The following article has been contributed by Rob Toledo, an avid outdoorsman and prepper in the Pacific Northwest. It has been published with permission of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of PreppingToSurvive.com.
Let’s pretend for a second…
You’re in the Pacific Northwest of North America on a winter day, dropped off into the middle of the Cascade Mountains. All you are told is that you have a beacon on you that will allow for location/rescue in 48 hours. Given only a day backpack that you are allowed to pick equipment for, what do you decide to bring in order to ensure survival?
First you need to know what to expect. You may have camped out in extreme cold in the past. At some point you may have braved heavy rain. But any survivalist knows that if you put cold and wet together it’s a killer combo.
Much of the Pacific Northwest wilderness is Alpine climate. You’ll be at high altitude with temperatures below freezing and a strong chance of rain or snow. And because you’re in the highlands you’ll be exposed to fierce winds. The key to survival under these conditions is to keep dry, and as warm as possible. The best way to do this is to have the right kit.
All the usual things are necessary – food, water (and filter), thermal clothes, waterproof outerwear, a light-weight tarp, firelighters and matches. Here are a few more items you should place heavy priority on as well:
1 – First Aid Kit — The Red Cross has put together a great guide breaking down the anatomy of a complete first aid kit. This almost requires no explanation, as a small injury quickly escalates in risk when you are in the elements.
2 – Hiking Boots — It’s vital to keep your feet warm and dry. Frost bite from the cold or blisters from the wet will mean you’re stranded and reliant on rescue. Bring plenty of wool (or poly) socks, as keeping your feet dry is one of the most important aspects of a climate such as this.
3 – Polarized Sunglasses. Your vision is just as much at risk during the day as you can lose sight through snow-blindness. A tip if you’re in the snow without sunglasses is to streak charcoal or dirt across the skin under each eye to reduce glare.
4 – Flashlights — This is your eyes at night. Whatever other survival training you have, if you can’t see you can’t put it into action. Don’t forget extra batteries kept in a dry bag, as well as a backup.
Now with the proper gear, you can focus on keeping warm by building a shelter. If there are any trees in the area then a lean-to is the easiest and most efficient option and can be constructed with branches or small trees. The holes left by large fallen trees will also provide a windbreak, as will the root-ball of the tree. And lighting a fire not only provides heat, it raises the spirits. The sap from pine makes a great fire starter as long as you’ve got the matches.
If you’re in open snow then digging yourself a snow hole is vital. It’s surprising how effective they are as shelters as they keep warmth surprisingly well. And find something to lie on that keeps you off the snow – it’s not the cold that’s your enemy here, it’s the wet.
So remember, when it comes to surviving a night out in the Pacific Northwest keep dry, and as warm as you can. It’s how you stay alive.