Stack on the Layers
Clothing is your first line of defense against the environment and extreme weather conditions. It is important that you wear thermal and insulated clothing during your time outdoors, especially in the winter when temperatures can drop to drastic levels at night.
You can stack on as many as three layers: a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. Your base layer must be made of wicking fabric that draws sweat away from the body. Wool repels water and is also an excellent insulator, which makes it an ideal base layer, along with polyester and other synthetic fabrics. You can have a down or fleece jacket as a mid-layer and a heavier, insulated jacket as an outer layer.
You should also protect your extremities—in severely cold weather, they’re the ones most likely to get hit by frostbite and you definitely don’t want to lose an arm or leg to the cold. Mittens conserve heat better than gloves by keeping your fingers together. To keep your feet warm, check out the video above. It shows a cheap and easy trick on how to insulate your boots for the colder months.
Choose Your Location Well
Strategically choosing your location can help you keep warm during your long night outdoors. Nature actually provides survival shelters, if you just know where to look. Caves are considered a jackpot in this category, but you can also use the area around rock overhangs, fallen trees, or even low-lying pines as your shelter location. These are well-protected and relatively dry, which means they’re good places to set up camp and build a fire.
Keep The Heat From Escaping
Insulation is key in keeping warm outdoors. These days, you can find insulated tents that can keep you warm and toasty even in the winter. You can also use something as simple as an aluminum car visor to insulate your tent. It keeps the heat from escaping by reflecting it back to your body instead of losing it to the environment.
Avoid starting the heating process over and over by staying organized. Keeping your things all in one place means you’ll keep the heat from escaping your tent or shelter, too.
Build A Self-Feeding Fire
Keep yourself warm all night long by building a self-feeding fire. This type of campfire can sustain itself and will burn all night without you having to tend to it. A self-feeding fire works by setting the biggest pieces of firewood at the bottom and gradually stacking it with smaller pieces of fuel on top. A small teepee fire structure is lit on top, and it gradually burns down your fuel stack. There are many varieties of how to make a self-feeding fire. The video above shows how to build a V-shaped fire structure that can last up to 14 hours.
Stock on Hot Beverage and Energy-Rich Food
Hot food and drink will keep you warm from the inside out. It’s a long-held belief that alcohol can keep you warm. It’s true—but only for short periods. In the long run, alcohol actually lowers your core body temperature and even reduces your body’s ability to shiver. You might be better off with some hot chocolate or soup instead.
Some food is great at increasing metabolism and generating heat. Thermogenic food like lean meat, chestnuts, and ginger can keep your body warm even when outdoors.
In the past, people had to use heated rocks wrapped in cloth to keep warm during the winter. You can use the same principle by placing your hot water bottles inside your sleeping bag to warm it. That way you won’t have to shiver through the night because of a freezing sleeping bag. You can also make your own heating pads using a sock and some rice.