If you’re in the great outdoors, whether by choice or by circumstance, one of the biggest threats to your safety is the cold and chill of nightfall. Don’t think that the summer months prevent this problem, either: depending on where you are, many wilderness environments can become shockingly cold even in the dead middle of summer. Don’t get caught unprepared -- make sure you remember these tips if you’re ever trapped outside in the cold.


Tip #1 - Body Heat Is King

If you’re lucky enough to be with another person (or multiple people) in a situation where you’re trapped outside in the cold, you can take advantage of a natural furnace: each others’ body heat. Sure, it might feel a little odd to be cuddling with your hiking partner, but keeping close to each other for warmth can mean the difference between relative comfort and a long, cold night that leads to hypothermia.

When it comes time to catch some sleep, make sure you sleep in close proximity to soak up each others’ body heat.


Tip #2 - Cover Yourself

Assuming that you ended up in a scenario where you’re outside and unprepared for the cold, we’re going to assume that you don’t have your usual gear on hand. In that case, you may want to do what a recent lost hiker in Joshua Tree National Park did to stay alive for multiple nights in the cold: cover yourself.

In the case of the Joshua Tree hiker, he used nearby plant vegetation as well as heaping piles of dirt and sand on top of himself at night. Essentially, he buried himself up to his neck (in a lying down position) and dragged the brush and plants on top of him. A dirty night’s sleep, sure -- but one that kept him alive.

Tip #3 - Get Your Heart Rate Up

You need to be careful with this tip, as there are some downsides to this method that we’ll discuss in a moment. However, in dire circumstances, you may consider hiking around for a bit or even doing some jumping jacks to get your heart pumping and bring up your core temperature. A lot of times, you’ll notice that you only start to feel really, deeply cold once you’ve stopped moving and working. If you have the stamina and energy (and some remaining water and/or food), consider staying active to prevent your temperature from dropping too low.

There are some issues with this method that you should be aware of. If you break too much of a sweat, you’ll feel even colder as the sweat evaporates once you stop moving. That can leave you feeling clammy and possibly even colder than when you started; so, you’ll want to get your heart rate up, but not to the point where you’re dripping sweat. Also, exerting yourself when you’re already out of water or food can be dangerous, so if you’re trapped with absolutely nothing left, this approach should be a last resort.

Tip #4 - Carry Fire-Starting Materials

As any experienced outdoorsperson can tell you, preparation and prevention are your absolute best friends in a survival situation. You’ll be thanking yourself, should you ever be in this scenario, that you got in the habit of taking an EDC with you every time you go out -- or even just fire-starting materials.

That way, you’ll have guaranteed access to fire, which eliminates this entire problem and virtually guarantees you can make it through the night safe… and warm.

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