accommodate arm movement.

Finally, don’t neglect your legs, they need protection too! When looking for a cold weather survival snow pant, the same favorable qualities you would look for in an outer shell apply: breathability, mobility, and wind/water proof. Additionally, look for plenty of pockets so you’re able to keep cold weather survival gear close at hand.

Outer Shell Layers For Men And WomenKey Features
Arc'teryx Men's Theta AR Jacket

Arc'teryx Women's Theta AR Jacket
• 100% Polyester is rugged and durable
• Reinforced to add support to high wear areas
• Gore-Tex shell is light and breathable with side vents to cool off during exertion
• High collar keeps heat in and protects the neck
• Hood is roomy enough for a helmet but cinches for normal wear, with brim to shed rain
• Athletic fit eliminates bulk and longer length provides extra coverage from wind and snow
Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket Men's

Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket Women's
• 20D Ripstop Nylon shell is water repellant and designed to handle tough outdoor use
• Filled with Q.Shield Down treated to maintain insulating performance even when wet
• Compresses easily for packing due to stitch-through quilting
• Dual draw cords at the hem lock out cold air and adjust easily on the move
• Side zip pockets for warming hands or stashing gear
The North Face Apex Elevation Jacket Men's

The North Face Apex Elevation Jacket Women's
• Durable ripstop Polyester treated to be water resistant and block out wind
• Tight weave is abrasion resistant on the exterior and brushed on the interior for comfort
• Insulated body, hood, and sleeves provide superior warmth in harsh conditions
• Four zippered pockets with interior headphone slit perfect for listening to an emergency weather radio
Arctix Men's Mountain Snowboard Shell Cargo Pants

Arctix Women's Mountain Snowboard Shell Cargo Pants
• Waterproof, breathable nylon construction with reinforced seams and abrasion resistance
• Zippered hip pockets and velcro cargo pockets for holding tools
• Articulated knee for improved mobility especially when squatting by the fire
• Boot gaiters have grippers to keep them tucked into boots
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

Using Hand Warmers For Maximum Effectiveness

For those who participate in winter sports, hand and foot warmers are most likely a very familiar item. In everyday use, they make activities such as skiing or sitting in a football stadium much easier on your body, and in survival use, they prevent frostbite and lack of circulation to extremities. In terms of value, they are relatively inexpensive and can provide hours of heat without adding unnecessary bulk or weight.

Hand warmers work by using the exothermic reaction of oxidizing iron and forming rust. When sealed, the lack of air (oxygen) prevents the process from starting. After opening the package, shake it vigorously to allow air to enter the breathable cloth and mix with the iron, this activates the reaction and starts the production of heat. Once activated, place your warmers in an enclosed space, such as gloves, boots or pockets, trapping the heat and allowing it to build up continuously.

cold weather survival gear
Your hands are one of your most important survival tools! Keep them warm and protected.
Hand And Foot Warmers  
HotHands Hand Warmers 15 Pair Value Pack
Heat Factory Premium Hand Warmer, 40 Pairs
Zippo Refillable Handwarmer
HotHands Adhesive Toe Warmer 6 pair Value Pack
Grabber Foot Warmer
Little Hotties Adhesive Toe Warmers, 30 Pairs
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

The Benefits of Wearing Snowshoes

cold weather survival gear

If you’ve ever had to trek through deep snow, you know how laborious it can be, but an additional concern in a survival situation is that it increases the risk of frostbite to your feet. With snowshoes, not only can you keep your boots above the snow, but also you conserve energy as it takes less effort to walk.

This can become of the highest importance in a situation where you find yourself stranded and need to walk to a nearby town or make your daily commute on foot due to a snowstorm.

cold weather survival gear
Stash a pair of snow shoes in your car in case you get stuck and need to continue on foot.
Snowshoes For Men, Women, And YouthKey Features
Chinook Trekker Snowshoes
• Aluminum frame is curved for ergonomic comfort
• Dual ratchet bindings adjust for a perfect fit and quick-release heel strap makes removal easy even with cold hands
• Heavy-duty crampons provide grip on slopes or icy areas
• Includes carry bag with mesh panels for ventilation
Alps Performance Light Weight Snowshoes
• Frame is designed for maximum floatation in heavy snow
• Aluminum tubing with TPU-85 plastic engineered for heavy use in cold temperatures
• Heel and toe crampons prevent slipping
• Bindings are situated to eliminate pressure points
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe
• Toothed frame with lateral crampons sustains 360 degree traction
• Ergo Televator heel lifts reduce calf fatigue when ascending and can be activated using a pole grip
• Modular tails (sold separately) can be added for deeper snow conditions
• PosiLock bindings contour to any boot for a secure fit every time
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

Cold Weather Survival Gear & Tools

There are two major obstacles you will come across in winter that will impede your survival activities: clearing snow and starting a fire.

Clearing Snow

cold weather survival gear

You can never truly understand the importance of having snow removal gear on-hand until you’ve been through a situation where you needed it and it wasn’t there. On a personal note, this author will never forget the time I landed at the airport at night only to discover an unexpected blizzard had completely covered my car in over a foot of snow.

It was early in the season for snow, so having not expected it, I was left without any scraper or brush and had to use my bare arms and hands to clear the snow from my car. Now, I travel with snow removal tools year-round!

For stocking your bug-out bag, a folding shovel works great. Not only is this a compact tool, it also has multiple uses including clearing a spot for a fire, digging a shelter, and collecting snow to melt for drinking, among many other essential tasks.

Starting a Fire in the Snow

cold weather survival gear

When it comes to fire starting implements, if you have one, you have none. Carrying multiple means of starting a fire and packing them separately is a measure of precaution that most preppers live by.

In terms of firestarting tools, lighter fluid is not ideal in extremely low temperatures and tools such as Ferro rods or flint will be much more reliable.

cold weather survival gear
In heavily packed snow, you can create a bed of bark for the fire to rest on.

For collecting firewood, start as early as possible, avoiding waiting until dusk if possible, as you will need a fair amount to keep the fire burning all night. Pine trees are good to scout for as they naturally shelter their undergrowth and there are typically plenty of dry dead branches beneath dense evergreen that can be collected for firewood with little effort.

cold weather survival gear
The denser the foliage, the more protected the base will be so look for evergreens that have thick lower branches.

However, obtaining larger dry logs can prove a bit more challenging, so it’s always prudent to carry a hatchet or tomahawk with you as these tools prove immensely helpful in cutting through thicker wood.

Even if the outside is damp, a fallen tree can provide enough fuel for one night if you can split the logs and cut away the damp portion to use the dry, inner part for firewood.

Once the fire is burning large and hot, you can add the occasional green log, which doesn’t produce as much heat as dead wood, but does burn much longer.

cold weather survival gear
Collect a pile of wood about six feet long by 3 feet high to ensure you have enough to last the night.

An excellent option for quickly and easily starting fires in windy, cold conditions is the Everstyke Survival Lighter. Click here to read more about this essential cold weather survival tool and how you can get your very own!

cold weather survival gear
The Everstryke Pro combines both a fuel-based system and flint and steel striker, so you can spark a fire under any conditions.

Harvest Water Safely in Cold Conditions

Yes, snow and ice are made of water, but there are still some unique obstacles to navigate through in obtaining life-saving, clean drinking water.

Harvesting Directly From Snow

Clean snow, such as fresh snow scooped directly off branches or brushes, is considered reasonably safe to consume. The part you’ll want to watch out for is that consuming snow (which is frozen) will result in lowering your core body temperature, making your hard work to preserve your body heat all for naught. If possible, boil the snow before drinking it and bring the water down to a consumable temperature by placing your drinking container in the snow.

Harvesting From Lakes, Rivers and Streams

The challenge with harvesting from an iced-over body of water is the danger that you may fall in and have hypothermia set in. Hypothermia is life-threatening and can be triggered by something as simple as submerging your feet in cold water, which can cause a significant drop in body temperature and increase your risk for frostbite.

When conducting survival activities around frozen or partially-frozen bodies of water, it’s always best to put safety first. One way to avoid coming too close to the edge is to carry cordage with you: throw a rock or log to make a hole in the ice within reach from shore, then tie your water bottle to a length of paracord (make sure it is secure so you don’t lose your water bottle!), then safely submerge the water bottle from solid ground and reel it in when it is full.

Before drinking, be sure to filter, boil, or treat your water as Giardia bacteria can survive in very cold temperatures, even ice!

cold weather survival gear
Keep a safe distance from icy rivers and always purify water – even ice contains harmful bacteria.

To be able to drink your harvested water safely without having to worry about bacteria or contamination, consider packing Lifestraws in your bug-out bag. These ingenious tools make it easy to turn harvested water into safe drinking water. Click here to learn more about Lifestraws and find out how to get your very own!

cold weather survival gear

Conclusion

Survival is challenging, but the additional threats posed by cold weather make survival activities extra challenging in winter, including maintaining your core body temperature, starting a fire, and harvesting water. However, with the proper knowledge and the right cold weather survival gear, you’ll be prepared to survive anything nature throws at you!

More Great Cold Weather Survival Gear


Your Thoughts

What is your most essential winter survival tool? What other winter survival gear do you pack? Tell us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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bug out vehicle gear

What Bug Out Vehicle Gear Should YOU pack?

bug out vehicle gear

Note: This article was contributed by James Smith. Read more about him in the About The Author section below.

While having the most reliable and dependable vehicle to get you to your bug out location should be high on your list of needs – the gear that you bring with you in your vehicle is much more likely to mean the difference between extreme hardship and preparedness.

When packing your bug out vehicle gear it’s important to consider that your car may be a home on wheels of sorts for some time. In a SHTF situation, you will not be able to go shopping or seek medical attention and may even get stuck while you’re out driving.

bug out vehicle gear

Wrench-in-plan situations could include having to go off-road (or take an alternate route) to avoid a bottleneck, getting lost, camping overnight, getting injured or just something going wrong with your vehicle itself.

Needed bug out vehicle gear and considerations can be broken down into a few categories that I discuss in more detail below:

Tools and Equipment

bug out vehicle gear
Your bug out vehicle gear should include a tire iron or socket wrench for changing the tires, as well as other tools for maintenance and repairs.

You will want to make sure that you have the basic tools needed for minor repairs to your vehicle and other belongings. This can include vehicle replacement parts, tow cables, rope, straps, jumper cables and duct tape. Additionally, a fire extinguisher for emergencies may come in handy. Other indispensable items include a shovel, multitool, car jump starter (check out our favorite, The Anker PowerCore Car Jump Starter), and heavy gloves.

bug out vehicle gear

bug out vehicle gear

Shelter and Clothing

Fuel should be treated as a finite resource so you will not want to run the engine any more than is necessary for driving. While it is tempting to crank the heat when parked, a better option is to pack extra layers and bedding to keep everyone warm. Ensure that you add a roof top cargo carrier to your vehicle and pack your extra weather appropriate clothing, shopping bags, hiking boots/shoes, and hand warmers.

bug out vehicle gear

All of these things that will help you stay warm and beat hypothermia should you get stuck and take longer to get to your bug out location. Plan to include a tent, tarp, and sleeping bags in your bug out vehicle gear if it will take you some time to reach your ultimate destination.

bug out vehicle gear
You probably won’t have access to these along the way so it’s extra important to conserve fuel in your bug out vehicle.

Fire and Lighting

Always carry multiple flashlights and various lighters, matches, and strikers. These items are essential for warmth, preparing food, and sterilizing water. You will also need to be able to see to access gear, make repairs, read maps, and scan the area for danger.

Flashlights and fires make excellent distress signals that are visible over long distances, should you need to send out for help. A tactical flashlight, such as the Nitecore P12 Tactical Flashlight (pictured above), offers extra features for breaching and self-defense.

Signaling and Communication

To communicate with others and receive whatever transmissions are being sent, be sure to pack a radio and batteries or a reliable wind-up radio, a cell phone or prepaid phone with car adapter, portable CB radio, two-way radio, and whistle. Of course, make sure you know how to use them, and spend time practicing as much as possible.

best emergency weather radio

Navigation

bug out vehicle gear
Digital navigation can be very useful but often not as reliable as a printed map.

One of the most important things to stock in your bug out vehicle is proper navigation gear. Be sure you know both where you are going and all of the possible ways to get there. Prepare for unexpected detours and pack a GPS device, paper maps (both road and topographical), and a compass.

Water

Plan to keep plenty of extra water inside your vehicle – enough for you and your family to get to your bug-out location then add on a few extra liters or gallons person. It’s helpful to have a durable yet pliable water container/bladder that can be collapsed when not in use and be sure to carry water purification tablets and durable metal cups.

bug out vehicle gear
The wide fill port makes it easy to fill and to clean the Camelbak 100oz Antidote Reservoir. Click the image to view details on Amazon.

Food

Pack and carry extra food at the rate of 2500 daily calories per person. Pack up a stove and basic kitchen as well. If you have a knack for it – and live in an area where it would be useful or practical – consider packing up a fishing kit as well.

bug out vehicle gear
The Emberlit Stove uses wood so you don’t need to worry about storing fuel. It also folds flat, making it a great addition to your bug out vehicle gear. Click the image to view on Amazon.

First Aid

A proper and complete first aid kit is essential, and there are plenty of pre-packed ones on the market. They range from basic small first aid kits that include wound dressing and cleaning supplies –to more elaborate medical kits that also include blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, splints, scalpels, and suture kits. Get what you believe is best for your family’s budget, but remember that it’s always better to err on the side of being over-prepared than under.

Also, don’t forget the toilet paper, feminine hygiene products (if needed) and any important prescription medications.

Safety and Protection

Pack up flares and a good multipurpose knife. Road flares are made to burn in inclement weather, and they are easy to get going, don’t require the same finger dexterity that a finger and match does, and they burn for a really long time. If you are stuck in a dire emergency that you can’t work your fingers to light a fire flares would do the trick – and they work nicely as a torch as well.

bug out vehicle gear

A multipurpose knife is a must-have in any vehicle bug-out bag.  One top choice would be a KA-BAR Full-Size, Straight Edge – a true war-horse of a knife that many United States Marines call their one and only.

Premade Auto Emergency Kits

A quick and easy solution to have your car stocked with survival supplies is to get a premade auto emergency kit. They serve as an excellent foundation to get your car stocked with supplies and then you can build up from there by adding any additional items you see fit.

Pre-made car kits are a helpful (and economical) starting point for building your bug out vehicle gear. This kit from TopGear includes jumper cables, work gloves, basic first aid, and much more. Click the image to view a full list on Amazon.

 

We recommend the Always Prepared 65-Piece Roadside Assistance Auto Emergency Kit.

Extra Bug Out Vehicle Gear Considerations

Depending on your route and possible hiccups native to your unique location and geographical area you may want to consider any additional water and land specific needs. These might include packing up life jackets, life rafts, paddles, off-road tires, ice scrapers, and wrenches.

Also, ALWAYS make sure you have a car jump starter with you. It can easily save your life! Check out my favorite jump starter, The Anker PowerCore Car Jump Starter. It can even charge your phone or other devices!

Conclusion

Planning ahead for any unforeseeable situations can save you a lot of headache figuring out what to do to solve the problem in the moment. Being well prepared with the bug out vehicle gear you need will give you the peace of mind that your whole family deserves.

About The Author

James Smith is a survivalist, who loves to write about survival skills and techniques. He has extensive knowledge about different survival kits and other survival supplies which he loves to share with others by writing blog. Follow him on twitter @jamessmith1609.

Your Thoughts

Is a bug out vehicle part of your survival plan? Do you have one stocked and ready to go? (We’d love to see photos!) Share your tips and ideas in the Comments section below, thanks!

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outdoor boot outdoor boots

How To Choose The Right Outdoor Boot

outdoor boot outdoor boots

When it comes to choosing the right outdoor boot for your bug out or outdoor adventures, you should approach the decision-making process as just that, a process. Looking at just one factor like fit, price, or purpose nets limited results, meaning you might find a great shoe, but not the one for you and your purposes. As well, this process doesn’t end with the purchase of the boot. Rather, getting the best mileage out of your boots means that you break them in and learn to take care of them so that you get optimal use out of them.  This article will show you how to do all of this and by the end, you will be able to pick out the right footwear for your personal survival situation.

outdoor boot outdoor boots

The Fit Is King

A shoe that doesn’t fit and isn’t comfortable causes all kinds of problems that no amount of money can solve. For example, improperly-fitting shoes cause back problems and stress on the tendons and joints as well as the possibility of blisters and other foot maladies on the trail.  Imagine trying to carry your bug out bag over broken terrain with your feet in agony – not a recipe for survival.

The best way to ensure a proper fit is to buy boots in the afternoon; the feet swell during the day. Also buy the shoe that fits your larger foot — everyone has one foot that is slightly larger than the other. Also make sure that your ankles and arches get the support they need to rough it on the trail.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Ouch! Don’t let your boots rub you the wrong way.

Additionally, some problems, like blisters on the heels, which are caused by too much room in the heel area, need to be addressed by other means. Thicker socks usually solve this problem. When you’re buying your boots, make sure not to skip out on a few new pairs of socks.  It is smart as well to try your boots on with the type of socks you expect to be hiking in.  Don’t try them on with normal cotton socks (which are a terrible idea for hiking anyway) if you are going to be walking in thick hiking socks.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Avoid painful blisters by choosing an outdoor boot with the right fit.

What Terrain Are You Likely To Face?

Not all boots are created equal, and actually, that’s okay. The type of terrain you are going to be traversing when bugging out or hiking should determine what boot you buy (after you consider fit). In other words, if your whole goal is to take a bunch of day hikes on well-defined trails, then hiking shoes will do you just fine.  

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Hiking shoes are a lightweight option for day hikes.

Hiking and Backpacking boots, on the other hand, count as the big daddy (most of the time) of the boot world. Don these boots when your hiking goals include heavy packs and long treks through the woods or mountains over the course of several days.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
For longer treks into the wilderness with a heavy pack, you will appreciate the extra support and durability of hiking boots.

Special Boots, Material Types, And Other Considerations

Time to get more specific. You’ve taken the first steps you need to in order to find the right boot for you. The previous two steps in this guide outlined your initial goals and helped you narrow your focus. Additionally, some conditions, like extreme or alpine hiking, require an even heartier boot than a backpacking boot. The best boot for this occasion is usually a mountaineering boot.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Choose an outdoor boot suited to the terrain you are most likely to encounter.

You should also think about the materials that your boots are made from. Full-grain leather boots offer you the best protection in wet conditions and count as a must for extended trips. Other leathers like nubuck leather or split-grain leather offer benefits — in the latter case, a cost savings.

However, each has some drawbacks. Nubuck requires a good deal of breaking in time, whereas the split-grain leather will resist water to a point. As well, you need to make sure that any boot you buy, whether it’s synthetic or leather, allows for breathability.

Getting Laced Up

The laces of your boots are an important component that are often overlooked.  They are essential to keeping your boots on in rough or swampy terrain and help ensure a good fit.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Opt for strong durable laces that won’t fray, such as paracord.

If you end up with a pair of boots that have poor quality laces you will want to replace them ASAP.  Paracord can be a good option for this as it is inexpensive, strong, and rot-resistant.  

If you want an even better option you can upgrade your boot laces to Fire Laces. These are high quality laces that are made of 550-pound paracord and integrate hidden fire starting Ferro rods into the lace tips.  It is a smart way to eliminate the problem of leaving your fire starting kit at home when hiking, camping, or bugging out.  You can learn more about Fire Laces by clicking here now.

outdoor boot outdoor boots

Breaking Your Boots In

Even the best boots will tear up your feet if you don’t break them in properly. The best way to start breaking in your boots is by wearing them around the house for short periods of time. When you do this, act as if you’re getting ready to head outside, meaning wear the socks you’ll wear for your hikes, lace them up properly, and walk around. They’ll feel stiff in the beginning, but eventually, the materials will relax to the shape of your foot.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Don’t dive right into adventure with a new pair of boots! Be sure to break them in slowly.

That’s the time then to go out for shorter treks around town. If you need to stop for milk or go to the post office, put them on. These short distances give you the chance to notice any discomfort and spots that don’t fit right. And finally, don’t be duped into trying a quick fix. Heavier boots require a longer break-in time. You may be taking short walks for several weeks until your shoes and feet can handle the trail comfortably. Don’t skimp on this process.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Short excursions will help to shape new boots for the optimal fit.

Taking Care Of Your Outdoor Boots

Boot care is a constant process, meaning that starting from when your hike ends until you hit the road again, you should do something to care for your boots. Start with something simple. Read what the manufacturer has to say about the best way to care for your particular boot. That should act as your guide above all else.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Different materials require different care. Read up on the manufacturer’s guidelines to keep your outdoor boots in great shape.

That said, outdoor boots last longer with a bit of waterproofing. You can find this usually in the can and just spray it on before using your boots. After that, ensure that your boots stay snug; shoelaces should be intact and not frayed. Eyelets should still have their protectors if they came with them.

Basically, you need to check for anything that might fall apart on the trail. If you can fix it yourself, do so. Otherwise, a trip to the shoe-repair shop is in order before you head out on the terrain.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
A small problem can grow quickly so check your boots thoroughly before heading out.

Finally, make sure that you clean your outdoor boots after each trek outside. Get the grit and grime out of the soles. Remove inserts to allow for extra breathing and to aid in the drying-out process.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Cleaning the soles after every use can help prevent cracking.

If your boots have gotten wet during your excursion put them someplace to dry for at least 24 hours. More is better. And remember that your boots don’t like extremes in heat or cold. No putting them outside in sub-zero temperatures or allowing them to dry in the sun. This eventually breaks them down.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
The sun’s UV rays deteriorate your outdoor boots so set them to dry in the shade.

Conclusion

Although all of these steps represent the best practices when it comes to buying your outdoor boot, the truth remains that there may not be a very best option, only the best option for you. Therefore, these guidelines are just that. Guidelines. That’s why boot-buying is a process. The best way to find the right outdoor boot for you is to take your time and shop around. Further, the best pair of boots quickly become a pain without the proper care and breaking-in period. In short, go through all the steps for the best chance of success with your new boots.

Your Thoughts

Do you have any boot care tips or buying advice? Have you owned a pair of awesome outdoor boots? Tell us about them in the Comments section below, thanks!

About the Author

Alex Park runs AuthorizedBoots.com. He and his team of writers offer unique perspectives from their experience in the wilderness. Alex appreciates quality brands of durable boots that are specialized for different objectives, and his goal is to help you quickly identify the differentiators of each boot. Alex’s mission is to express his passion for quality tactical gear in the form of tips, reviews, updates and news.

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