Every true survivalist needs to be prepared to survive in any of the world’s harshest environments, including the arctic. The arctic is notorious for its below freezing temperatures, harsh winds, and dangerous terrain. Many a survivalist have been caught in brutal blizzards that have resulted in frostbite, hypothermia, and death. Before venturing into the stunning arctic wilderness, you must understand the key tactics to remaining alive in this environment:
Stay Hydrated and Consume Calories. You do not feel thirsty in the severe cold, but staying hydrated is essential. Hydrating ensures you have enough blood volume to keep warm blood pumping to your extremities. There are multiple sources from which to get water in an arctic environment. Additionally, exercising in the cold burns a lot of energy. You likely need to consume twice as many calories as you typically would, especially from foods high in fat. Burning these calories helps produce much needed body heat.
Make a Hot Water Bottle. If you have a heat source, boil enough water to fill one of your bottles before you go to sleep. Put the full bottle inside your sleeping bag at night to stay warm. In the morning, put the bottle into your boots for a few minutes to warm them up before getting dressed.
Wear the Proper Gear. Proper base layers, gloves, and boots are three of the most important things to have with you in the arctic. ‘Polar thigh’ occurs when the extreme cold and friction cause blisters that turn into open sores on your legs. Always wear a silk layer beneath wool base layers to prevent this painful and potentially dangerous condition. Thick mittens are a must for preventing frostbite. Make sure to tie your gloves to your body using string. This way if you ever take them off, they won’t get lost. Finally, protect yourself from the wind. Ensure there are no gaps between articles of clothing (i.e. jacket and gloves) and always wear a thick, fur lined hood. At temperatures of -20 degrees F with 30mph winds, exposed skin freezes in under five minutes.
Tape Your Goggles to Prevent Snow Blindness. White, snowy environments can result in snow blindness which can cause permanent damage and is extremely painful. An easy solution if you will be outside for extended periods, is to tape over your goggles, leaving only a small slit in the middle uncovered for you to see out. This prevents the overexposure to sunlight reflecting off of the snow.
Stay Dry. This is possibly the most lethal situation you can encounter in the arctic. You lose heat 240 times more quickly to water than to air. Adjust your layers before getting sweaty and wipe off the snow before it melts on your clothes. When walking, be careful of weak ice. If you fall through the ice, swim out and roll in the snow immediately to get as much water off as possible. Change into dry clothes and remain in a sheltered place until you have warmed up completely. Read more here to learn how to identify and safely treat the stages of hypothermia.
Build a Snow Wall to Protect Your Tent. Dig a platform into the snow to lower the height of the tent. Then build a snow wall at least two feet high toward the wind about 9 yards from your tent to prevent it from being blown away or buried.
Don’t Go Outside in a Storm. Period. In the coldest climates, windchill can often get down to below -80 degrees F. DO NOT leave your tent in these situations, no matter what. Dig a hole in the tent porch to use the bathroom. You should have all of the supplies you need to survive with you in the tent and if you have built a snow wall, you should be protected to sit out the storm for as long as it lasts.
While these tips will help survive in an arctic environment, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Before choosing to travel to any remote location, do research on the area and the risks involved. Remember that the biggest threats you will face in extreme cold are dehydration, hypothermia, and frostbite. Know what to do to help minimize the risk of encountering any of these life threatening conditions, so that you can enjoy your time admiring the vastness and beauty of the arctic!