Part 1 of this series is about getting outdoors in the summer heat.
Why get outside in the bitter cold?
If you are cooped up inside for too long inside you can become depressed, sad, or grumpy. Some people call it ‘cabin fever”.
You might feel an urge to get out, to keep you fit, to embrace what life offers, to explore, or to just capture what you need to.
You might love what cold environments offer.
How to arm yourself for outdoors in the cold
Before you venture outdoors, it helps to have the proper apparel and gear, and the right knowledge of survival skills if you are venturing far afield. And, to be prepared for extremes in outdoor conditions.
♦1. First…Check Wind Chill
Frostbite can cause permanent damage to your nerves or even loss of limbs in severe cases, and you don’t want to that!
You want to avoid hypothermia — a real danger when you become cold and wet.
For these reasons, be conscious of the fact that the effect of temperature on your body is worsened by ambient wind and moisture conditions. This is important if you expect extreme cold weather where you are or where you are intending to go.
So here’s what you do…
✓ Check local conditions of your venture site for wind speed and temperature.
✓ Use a wind chill chart (see image) to estimate and avoid exposure to extreme cold weather.
✓ Know that frostbite can occur at wind chills of −18 F (- 28 C) with skin exposed for 30 minutes or less.
✓ Make sure you have the right cold weather gear, including suitable survival clothing and knowledge of first aid supplies to avoid frostbite where needed.
Wanting to convert to celsius? Then use this conversion tool.
Want to convert to km/h? Then use this conversion tool.
♦2. Get warmed up before you leave
Before you venture out in the cold…Make sure to warm up. This will reduce the likelihood of injury.
- Try a 5 to 10-minute exercise.
- Have a warm shower or a hot drink.
Think emergency preparedness! Do you have the essential survival tools you need?
If going to high altitude regions, you will need to acclimatize first. So, your preparedness may need planning for this.
♦3. Pick your timing of getting outdoors
Similar to when it’s unbearably hot, time your outdoor winter activities to take advantage of milder conditions. The middle of the day might be the best time for moving outdoors.
So, if the wind chill or temperatures look like falling and sub-zero weather prevailing, you are best planning to stay indoors.
♦4. Get the essential gear
Snow regions are great for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking in the snow, and mountain biking on packed snow. (Always do prior research on selected areas for any safety concerns).
For snowy regions and cold weather camping: If you are keen on snow camping, make sure you have the right gear. Cold weather tents and extreme cold weather sleeping bags are essential survival gear when you are camping in the cold.
Your body temperature drops when you sleep and the coldness at night time is often more extreme. For this reason, extreme cold weather clothing is also important.
It is best to do your research about the area you’ve chosen for your winter camping before venturing out.
♦5. Have extra warmth on hand
A flask of warm soup is always great for warming your body, mind, and spirit.
Have a vacuum insulated flask with soup or a warm drink with you. Click here to find the best and latest prices of vacuum flasks.
Extra cold weather clothing for keeping warm during extreme cold stints is also a plus.
♦6. One of the key survival essentials… stay hydrated!
Have plenty of water on hand. Add electrolytes for extra sustenance. Drink often or at least when you feel thirsty – listen to your body.
As always, have water bottles (BPA free), like these, and consider a Camelbak type hydration pack to carry fluids to keep you hydrated for the long haul. Click here to see the range and prices on Camelbaks.
♦7. Emergency food for energy
Include snacks that contain carbs and electrolytes (esp. potassium and sodium) in your kit. You might want to consider packing survival food in an emergency preparedness kit if your outing takes you far from home or where conditions are unpredictable.
♦8. Dress in layers
How to dress for cold weather comfort? Dress in layers.
Layers can be taken off or added to adjust for body heat and exertion.
The base layer is meant to keep you dry (to draw perspiration away from the body). A fleecy warm mid-layer is for insulation and an outer layer for protection from the wind or moisture.
Standard cotton is not the best. You need moisture-wicking material especially with underwear, like these, to help reduce chilling from perspiration.
Make sure to protect extremities, like hands, feet, ears, and nose. Thermals, and head, hand, and footwear help prevent loss of body heat and frostbite to your body extremities.
Make sure your shoe size allows for thick thermal socks or double layer socks.
As well, make sure they have proper traction, especially for icy or snowy conditions. Traction cleats will help you avoid injury from slipping in icy conditions.Click here to check out the best types and the latest prices.
Jackets, like these, help protect you from the freezing cold and chilly winds. A good scarf is always handy.
Shoes, jackets, fleece wear for insulation, backpacks, and other apparel should be selected to suit your activity.
♦9. UV protection
Apply, and reapply, UV protection with the highest SPF.
Wear shades. Sunburn and eye damage are still possible in winter and reflection from snow will increase the effect.
Sunglasses/shades and natural UVA and UVB protection, see the best range here, are essential to avoid sunburn from UV reflection and damage to skin and eyes.
♦10. Have a checklist of things to take and do in preparedness
Have an outdoor winter kit checklist that you can tick off.
This is about planning and basic survival.
Other ways for all-year-round connection with nature
It’s great to get outdoors to connect with nature. But, it’s not always possible. I realize this might be the case for many, for various reasons.
For me, I have potted plants on the patio where they get enough sunshine to grow. As well, our garden surrounding our house is designed for native birds and lizards to hang out. And, I love watching them. Across the road, we have a natural setting with tall blue gums (Eucalypts) and plenty of shenanigans with predator birds and parrots.
In fact, a couple of Olive-backed Sunbirds have built their hanging nest right outside one of our windows — imagine that!
Also, I usually get out into the garden early morning and afternoons. And, at night we’ll watch the night sky from our patio. These are just some of the ways I connect with nature at home, all year round.
For more ideas, Sandi Schwartz talks about various ways to bring nature inside.
Here’s the deal…
Connecting with nature is about appreciating the living world around you, learning from it, and being a part of its healing energy.
It’s not entirely necessary to go outdoors.
But, adding outdoor recreation and fitness activities, while you connect with nature has greater benefits.
So, for getting outdoors into nature, all-year-round:
- #Have a checklist of what to take or do, and refer to it to ensure you’re armed for the occasion
- #Dress for the occasion and the conditions
- #Protect exposed areas of your body from the elements
- #Adjust the level of your physical exertion according to your fitness and the elements
- #Choose an activity to match the overarching conditions
- #Select an optimal location for the event
- #Pick the best time of day for the outdoor activity, e.g. when conditions are mild
- #Keep vigilant about possible worsening conditions
- #Listen to your body. As always advised, it’s best to consult your physician before taking on any exercise regime
- #Always let someone know of your planned activity when you are heading outdoors in unusual conditions
As part of an emergency preparedness kit, you should notify someone of you likely whereabouts. Here’s a downloadable form to fill out before your trip to allow people to find you if something goes wrong: Planned Itinerary Notification form. This is a basic survival must-do.
For the comfort and to optimize your experience during the icy weather, consider the purchasing suitable cold weather gear and apparel.
For women adventurers, Camping for Women has some genuinely helpful resources.
Recommended optional necessities
You don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate nature. There’s plenty of affordable gear, for anyone, beginners included, to get a deeper connection with the wild.
Here are just three that should enhance your experience…
For a close up of creatures in nature, get hold of a high powered monocular like this one.
Do you have a personal preference for outings or perhaps a favorite piece of outdoor gear?
It might help others if you share it in the comments.
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For women campers: Survival and Preparation Tips.
For kids, inspiration for outdoor play and adventure regardless of weather: rainorshinemamma.com
Follow a big adventure: thebigoutside.com