Bad Winter Survival Advice Is Common And Dangerous

This morning I read an article on winter survival written by an individual who not only has no idea how to keep the body alive in the winter, but also had seemingly no experience in the cold without a truckload full of gear. It seems I have read hundreds of these, but maybe it’s only been about twenty. But when one is too many, twenty is way too many.

If you’re considering taking a course in winter survival, consider this; Your instructor should be able to define what it takes to survive in one short sentence. He or she should demonstrate a clear understanding of what you need to know and what you need to do in order to not perish in the cold. He or she should have spent at least thirty nights out in the winter with no sleeping bag or blanket, relying on skills and understanding in order to make it through the night. Add in several months of accumulated time living outdoors in the winter and she or he may really know what they’re talking about. He or she should be able to quickly demonstrate the fundamental skills and techniques, then explain them in a way that makes sense to those who have no experience.

If I have to read another article about the sacred order of survival or debris huts, or about digging a snow cave or making an igloo while at the same time assuming you have a sleeping bag and pad with you, I may just stop reading articles altogether. For the debris hut, what if there is four feet of snow? And for the snow shelter, can you explain the principles of snow as an insulator, and under exactly what conditions it should be used and when it should be avoided? And what if you don’t have a sleeping bag? If these folks who write these articles are such experts, why don’t they include this information? After all, it’s what will make the difference between coming home alive or perishing in the bush. As with most things, the devil is in the details.

With survival instruction, dogmatic approaches to certain belief systems are unequivocally bad. Certain concepts and principles must be understood, especially in the winter when one’s life span can be counted in minutes, not hours, after a mishap. If an instructor’s whole curriculum consists of passing on the “wisdom” of their guru, pass them by. You’ll save you hard-earned dollar, and probably be safer having never been exposed to their crappy advice.

So beware where you get your information. Make sure it’s from a reliable, tested source, and that it’s been proven to work.

I feel way better now. Rant over.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ” Your instructor should be able to define what it takes to survive in one short sentence.”

    So, what’s yor one short sentence that defines what it takes to survive in the winter?

    As an instructor, I agrea, bad advice is more common than good advice. For a novice it’s hard to see what’s good or bad advice. Also. bad advice, when repeated often enough becomes the truth.
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