Image of the June 2012 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
June 2012 Issue
Home / Articles / Skills

10 essential winter tips

Winter presents unique challenges for those who want to get outside and explore the backcountry. Survival expert Stu Gilbert offers 10 tips and reminders to help see you through.

Skill set – Your equipment and techniques that work for summer may not be suitable or successful in winter.

Training – Elementary cold weather techniques, skills and methods should be practised and maintained before you need them.

Environmental Conditions – The wind and temperature have the greatest effect on living conditions. Prevent against cold weather injuries like frost nip, snow blindness and hypothermia. Snow can hide many hidden dangers, avalanches, and crevasses. Familiarity with the environment will build confidence but should not extend to over confidence. The environment doesn’t care if you live or die but you family and friends do.

Equipment – You’ll need to have a good knowledge of and be able to use equipment that is suitable for cold environments. Bring your equipment inside your shelter at night when sleeping and never place equipment on the ground without it being secure – losing an item like a glove could have major consequences.

Clothing – Use a layering system to help regulate your body temperature.

Go to bed warm – Carrying out light exercise, drinking and eating something hot prior to jumping into your sleeping bag will help you sleep better.

Stick to marked tracks – Don’t rely on following your footprints back from wherever you have travelled. They can get snowed over or blown in.

Survival kit – Carry a small compact container with specific items to assist in a survival situation. Include things like flint, hand and feet warmers, light stick and a survival blanket.

Stay hydrated – It’s easy to forget to drink in cold weather, but dehydration can affect your thinking and performance.

Route selection – If you are new to winter tramping, select routes within your limits until you have some experience under your belt.

Stu Gilbert is a former Air Force survival instructor now running SOS Survival Training

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Web exclusives. Each week we publish stories you won’t find in the magazine. View our latest web exclusives.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.