Winter Survival Checklist for New Preppers
If you find yourself in a winter survival situation, it will save your life to be prepared. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the essential items you’ll need whether it’s preparing for a winter bug out situation or you’re just heading out for a long back country camp.
Ensure you consider the dangers of winter
In a cold environment like Saskatchewan, the primary challenge in winter is staying warm. At -50°C, a common temperature in our climate, hypothermia can set in within just 5-7 minutes. The number-one threat to your survival in the winter is exposure to the elements. Further, your body will try to use calories to try and drive up the temperature of your body, a process called thermogenesis. The number one goal in these survival scenarios, is to ensure you have a constant source of heat, so you don’t burn through your precious calories.
6 essentials for winter survival
1. Good clothing
Base layers: choose fabrics that wick moisture and provide warmth and comfort. We recommend they be tight fitting and made of either Merino wool or high-performance polyester or polypropylene fabrics.
Winter Boots: Not only should you always opt for an excellent winter boot, but you should also buy them one size larger than normal. This allows for the addition of warm layers while preventing vasoconstriction—which causes your feet to be cold due to constricted blood flow caused by too-tight footwear.
Warm outer layer: We recommend a natural fiber such as down, wool, or leather. These materials are both insulating and long lasting. Ensure that your choice is both a windbreaker and waterproof on the outside for extra protection in a number of climates.
Hands: You’ll need a light pair of gloves for tasks which require dexterity, such as sawing wood, hunting, or preparing meat. A thicker and warmer mitten will be better for overall warmth and for doing anything outdoors for a long time, such as hauling your supply sled. Check out our real fur clothing for some warm options.
Axe: An axe will be one of your most important tools, especially in winter. Fuel for fires will be your number one priority. You might find it handy to carry both an extra axe and a smaller hatchet.
Saw: A saw is a great multi-use tool both for wood cutting and processing game meat into smaller pieces. This is also a great tool to have a spare of in the event of it breaking down. Take a look at our selection of silky saws here.
Knife: Good for both self-defense, and for smaller jobs such as sewing, food preparation, hunting, or even for processing smaller animals such as fish, squirrels, and rabbits. Ensure you choose at least one high quality knife and sharpener for your gear bag.
You will need a wood-stove compatible tent, like the NorTent lavvo 4 or Gamme 6, if you are going to be in the woods for any long duration of time. In this kind of survival situation a mountaineering style tent, which is designed more for lightweight weekend trips, will simply not cut it! There are a number of options for shelters and tents, from DIY to heavy and semi-permanent.
DIY: From a large, heavy duty tarp, you can build your own hot tent at a very low cost, like our friend Lonny. It is an excellent thing to know how to do in the event you do not have a hot tent available. The other option is to build a lean to, or other natural structure, with added warmth and strength from mylar blankets.
Lightweight sil-nylon tent: The best part about this material is that it is extremely lightweight (the Seek Outside 4 season tent is only 5lbs for example, see our product review here). These are great nomadic options for all weather conditions.
Heavy Canvas: These durable and semi-permanent structures are really great if you’re heading out for a long period of time, although they come with a bit of extra weight. If you have multiple people and a good sled, you’ll manage just fine with the weight, but if you’re solo camping after a long backpack in, this may not be the best option for you.
4. Wood stove
This is an essential part of your winter camping, or survival arsenal. In order to conserve calories, it is imperative that you have a warm place to rest, especially in unpredictable or inclement weather.
DIY: There are a number of DIY options available, and we recommend checking out this great YouTube channel for more information about making your own wood burning stove.
Titanium: The most expensive option, but well worth it in the weight reduction compared to a similar size wood stove in another material. Titanium stoves also fold down for easy packing.
5. Hunting and fishing:
Ice Fishing: This is a great way to catch your dinner with less effort. You will need a manual auger, tackle, and a rod. The great perk of ice fishing is that you aren’t limited by not having a boat or raft, like in summer.
Bow hunting: There are two main bow styles, and each has pros and cons. A compound bow is more powerful and more accurate, especially for a beginner, but contains a lot of moving parts that could prove unreliable in the long term. A traditional recurve bow is more difficult for a beginner, but it does provide longevity.
Rifle: Whether you’re chasing a whitetail or searching for a moose, you will find it beneficial to have a rifle with you. If you don’t already have your firearm safety course, you can register here! Read here to learn more about the rifle that will suit your needs best.
6. Snow Travel
Sled: A sled is one of those bonuses of winter camping and survival. A good sled makes it easier to traverse long distances without as much sweat as a wagon or single backpack.
Snow Shoes: Your best friend in powder! Don’t expend more energy than you need to, sit on top of the snow and you’ll stay dryer and warmer as well.
We have the knowledge and supplies to keep you warm and safe
Check out our inventory of food, survival gear, and more. We have everything you need to bug out, camp, head into the backcountry, or prepare for an emergency. You can learn much more about winter survival, gear reviews, and more prepper essentials on our Youtube Channel. We have everything you need in order to get out, and survive!