Bugging Out To the Back Yard: Cold Weather Training
Winter is coming on fast, and of course, as it gets colder it gets harder to survive if you become lost or injured miles from home. However, if you have a backyard, then you have a controlled training environment to test your gear, skills and to see if you have the will to carry on despite the challenges.
What you will learn in your backyard is that you will never be as warm in a tent as you would in your own bed, the ground mat will never be as soft as your bed, and that your stomach seems to be always growling for more food. The cold burns up calories, it dries your skin out, and it makes your nose drip.
No more flipping a light on to stumble down a warm hallway to the bathroom at midnight, no, when it’s below freezing a trip to the cat hole or latrine is a monumental task. You need the training, however, you need to realize that getting lost or hurt out in the woods puts you in a survival situation, a sometimes-deadly one, and it will take all you have to survive. You need to know how cold it really gets at night in the middle of January, how hungry you really become, and how easy it is to die if you make the wrong decision.
In a controlled environment, you won’t die, but you will learn from mistakes that could be fatal 20 miles from home at 2am when it’s hovering around Zero.
Use your backyard to figure out what ground insulation works best, to see just how warm your expensive winter sleeping bag really is, and are your hiking boots as warm as the manufacturer claims.
Can you start a fire when your fingers are stiff from the cold, can you start one when it is snowing or sleeting out? If you cannot start one in your own backyard, how can you possibly do so out in the wilds when its dark, cold and the wind is howling?
In today’s working world Saturdays and Sundays are not always the weekend, but any day of the week can work to set up a survival scenario in your backyard. Prepare a game plan, you are heading home from work when your car breakdowns or you are on a hike and get lost. Of course, your car is disabled in your driveway and you are lost in your backyard.
The point is for training purposes, you have to now survive outside the home with just what was in your car or backpack, and keep it real. Do not stuff 120 pounds of food and creature comforts and have your pack stationed on the back porch. Pack what you think you should carry on a hike, and have what you think you would need in your car, no cheating. It doesn’t help you survive a real situation.
Have you ever slept in your car overnight when it’s below freezing, you probably won’t sleep much, and any food you have is liable to be eaten in the first few hours? Learn from this.
Can you survive out of your backpack in the backyard, it’s getting dark and you are tired from working, but you would be tired from hiking all day as well, so it feels realistic. Shelter first because its cold and you need to get out of the wind, a fire is next and then an assessment of food, water, and other gear. Recording your ordeal would be perfect, and be honest in your assessments. Above all else, learn from your experience.
That fancy one-person tent went up easy in the living room, but you had a devil of a time with a slight breeze and cold hands as it was coming on to darkness.
After 24 hours of this, you will know, what you need and what you really do not need to survive the night or several nights. What food keeps you satisfied and that potato chips and Oreos are not designed for survival situations, and the call of nature is not as easy as you may think when bundled up in a parka and thermal underwear, that is if you thought to have thermals with you.