"The gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills, and you shall understand it"...Ethan Allen
"We in this room are all men who believe that actions speak louder then words. If I can impart anything from my life as a soldier it is this: There are only two types of warrior in this world. Those that serve tyrants and those that serve free men. I have chosen to serve free men, and if we as warriors serve free men, we must love freedom more than we love our own lives. It is a simple philosophy but one that has served me well in life."
--SFC Stefan Mazak, KIA 18 April 1968, Long Khanh Province, RSV
Arctic Patriot on Cold weather survival
By Arctic Patriot
Staying Warm Revisited
With the onset of the season of winter in many parts of the nation (about a month or more ago here in interior Alaska), I thought it might be beneficial to provide links to my earlier "Staying Warm" series, put out last winter.
Staying Warm, Part 1: C.O.L.D.
Staying warm in the cold is not a subject I give a lot of special thought to these days, anymore than any other subject that is a common, everyday part of life. I have learned what works for me, through making mistakes and suffering as much as anything else. I'm going to share here what works for me. Take what you want from it, and leave the rest.
I'm not going to use this post to endorse a certain product, as the principles I have learned work with a wide variety of products. Men have been surviving in the cold for thousands of years, using everything from raw animal skins to space age technology to stay warm. There are many things that work, and I'm simply going to tell you what works for me.
The Army has an acronym (imagine that...) to help people remember the basics: C.O.L.D. The principles are overlapping and interdependent, as you'll see shortly. It stands for (if memory serves):
C- Keep it Clean. Dirt, sweat, and grime degrade the insulating qualities of clothing and gear. As much as possible, try to keep your clothing clean.
O- Avoid overheating. If you overheat, you sweat. Sweat soaks your clothes, and makes you feel colder. More on this in a second, when we get to "D". I once saw a soldier suffer from heat and cold injuries in the space of about an hour. He set off on a road march way overdressed, and his leaders did not force him to lose a layer. Most of the way through the march, he went down with heat exhaustion. The medics rushed in, and peeled layers from him, but all of his bottom and middle layer was soaked, and in a few minutes he went from heat exhaustion to mild hypothermia. Not good. My advice? If you're going to be active at all, dress so that you're slightly cold before beginning work. Be prepared to shed a layer as you warm up.
L- Loose Layers.
-Loose- Wearing multiple layers is pointless if the layers constrict your circulation. Make sure after everything goes on, nothing is tight enough to restrict blood flow. Not even a little. This is especially true for the hands and feet.
-Layers- Wearing a light layer of clothing under an extra heavy outer layer may be fine if you're driving, or going somewhere for a short time. If you're moving at all, dress a bit light and be prepared to shed a layer to keep from getting too warm. Your base layer should be a material that wicks moisture away from the skin. Personally, I use the brown army-style polyproplene underwear, or poly-pros. Cotton is a no-no, as it keeps sweat right next to the skin. The outer layer should naturally be waterproof, but should be "breathable". Gore-tex is what I used in the Army, and it is what I use now, especially when I'm out for extended periods, or working. It's almost a must when going prone. When it gets extremely cold, I admit to sometimes being a hypocrite here. One of my go to parkas at -50° is not waterproof at all, but at those temps, there's not a lot of chance of getting wet, unless you really try...
D- Keep Dry. Let's face it, wet and cold do not mix. Everyone knows this. Proper layering prevents a lot of issues with moisture, as does avoiding overheating, and keeping clean. Water has to be kept off the skin, and out of the fabrics as much as possible. In the field, where there's often no ready source of heat to dry out socks, the solution to cold feet always involved changing out wet socks. How to dry them? Tie them to your ruck, let them freeze, shake off the ice. Put them in between your layers once somewhat dry, and let body heat do the rest...
Here is a good, basic resource. You'll find the COLD principle in the clothing section, with more expounding on the subject. Here it is in .pdf.
This was a pretty basic introduction, next post will focus on exactly what I do to keep different parts of the body warm. Rather than overwhelming you with a monster post, I'm going to break this down in smaller sections. I'll cover clothes, sleeping, camp, weapons, and whatever else comes to mind as this develops.
There's lots of analysis out there, and most of it's done by people a lot smarter than me. I think that at least for a while, I will focus on this, a subject that I'm very familiar with.
Never underestimate the cold. It can kill you without mercy, but it can be your best friend. It likely saved Russia more than once, and absolutely decimated Napoleon and Hitler's forces. One more Army story. My platoon once went to the field (here in Alaska) with a Marine unit from California. These guys were marines, you know, far superior to us lowly army types... They were marines, we were lowly army pukes. We had old humvees and SUSVs; they had LAV-25s. No match. They were going to show us how it was done.
Until the second or third day with at -30° to -40°, that is. At those temperatures, vehicles quit working, hydraulics (turrets) slow down, and lubing your weapon with oil gets you a misfire. Without the right clothes, being tough only gets one so far. Soon our unprepared and unacclimated friends were rather miserable. It wasn't because they were weak and we were tough, it was because we were prepared. Even sitting in a vehicle isn't a lot of help at -40°, not if you don't take steps to insulate the engine. Idling won't keep an engine warm.
Staying Warm- Nuts and Bolts: The Head
This series is going to be longer than I thought, so I'm going to have to break it into sections.
If your head is not adequately protected, you may as well give up on the rest of your body. Your body will direct all of the heat necessary to your head to keep the brain warm. Without getting into blood flow and heat exchange in the bloodstream, this is the simplest explanation. If your head is exposed and loses much heat, your hands and feet will not stay warm. Your core will have a harder time keeping up as well. Want warm hands and feet? Wear a hat.
The first layer I put on my head is a thin balaclava, folded in on itself (fold the ends inward to the inside, with the face hole facing rearward) to resemble a watch cap. Often this is all that is needed. If the wind picks up, it can be unfolded into a ski mask. White is good for camoflauge, while black will help a bit by soaking up the sun. Most of the winter here is dark, so my camoflauge requirements may differ from other areas, and there's not a whole lot of winter sun to be soaked up anyways. In addition to the balaclava (hereafter called the "bali"), I'll wear a polypro neckgaiter around the neck and sometimes up over the nose and mouth, or a wool scarf (I prefer the gaiter for size and lack of itchiness). Gaiters can be stretched up and over the back of the head as well. Those things are great. I might even have two if its really cold.
When it's really cold, I'll put on a heavy bali over the light one and the neckgaiters. I've been in situations where I wore two heavy "bali"s, with all the other stuff. That was a rather miserable night, assigned as a TOW missile gunner in a (moving) Humvee's exposed turret. Heh. Those times are always better, looking back... Another level of protection is your parka's hood, preferrably with a fur (or synthetic fur) ruff. A good hood will make an almost unbelievable difference in the cold. Remember the layering principle though, don't rely solely on a hood.
The last thing I want to mention is concerning the eyes. I recommend a pair of tinted goggles, for two reasons. The first is preventing snow blindness, which is -trust me on this- no fun. For you welders out there, it's like flashburning your eyes...no fun either. The second reason for goggles is to keep wind off your skin. Wind chill in the extreme cold is no joke, and the wind will find a way in and it will burn and freeze your skin wherever it can. I go with what I know, and I use an old pair of Army issue gunner's goggles, with foam backing. Don't get goggles with rubber backing for the cold. The rubber will freeze your skin if it's cold, and it will crack if it gets too cold. A field expedient is to use flexible bark, like birch, with slits cut in it for vision. Yes, this actually works. Fresh birch bark is flexible and easy to cut, and a piece of string or 550 cord (you have some, right?) will let you tie them to your head. Regular sunglasses work just fine, if the uber stylish goggles just don't do it for you. For wind or extreme cold though, go with goggles.
One more note, from personal experience. If you run an AR, and take up your sight picture, like I do, NTCH (nose to the charging handle), be careful. I saw a guy frostbite the tip of his nose by touching the cold charging handle...contact frostbite. The field expedient fix we used was a good one, and I use it to this day. Take a piece of moleskin tape (medical bandage tape works, just not as well) and stick it on the charging handle (works best if the weapon is warm).
A lot of what I talk about here may not apply to everyone and all climates. Take what you want, and leave the rest. This is what works for me, and what I have learned- often the hard way. Most of the items mentioned here can be googled pretty easily.
Staying Warm- Nuts and Bolts: Your Core
Keeping your core warm and dry is vital. You have to keep dry, and you have to use layers. My first, and I do mean very first layer is polypropylene thermal underwear, tops and bottoms. It's warm, and wicks moisture away from the skin. DO NOT run these through the dryer. If you must, use low or no heat. Hang dry is best, as heat degrades them. So do fires and winter stoves. (Actually, too much heat will melt these right to your skin. Yeah. Ouch. Be careful in polys around fire and stoves. You have been warned.)
My next layer, if I need it, will be some sort of heavy material. Military ECWCS polar fleece works great, as do the older military "Bear suits". Army field jacket liners are a good material here as well. If I need another inner layer, I'll put a wool sweater or heavy shirt on top of the polypros. I like the OD green commando type.Wool is good, because, unlike cotton, it can still retain heat when wet. Rarely do I need more inner layers than what I've described here.
The next layer is usually the outer layer, with a gore-tex or some comparable water resistant material. I like the Army issue type gore-tex, because they're fairly easy to find around here, and I'm used to them. They're a bit loud, but are quieted quite a bit by over whites...stay tuned for more on those. Here is a link to a lot of what I'm describing. Here's another, and another. The Gore-tex parka I use has a detachable (synthetic) fur ruff. With a proper bali system, you won't need a hood with ruff unless the wind starts howling. The ruffs really do help trap more heat, and they help keep the wind out. On the legs, gore-tex pants are a lifesaver. I like the Army's ECWCS Gore-tex pants. Those are shown in some of the previous links, or can be found easily using Google. Check surplus stores for all this stuff.
Sometimes the gore-tex parka won't cut it, and that's when I pull out the mother of all coats, the surplus store Air Force parka. Here's another. Dollar for dollar, these are the best deal going for dry, extreme-cold environments. They are very warm, and you will sweat if you work much in them. Once they're wet, they're not so great, but for stationary duty, they can't be beat for the price. Not very stylish, but stylish here in Interior Alaska is whatever is warm, Bunny Boots included. More on those later.
Some things I've picked up along the way:
-Leave the belt at home. Suspenders (for your outer layer pants) are the way to go. A belt will chafe you. Trust me.
-Socks, balis, gloves, MRE meals can be warmed and/or dried by placing them in between your layers. When drying something, first let it freeze, then shake or beat the ice off it. If you value water, keep a 1 quart canteen in the inner pocket of your parka, or between layers somehow. Alternately, wear a Camel back over your base layer, under everything else.
-Army Gore-tex parkas and pants have zippers to allow you to ventilate. This is vital, because they breathe, but not enough.
-Try to change poly pros every few days in the field. Remember C.O.L.D. Clean=Warm. This is not always possible though. Sometimes, after weeks in the field, poly pros are better thrown away...
-A "expedient" means of washing clothing is to get them wet (if you can find a lot of unfrozen water), let them freeze, then shake them off. When the water freezes, it will draw out some-not all-of the dirt, sweat, etc. Beat off the ice and CM (continue mission).
-If you're stuck with inadequate clothing, you can increase heat retention by digging through the snow to the ground, where lots of natural insulation is. Leaves, grass, whatever you can find, can be shoved in between layers. It's not much, but it does help in an emergency.
-Layers. Layers, layers, layers. Shed or add as necessary. Do not sweat excessively if you can avoid it.
-Rather than adding more layers if you're going to be stationary for a while, consider getting in your sleeping bag, at least partly. I have driven humvees while halfway in a sleeping bag (heater died once, and once we got "hit" while I was sleeping in the driver's seat), I have pulled 2-3 day OPs (observation posts) from a sleeping bag, and I have stood in the gunner's hatch layered up, half in a sleeping bag and half wrapped in a woobie...more on woobies later...
I'm sure I'll think of more later. Feel free to add on if you have suggestions.
You may have noticed I like military gear. Mainly this is because I trust it. My baptism in the North was with Army ECWCS (extreme -or extended- cold weather clothing system) gear, and it has not failed me. In fact, it has saved my life. I stick with what I know, although I'm not afraid to try new stuff. Kevin Wilmeth has let me on to Wiggy's, which I will be trying soon enough.
I'll be testing out some "Shooter's Choice" all weather grease this weekend on my AR. The forecast is calling for -35° at night this weekend. I'll lube up the AR and XD, leave them out, then see how the stuff does. It's rated to -65°. We'll see. I'll let the weapons and grease get cold, fire, let them cool, fire again, and see what happens.
Staying Warm- Nuts and Bolts: Hands and Feet
To have warm hands, first you must have a warm head and core. This cannot be stressed enough. I find that my body always warms the head and core before the extremities. No gloves or mittens, or boots, ever designed can keep your hands and feet warm if your head is freezing, or your core temperature is dropping. Stepping off the soapbox, start with glove liners, preferably poly pro like these or these. The second pair is similar to what I know and use. These wick moisture from the skin, and allow you to remove your hands from heavier gloves or mittens without getting too cold, or getting contact frostbite from cold metal (like your car door, house doorknob, or your weapons). The extra dexterity is sometimes needed for knots, weapons maintenance, etc., and it's nice to not do these things with bare hands. Thin liners like these are the base layer for your hands. Have several with you, as you will wear holes in them.
Next is largely a matter of personal preference. There are many gloves on the market, and for much of the year, almost any decent glove can be used. My current favorite pair is the Thermolite brand with the long cuffs. For serious cold weather field use, I strongly recommend mittens, and there are two types that can be had fairly cheaply. USGI Arctic mittens are the warmest, examples are here, and here. Buy them off eBay, or surplus. These mittens, with glove liners, are awesome. Tie a string to each on the tab meant for this, and run the mittens through the sleeves of your parka, so the mittens come out the sleeves, and the string is along your back, under the coat. This allows you to shake them off your hands quickly do whatever, and you won't lose them. It also helps you keep them when you wipe out skiing downhill on horrible military skis. Don't ask how I know... You can easily keep a hand warmer in the mittens without making them tight. These mittens have a fur back that is good for warming your cheeks or nose, and for wiping your nose. Yes, I'm serious.
Arctic mittens can also be used as "monkey feet". Put them on your feet at night, leather down, when you get out of the sleeping bag to visit the latrine area. Works like a charm, especially in the "dry" powder up here.
Another worthwhile form of mitten is the trigger finger mitten, with liners. They can be found on Amazon here, for cheap. Don't let the price fool you, they're not bad at all for cold weather. They're a good compromise between ease of shooting and warmth. You can keep the trigger finger with the others until you're likely to need it. If you use these, you can use the string to keep them secure as well.
Personally, I wear the big mittens, and swing the trigger guard down on the AR. You can still hit the trigger with mittens on if you try hard enough. If I'm in a situation where contact is expected or possible, I'll alternate between keeping my hand in and out of the mitten. I'll always have the glove liners on.
Gloves are fine most of the time, but in my opinion, mittens are better for extreme cold. Buy your gloves a bit loose, and wear the glove liners with them. Be careful not to restrict circulation.
Glove liners, mittens, trigger finger mittens, and hand-warmers. That's what I use when it gets cold.
Polypropylene Sock Liners. I bet you didn't see that coming... They wick sweat away, and dry feet are a must. These have to go on first, to get the most from your boots and socks. For socks, there are many choices. I prefer...you guessed it...thick military surplus white socks. These are decent as well, as are many styles of thick wool socks, and thick winter hiking socks. I like wool, and I like to change socks often. Make sure your boots can handle wearing liners and socks without getting tight. Circulation...
With boots, there are many favorites. For everyday winter boots, I personally wear these Sorels. This may sound funny, but I don't pay too much attention to the advertised temperature ratings, with one exception, which I'll explain in a minute. Anything with the Sorel name on it, rated to -40 or better, works for me. Baffin is another great boot, popular with workers on the North Slope. Here is an example, and here. Many Baffin boots are steel-toed, as well.
Another good boot I like is an Air Force mukluk. Throw out the issued liners, or use them as slippers, and put in a set of super thick Sorel boot liners. Apply weatherproofing to the mukluk canvas, and you're set for extreme dry cold conditions. They're ugly as sin, but pretty common up here. Best of all, they work.
Last but not least by any means in the boot department is the classic bunny boot, aka Mickey Mouse boot. The Army officially calls them Vapor Barrier, or VB boots. Look around, you can find them fairly cheap. These are the knock-down, drag-out, all around best boots for the arctic I've worn. You can inflate the sides with your mouth to give you a vapor barrier. You can lock into snowshoes and military skis with them, as well. They are warm, do not wear them for long inside then go outside. These boots do not breathe at all, and moisture can will be a problem. Change socks often with these, as you will eventually have wet feet. I cannot remember having cold feet in these, as long as I kept my socks dry
Still to come is sleeping, eating, hydration, hygiene, and, of course, tactical considerations, to include weapons and camouflage. I am leaving weapons, camo, and tactics for last, because no matter how good you are as an operator, you cannot fight with frozen hands, you cannot move with ruined feet, and you cannot stay still and hide -especially from thermal sights- if you are cold. Thermal sights pick up heat, and if heat is escaping your clothing, you will show up bright as a light in thermals. I learned this from years of pulling screen line duty behind a thermal TOW missile sight.
I hope you're finding this informal, unscientific information useful. It's what works for me. Staying warm is a whole body effort, with principles that are intertwined and interdependent. Remember C.O.L.D.?
Staying Warm: Nuts and Bolts- Sleeping
I primarily have experience with two types of sleeping bags, an old style Army bag, and a newer modular gore-tex bag, like this one. I have used both extensively. The modular gore-tex system is by far superior, and you can configure it for any temperature. I spent a night on motorpool concrete at fifty below in one of these, with a foam pad under me. I've also spent many nights in the field in one. I've woken up covered in snow, and a few times with puddles of rainwater on the gore-tex cover. That modular bag is the real thing. The older style bag is heavy and down filled. It is cumbersome, and if you get it wet, it's nearly worthless, in my experience.
Keeping an insulator between your bag and the ground is essential, as the ground is nothing more than a giant heat sink that will rob you of much heat. At the simplest, a GI style foam sleeping pad can be used. I have a few that I trimmed down to be narrower, and I use them for going prone for extended periods. An inflatable sleeping pad, like the one linked, is often lighter and/or more compact than the foam pad. I would recommend a self-inflating model, like this, as it saves you from taking repeated deep breaths of frigid air to blow it up. I like to get to bare ground, then build a layer of pine boughs or leaves if I can, and put my pad on top of that.
Now, you can't just buy a bag and jump in it and expect to stay warm. There are some essentials, in my opinion, that cannot be violated.
Prior to getting into your bag, take off as much as possible. Outer layers can stay outside the bag, but all inner layer clothing should go in the bag with you. I sleep in the minimum that is practical. If you're in a situation that's fairly safe, the less you have on in the bag the better, down to wearing nothing. Sometimes that's not practical, such as in a tactical environment, but I would recommend not having anything on other than a wicking base layer. In my opinion, feet must be bare. Wrap them in an item of clothing, but give them a break from socks. You will sweat in a bag with too much on, and lose heat because of it. Remember the C.O.L.D. principles discussed earlier. Some guys refuse to down dress, and they are cold. I can honestly say I have never spent a miserable night in the modular bag, sleeping as light as possible.
Your boots can go in your bag as well, but I prefer to put them under my head and deal with the shock of cold boots in the morning. Throw a hand warmer in them before you put them on, if you want. Good boots will warm up quickly. As I said, all of my inner layers will go inside the bag. They act as insulation, and I will sometimes wrap my bare feet in my polar fleece layer.
Many times I will keep a woobie, or poncho liner, in the bag as well. It can act as another layer, a foot wrap, or a head cover for a mummy style bag.
I know there's not a lot of options in this post, but as I've said before, I hesitate to veer from what has worked so well for me. The modular bag offered by the military (and available to civilians), along with padding and application of the C.O.L.D. principles has never let me down, not once, from 60 degree nights (using only the thin layer and gore-tex shell) all the way from 30-40 degrees and torrential rain (it always rains during moose season here...always.), to a windy -55 in the middle of nowhere.
The bag can be used for hide positions as well, and the gore-tex bivy cover allows you to fore go a wind block. I've spent the night, awake, in a bag on an observation post. I've driven a Humvee in one, and pulled watch behind a .50 cal in a gunner's turret in one.
As always, I'm open to suggestions, but I think you'll be hard pressed to find a better, more adaptable system, especially for the $150-300 price range. Let me know if you have something better, or any other suggestions.
Good sleep is a must in the arctic. Without sleep, its becomes harder and harder to stay warm.
Staying Warm: Nuts and Bolts- Fueling the Furnace
No matter how good your gear is, no matter how fit you are, you will fail miserably in the cold if you do not feed the furnace right. You cannot hope to trudge through the snow with the right gear on your body and back (blowing calories like there's no tomorrow) and stay warm without replacing the energy and calories you use.
Here's the long and short of it: If you don't eat enough, you will not stay warm. No matter what you put on, no matter how much you move, your body will not produce enough heat. My unscientific opinion is that you need to eat twice as much in the cold as you would in more temperate weather. Think about it. You will likely be trudging through snow wearing heavier than usual clothes and boots, carrying extra gear, maybe even using snowshoes or skis. You will be burning calories to stay warm as well. Think of your body as a furnace. No fuel, no heat.
Carbohydrates are good at the beginning and middle of the day, while proteins may be more better for eating at night, according to this study. Basically, carbs are good for energy that is needed to keep moving, and protein (meats) is good for its ability to keep you warm longer. This brings to mind my grandfather's penchant for food that would "stick to your belly".
This is more or less in line with what I have learned and practiced in my experiences in the cold.
During the day, my pockets are filled with snacks- nuts, candy, jerky, whatever. Calories and food to keep going are essential throughout the day, and it is easier to eat small snacks throughout the day than it is to cook a warm meal every few hours. Heating food when possible is a good idea, as your body will not have to spend the energy to warm it up once inside your stomach. If you're using MRE heaters, drain the excess water out and find a place for the heater in your layers, if you can. Those things put out heat for quite a while.
The Army's cold weather rations are essentially double MREs, heavy on the small snacks as I mentioned above, and full of foods like chili, turkey, peanut butter, and oatmeal. Stick-to-your-guts food. More on Rations, Cold Weather (now called MCW/LRPs) here and here.
My favorite cold weather food is chili mac. Mountain house chili mac can be found here and here. Eating before turning in for the night (or day) in the cold is an absolute imperative, in my book. Gorging myself on chili mac (or another high protein food) before getting in the sleeping bag is, in my opinion, a big part of staying warm.
Another important issue in the cold is hydration. You need just as much water in the cold as you do normally, even though you may not feel like it. Keep a canteen warm by keeping it in an inner pocket, or wear a camel back over your base layer. This is a subject that cannot be overstressed, as I have seen many cases of dehydration in the cold. Here in interior Alaska, humidity seems nonexistent when the mercury plummets, and a person will dry out fast. In addition to water, blistex or carmex helps when the lips get dried out (keep them warm or they'll freeze). This happens to me a lot in the winter. It can get so dry here my nose will occasionally begin bleeding out of nowhere. The fix to that is to apply Vaseline to the inside of the nose with a Q-tip.
A good gauge of the body's hydration level is the color of the urine. If you're making dark yellow snow, drink more water. If it's very light or clear, you're hydrated. Be careful with alcohol, as it will give you a false sense of warmth, and deaden your senses to the cold, leading to frostbite-type injuries. Although a cup of hot coffee is great when it's cold, don't overdo it, as too much can hurt your hydration level.
While I'm preaching, you smokers should cut back in the cold as well. Cigarette smoking constricts blood vessels, leading to less circulation. Less circulation = less blood flow = less heat, especially to those hands and feet. Then there are tactical implications to smoking, such as heat and light signatures, and smell. I can smell a cigarette from quite a distance in the cold. I would say my sense of smell is heightened quite a bit in the cold. Cigarettes shine like a million candlepower spotlight through night vision. I digress though, more on these issues when I discuss cold weather tactical considerations.
One more tip, on water. Try to not eat snow or ice as a water source. It will work, as it is water, but you will use an incredible amount of calories (think calories=energy=warmth) to melt the snow or ice and warm it up.
Good sources of heat for cooking in the winter include trioxane (found at surplus stores), various fuel tablets, and stoves of various types. I like these for heating and cooking, or an old fashioned canteen cup. These canteen cup stands are handy too.
Some good resources for cold weather nutrition can be found here, here, and here. The Army's older cold weather manual can be found here, and the .pdf is here. Another good resource is the survival manual, found here.
We've had a few days of -40 weather here, and I wanted to get out to the range and record point of impact changes in my hand loads. Alas, work and family obligations, not to mention Hallmark's Day Valentine's Day, kept me away from the range. Hopefully we get another cold snap before breakup, so I can do some more cold shooting. ("Breakup" is Alaskaspeak for that time of year when the ice and snow "breaks up" and melts. A muddy, flooded, wet, waterlogged, slushy mess. The Germans learned about that the hard way on the Eastern Front in WWII. Spring is not quite the word for it. Here in Alaska, we have Winter, Breakup, and a Summer-ish period.)
There are a few more I want to write, such as one covering PT in the cold, one on tactical considerations, and one covering road travel. I'll write about travel in the next month or so, as I am about to make a trip 2,000 miles down the Alaska Highway pulling quite a load....with the entire family, and pets as well. Even the family bunny. Assuming I survive with sanity intact, I'm sure to have a few lessons learned to add to what I learned as a soldier in Arctic conditions.
Stay warm this winter, and stay in the fight.
Don't stop your training and PT just because its cold. Rest assured the bad people aren't. Your body will work in the cold, if you subjugate it to your will and take care of it. Your weapons will run in the cold, if they're brought out of the house and taken care of. Learning that your body and your tools are subject to your will is more valuable in itself than the physical processes of training and PT.
Posted verbatim from Arctic Patriot's blog post of Monday, October 31, 2011