Winter Survival

People who engage in winter sports often find themselves having to deal with winter survival issues.

Winter survival techniques that may work in one region of the world may not work in others.

In Caleb Musgraves’ article, “The Realities of Winter Living” he talks about the best ways to survive in the wilderness if one is going to be out in the northern Boreal forests of Ontario, Canada. In this article he goes over the types of fabrics you want to be wearing in the dead of winter.

Cotton fabrics should be avoided all together. One would think of cotton as a natural choice for undergarments because of its breathability.  The problem is that once cotton gets wet 90% of it’s ability to insulate is lost. Wool is the fabric that you want.  It’s ability to insulate you even when wet is unequaled by all other fabrics.

Eye-ware, footwear, and skin protectant, are all important issues to address as well.

For people who engage in winter sports this article is a must read. Here’s more of this informative article:


“Travelling for firewood, food, supplies or other things in snow that is powder or loosely packed is difficult. The foot just seems to break right through. This can slowly but surely exhaust the woods wanderer and overtime saturate the feet with melted snow.  Skis are often used in Europe and much of Northern North America by descendants of Europeans. However, the thick woods of the Boreal are often too dense to easily trek through wearing cross-country skis. On the other hand, a well made pair of snowshoes are invaluable in the Ontario north.  The Snowshoes distribute the weight of the wearer to lessen the depth of snow they have to walk through. After a few hours using snowshoes, new timers will often feel sore in the thighs, hips and knees. However after a few days on the trail, snowshoeing becomes as natural as a leisurely stroll.

For such a region, there are several designs that are better than others. The classic Beavertail snowshoe, though good, is not best.  Bearpaw, Ottertrail, and Ojibwa snowshoe designs are far superior. The absolute best is the modified or “elongated” Bearpaw Snowhoe. This design is superior due to the length (allowing better strides and weight distribution) , the rounded heel and toe (making it manoeuvrable in the dense woods) and all around lightness. The design is so well thought of, that the majority of “modern” snowshoes, made from carbon fibre, Kevlar, aluminum, titanium and other contemporary materials use the Elongated  Bearpaw snowshoe. Now of course this is mostly an opinion that can be argued by anyone who uses another type of snowshoe. However each snowshoe has been designed for a specific region, and the three mentioned (Bearpaw, Ottertrail, Ojibwa) are ones that suit the Ontario Boreal forest perfectly. Experimentation with different models is the key to perfecting the right snowshoe for the right climate and terrain.”

Caleb goes on to write:

“The Inuit people carved (and still do carve) antler, bone and ivory goggles to combat(“snow blindness”). These are made by shaping the material to the shape of the head, to fit comfortably over the eyes. Narrow slits are cut horizontally where the eyes are, and the insides are either painted or charred black. This cuts down on a great deal of UV light, the snow goggles acting like squinted eyelids, and the blackened insides absorbing the light rather than allowing it to remain bright. A pair can be made in under two hours with a light piece of wood such as cedar, poplar or basswood. The Inuit snow goggle must fit snugly to the face if they are to work properly. Therefore it is best to make them rather than buy them, to make sure they fit perfectly.”   By Caleb Musgrave

I really enjoyed this article on Winter Survival.  Especially the information on snowshoe design and construction.  Be sure to check this article out to learn more about hydration and skin protection in extreme winter environments.  Click this link HERE to read the original article.


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