Snow Camo: 12 Budget-Friendly Survival Essentials for the Cold Outdoors

winter camo1
I wanted to touch a little on winter camo and how to go about doing some things on both a budgetary and a practical side.  Firstly, it would not seem that winter camo would be all that important, and after all, I just did a piece recently on the Army issue winter camo top.

I also emphasized something that I wish to reiterate: you need synthetics on your exteriors, and cotton on your interiors.  You also need for the gear to be as close to white as possible.  This may necessitate cleaning it and bleaching it really well if that is possible.  It is worth it in the long run, especially if you’re in the role of a shooter.

12 Budget-Friendly Survival Essentials for Mock Winter Camo

Here’s some basics for you to pick up, if you’re not ready to go out and spend more than a grand as in the movie “Shooter” with Mark Wahlberg.  All whites, remember:

  1. Thick sweat-top, preferably with a hood
  2. Baseball-type hat with a brim (not a meshed one, mind you, but solid cloth
  3. Winter pullover cap
  4. White scarf or wraparound for the face
  5. Gloves (go to Murdoch’s for the leather gloves at about $15, extra -large, and then the packages of cotton inserts (3) pairs for about $4.00). On this you want the leather and not synthetic, because if you are changing a mag, messing with a bolt carrier or a charging handle, or touching a hot barrel, they won’t melt and dissolve.)
  6. Already mentioned the Army white camo overtop in a previous article
  7. Army white camo bottoms run about $20 to $30 in the surplus stores, or you can pick up either extra large scrubs or karate pants at the thrift stores
  8. Synthetic “veil” for overtop of you, your weapon…shower curtains (the mesh thin kind work best), or drapes are good for this
  9. Unless you can find “Mickey Mouse” Army issue white Vib (inflatable) boots? Pick yourself up a pair of Army Issue rubber overshoes (they’re green, with 3 loops per boot) and spray paint them…make sure it’s with white paint that takes to rubber and plastic
  10. A mat to lay on…and you can wrap a sheet (synthetic, mind you) around it to whiten it
  11. A white gym bag/backpack-type bag
  12. Long Johns – make sure these are white

There’s a set of duds for you.  All of your stuff such as tops and pants should fit overtop of whatever you’re wearing.  On pieces of equipment to throw in that bag, you need the following: a rangefinder, a good set of binoculars or a scope, and a method to measure temperature, humidity, wind speed, and elevation, like this.  Now I have an old West German (yeah, it’s that old!) barometer, and a really good thermometer that is also old, made out of glass, and as durable as rhinoceros hide.  I have an anemometer with the cups that actually checks the wind speed.

Remember: your low-tech stuff was made much better (more durable) than your high-tech stuff today.  Bring that wrist-compass/barometer/thermometer/toaster oven with you, but be advised: one EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) either from a weapon, or a solar flare will turn it into a non-working “fashion” bracelet in the blink of an eye.  Also, remember your issue Tritium compass, as you won’t have problems with the cold temperatures and it doesn’t require batteries.

Snowshoes are important and should be light and durable, like these.  They should be able to hold your weight and at least another 50 lbs. (including a pack, water, and a weapon).  Don’t forget your protective eyewear!  I prefer UV protective goggles, as these guys don’t fog up and they cling to your face better than regular sunglasses.  The eyes can’t be protected enough in the winter snow, as a lot of UV comes off of the snow in the form of reflected light.  Also, make sure you have enough veil to cover up your backpack, as you don’t want to appear to be a snowdrift with legs carrying around a green rucksack.

I’m sure there will be all kinds of suggestions.  Let us know what you have found that works as a suggestion for your fellow readers and for all of us.  We always value your productive comments and advice.  Stay frosty, and keep up that good fight in the winter wonderland!  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 January 19th, 2017
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  • A Arizonian

    Outstanding information, necessary for the White Mountain area’s of AZ at times and won’t break the bank! Thanks

  • Roberto

    JJ….
    I’ve enjoyed all of your past articles (home defense, commo, food procurement, etc.) But I have a couple of issues with the two recent cold weather clothing articles. I’ll focus on this one primarily.
    First my ‘Creds’. I too am retired SF (15 yrs 18E, 9 yrs other 11B jobs and I have the bad knees to prove it! lol) and during that time, spent 3 long winters in Alaska in the only LRRP platoon in the state (at the time, don’t know whats up there now) with the exception of the (AkARNG) Eskimo Scout’s, we were the only active duty Recon, so needless to say, I’ve spent a great deal of time at 30, 40 even 80 BELOW ZERO wind chill (no BS! -50 w/ 30-40 mph winds at Ft. Greely, coldest night of my life! It sucked real bad!), so here goes…
    COTTON: You mention cotton an awful lot, I couldn’t disagree more! COTTON KILLS! Unless you’re in immediate danger of a standard or flash fire hazard (aircraft crew member, fireman, POL [petroleum] worker, combat vehicle/IED exposure, etc) I wouldn’t wear cotton, yes it won’t melt but if it gets wet…it stays wet and so will you, whether it’s from snow/rain, sweat or you’re unlucky enough to fall through the ice while crossing that creek… being wet in cold weather equal’s a miserable and possibly, a life threatening condition.
    GLOVES: Good gloves are very important, the leather / synthetic combo are excellent (for low cost, see Mechanix brand gloves DIY box stores type or auto parts store), with that being said, I’ve never had a good pr. of gloves (key word: good ) interfere during a magazine exchange or charging a weapon (you do have to fit them and you do have to practice with them though), also, as you mentioned, after someone touches a hot barrel once, I promise you, they’ll never do it again! But one thing missing is, if you’re outdoors in cold weather for any length of time you must have a good pair of mittens (surplus trigger-finger and Arctic mittens are available on many surplus sites and at Amazon) I can’t emphasize that enough!
    As far as synthetics melting;The only time I’ve ever had a piece of fleece or syn. long johns melt was when it was too close to a fire or wood stove drying out or when the spark from a camp fire landed on it, and yeah, it’ll melt a small hole in it. (I wont argue the science of synthetics ‘wicking’ moisture away from the body, that’s above my high school education) I do know, from experience, that I’m much more comfy wearing synthetic or wool underwear, socks, gloves and outerwear.
    Now OUTER SHELLS are another subject altogether. (I agree with the issue snow camo parka… great piece of kit!) Gore-Tex is great for above +10 degrees or warmer, but for below 0, when there’s no chance of rain, I’d try to find some old surplus ‘fish tail’ parka(s) made of tightly woven cotton sateen (I’m not contradicting myself here…it’s not against your skin) with the issue synthetic liner (or if you can’t find an actual liner, layer a fleece jacket underneath), I see them at the surplus store occasionally, but I’ve picked up about 3 parkas at thrift stores (not uncommon here in No.Michigan).
    Regarding the VB ‘MICKEY MOUSE’ BOOTS… Contrary to urban myth, they are NOT inflatable! The release valve is strictly for releasing air pressure at very high altitudes such as in non-pressurized aircraft or HALO operations. If you physically blow in or mechanically fill the VB (Vapor Bearing) boot with air, you will also be putting moisture in them which will quickly turn into ice crystals, you obviously do not want ice crystals in your insulation layer (the insulation being the vapor barrier, hence, the name). Quick Class on (Mickey Mouse) VB boots: The white VB boots are for dry/cold conditions, -30 or colder such as Alaska, the Yukon, Norway, Finland, etc. The Black VB boots are for wet/cold conditions, -20 or warmer, such as (most of) No. America, western Europe, Panama (just kidding) and Korea, etc, however, either style will work here in No.America, they will, however, if not treated on the outside occasionally (we used vaseline) they will dry up and crack. Experience from people that have used VB boots is, if you’re active they work great, but once you start laying down or standing around, your feet will get cold. They will warm up quickly once active again though. My honest opinion on cold weather boots would be to forget the VB boots (although they are good) and get a pair of Sorel Caribu’s or similar model and buy an extra pair of liners and carry them in your pack to swap out at the end of the day. It’s what I’ve been doing for 25 years.
    Agian JJ, this was not criticism, just a disagreement from my experience vs. yours (heck, we may have even crossed paths somewhere before.) Keep up the good articles and thank you for your service!

  • Roberto

    Sorry, just reread the clothing article, “What to Wear in the Harshest Conditions” and we do agree on many aspects again, except the two layer’s of socks, one being cotton. Why not PolyPro or similar sock liners? Even knee-high nylons make great liners! (wile stationed in Alaska, prior to the new soft wools and synthetics, we used to wear knee-high nylons as sock liners and pantyhose (yes…pantyhose) as layered liners under our cotton/wool blend issued long johns (quite humorous, the first time you try figure out your size compared to a woman’s and then ‘sneak’ a pair or two into your shopping cart) once the sales lady saw you, she knew exactly what you were after and was very helpful, knowing from experience, that this was very common…lol

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