Packing Your Bug Out Bag for Winter Survival

Building a bug out bag for winter survival is something we need to think about well in advanced. Going on a camping trip during winter is a lot more enjoyable when there’s nothing to worry about. Without the right preparation, we could fall ill or get hypothermia.

A badly or hastily put together winter survival bug out bag can be a death sentence. If we don’t have what we need – insulation from the heat, food, and shelter, we won’t be able to survive during winter.
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Why should we prepare a bug out bag for winter?

Should SHTF, having the right equipment can make all the difference when it comes to surviving. Winter presents some unique challenges we need to consider ahead of time.

Getting cold and wet is an easy way for people to fall sick. And in winter, there are plenty of opportunities to experience just that. When we’re building your winter survival bag, we need to take into account everything from the clothes we pack, to the water and food arrangements we make.
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Unlike any of the other seasons, being out in the cold for an extended period of time is by itself dangerous. That’s why we need to assess what could potentially happen, and pack essential gear that will get us out of any SHTF scenario.

What should the winter bug out bag contain?

When building a bug out bag geared towards winter survival, we need to pack three sets of essential equipment. These include the right clothes, the right shelter equipment, as well as items that aid in daily survival.

Clothes for Winter

The right clothes go a long way in keeping people safe during winter. When the body loses too much heat, we run the risk of catching hypothermia. Most people can survive in extremely cold winter conditions no more than three hours. Within this time, even if we catch hypothermia, it’ll be difficult to tell during the initial stages.

Hypothermia however, can be avoided with the right selection of clothes. Cotton is a material we should steer clear from. The reason behind this is that is cotton gets wet, it loses its ability to retain heat. In the winter cold, the last thing we need is for our body to actively lose heat.

We can fix this problem by choosing woolen clothes instead. Wool retains heat, even when it’s wet. All of the clothes we pack into our bug out bag should be in numbers of three. That means three pairs of socks, three sets of base layers, and more.

Layering is essential for winter. Three layers of clothes go into creating the perfect winter survival outfit. The base layer keeps us warm, the middle layer adds more insulation to the body, and the outer layer repels the weather and elements.

  • Thermal Inner Wear: This is a necessary part of the winter survival bag. We need to make sure that we feel warm at all times, and woolen or thermal base layers is the first step in accomplishing that.
  • Warm Sweaters: Use these as the middle layer to add more heat and comfort.
  • Sturdy Jacket: A good jacket is essential if we want to survive outside during winter. The jacket should keep us safe from the cold, as well as the wind. The winter jacket should also be waterproof.
  • Gloves and Mittens: Carrying both gloves and mittens is a good idea. Together, they keep our hands warm better, but there is another reason. We need to be able to use our hands in the cold. Mittens can keep our hands warm, but they make it difficult to use our hands. Selecting gloves that let us perform tasks such as using the phone or cooking solves this problem. Add mittens on to the gloves for even more protection against the cold.
  • Headgear: People lose a lot of heat from their heads, so we need to keep this area covered at all times. Woolen caps or beanies, together with earmuffs can keep us warm.
  • Ski Mask or Baklava: Keeping the face covered is as necessary as the head. This piece of clothing should ideally cover everything except the eyes.
  • Snow Goggles: To protect the eyes against the harsh glare of the Sun on the snow.
  • Thermal Socks: At least three or four pairs.
  • Winter Boots: Lastly, we need the strong and well insulated boots that can help us tread through any terrain. Mud boots are a great choice against both the snow, as well as muddy terrain.

When packing clothes into our bug out bag, we should place them in a way where we can easily grab hold of a piece of clothing if we need it for additional heat. Keeping at least one sweater in an accessible area helps us find additional warmth without having to dig through the bag.

Camping and Survival Gear

Aside from clothes, we also need to provide for shelter. These are the essential camping equipment every bug out bag should contain.

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  • A Waterproof Tent: This is important if we are going to be sleeping outside in the cold.
  • Bivy Sack: Another option is a bivy sack, which is like a cover we can slip on to our sleeping bag. This is more lightweight than a tent and easier to carry.
  • Sleeping Bags: These should be waterproof, of good quality, and with heat insulation properties.
  • Thermal Blankets: These are both necessary in case there in an emergency, as well as to add more heat while we’re sleeping at night.
  • Swiss Army Knife: Wide variet of used, including in self defense.
  • Small Hatchet and Shovel: The hatchet helps us chop wood to make a fire, and the shovel is necessary to remove snow around the camping area.
  • Parachords: Wide variety of winter survival uses, such as tying equipment to to the bug out bag, or or while building the tent.
  • Flares or other Signals: If we get lost during winter, we need to ensure we are found as soon as possible. Without this, we risk dying in the cold. A flare or other signalling device can help people find us in case our phones don’t have signal or have run out of charge.
  • Lights with Extra Batteries: Headlamps, flashlights, emergency lights – these are necessary camping equipment that should also be in our winter bug out bags.

These items will help us build shelter in the cold, and stay warm outside. But there is more to winter survival than just warmth and shelter.

Food, Water and Communication

We need food and water to survive, and we can’t depend on the great outdoors to supply us with what we need during the barren winter months.

That’s why we need to prepare in advance. Communication devices are also important for bug out bags, especially as modern technology can mess up. In case our phones aren’t working, we need to add a backup communication device to our bug out bag.

  1. MRE’s or Easy to Cook Meals: The food we carry should both be light on our backs, and nutritious at the same time. MRE’s or Meals Ready to Eat are a great choice is we don’t want to cook, or don’t want to carry a stove or utensils. Dried and preserved food like dried fruits, beef jerky, or canned food make great additions to any winter survival menu. Chocolate and granola bars are other food items you should store in your bug out bag.
  2. A Portable Stove and Utensils: Forks, spoons, bowls and containers are also necessary.
  3. Insulated Water Container: We can use these to store warm room temperature water. Hot tea or coffee are other great ways to use the container.
  4. Compass and a Map: We should know the area we are going to very well. It’s easy to get lost in the snow, especially if there is a storm. A compass will help us find direction, even if we can’t use our phones. Studying the map, or at least knowing how to study it is a necessary skill for any winter survivalist.
  5. Two Person Radio:While we always carry our cell phones, they can fail us on occassions. During winter, this can be a disaster. Packing a two person radio communication device helps us stay in touch with people if our phones fail us.
  6. First Aid Kit

Bug out bags are of different sizes, but winter bug out bags should be bigger than other survival bags. We need to carry more equipment for winter survival, so we should look for a waterproof bug out bag with lots of space.

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