Backpacking in the winter is a truly unique experience. There is a certain solitude that can’t be found during the warmer months of the year. But there is a certain amount of underlying danger as well simply because the weather and environment is less forgiving. But if you take the time to properly plan your trip, take stock of your equipment, and learn a few basic survival skills you can offset the danger by simply being prepared. One of the biggest dangers going winter backpacking is the cold. There is just no way around that issue so staying warm in probably your most important task. This makes learning to make a fire in the cold and snow vitally important. Always carry waterproof matches and as a backup one of the many sparking devices available today. You also need to learn which materials burn best when wet, because wood and tinder that’s been buried in snow is hard to light. Birch bark, for instance, will burn when wet as will the sap from spruce and pine trees. The most important thing about learning to light a fire in the backcountry in the winter is to practice at home first. Doing it in your backyard in the cold will give you not only an idea of how difficult it may be but it will also teach you what you need to do and be prepared for once you are far from the comfort of your own home. Having a proper shelter is just as important as learning how to build a fire. It allows you to get out of the elements and take stock of your situation. A winter rated tent is a must but do you know how to properly protect it using survival shelter techniques. Learning how to make snow blocks can come in handy as it will allow you to make a wind block that you can place your tent behind. In an emergency you can use this ability to make a shelter out of snow blocks. Staying dry in the backcountry during the winter is also an important consideration. If you get wet or are sweating you will notice that as long as you are active you stay warm but as soon as stop moving any moisture on your skin will start to transfer any heat away from your body. In a cold environment this can rapidly lead to hypothermia, which can be deadly. Sweating is something you want to avoid if possible. This is why dressing in layers is important as adding and removing them allows you to better regulate your body temperature. Bring extra clothes to change into if you do sweat because damp or wet clothes will lead to rapid body heat loss, particularly if you have to sleep in them. Dry your wet clothes by the fire or dry them in the sun the next morning. Staying dry means staying warm. Winter backpacking is a great experience if you are properly prepared and know the basics of winter camping. Fire, shelter, and staying dry are three of the most important parts of winter camping. Keep these in mind and plan accordingly and your next winter trek will be met with success.

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