Tue. May 17th, 2022
Woman dressed in jacket, mittens, and hat holding a mug outside on a snowy day.

Woman dressed in jacket, mittens, and hat holding a mug outside on a snowy day.I may have spent the last several decades of my life living in warm or temperate climates—the SF Bay Area, Malibu, and Miami are famous for their mild or non-existent winters—but I grew up in coastal Maine and spent the majority of my time outside, rain, snow or shine. I’ve endured some harsh winters and I think it’s important that everyone be equipped to handle themselves in cold weather.

Part of surviving winter is surviving it outdoors—whether you choose to be there or not.

It is important to have the right supplies for winter.

Surviving winter means being able to stay at home during an outage. As we saw a little while ago in Texas, simply being at home doesn’t mean much if your power goes out and you’re not prepared.

Today, I’m going to give some winter survival tips: behaviors, tools, and gear you should keep in mind (and in your car, your house, and on your person) to survive a harsh winter indoors and out.

Winter Survival Tips

Most of us “survive winter” by living in warm climates or retreating to simulated warm climates in our homes and offices. Few ever truly get into “winter survival situations.” But you never know how things will go. It is impossible to predict when your car might break down during winter. Some of you might just be curious about the cold.

Here’s how to stay dry, stay warm, and stay alive.

Stay dry.

Moisture is the death knell, whether it’s from excess sweat, slipping into an icy brook, or failing to cover up and getting soaked in a downpour. Moisture will absorb warmth from your body, making you vulnerable to cold. Always keep dry.

Waterproof boots

If you want to maintain ground feel and zero heel drop soles, you’ll want something waterproof like the Tracker II FG Men’sOder Women’sVivo Barefoot is the source Boulder Boot Men’sOder Women’s from Lem’s Shoes. These may not be suitable for everyone. True deep winter conditions. If you’re out dealing with heavy protracted exposure to snow, you can sacrifice ground feel and heel drop for insulation against the cold.

This is called a great discussionA selection of waterproof and snow boots, both barefoot and waterproof.

Use wool.

Wool is the king. I don’t care if it’s “scratchy.” This is survival, and wool is the best way to survive and stay warm. It works for sheep.

Socks and mittens, socks, hats, mittens. Base layers. Sweaters. Long johns. Wool, wool, wool.


Wool should be worn against the body, but wool can also be used to cover other materials. To prevent water from entering, you should wear the most plastic-y, synthetic material on top.

A base layer should consist of thin wool, well-fitting. This is what’s up against your body.

The second layer should feel light against the body and not too tight. This will allow more warm air to escape. Depending on the weather conditions, a merino wool or goose down second layer, or a fleece second layer, works well.

The outer shell (or shell) should be made of a synthetic waterproof material. Some shells come with warmer middle-layers that can be removed.

Cover your extremities.

Keep your head and hands covered so you can conserve heat and still interact with the surrounding environment.

Here again, wool is the big winner. For your hands, cover your wool “base layer” with a water/snow-proof outer shell.

Warm insoles

Keep a pair of wool insolesYou can also wear barefoot shoes to add warmth. You will feel more protected against the freezing earth if you have a layer between your feet and the ground.

Purchase a wood stove.

When the power’s out, you can’t run the furnace. You can’t plug in space heaters. Yeah, a generator will help, but you can’t rely on it indefinitely.

Wood heats up. Wood lasts a long time. Wood isn’t going anywhere, and it doesn’t go bad, and it doesn’t degrade. No one—not even father time or the elements provided you cover it—can take your wood stacks away.

Get an indoor heater that doesn’t require electricity.

This propane heaterIt will fit the bill. Propane is all you need. There is no electricity. To be safe, I would consider installing carbon monoxide alarms.

You should be able to cook without electricity, preferably indoors.

Candles can be used to heat food. You can use a wood stove or a fireplace to cook.

Unfortunately, butane or propane stoves aren’t safe for prolonged indoor cooking, especially without ventilation. But assuming you’re staying warm with layers, you can go outside to cook.

Outdoor cooking methods that are reliable include wood and charcoal.

Get good blankets.

Wool and down are probably the warmest materials—research even shows that wool is better at retaining body heat than cotton. Wool can be a bit itchy at times, but it will keep you warm and that’s the most important thing when trying to survive a power outage during winter. While down is more expensive and luxurious, it will keep you extremely warm.

TheseAnd theseThese blankets are great value for money. They also offer blended wool blanketsThese are more affordable and less scratchy (but slightly warmer).

Make small, warm spaces.

Set up the smallest tent or tents you can fit in your living room. Then, pile everyone in there with lots of blankets. Make sure you are warm. Sleep in your sleeping bag. Keep it zipped up. You must keep it warm. Don’t let it escape.

Buy a quality whole-house generator.

I wouldn’t rely on the generator—you won’t always have fuel, most types of fuel go bad (unless propane or diesel), and your generator has to be of sufficient capacity to run the house like “normal.” It’s far more reliable to figure out how to survive the cold Without electricity. The generator can be added to your insurance policy as an extra protection.

Make sure it’s a good one. Honda makes great generators.


Take a moment to cuddle with your loved ones. Hug your kids. Spoon your partner (or spoon it).

Enjoy playing games.

There are many board games. They’re all great to play, and they all will help keep your spirits up and your mind from fixating on “survival.” A mind obsessed with staying warm and surviving has the tendency to go mad; playing can keep everyone sane.

Keep moving.

Exercise increases body heat production. Some of this heat is stored while some is released to the atmosphere. The net result is an increase of body temperature, and especially perceived body temperature. We’ve all felt it. You go for a hike in the cold weather wearing a t-shirt, and within a few minutes, you’re comfortable while everyone else who “dressed for the weather” is sweating.

Keep calorie intake high.

A healthy diet and adequate calorie intake are key to maintaining thyroid function and keeping the body at a high temperature. If you’re “feeling cold,” you are for all intents and purposes cold.

Forget “dieting” or “cutting” when it’s freezing outside and you’re exposed to it. That’s great for targeted and consensual cold exposure, but not for involuntary or protracted cold exposure. Not when you’re trying to survive. Keep eating plenty of food.

Of course, “keeping calorie intake high” requires that you HavePlenty of calories available. It is important to be prepared BeforeDisaster strikes. Stock your pantry, maintain shelf-stable high-calorie foods.

For the car…

Two mylar sheets.

One tarpIf you have to shelter, use one tarp. You can use one tarp as a heat-reflective cover.

Wool blankets

The blankets are essential.

Fire starter.

At least two sources of fire starter are recommended: matches or a gas lighter. flint. The best thing about the flint? You can correct magnesium deficiencies by adding some flecks of flint to your water. Kidding.

Start material for fire.

Additional dryer lint can be a great idea. Vaseline is also great for cotton balls. To keep dry, store in ziplock bags. You could also use a Blackbeard fire starter.

Gallon of water.

Although water requirements are lower in colder weather, you still need to drink.


This is how it looks runs off fuelOr something that runs on wood. Both, preferably.

Non-perishable food.

Freeze-dried meals, canned fish, dense protein bars—anything that will last for years and keep you from starving.

Leatherman multitool.

Always good to have on hand.

Plastic bins can be used to change wool clothing

Wool underwear, hat, long johns, shirts, pants, sweater. For each member of your family, make sure you have a change of wool clothing in plastic bags or bins that are large enough to hold water.

First aid kit.

You will need to have a basic first aid kit.

Air pump, jump starter, and battery charger.

If it’s possible, this deviceIt is a great help. It lets you charge your phones, jumpstart your car, inflate tires, and even charge your smartphones.

Now, I’m sure I missed a few important tips and tools. Please let me know below which tips and tools you consider vital for winter survival.


About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York TimesThe bestselling author The Keto Reset Diet. His most recent book is Keto for Your LifeThe book is where Mark discusses how he has combined the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle in order to maximize his health and longevity. Mark is also the author of many other books, including The Primal BlueprintThis was the group that helped to accelerate the growth of the primal/paleo movement in 2009. Mark started the company after three decades of researching and educating people on why good food is important to optimal health. Primal Kitchena company that produces real food, including keto and Primal/paleo-friendly recipes.

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