Two Letters Re: Wilderness Survival in a Northern Climate

I read your blog almost everyday and sometimes I get a little irked when someone writes “You can survive without water for three days”. Having been an investigator in a desert climate, I can attest to the fact that a person can die of dehydration in a matter of 4 hours, especially if they have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs just prior to going on that hike or riding an ATV into unknown lands. True you can survive longer in northern climates, but you can’t count on going three days without water. It is misleading and can cause the unnecessary death of people who get lost!
Another thing, as my good friend Cody Lundin taught me, always carry several gallon sized plastic Zip-Loc bags. They are extremely light weight and make great canteens in an emergency. Furthermore, one can places the bags over the end of leafy tree limbs and suck the water out of trees. True, you may not get much, but every ounce can be a life saver.
I hope this helps someone if they get caught out in a situation they don’t want to be in. – T.J.

Dear Mr. JWR,
Food is very important in maintaining your core temperature when outdoors in a northern clime.  I’m talking about being out for extended periods in sub-zero weather.  I go out for a day or two at a time and my favorite high calorie foods are peanut butter and pemmican. They give you good ” bang for the buck” and are relatively compact and you can eat them while you’re walking.  I also love my kelly kettle.  It’s nice to have a hot drink in about 5 minutes even when it’s -30F.  If you are going to go out playing in the snow or are living up north where the cold is quick killer do yourself a favor and read Snow Walker’s Companion: Winter Camping Skills for the North by the Conovers.  

I also carry a lighter, matches, ferro rod, and old school flint and steel with char cloth.  Fire Is Life, so know it, understand it and make it your friend.  The cold doesn’t care whether you live or die, be prepared for it. – Captain S.