It’s easy to forget when you’re inside with the heat going or watching a roaring fire, but the winter is coming and with it the cold weather. That’s not a problem when you’re inside, though it might make you want to cry every time you see your heating bill.
When it can become a problem is if you have to bug out and your vehicle becomes useless. That might be because it breaks down, the roads get destroyed, you end up in a 50-mile traffic jam during your bugout, or the roads are just unsafe to travel.
That gives you two options: You can give up or you can start walking.
Cold weather can also become a problem even if you shelter in place. If your heat is reliant upon the grid and you don’t have a backup in place… you’re going to need to find innovative ways to stay warm in your home.
Fortunately, if you layer your clothes right you have a much better chance at beating the elements. There’s a science to dressing for the cold weather. That science can mean all the difference between life and death if you have to do a 100-mile bugout walk in the dead of winter.
People sometimes call this the “next to skin” layer. It’s the lowest layer down and you’re going to want something more than just regular underwear.
The best thing to wear for a baselayer is compression fabric. That’s because compression fabric keeps warmth in while wicking moisture away to keep you dry. It’s very important to stay dry when you’re traveling, especially if you’re in the cold. So compression socks, compression pants and a compression top are the best place to start when layering.
A sort of strange tip that’s worth mentioning: A great base layer even below your normal baselayer is pantyhose. Call them “mantyhose” if you must, but having a pair around is going to save wear and tear on your feet and thighs while also providing an additional layer of warmth.
Your baselayer exists to keep you warm, but more than that it’s there to keep you dry. Your midlayer does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping you warm when you’re out in the wild, battling the elements.
Midlayer does this by trapping heat against your body, so you’re obviously going to want something thicker and heavier than your baselayer. Normal clothes are where you’re going to want to land here, but clothes made for colder weather. Flannel shirts are great for the winter months. Anything down, fleece or wool is great, as is synthetic insulation.
Again, this is where the heavy lifting comes in with staying warm, so you want to really be mindful of what you choose to wear here.
The exterior layer is your outerwear and there is one single material that beats all others when it comes to this layer: synthetic down.
Why not regular down you ask?
Well, there’s a simple and very good reason for not using real down for your exterior layer: What if it gets wet? Once natural down gets wet, it tends to not be able to resume its original shape. Synthetic down, on the other hand, doesn’t have this problem while being just as warm as the real thing.
Your exterior layer needs to be waterproof and breathable. Both of these help you to stay dry during the long hike where, at the very least, you’re going to be sweating profusely despite the cold weather.
Head, Feet And Hands
Don’t forget your extremities. It’s somewhat well known that your head is a major conduit for heat loss. So you want to cover that. The best item for this is a ski mask or similar. It will provide the same function as a scarf while also keeping your entire head covered.
Hands should be layered. Fingerless gloves make a good base layer, allowing you to handle objects with your bare hands when you need to. You can keep them covered with heavy mittens when you’re not using them.
As far as your feet, you want some heavy winter boots that also provide great traction. It’s also important that your feet be comfortable, because you’re going to be walking a lot and wounded or sore feet are going to seriously sap your ability to go on long hikes over a period of days.
There’s no easy way to go on a long bugout march. However, having the right clothing, layered the right way, is going to greatly increase your chances of making it to your final destination.
What are some of your favorite “best kept secrets” for keeping warm in a winter wonderland?
Leave a comment below to share some of your favorites.