While a TV reality show can set up winter condition survival scenarios and a web site can instruct you on how to build up the ultimate winter survival bug-out kit—let’s be clear—while apocalyptic White Walkers might not get you, being out and exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for too long without suitable protection and provisions will.

The Rule of 3’s 

Mittens vs. Gloves? What is a balaclava? We included more cold-weather survival smarts in our Jan/Feb Issue: “32 Tips to Survive -32.”

The Rule of 3’s, you can survive:

  • three minutes without breathable air or in icy water.
  • three hours in a harsh environment without shelter.
  • three days without drinkable water.
  • three weeks without food (but, that would suck).

And, while we can’t make promises, our belief is that knowledge (and common sense) is a powerful tool in any tribulation. Like someone venturing north of the wall in Game of Thrones, think of your body as a fortress, and the cold as the enemy which can enter and conquer in a myriad of ways. Do you build a moat? The answer, in this case, is no. However staying dry, seeking shelter and dressing in layers is strongly advisable.

LAYER, insulate yourself. 

Leave your cotton hoodie or jeans at home. Freezing temps demand more insulating layers. For ventilation and warmth retention, fabrics made of wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton. Below our cold survival expert, Christian Schauf, owner of Uncharted Supply Co., demonstrates how to layer for optimum insulation.

1st: The base layer.

2nd: Mid-layer jacket.

1st: Base Layer

Always wear a light, long sleeve base layer made of Merino wool or a fabric blend that keeps you warm and dry by wicking away moisture. Tuck things in, gaps between the waist and pants allow valuable heat to escape.

2nd: Mid-Layer

3rd: The Puffy.


Next is a thin mid-layer—either wool, polyester or a blend.

3rd: The Puffy

This zippered jacket with a hood traps in the heat, and you’ll be glad you have it.

4th: Outer Shell Layer

This should also be hooded and large enough to allow additional layers, the outer shell should be both water and wind-resistant and have adjustable openings for ventilation or to shut tight if needed.


If you are wet, try to get out of those wet clothes as soon as possible, an extra pair of clothing, puffy coat, hat, socks in a car could be very valuable. To stay dry, waterproof shoes/boots, wear gators, use tarps or plastic garbage bags. Sweating counts as getting wet, so while heat from excursion is good, sweating is not good as far as the keeping warm game is concerned.


4th: The outer shell layer.

Did you ever hear that like a chimney, heat escapes out of your head more rapidly than anything else? It kinda makes sense, a hat keeps heats from escaping and there isn’t a pad of fat insulating the skull either.

Jack Egan from Stio.com shares, “A fleece hat can make all the difference. Fleece retains most of its heat when it’s wet, it’s super lightweight, quick-drying, and highly breathable.”

Stay warm SLC, and to read all our “In the Magazine” articles, go here.