A Prepper’s Guide to Cold Weather Gear: 10 Must-Haves to Stay Warm in the Harshest of Conditions

ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, this piece is akin to a checklist with a few extra suggestions you can use to prepare for the coming of the cold weather before it arrives.  In past articles, we talked about the necessity of having go/GOOD/Bug-out bags packed seasonally.  Those preps for the seasonal changes are critical and can mean the difference between life and death when the need arises.

Read The Green Beret’s Winter Survival Training Guide for more information on surviving in extreme weather conditions.

A Prepper’s Guide to Cold Weather Gear

Let’s cover some of the important concepts of gearing up for the Fall and winter.

Proper sleeping bag: remember to switch off those lighter summer bags for a winter-weather/extreme cold weather sleeping bag, preferably with a Gore-Tex cover. Don’t forget a good, reliable ground pad to rest on…remembering the importance in preventing conduction (the passage of body heat into the ground, and cold from the ground into the body).

Gore-Tex “Monster”: That’s right! Become the Gore-Tex Monster!  You need a good Gore-Tex top and pants to protect you from the cold and the moisture.  Gore-Tex breathes and it is reliable. They have Gore-Tex jackets too. Just remember not to lean too close to the stove or the fire and melt it. Read more on what to wear in the harshest of environments.

Footgear/Thermals/Socks: All of these are vital to winter weather preparedness. Make sure that you pack heavy socks and have at least one change of each packed in a waterproof bag and stuffed in your pack. Read more about protecting your feet and how important it is.

Foods to pack: Stick with dried and dehydrated stuff, such as jerky, dehydrated vegetables, and fruits. The canned stuff is tough to protect from a freeze.  The dehydrated stuff can be reconstituted easily enough with water.  If you have snow, you have water.  Don’t forget “Vitamin R” …that’s Ramen!  Pasta is great stuff for a base and some carbs.  Load up also on vitamin c and multivitamins in your pack.

ORS: Oral Rehydration Solutions. I wrote a good bit about them in past pieces.  These guys are the next best thing to an IV and you don’t even need a catheter.  Dehydration is a biggie in the cold months…this is because people become cold and they naturally shy away from drinking water.  Remember: thirst is a late sign of dehydration.

Fire starting equipment: waterproof matches, lighters, and material to start it with. Another option is to buy a “fire log” and saw it/cut it down into manageable pieces.  That’s what Firestarter is that you buy from all these “pioneers” such as Coleman for 3 or 4 dollars.  The Fire-log costs you a little more and then supplies you with enough material for 100 of those Coleman packages.

First Aid supplies: remember that things freeze. Not alcohol!  There are your disinfectant pad and any kind of stuff for sanitation.  Also, pack some hand warmers to warm up IV fluids if you ever give one in the fall or winter.  It’ll take away the shock of that cold fluid hitting into your patient.  Also for thawing out water or IV bags if needed. Read more on requirements for cold weather injuries.

For water, if you’re going to be out for extended periods of time, you may wish to empty some of the water out of your canteens for if it freezes to prevent canteens from splitting (although I’ve never seen this with military issue canteens. During the winter months, I carry stainless steel canteens from WWII and fill them up ¾ of the way.  Should it freeze, then I’d just set it on the coals and thaw it out.

Radios: check out your commo gear and make sure your batteries are fresh with spares packed.

Ammo, knives, and weapons: safeguard and make sure (the former) is packed with protection from plastic bags. The latter two: ensure they’re cleaned and coated with a good coating of oil and fully operational.

Prepare all your gear now, while the weather is still fairly warm because you should always plan ahead and take care of things sooner instead of later.  Take the time to do this, because it is an investment in your well-being that could mean the difference in your survival.  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 22nd, 2017
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3 Responses to A Prepper’s Guide to Cold Weather Gear: 10 Must-Haves to Stay Warm in the Harshest of Conditions

  1. randy wellman says:

    EXCELLENT article, JJ…here’s some of what I have in my vehicles

    boy scout manual
    jogging stroller…will carry a hundred pounds, if you get the right one…yardsales!
    topographic and detailed maps of your area
    blisters will end your walk quickly….moleskin will be important to have
    I keep fifty feet of 3/8 nylon rope in each car. It has tons of uses, but once you watch the video, you’ll be able to handle freaky weather too with it.
    . keep a piece of chain along with your tow strap so you can ATTACH tat tow=strap to the newer cars that have nothing to attach to in emergency
    Blankets and candles and a cracked open window will keep you alive
    Water in your car won’t be liquid if your nights are 20 degrees or less. You need something to melt snow/ice in and a way to generate heat to melt it.
    Those 8 hour hand warmers they look like a big suger pack do work. One in each boot and glove and you don’t get your fingers and toes amputated from frost bite. Very compact . And can even melt ice and snow to drink.
    Folding military surplus shovel? Also doubles as a weapon.
    Also check out the artic canteens (double walled military surplus)
    A metal cup suspended over the candle can melt and slow boil water (use the scrapings) and you can drink it.
    Ham radio programmed to receive NOAA weather/emergency broadcasts and transmit to emergency responders
    Military Surplus Artic Mickey Mouse boots with wool socks or Muk Luk fleece lined boots to keep your feet warm.
    learn how to drive “off-road”. and throw in your car a couple of 4×6 or 6×8 pieces of wood about 3 feet long, they will get you across those small ditches and chuckholes.
    We always carry a Military Sleep System in our vehicles every where we go in addition to our GHBs.
    Don’t forget a small compressor and tire plugs.
    painkillers…take a walk through costco pharmacy and be amazed at how CHEAP drugs are…GET SOME
    3 ways to start a fire would be a good start. Do not include a BIC lighter in that. Two tarps. A shovel. A real sleeping bag.
    paracord…and a tarp….or 3
    bag o beef jerky or pepperoni
    1 case (10 packs) mainstay 3600 food bars, 6 one quart canteens full, backpack with extra socks, knife, space blankets(worthless), paracord, hatchet, handgun/ammo, jacket, boots, first aid kit, baofeng radio with spare battery, solar/crank radio,LED flashlights, alco stove and 1/2 gallon fuel, and a few other things.
    i keep a bag full of cold weather gear like hats, scarrfs, gloves, bivy bags, for ALL members of my family…it’s big, so i can leave it home, or stick it in there if i’m going out of town. keep in mind, this stuff ALL GETS WET after using them for a while….spares is a good idea if you’re REALLY out there.
    WATERPROOF! hiking boots, extra batteries, knife, prybar, phone charger, signal mirror, flare gun, longjohns, coats/layers, map,
    mystery heater)propane),sled, candles, mylar-lined cooler to warm things in, hand warmers, something to generate power, like a foot-powered generator, food, duct tape, full tank of gas, fill tub with hot water, leave faucets dripping., salt for de-icing, carbon monoxide sensing device, insulated water storage, animal furs, polypropalene, wood, lots of it, yaktraks, fire extinguisher, BBQ for heat, snowshoes, sunglasses, flares, ham radio, shovel, woodstove, jumper cables, comealong, snowmobile., kitty litter, chains for tires, balaclava.

    • Jeremiah Johnson says:

      Sir, I thank you for sharing your preps. Excellent, and very well-rounded. That is what it is all about. You keep going, and please make sure you do plenty of physical training and exercise. That is the most important thing of all, as all things can be replaced except you and your family.

      Thank you for the comments and information, and my apologies for the delayed response, as I’ve been cutting wood furiously and winter is upon me here in Montana….the fires during the summer and fall held me up, so I’m late!

      Respectfully Yours,


      • randy wellman says:

        thank you for your kind comments JJ, and rest assured i ride my mountain bike 15 miles most days to try and keep this old fat bastard in shape, i ALWAYS enjoy what you write…i’m honored…..keep yer head high, and your middle finger even higher.

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