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Our Newsletter

Limiting Exposure

According to the Rule of Threes, exposure to the elements can kill you within 3 hours. Typically, this refers to extreme cold or extreme heat/sun exposure. In cold weather conditions, it's important to stay warm and dry. In hot weather, it's important to stay cool and shaded.

The first step in protecting yourself from the elements is to dress appropriately. Here are some tips to accomplish this:

  • Check the weather reports before you go out. Try to dress for the anticipated weather.
  • Choose appropriate clothing. In cold weather, dress in layers and bring extra clothing in a waterproof bag to keep it dry. In hot weather, dress loosely so that your skin can have ventilation.
  • Extra socks are always a good idea, regardless of the weather.
  • Choose appropriate sun protection; sun glasses, sunscreen, etc. are important whenever you will be exposed to the sun, regardless of the time of year.
  • If there is a possibility of snow or rain, it's important to have the proper equipment to keep dry, i.e. a waterproof top layer, a poncho, etc.

Next, you should always be prepared to spend a night outdoors. This is a lot easier if you are knowledgable in the ways to build an appropriate shelter.

  • We recommend always carrying a lightweight Bivvy, firestarting tools, and paracord to help make a shelter.
  • Learn how to start a fire and build a shelter with these tools.
  • Have several different firestarting methods available to you. PRACTICE with them MANY times in safe circumstances before you rely on them.
  • Be familiar with several different types of shelters which can be made in the area you will be in.
  • Be on the lookout for natural depressions, fallen trees, large rocks, etc. which you can adapt to make a shelter; anything you don't have to build saves you energy!
  • When looking for a good location, here are some things to keep in mind:
    • you don't want water flowing in; getting wet makes it harder to stay warm
    • cold air will settle in valleys and gulleys
    • the tops of hills get the most wind, which impacts heating and structural integrity of the shelter
    • the closer you are to a water source, the easier it will be to stay hydrated...but animals are thinking the same thing!
    • animals tend to hang around transition areas (forest edges, river edges, etc.)
  • Insulation can be made from debris (pine boughs/needles, leaves, dry grass, etc.) and can protect you from heat and cold. It should be a major part of your shelter!
  • Snow is also a good insulator, but take care that it doesn't melt and soak the inside of your shelter!
  • Generally, it is a bad idea to sleep directly on the ground.
    • In cold conditions, the ground will suck the heat right out of you. Make a debris bed (leaves, pine boughs, etc.) to make an insulated pad.
    • In warm conditions, small animals and insects have easier access to you; water can also flow in and soak you. If possible, make a platform bed, hammock, or something of that nature to keep yourself off the ground.

Sometimes a good shelter can be the difference between life and death. Don't take chances with the elements! Be prepared!