How to survive in extreme cold with a polar survival kit?

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Understanding the dangers of extreme cold

Definition of extreme cold

To begin, let’s be precise in our terminology. What do we mean by “extreme cold“? Technically, we can speak of extreme cold when the temperature drops below -40°C, although, in reality, the danger can manifest itself well before, particularly if wind and humidity get involved.

Physiological risks linked to cold

Extreme cold can have many harmful consequences on our body. Here are a few :

  • Hypothermia : Hypothermia occurs when the body is no longer able to produce enough heat to compensate for what is lost. It is a medical emergency which, if left untreated, can quickly lead to cardiac arrest.
  • Frostbite : Frostbite is injury caused by freezing of tissues. They particularly affect the extremities (fingers, toes, nose, ears).
  • Frostnip : Less severe than frostbite, frostnip corresponds to a partial freezing of the skin, which returns to its normal appearance after warming.
  • Football trench coat Or “foot of the trenches“: This is a condition that can occur in the event of prolonged exposure to humidity and cold (between 0 and 10°C). It causes pain and numbness, and in the most serious cases can require amputation.

Preparing for the cold

To cope with extreme cold, good preparation is essential. Here are some points to consider:

  • Insulating clothing : It is crucial to have a good layer of insulation to trap body heat. Choose natural materials such as wool or down, or synthetic materials, such as polypropylene or polyester. The brand Patagonia for example, offers a wide range of high-performance equipment.
  • Hydration and nutrition : Even in cold weather, your body can become dehydrated. So make sure you drink enough and eat energy-rich foods.
  • Knowing how to shelter : In the event of a sudden storm or if the cold becomes too intense, knowing how to build a snow shelter can be crucial. A light and durable snow shovel, like those sold by the Black Diamond, can make all the difference here.

Facing extreme cold is an undertaking that does not suffer from negligence. Accurate knowledge of the risks and adequate preparation are essential prerequisites.

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Contents of a polar survival kit

The must-have: Survival equipment in polar environments

The extreme conditions of the polar environment require equipment that can literally mean the difference between life and death. Here is a list of essential items.

Isothermal clothing

The most important protection against the cold is a good set of clothing. Layering system is generally recommended, including a base layer that can wick away sweat (like merino wool), an insulating layer (like a sweater polar or a down jacket) and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. The North Face And Patagonia are reputable brands offering this type of clothing.

A survival tent


Shelter is vital in polar environments. Make sure you have a survival tent that can withstand extreme weather conditions. A dome tent like the brand’s models Hilleberg are particularly recommended.

A very cold sleeping bag


Restful sleep is crucial for surviving the cold. Prefer a very cold sleeping bag, like the models Marmot Or Mountain Hardwear designed for temperatures down to -40 degrees.

A stove and kitchen utensils


Warming your body from the inside is also crucial. A gas or multifuel stove like the models MSR will be very useful. Don’t forget a set of suitable kitchen utensils.

First aid kit and survival tools

The unpredictable nature of the polar environment requires a comprehensive first aid kit, including bandages, adhesive dressings, disinfectants, and basic medications. A multifunctional survival knife, a headlamp with spare batteries, a compass and waterproof matches are all other essentials.

Communication and orientation


A GPS and a satellite phone like those of the brand Garmin could be your best allies in the event of a problem. Supplement this with detailed topographical maps of the area you plan to explore.

Nutrition and hydration

Survival in the cold requires calories, lots of calories — up to 6,000 per day in the most extreme conditions! Freeze-dried meals, energy bars, tea and instant soup can help meet these needs, especially when hunting or fishing is difficult.
Don’t forget water: Although surrounding snow can be melted for drinking water, the melting process is energy intensive. A thermos bottle to keep drinks hot as well as a water filtration system can be good additions to the kit.

Surviving in a polar environment: the last word

To survive in a polar environment, every detail counts. This ranges from suitable boots, to the selection of a good sleeping bag, to thermal survival blankets. Don’t hesitate to invest in high-quality items: your life could depend on it. Education, planning and preparation are the three pillars of polar survival.

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Optimal use of the survival kit in polar environments

Navigating through the labyrinthine polar lands is definitely not for the faint of heart. These regions are inhospitable, unforgiving and can quickly turn into nightmares for the ill-prepared. When venturing into these environments, a well-equipped polar survival kit is not a luxury, but a vital necessity. This article offers a deep and detailed dive into the optimal use of the survival kit in polar environments.

Essential composition of the survival kit in polar environments

It is vital to understand that each item in your survival kit plays a crucial role in your survival. Here is a list of essential items to include in your kit:

  • A high quality tent for extreme climates. It will be your shelter against the biting cold. Hillberg And MSR are well-known brands.
  • A sleeping bag designed to withstand extremely low temperatures.
  • A stove to melt snow and prepare hot food. A good example is the gas stove MSR WindPro II.
  • Thermal clothing, including underwear, socks, gloves and protective eyewear.
  • A first aid kit with provisions to treat freezing and hypothermia.
  • Long-lasting food supplies, such as energy bars and freeze-dried meals.
  • A snow shovel to dig a shelter in the snow if necessary.

Using Survival Kit Items

Once you have all the essential items in your survival kit, the next step is knowing how to use them optimally.

Kit item Optimal use
Tent Choose a place sheltered from the wind to set up your tent. Use ropes and stakes to secure it.
Sleeping bag Make sure you don’t sweat when entering as moisture can freeze on contact with cold air.
Stove Melt snow for water and prepare warm food regularly to maintain your body temperature.
Thermal clothing Put on layers of clothing to trap body heat. Replace any wet clothing immediately.
First aid kit Apply immediate treatment in case of freezing or hypothermia. Check your extremities regularly.
Food supplies Eat regularly and in small quantities to maintain your energy levels.
snow shovel Use it to dig out a snow shelter in case of a sudden storm or to dig out your car or equipment stuck in the snow.

Your survival kit is your best ally in harsh polar conditions. Do not neglect any of its elements and take the time to familiarize yourself with each component. Remember, in polar environments, preparation and knowledge are the key to your survival.

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Tips and tricks for survival in extreme cold

Preparation: the key to survival

The success of any polar expedition largely depends on prior preparation. Knowledge and understanding of the local terrain and climate, combined with adequate material and mental preparation, offers the best chance of survival.
Survival equipment: Proper survival equipment is essential. This includes insulated clothing, fire starters, an emergency tent, a multi-tool and a medical kit. When it comes to clothing, it is best to opt for brands like North Face Or Canada Goose, renowned for their excellent thermal insulation.
Local knowledge: Knowledge of particular climatic conditions, terrain features and local wildlife can be crucial. Each polar region has its own dynamics, so it is essential to study and understand these specificities before venturing there.

Survive in snow and ice

Here are some basic techniques for surviving in a snow and ice environment:
Digging a shelter : In the absence of a tent or in cases of force majeure, digging a shelter in the snow can be a vital solution.
Stay warm : In case of intense cold, it is essential to stay moving to maintain body temperature. Plan simple exercises to do regularly.
Stay hydrated : Water can be difficult to find, but snow, if properly purified, can provide a source of drinking water.

Store and preserve food

In a polar environment, storing food at low temperatures is less problematic. However, it is essential to store food in such a way that it is protected from wild animals. Brands like Yeti Coolers offer bear-resistant storage solutions ideal for this type of shipping.

Dealing with specific risks

In a polar environment, there are many specific dangers that you may face: frostbite, hypothermia, avalanches, wild animals, etc. It is essential to learn to anticipate and respond to them.
PREVENTION: The key to avoiding frostbite and hypothermia is to stay dry. You must therefore avoid sweating and warm up as soon as you get the first chills. A tip is to cover up slightly more than necessary to avoid overheating, and to wear several layers of insulation to allow maximum ventilation.
ALERTS: In the event of an avalanche, it is essential to equip yourself with an Avalanche Victim Detector (DVA) and know how to use it. It must be carried with you at all times.
With the right tools and knowledge, even the most inhospitable polar environment can be overcome. These tips and tricks for surviving in extreme cold can of course be adapted and applied to other survival environments. Let us remember that in all circumstances, self-control and preparation remain the keys to survival.

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