Winter Survival Tips

survive in winter conditions

SHTF situation can arrive anytime, and being prepared is your only option to survive that situation.

These situations can go out of hand in cold, extreme winters. Having a plan and knowing what to do will save you from panicking and worrying.

Most preppers have a different plan for surviving winters because of nature’s harsh conditions. It might be the best season for hibernating animals, but we humans cannot do that.

We have to use all of our strength and wits to stay alive and warm in winter. During any harsh situation, you might have two options in front of you first to bug in and the other to bug out.

It is essential to differentiate and access your current SHTF situation and plan whether to bug out or bug in. This article will go across both scenarios and provide you information that might help you in whichever case.

Bugging out is an ideal option for people who feel their current living situation is dangerous and unlivable. People can bug out for various reasons, be it a natural calamity, virus outbreak, riots, etc.

Since you will be leaving your home base, try to carry as much as possible to help you and your family survive.


Subaru STI in Winter

If you decide on taking a vehicle to travel, keep it ready.

We would suggest you find something more robust and durable than your regular Subaru.

Check the tires and always keep good sturdy tires as spares. Snow chains can be another viable option. Carry extra fuel and always take a well-maintained car.

SHTF situations do not let you take breaks to find a mechanic. Keep some kitty litter or snowmelt to unfreeze your jammed vehicle. If you have space on your vehicle, carry a chainsaw to clear off roads.

Prepare your vehicle to survive the toughest of snow and temperature.

Bug-out Bag

Bug Out Bag

Your bug-out bag is the essential part that can help you survive.

A vehicle may or may not stay with you, or you don’t plan to take it, but a bug-out bag is essential. You cannot skip over this step. What you carry will save you, so pack accordingly.

Few things to carry are:

  • A Bivvy bag; this works as a cover on top of your sleeping bag and provides an extra layer of warmth. Buy an expensive one so you can reuse it.
  • Your clothes need to be winterproof. Always carry two heavy wool jackets as they can provide adequate warmth. A good layer of body warmer is a must, along with thick woolen or leather jackets and pants. It will help if you have packed extra socks and gloves for an emergency.
  • Your shoes should be two sizes big this will help you when you wish to wear extra layers of socks. Moisture-repellent gloves can be handy. Pack good snow goggles as the sun and white snow can be blinding. Woolen headgear is essential to keep your head warm; beanies and bomber hats should be in your bag.
  • For food, high-quality LRP and MRE packs would come in handy, so pack several boxes of that. Your body will need 5000 calories minimum, but always have a goal of 10000 calories to stay healthy and fit. Try to keep granola bars, dried fruits for extra calories. Stew, one-pot meals, dutch oven meals will keep your body and soul warm as they are comfort food.
  • You will need a stove and fuel to warm yourself in your tent, cook food and boil water. Without a stove, it would not be easy to carry out these tasks. BioLite is an excellent option that you can think of purchasing. Carry silverware to eat and a multipurpose pot for cooking or boiling water.
  • An insulated water bottle will save you a lot of time as you will have water handy at all times. This is perfect for a warm beverage too.
  • You should add mylar blankets or space blankets to your bag. These blankets are compact and thin but would provide excellent heating. They are good at keeping body heat trapped inside the body. They are pretty inexpensive, so stocking them is not a bad option.
  • A folding saw, an axe, shovel, and a Swiss knife are essential and should be carried without a second thought. An axe will help you to chop wood for burning. These mighty tools will help you in various ways, so don’t skip on these.
  • Other necessary items: You should keep a flashlight, duct tape, paracord, map, sanitization supplies, fire starters, signaling equipment, and first aid kit.

Shelter Considerations

A Line Shelter

Try investing in a four-season tent, most tents are three-season, and they won’t be useful in such harsh conditions.

Always buy a tent with arrangements for a camp stove as it will make your survival ten times easy. If you don’t possess a tent or it gets destroyed, your next move should be to prepare your shelter with wood and boughs.

You can build a simple A-line shelter or lean-on shelter and cover the inside with a Mylar blanket.

Sheltering is essential and if you are using your energy to build one, make sure to build an excellent safe shelter to protect you from winter elements and animals.

Maintaining Constant Heart Rate

Constant Heart Rate

Extreme cold temperatures can reduce the body’s temperature, lower the heart rate and ultimately slow down the blood flow.

This situation can lead to hypothermia- which should never be taken lightly. Try working out as much as you can to maintain your heart rate. Jumping jacks and high knee running will generate heat in your body.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to sweat – it can make you wet. Achieve the right balance between warming up and not sweating.

Building A Fire In The Cold

Fire is the most crucial element you need to keep yourself warm and boil the water. It also makes you cozy and provides comfort in the harsh winter.

You should bring a Bic lighter, fire starting stick, fire laces, or a tesla lighter with you. They should be in your bug-in bag. Here is a simple way to light a fire, and remember some tips:

  • Find dry wood that you can use for fire. Never chop a live tree as it will be wet, and avoid digging underneath the snow. Look for twigs and branches on top of the snow barely hanging off the tree.
  • Break the wood apart and gather the inner splinters. These splinters can be used as a kindling to start the fire.
  • Keeping the fire alive is important; keep feeding the fire as and when needed.

Pay Attention To Illnesses

Pay Attention

There are three most dangerous illnesses that you should pay attention to – frostbite, hypothermia, hypoglycemia.

  • Frostbite starts when water molecules in the cells freeze. It will freeze the body part and cause irreversible nerve and muscular damage. In -5֯ F, frostbite can happen under thirty minutes if any part is exposed. Frostnip is the first sign of frostbite; if that happens, rewarm the area and keep it warm and packed.
  • When the core body temperature starts dropping to 95֯ F, hypothermia starts to occur. Once that happens, your body’s internal organs begin to shut down. It is difficult to understand when you are entering hypothermia as the symptoms keep changing and gradually your condition worsens. Mild hypothermia can bring slight disorientation, shivers, and lack of coordination. Keep yourself warm and never get wet. Skin-to-skin contact can be fruitful if you are not alone. Monitor your heartbeats and avoid walking on thin ice.
  • Hypoglycemia occurs when the body’s energy gets depleted. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include mental confusion and cardiac arrhythmia. Eating and staying fuelled is the best way to avoid hypoglycemia. Eat simple granola bars, nut butter, and dark chocolate to keep up with the calorie depletion.


Leghold Trap

Use a snare trap to catch your hunt. Traps are simple and effective. You will surely save your time and energy with this method than a regular hunting trip.

Learn ice fishing as your body needs protein. Look out for berries but be sure to see if they are poisonous or not. If you couldn’t find any animals, you can eat cambium. It is the inner lining between the wood and the bark.

The taste is repulsive, but it will give you the necessary nutrients.


  • Eat before you sleep; this will increase your body’s temperature as the food gets digested.
  • Avoid cotton clothing at all times. Once cotton gets wet, there is no way of drying it back.
  • If you are stranded, use reflective blankets, signal flares, fire, and smoke to let the rescuers know that you are stuck there.
  • Do not panic, and try to think before taking any hasty steps. Your life is precious, so think before you act.

If you feel bugging in is safer than venturing out, then, by all means, stay inside. Winters can cause long power cuts, and you should be prepared for that.

If there is a virus outbreak or pandemic, it is fair to stay inside and safe. Consider following these tips to survive in winters during SHTF situations:

Buy Propane Heaters

Portable Propane Heater

Buy propane heaters if you don’t have a fireplace. Propane is safe for home and usually lasts long. You need to keep extra refills to be overly prepared.

If you have a fireplace, add a lot of firewood in stock so that you can stay warm even if the electricity goes. Pack a big bag of soil, wood, and hay in a garbage bag and put it on the house’s outer corner.

It will provide extra insulation throughout the house. Windows can be the leading cause of heat loss, so use bubble wrap to wrap the windows with heavy-duty duct tape.


Put screws in your heavy-duty shoes in the event of going out somewhere on foot. Drilling screws can provide good traction, and you won’t slip.

If you want to keep your feet toasty and warm, put wool inserts in your shoes for some extra warmth.


Wear several layers of clothes to keep the heat intact. Always cover yourself as much as possible.


It is possible that even after covering your body, some parts might be exposed. If that part is necessary to be exposed, use Vaseline or baby oil to stop the freezing cells.


Emergency Survival Food

Store food as much as you can. Try to stockpile cans and dry ingredients that stay for months. Freeze drying vegetables and fruits is another good option to eat vegetables in those long months.

Ration your food and eat what is necessary. Store some extra food for festivals so you can have a decent Christmas and thanksgiving dinner. This will keep everyone’s spirit high.


When you are bugging in, you must know what is happening worldwide. Always try to watch the news. If the electricity is down, use the radio to get your information. Staying up to date is very mandatory.


Secure House

Your main job is to stay safe so protect your property and house. You should put a ‘beware of the dog’ poster even if you don’t have one.

If you are in a dangerous place, try to make your house look less noticeable. Hazardous bags should be kept outside the door to deter thieves and people from coming into the house.

If you have a security system, use it and keep checking every once in a while.

Bare Essentials

  • Try to be frugal, save energy- money-food as much as you can. Try to reuse items to get their full value.
  • Save water in the tub or in huge buckets that you can use when the electricity goes out.
  • Make one room the warmest by staying in that room and insulating it from the inside. Keep everyone’s spirit up.

That’s it for this article; we tried to include all the necessary and critical things to remember while surviving a winter.

If you decide to bug in or bug out, follow these tips to survive the winter.

Remember, it is not easy to survive, so be prepared for the worst thing to happen for you to survive.


Greg - Prepping Insider

Hey, I'm a prepping enthusiast. Prepping for me is simply something of a passion. I have personally lived in many different rural properties that have given me a wealth of knoweldge and experience in practically living out survival and preparation situations. It’s not about getting the latest survival gadgets or buckets of food as its more of a lifestyle.

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