Survival Tip of the Day?

6:13 p.m. on December 20, 2012 (EST)
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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/12/19/bc-snowboarder-search-bill-boucher.html

This story is another installment in the 'cost of rescue' discussion, but that isn't my main reason for posting it. This is:

Boucher said he survived the freezing nights in the hazardous North Shore wilderness, in part, by using his own urine in a Ziploc bag as a kind of hot water bottle. 

Now maybe this is a well-known old backcountry trick, but nobody told me. Another reason to carry extra ziplocs -- and to make sure you have the good ones!

5:26 a.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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I  do this all the time.

It helps you to stay warm, and the best thing....you don't have to crawl out of your tent to pee.

 

Wiz, seal and snore.

7:47 a.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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Ed G,

I could see using a plastic bottle but a Ziploc? You must buy better Ziplocs than me...lol

9:00 a.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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Yup, Ziploc freezer bags.

Even when it's warm, I'll keep one in the tent.

Who wants to get bit up at night  by mosquittos in places you don't want bit up.

9:41 a.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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He said “..after a few moments he realized he was lost.”  Then why didn’t he re-trace his steps instead of venturing further onwards.  He went OB on purpose, his excuse is total BS.

About the bag of piss:
If you are stuck out in the open, using a quart of warm pee to keep warm is more a symbolic gesture than effective measure, kind of like using one of those ferric oxide hand warmers in a blizzard.  Might as well be pissing into the wind. 

As for stowing a zip lock full of pee in my sleeping bag; whatever comfort it may provide to help me go to sleep is temporal, and offset by the fear I will roll over it in my sleep and burst it.  JMO…

This boarder is a moron!  It is the few dudes like him with their outlaw attitudes that give the sport a bad reputation.  His whole mindset is illustrated by his mistaken take on the comments of SAR folks, saying he was “..an animal..” thinking they admired his actions taken to descend that 30M cliff, etc, when in fact they were being ironic and actually felt he was reckless, as indicated by the rest of the statement “..I can't believe you're still walking and talking after this.”  For all of his intelligence and resourcfulness, he didn’t act very smart.  Its dumb luck he survived.  Shred that Sebastien!

Ed

10:11 a.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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Having a pee-bottle in the tent so you don't have to go outside at night is a nice trick (for a guy), but a lot of the men I know just roll over on their side and crack the tent zipper for a moment, pee, then go back to sleep. Always the risk of a drip or unexpected puddle, though, as well as the fact that you're likely to gross out your tentmates!

Regarding the ferric oxide heaters, though, they aren't meant for heating up your entire body, just for providing warmth in a specific area. For example, snowshoe bindings can restrict circulation to the toes, and a chemical pack can make sure you don't get frostbite. They require oxygen to work, so the trick is to leave your boots loose enough to allow some minimal air flow.

I use them all the time (way more reliable then electric insoles), and carry extras to hand out to people whose toes start getting cold half-way down a trail. And, yes, they DO work in a 'raging blizzard'. You might freeze to death anyway, but if you have packs in your boots or your gloves, your toes and fingers will still be warm.

Is the boarder a moron? Certainly. In fact, he's looking at a $10,000 fine right now for ignoring the warning signs, although that won't cover the entire cost of the search and the rescue. Serves him right.

10:43 a.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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Ed,

 

Yeah, I would also be too paranoid about a ziploc busting to use it as disscused here. My stuff is hard enough to keep clean without having to remove urine odors from a "bag-o-pee accident". :)

 

Peter,

I never done the out the door pee in a full tent but since i started tarping last summer I have observed that it lends itself much more readily to such activities. Although if using no floor under the tarp one must first examine the slope to avoid any unwanted run-off.

 

 

11:25 a.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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i feel much safer using a bottle, but i have used freezer bags before.  if you seal them tight and put them in the corner of your tent, it freezes solid pretty quickly.  one caveat - i make sure the piss bottle is readily distinguishable from the drinking bottles, usually but keeping the tritan/clear bottles for drinks and a cloudy/white HDPE bottle for piss.  ps - after sterilizing the cloudy bottle after a trip, it goes back into my family's water bottle cabinet and often gets used at soccer games.  unpleasant to think about, but i figure that our glass milk bottles (we still have a 'milk man' who drops a few gallons in an igloo cooler on our front steps every week) occasionally get some mold buildup, and they undoubtedly get cleaned and re-used. 

i can't see using a ziplok as a hot water bottle for the reasons already stated; nor can i see bringing one of those red rubber hot water bottles on a trip for the sole purpose of using it as a piss bottle with secondary warming utility.....

6:23 p.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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I guess I'm lucky, that at 56 years old, I never have to get up in the middle of the night and pee.

9:34 p.m. on December 21, 2012 (EST)
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JimDoss,

That probably just means you are dehydrated.

more generally -

A bottle (preferably at least 1 liter capacity) is standard equipment on expeditions, especially high altitude or polar, plus winter backcountry treks. Some take a Gatorade bottle, which they drink during the day and use as a pee bottle during the cold, blizzardly nights. Just make sure it seals tightly with no leaks. The rule of thumb is that if you don't fill a 1 liter bottle overnight, you are dehydrated. A clear bottle allows you to check the color (criterion - clear and copious - if it is dark yellow or darker, you are definitely seriously dehydrated)

I have found that if I store it outside the sleeping bag on sub-zero nights, it is like pulling an iceblock into the bag, so most people on such expeditions that I know, keep it in the bag.

While it is a bit more of a challenge for women, there are funnels that can be used with a little practice that work quite well in the tent. The Freshette is reported to be the best and most popular choice (carried at EMS, REI, and other outdoor stores)

12:43 p.m. on December 22, 2012 (EST)
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This reminds me too much of being bed ridden after a bad accident.  I revel in the ability to get up and pee into the night.

1:39 p.m. on December 22, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S said:

JimDoss,

That probably just means you are dehydrated.

 Nope.  I just don't drink anything an hour before hitting the hay and take a leak just before getting in bed.  I drink plenty throughout the day.

2:24 p.m. on December 22, 2012 (EST)
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Most of the foods I consume are cooked using boiled water (instant grits and 3 cups of coffee at breakfast  and a 2 serving mountain house for dinner), so I'm always more hydrated when camping then when I'm at home.

It's my camping ritual to lay in the hammock and have a big 'ole jet boil mug of hot chocolate before hitting the sack (two packs of instant chocolate is the perfect amount in those mugs).

 

 I'll go two or three times during the night...and I like it. I'm in the woods.

 

Oh, and I did forget to mention - my ziplock bag of pee goes in the bottom of the sleeping bag against my feet.  Sure would hate to roll over on it.

 

What would smell worse...a wet dog or down - wet with pee?

 

4:45 p.m. on December 22, 2012 (EST)
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I guess it's the pee container in the context of a day-trip emergency kit that hadn't occurred to me. (I'd still reach for that mylar blanket first, thanks.)

As part of the camping kit, sure. I've never needed to sleep with it, though, I'm happy to say. Tell your lady friends: a 'chamber pot' is easily improvised from a bucket, tub or pail with a tight-fitting lid (an ice-cream container, for example). Large milk cartons work, and can be packed flat, but can't be sealed as easily. No she-wee type gizmo required! But those are indeed handy for women who spend a lot of time out there.

2:55 p.m. on December 23, 2012 (EST)
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I don't get up to pee, I go before hitting the sack and that does me. No she wee gizmo needed here! but yeah -  that boarder was an idiot. they should ban him. and about those little heaters - they work. I have used them many a time to keep warm in my bag. two under the arm pits, one in the croch. nice and toasty warm. I wouldn't go snow camping without them.

3:37 p.m. on December 23, 2012 (EST)
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Trailspacebottle.jpg

5:56 p.m. on December 23, 2012 (EST)
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Pathloser, that's...strangely beautiful. Do you know anybody who paints in oil? :)

1:52 p.m. on December 24, 2012 (EST)
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Trailjester said:

..about those little heaters - they work...

Those hand warmer thingys may suit your intended use, but as far as contributing to one's survival while out in the open they will do next to nothing to maintain your core temperature.

Ed

4:52 p.m. on December 24, 2012 (EST)
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I was wondering about that, Ed. (And Trailjester, I'd like to know what brand you use.) I can see them preventing frostbite in your hands and feet, but if you did like Trailjester and put a bunch of them under your clothes around your core, wouldn't that help prevent hypothermia? It seems like they'd work same as hot water bottles would. No? Even, say, half a dozen or so? I've never used them, hence the curious.

Happies, merries and jollies to you all!

11:11 a.m. on December 25, 2012 (EST)
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Let me explain this, Ed. If your feet are frozen wooden blocks and your hands are numb and useless, your chances of survival in cold weather are greatly reduced. 

As I already pointed out, chemical packs aren't meant to maintain core temperatures. Beside the necessary benefits I mention, they can as well help with just feeling comfortable as TJ mentions.

I take it you've never used them that way? Perhaps you could give it a try next time you're outside at -40°.

3:01 p.m. on December 25, 2012 (EST)
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Islandess,

Wilderness Medicine Institute and other Wilderness First Aid and WFR trainers recommend using chemical warmers (wrapped in a cloth, and not directly on the skin - direct contact can produce burns) in the armpits and groin as the preferred in-the-field method of rewarming a hypothermia victim. First thing is getting the person out of the weather (especially wind - a tent is good), out of their wet clothes, and into a sleeping bag (in dry clothes if available) on an insulating pad. DO NOT put two other people in the sleeping bag with them, as the ancient legend has it - that just gives you 3 hypothermia victims. Also, check other members of the party - if one is hypothermic, you probably have others on their way as well.

Most expeditions these days carry the chemical warmers, though of a larger size than hand or toe sized. The foot warmers are large enough to do a lot of good. There are larger sizes that are still fairly light-weight).

I have had to deal with a number of hypothermia victims on scout outings - the kids can't seem to stay dry, no matter what gear and no matter how much you try to train them. Sometimes some of the adults make the same mistakes. So we carry a supply of the chemical warmers and hot water bottles, just in case. Haven't had any problems on treks with experienced adults, though, with hypothermia or frostbite (except for one fellow on Denali, who got a bit of frost-nip on a cheek between his goggles and his mask, plus the one guy who put on an extra pair of socks on summit day, not realizing it would impede circulation to his toes).

10:43 p.m. on December 25, 2012 (EST)
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peter1955 said:

Let me explain this, Ed. If your feet are frozen wooden blocks and your hands are numb and useless, your chances of survival in cold weather are greatly reduced...

Actually if one's feet and hands were frozen, they would be better off leaving them that way.  You might be able to stumble out on frozen feet, but if you thaw them - by whatever means possible - sensation will return with the blood, and result in so much pain that walking would be impossible.   In any case thawing and refreezing tissue will cause more damage then if left as is.

Using thermal pads to address frost bite is a risky proposition; these devices can burn flesh too numb to sense the danger.  I would not suggest this technique to anyone attempting to assist a distressed victim unless they have received proper training in wilderness first aid. 

Tour guides and such may find practical benefit hauling around thermal pads to address client issues, but I would argue self directed groups and individuals would be better off preventing such chills by equipping properly in the first place, and using the thermal properties of food consumed to keep warm.  After all we all try to reduce pack weight, and a half dozen of those pads could have been a meal in your pack instead.  I find eating just before bed helps keep warm.

Ed 

6:31 a.m. on December 26, 2012 (EST)
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I dont have the experience you guys have, but I think the idea is to use the pads before your hands or feet are frozen. I work outside all winter and those pads in my gloves and boots help keep me warm all the time. Ive never used them in a survival situation, but cold is cold.

9:26 a.m. on December 26, 2012 (EST)
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Of course, hotdogman. The packs are used before your hands and feet get cold. In fact, I put them in at the trailhead. They only last 3-5 hours, so someone working outside would put in a new pair at lunchtime.

In cold climates (and not-so-cold ones) chemical packs are commonly used by hunters, skiers, and hikers, and also by people who work outdoors all day. Even the best equipment can't always prevent frostbite. 

Respectfully, Ed, it really sounds like you're not familiar with the packs or how they are used. All that you say might seem true, if you'd never seen them used or understood their application. As you see in the comments above, when used properly, people who have experience with them find them useful.

Notably, the only time I got frostbite was when I inadvertently forgot to put some in on a -25°C day.

2:07 p.m. on December 26, 2012 (EST)
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Ed whome is correct on the frostbite rewarming question, as far as he goes. Again, I am not an MD, much less world expert on anything medical. But going by what I have been taught in my Wilderness First Aid courses, if you are in a location where the frostbite area will not be re-frozen and you have to hike out, you can slowly re-warm using luke-warm water. DO NOT rewarm rapidly or with dry heat (such as chemical heat warmers or in front of a campfire. It is best by far to have the rewarming done by evacuating to a medical facility that handles frostbite on a regular basis and has the equipment dedicated to it. Obviously, if you are days from help, you do what you can.

Very important is that PREVENTION is by far the best remedy. Pay attention to clothing, etc to prevent frostbite in the first place. The handwarmers and footwarmers can help prevent frostbite (and used as mentioned earlier in the armpits and groin to prevent and rewarm for hypothermia), but cannot replace proper clothing and shelter. To exaggerate a bit, you can't prevent frostbitten feet or hands by taping a handwarmer to the part while running around in -40° weather in T-shirt and shorts. Just in case someone doesn't know - you can get hypothermia without frostbite and you can get frostbite without hypothermia. They are two very different cold illnesses. Frostbite affects the extremities and hypothermia affects the body core temperature.

I can't recommend too strongly taking a certified wilderness first aid course and keeping it current (3 years is the certification cycle). There are only a few providers that are certified under Wilderness Medicine Associates (the professional MD's wilderness medicine organization), several of which offer courses widely over the US and Canada. I think the course duration has to be 15 hours or more. Look for one that includes lots of hands-on scenarios. Many of the ones given in conjunction with universities that have med schools enlist ER personnel to act as "victims" in the scenarios.

7:19 p.m. on December 26, 2012 (EST)
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I was never questioning eds advice. I just think they are useful before you are frozen. Living in the ne I deal with cold on a daily basis during winter, not just when I hike. I have seen them make a diff during the first stages of hypothermia, by placing them in the groin and crotch. Last winter we had to stop and set up a little camp on mt mndk. My buddies daughter started to get too cold so we got heat packs on her, got her out of the wind, got her some hot cocoa and gave her more layers. After an hr or so she had warmed up enough to walk down the hill. I know thawing of frozen body parts should be done by pros, but everyone can try to prevent that by any means necessary. I think they are a valuable tool, everyone should carry during the winter. They def work to loosen up your hands when the cold has stolen your dexterity. Might be the diff between getting a fire going quickly or not being able to start one at all.

10:15 a.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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Prevention is indeed what it's all about, and that's what the chemical packs are meant for. The person who mentioned using thermal packs to thaw frostbitten flesh was Ed, and that was apparently a misunderstanding of how they are used. We all agree there  are better ways to do treat frostbite once it's set in. The chemical packs are not really designed to help maintain core temperatures or to prevent hypothermia, although from what I see here, as with any heat source, they can be used that way. 

Extremities are the first to freeze, and the packs do a pretty good job of helping keep hands and feet warm. For what it's worth, I own a pair of -100°F boots that have a slot in the insole, just under the ball of the foot, that is specifically meant to accommodate hand warmers. Usually, though, I just stick some onto my socks under my toes, and if it's really cold, I might add an extra set under the arch of my foot. 

11:39 a.m. on December 27, 2012 (EST)
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Actually Peter,  my reference to frost bite was an interpretation of your phrase: "..feet are frozen wooden blocks..."  I am pretty sure most would consider the word frozen to mean exactly that, especially when accompanied by the term wooden, another phrase commonly used to describe the frost bite experience.  So my misunderstanding is of your prose - but I do understand the manufacturer’s intended use of these products.

As Bill suggests, these pads are not intended to substitute for appropriate equipment.  I am attempting to convey one should not feel they are being wise bringing them along as back up, knowing in advance the equipment they are packing is insufficient to keep them safe.  These pads were intended for providing comfort, and perhaps mitigating an emergency.  But if these pads are anyone's SOP to prevent frostbite or hypothermia, they need to reconsider their gear choices, cold weather survival strategies, or the wisdom of venturing out into that kind of weather.  I do not live in snow country, but have trekked for weeks at a time in it, including several high altitude trips in Alaska and Peru.  Definately colder than -25C.  We confronted frost bite only once, when weather trapped us on the mountain, and we ran out of food - hard to keep the fire inside burning with no wood to chew on.  But otherwise feeling cold was a comfort issue; our gear and practices effectively managed cold exposure.

The point I was trying to make is these pads may be good for the ski resort or a day hike, but if folks feel compelled to rely on them to keep warm in their sleeping bag or keep their fingers from getting numb on a snow camping trip, they should consider other alternatives, like eating before bed, obtaining better suited cold climate equipment, or resorting to more effective sheltering techniques.  I have no problem with folks liking comfort – that is why I bring whisky camping – but pads and alcohol are both poor solutions to precluding cold related emergencies.

Ed

5:04 p.m. on December 29, 2012 (EST)
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by no means is a chemical warmer a substitute for proper gear and clothing. I merely use them to be more comfortable in cold weather. I think that's how most of us use them. woe to the hiker who's only protection against hypothermia is a chemical heater...I don't know what brand they are, but i get them at rei.

10:05 a.m. on December 30, 2012 (EST)
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Ed wouldnt you have loved to have a couple of warmers on that trip you mentioned. I think they would have made a diff for you. I have a titanium knee and I use them almost everynight while backpacking in winter. They are not a substitute for gear or food but another weapon to fight the cold with. You have several ways to make fire dont you, why not alternatives to traditional warmth. I keep a couple in my fire kit, they prob should be replaced they have been in there forever. On living in a snowy area, I know many people who work inside/ outside all winter. My usual hiking partner works in the vending industry, so he is in his truck , out of his truck then into a business. His hands take a beating from the cold, and handling cold drinks repeatedly. I gave him a pair of gloves with a pocket for warmer for xmas last yr. He uses them when he gets back in the truck to give his hands a headstart towards recovering their temp. I just feel they are useful and hate to see someone as experienced as whome neglect to have such a useful item in their kit.

12:15 p.m. on January 3, 2013 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

Ed wouldnt you have loved to have a couple of warmers on that trip you mentioned. I think they would have made a diff for you...

..I just feel they are useful and hate to see someone as experienced as whome neglect to have such a useful item in their kit.

Actually I would have preferred to have the Swedish bikini team on that trip to keep me warm, but I can’t afford such comforts on many levels… Those heat pads would not have been much help I the trip I mentioned.  We were stuck for days; our team would have needed a warehouse full of pads for that ordeal.  Additionally our problems with the cold resulted from running out of food and the resulting lost core temperature; about the only things that will remedy that are more food and perhaps a beach chair on Maui  

I do have alternatives for warmth, other than carrying heat pads.  For instance I have a pair of mittens that look like oversized oven mitts that I use exclusively to keep my hands warm.  I carry them inside my shell parka to preheat.  Can’t do much with my hands inside these mitts, but they keep me warm while standing around down to about -20°F.  If my feet get cold I add another layer of socks and buckle my double boots loosely (permits better blood circulation).  I used to own mukluks – very good for warmth - but we inadvertently parted company returning from a trip years ago.  Another tip is getting out of the wind.  Shelters built into the snow are draft free and warmer than a tent or trench on the surface of the snow.  Tight clothes constrict circulation of warm blood so make sure all clothing layers have a loose fit as worn.

Generally I found gear rated for intended use is the best way to stay warm, that and carrying spare hand, feet and head apparel.  Also folks tend to dehydrate and lose appetite in the cold; just drinking more fluids and eating frequent snacks have a very significant affect against the chills.  Regulating physical effort and apparel layers to minimize sweating reduces the likelihood of feeling cold later in the day, while reserving a fresh, dry, set of skin layers for R&R after setting up camp (and other physical chores) will go a long way to keep one warmer.  My extra gear may not sound like alternative heat sources, but they are in addition to the kit normally worn by other folks.  And unlike pads, they will function for days, and can fill in a pinch, should my primary gear become unfit for service.  Alas these items are more bulky than a box of pads.  On the other hand I seem to suffer less than others who chose pads as their Plan B, so there is a method to my madness.  I imagine if I were addressing an in-town situation I would go with battery heated gloves and socks - definately leather gloves for driving - but for BC use I think there is more bang going with the options I described above.

Ed

5:00 p.m. on January 6, 2013 (EST)
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extra layers is definately a good idea. thats why I carry extras - or used to. I merely use the warmers to make the warm layers toasty warm. nothing beats a good pair of mittens and a good balaclava, along with nice thick wool socks and insulated boots. I'm getting warm just thinking about them!

6:24 a.m. on January 7, 2013 (EST)
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I think for the size and weight, everyone should have a few warmers in their pack. Of course, extra layers are a given, but why not have some warmers too. The better ones last for many hrs, even if your stranded for days, wouldnt they be helpful if your body couldnt maintain its temp as time passed. If people have been kept alive by a candle in a snow cave, why wouldnt you carry something lighter that provides more heat. I carry a candle lantern and warmers and extra layers, plus a shovel, a tarp and a tent all winter. It doesnt seem practical not to use every weapon at your disposal to battle the cold.

6:30 p.m. on January 7, 2013 (EST)
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Good input from everybody. I've been carrying these warmers around for years, and you know what? I've never used them. Part of that is a 'save it for when it's REALLY bad' mindset. But I've had prevention drummed into me. Don't get wet. Layers are godly. Don't wear tight boots or gloves. Have dry spares, warm them inside your coat, and if it means stripping in a snowbank to change the baselayer, do it. Etcetera.

The few times I've had badly cold feet (BBB, or Before Baffin Boots), I've sat down, taken off my boots, unzipped my coat, and tucked my feet into my armpits. Flexibility is useful!

8:46 p.m. on January 7, 2013 (EST)
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Islandess said:

..I've sat down, taken off my boots, unzipped my coat, and tucked my feet into my armpits. Flexibility is useful!

 Say what?!?!?!!?

8:40 a.m. on January 8, 2013 (EST)
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I call it the Newfie Lotus :)

5:02 p.m. on January 8, 2013 (EST)
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My feet never get cold, stuck in my mouth.

Ed

11:48 p.m. on January 16, 2013 (EST)
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sorry to steer convo away from warmers and back to piss, but for guys who piss in zip locks, do you ever get spillage in your tent / does it make your sleeping bag smell like piss?

10:37 a.m. on January 20, 2013 (EST)
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whomeworry said:

Actually Peter,  my reference to frost bite was an interpretation of your phrase: "..feet are frozen wooden blocks..."  

Then that interpretation is the source of the misunderstanding. I was referring only to the prevention of frozen feet, and in that context, the chemical warmers work just fine. No one suggested they should be used once your feet were frozen. 

And I agree with the the concern raised in your question, stingray. A ziploc is too flexible, and unless you could stand up inside the tent, I would think you would tend to dribble and spill all over the place.

8:44 p.m. on January 26, 2013 (EST)
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Any zip lock pissers to comment? sounds like a mess to me. My grandpa uses a big sunny delight bottle as his piss bottle. 

2:42 p.m. on January 28, 2013 (EST)
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i have used ziplock bags in a pinch, but i always get out of the sleeping bag, whether i use a bottle or a bag.  ziplok bags do increase the risk of spilling in my view, just easier to fumble with it if your fingers are cold or wearing liners.  however, the few times i used them, i was careful and made sure the bag was sealed, left the bag in the corner of the tent, & they were without exception frozen solid by morning. 

5:17 a.m. on January 29, 2013 (EST)
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believe it or not, bottle usage in tents works for the gals too!  Need more practice, but Nobody likes going out for a pee.  (:)

 

3:06 a.m. on January 30, 2013 (EST)
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No way a piss-filled Ziploc would ever make it into my sleeping bag.  I roll around enough that I'm sure it would rupture.  I've suffered through nights with wet sleeping bags before and if it was piss I think I'd go bat shizzle crazy...gross.

Tip for pee bottle use: The narrow mouth Nalgene bottles work like a charm and are more ergonomic for men to use in the dark in a sleeping bag...far less chance of spillage. (let the jokes begin)  It also makes it easy find your piss bottle in the dark by touch assuming your drinking Nalgene is the wide mouth type.  It also prevents the off chance that, in a sleepy stupor, you drink from the wrong bottle.  (Yikes)  It doesn't work well for winter camping because it's too big and clunky to share the sleeping bag with and once frozen you're never getting it emptied.  They are also heavy. So if you are an ounce shaver or camping in freezing temperatures then a re-purposed 20-24oz sports drink bottles is almost as spill proof and slim enough to share the bag with.

I also wanted to add that this snowboarder didn't likely face extremely cold conditions.  I currently live about 30 km across the sound from Cyprus Mountain where he got lost.  It's about as temperate a region as you would find in Canada.  Maybe 10km from downtown Van as the crow flies and less than 3000ft in elevation.  The park is notorious for its freeze-thaw conditions.  Just checked the Canadian Weather Network and it says tonight's low will be -1°C.  Of course he was out there for multiple nights and this could easily be fatal, especially if his clothing wasn't fully waterproof.  I'm not saying he wasn't freezing his tail off but I'm skeptical that a pissed-filled Ziploc hot water bottle is what kept him alive.  It was probably his $1200 Armani'teryx ski duds.

Not sure how I feel about making him foot the rescue bill unless they can prove gross negligence.  I can tell you though that he can easily pay for it.  The article says he is director of finance for the National Bank and that he lives in West Vancouver.  Van is the continent's most expensive city and West Van is the city's most expensive suburb.  The average home price there is $2 million dollars, no hyperbole.  It's a staggeringly affluent city.  We're talking Bentleys, Lambos, and Ferraris in the McDonalds drive-thru.  He can pay for it.

6:33 p.m. on February 13, 2013 (EST)
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francescal said:

believe it or not, bottle usage in tents works for the gals too!  Need more practice, but Nobody likes going out for a pee.  (:)

 

 Sounds like some messy practice to me!

10:38 p.m. on February 13, 2013 (EST)
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Years of special training... Last trip 7F... Tried going outside: redressing, put snowshoes back on...trudge yards away....1/2 hour later I'm undressed again, and totally wide awake. Slept only 4 hours that night ( no bueno). Bottle solves that, and I have never missed yet.

11:40 p.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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stingray said:

francescal said:

believe it or not, bottle usage in tents works for the gals too!  Need more practice, but Nobody likes going out for a pee.  (:)

 

 Sounds like some messy practice to me!

 Gals work things like that just fine. Long before toilets there were thunder jugs... A gal can kneel and slip a rig like that under a skirt/night shirt and chat like a magpie and a male would never know it.

These days a coffee plastic in the 3 / 3.5 pound typical size works well for modern tenting camping for either male or female if they don't want to go out.

And there is no way i would have a freezer bag of pee in my sleeping bag either. That's just asking to die IMO

The pad thing I am missing.... These the red velvet covered tins with 2 charcoal sticks to replace? I own 2 and tried them once... I have no idea why i still own them.

And the chemical type? I think i might have some of those too, but have never tried one once.

Hotdogman I got the tech you might like. A candy tin and some tree fungus free for the taking.... That fuel last long and burns dang hot. You will need a rag to deal with a hours long hot tin.

The fungus will be something you prep some off and carry in a another as water tight tin as you can get, maybe  1/2 pint paint tin, or 2 candy tins.

I wouldn't suppose you know of any birches or hemlock trees with any fungus growing on them would ja'?

I guess if you want the red velvet rigs you could just plain have them too, and i guess they would work like a candy tin in a rag maybe.

4:43 a.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Bag o Piss... What a great idea till it explodes in your down sleeping bag leaving you cold, wet and pissed on. Imagine a pee filled down bag for a minute. Ya...

      Here's my preference. Buy a 32 oz. Gatorade with a wide mouth for obvious reasons. Hike, drink, hydrate etc. Use it instead of an expensive, heavy, somewhat moronic nalgene bottle until night falls. If you end up needing it in the middle of night, have at it. If not, it remains a water bottle until the next night and so on. Once you do use it in the tent while staying warm, I recommend retiring it as a water bottle...haha. It's up to you.

9:49 a.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I think many are missing the point, this to me would be used as a survival tool, where it could save a limb if not used, At that point I could not care less if a littles spills out or even if I roll over onto it and it bursts open. I can live with a sleeping bag or tent soiled with urine and clean it up easily upon rescue.

So to me it is all about if it is worth the risk, and in a true survival situation the answer without hesitation would be yes every single time, like I said what is urine soiled gear compared to me losing a body part, or even the discomfort frost bite brings in most minor cases?

As to those who do it on regular outings, I do not see the point and will either wait until morning or get up and go.

10:19 a.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Jugalug said:

Bag o Piss... What a great idea till it explodes in your down sleeping bag leaving you cold, wet and pissed on. Imagine a pee filled down bag for a minute. Ya...

      Here's my preference. Buy a 32 oz. Gatorade with a wide mouth for obvious reasons. Hike, drink, hydrate etc. Use it instead of an expensive, heavy, somewhat moronic nalgene bottle until night falls. If you end up needing it in the middle of night, have at it. If not, it remains a water bottle until the next night and so on. Once you do use it in the tent while staying warm, I recommend retiring it as a water bottle...haha. It's up to you.

 Which yellow fluid is it I just sipped! ??? Ahhhhhhhhh  ;-)

10:24 a.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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jchanman33 said:

I think many are missing the point, this to me would be used as a survival tool, where it could save a limb if not used, At that point I could not care less if a littles spills out or even if I roll over onto it and it bursts open. I can live with a sleeping bag or tent soiled with urine and clean it up easily upon rescue.

So to me it is all about if it is worth the risk, and in a true survival situation the answer without hesitation would be yes every single time, like I said what is urine soiled gear compared to me losing a body part, or even the discomfort frost bite brings in most minor cases?

As to those who do it on regular outings, I do not see the point and will either wait until morning or get up and go.

 I am not sure a wet sleeping bag is better than frost bite. Either way adding a error to a error isn't going to let anyone go for very long.

With a broken leg at -40 below, if you can stand the pain to pee on a bag/bottle, then you can stand the pain to crawl.

I am sure i would not sleep with pee in any container for fear of it leaking, unless it was a wide mouth Nalgene bottle. So far that is the only container I trust with liquid to have in a down bag in cold.

Personally I don't see the heat  from pee last long long enough to do much.

10:32 a.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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hotdogman said:

I think for the size and weight, everyone should have a few warmers in their pack. Of course, extra layers are a given, but why not have some warmers too. The better ones last for many hrs, even if your stranded for days, wouldnt they be helpful if your body couldnt maintain its temp as time passed. If people have been kept alive by a candle in a snow cave, why wouldnt you carry something lighter that provides more heat. I carry a candle lantern and warmers and extra layers, plus a shovel, a tarp and a tent all winter. It doesnt seem practical not to use every weapon at your disposal to battle the cold.

 I just discovered after years of storing chemical warmers that they are DATED and all of mine were dead.

It should be obvious that I didn't KNOW this because I have never used one.

I do have and have located the red cloth covered metal boxes, something like a hard glasses case with fiberglass insulation inside I think, and burn charcoal sticks. I haven't seen replacement sticks in a long time, but with ease can tell/show you the How To with common tree fungus if you should like these pocket heaters I will never ever use again.. I just don't use this sort of thing.

Instead I and i have never used this to warm my body I carry a can of sterno, to heat my antique Svea 123 and 123R stoves. I may carry a candle lantern too the common telescopic type. I have 3 but can only locate 2.

11:26 a.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Trailjester said, "by no means is a chemical warmer a substitute for proper gear and clothing."

To true, unless you eat them. During the initial stages of hypothermia it's far more prudent to warm your Central Nervous System and hypothalamus by drinking hot liquids. I have stated this before in another thread. The hypothalamus is directly warmed through the palate (roof of mouth) along with the tri-geminal nerve. These all affect motor function which are impacted by the onset of hypothermia.

This is the widely accepted method favored by EMS personnel in Canada.

Think the opposite of an ice cream headache.

In a cold environment, I would take extra clothes and a stove long before the chemical warmers.

12:15 p.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Forget sleeping with your pee and chemical warmers.  Build a fire with the matches in the match safe always on your person.  Use it to signal for help, raise morale, cook food, and stay really warm.

12:40 p.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine, much agreed.

Warming yourself by hugging a bag of urine defies the laws of thermodynamics and you will soon find yourself colder than when you began. I have used pea bottles on all my winter trips and it cools far too quick to be of any use.

Many people on this thread have stated before that the best survival tool is in your head. Know yourself, know your limitations and work within them.

3:55 p.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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But seriously folk's! I once was in the desert on a bike tour, no water around  (other than cold drinkable stuff with Gatorade in it) and I had just adjusted my gears and chain after it came off in the middle of the ride. My hands were black with grease and I didn't want to touch anything else.

I had to piss about the same time and, Yep! you guessed it, I pissed on my hands it actually cleaned them very well. Later when I came to water I washed my hands. But urine is sterile.

It also works to clean bike parts as being warm it loosens dirt and oily grime. 

I know thats more information than you wanted to know, Right?

4:36 p.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Gary I bet the dogs like that bike........ ;-)

8:21 p.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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jchanman33 said:

... what is urine soiled gear compared to me losing a body part, or even the discomfort frost bite brings in most minor cases?

 Ten times colder than a dry sleeping bag/clothes.

As for not being able to hold your urine till morning. Make a greater effort to stay warm. One of the first things you learn diving in 48˚ water is the cold makes you need to go. As soon as your core temperature begins to drop, your body diverts blood from the extremities to keep it warm. Blood vessels entering your legs constrict, sending more blood back to your core, through your kidneys.

Most divers will go right before gearing up for the dive and after just half hour, 45 minutes on the bottom be jonesing to go when they surface, then be dehydrated all day from breathing the dry air.

10:33 p.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Looks like most posting in this thread do not have any experience with cold nights (subzero F) in polar conditions or high altitude. Getting out of the sleeping bag and tent to relieve yourself is unpleasant to say the least.

The OP pointed to an article for someone who survived in an emergency situation, with a number of the subsequent posters misunderstanding what was going on.

The idea is NOT to warm yourself up, but to slow heat loss. Your urine is at body temperature. If you just dump it or leave it in a bottle or bag, the heat is simply dissipated. If it is kept in your sleeping bag with you, it slows the heat loss from the sleeping bag. Again, it does NOT warm you up.

Using a ziploc instead of a sealable bottle is taking a big risk of failure (there are many reports of such accidents from less experienced climbers on high altitude climbs). I have seen people use one of the flexible water bottles, only to discover that after a few flexings in very cold temperatures they crack and leak. A Gatorade bottle or an oddly shaped rigid poly bottle (to distinguish it by feel from your drinkable container) is not so important. Capacity is important, especially if you are staying hydrated, one liter being the recommended capacity.

Another advantage of having a bottle you can manage in your sleeping bag is that you do not have to get up, dress, climb out of the sleeping bag and tent, cooling off yourself and your sleeping bag, get the boots on, walk to the pee hole (at high altitude camps), unzip, relieve yourself (either resolving the maze of layers, or for women, placing the funnel somehow through the layers or baring your nether parts), close everything up, get back to the tent, crawl in while avoiding dragging the snow into the tent that piled up on you in the blizzard, then undressing and climbing back into your now cold sleeping bag.  Instead, you have the bottle in your bag with you, remove the lid, position your self in one of the positions you perfected through practice in the bathtub at home, fill the bottle (one of my tentmates could fill a 1 liter bottle in 1 or 2 sessions), close it securely, and go back to sleep. It is a little trickier for women, but as francescal noted, it is completely doable. I have been on expeditions with a number of women who had no problems, usually making use of one of the purpose-made funnels.

At some point, of course, either it is time to get up and proceed with the climb or hike, or somehow dispose of the contents of the bottle in an environmentally sound manner (that means away from the snow you will be melting for cooking or drinking water). As mentioned by Ed and me in a couple other threads, during long tent-bound storm sessions, this may be in a corner of the boot pit at the tent entrance, though the designated pee hole is preferable (on Denali, some of these at the major designated camp locations at 11k, 14k, and 17k, bear a strong resemblance to the big sand pit that Jabba the Hut met his end in Star Wars - large enough in diameter and deep enough the you want a belay so you don't fall in.

For the gory details, I recommend reading Art Davidson's book on the first winter ascent of Denali, "Minus 148 degrees: The First Winter Ascent of McKinley".

10:39 p.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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I always dove with a dry suit, only in 50 degree water so I never had the urge...always go before the dive. but I think I would much rather hug a chemical warmer than a bag of pee!

3:54 a.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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GaryPalmer said:

..I pissed on my hands it actually cleaned them very well...

It also works to clean bike parts as being warm it loosens dirt and oily grime...

 About that used bike you're selling, Gary - I am no longer interested.

Ed

9:47 a.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

 About that used bike you're selling, Gary - I am no longer interested.

Ed

 Hahaha!

10:49 a.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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I have seen the moon come up and mistaken it for the sun.... Waking up a bit fuzzy on the rock pile, and needing to take a leak. I have done that dance a few times too, but as Bill S says never liked it much.

But so far i still get up and go off ...... However I do have some old NOT  BPA Free Nalgene bottles and could consider giving it a try, but not for heat retention.

I refuse to allow myself to get that cold in the first place. Any times i slept in down bags and a bivey, I have BPA or BPA Free nalgenes with tang and teas, heated hot and stored in wool socks at bed time, plus a stuff sack with trail mix and what ever other snacks I wanted to eat in night inside my boots because i could find my boot at my head inside my bivey in dark.

Just the idea of peeing inside my sleeping bag scares me.

Miss and it is game over.

11:19 a.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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I use a old Nalgene bottle for a night time pisser, I only have to reach out to grab it and go and put it back outside my bag. I started using one in Yosemite in Jan-May 1980 sleeping in the snow in the High Sierra. And BTW I never miss the big mouth bottles hole. Seems like any more now at 57 I fill the bottle every night, sometimes having to empty it and start anew.

11:35 a.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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It just takes a little practice, LodgePole. Just like potty training when you were a kid. Practice at home in the bathtub, so the consequences are minimal.

An alternative for the unskilled, to having to get dressed, leave the tent in the blizzard for the nearest tree or pee hole, slog your way through the snow as your body temperature drops still further, climb in the tent without dragging too much snow in with you, get undressed again, and climbing into your sleeping bag, is Depends. The early astronauts used to use them, before 0-gravity toilets were developed. Problem with them is weight, bulk, and having to pack them out. Though that's not too much different from the currently required practice in many wilderness areas of packing all your human waste out, especially in winter (WAGbags and ResTop work well for this, as well as the required Clean Mountain Cans on Denali and PoopTubes in many rock climbing areas - and before you say "yuck", you do pick up after your dog in the city, don't you - in most cities these days, if you don't, you get a fine and maybe jail time). Yeah, bears "do it in the woods." But real woodsmen make the effort to protect the wilderness from human-caused degradation. And real climbers make the effort to keep the environment clean. In Antarctica, all human waste is flown out, as well. Here's what Leave No Trace has to say about human waste in winter and snow conditions.

12:03 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill, I ain't got no dog anymore ;-)

I'll see about the bottle trick come summer maybe.... Til then I will just Pee Free..... standing like a Man...... 

yeah it's a hassle to get out of a warm bed and get dressed, but i don't get to hike for very far... The hardest part is that bivey sacks are a tad tight at the shoulders and getting in is harder than getting out.

I don't get to fussy about the gearing up to get out either, wind pants over longies and down booties for the lower 1/2.

1976 vintage 10 ounce bright red, well faded red now rip stop NF parka does the top....

That parka isn't really a parka it is a big fat down coat that needs a unlined 60/40 to be complete, and is only good for setting about watching the sun go down. I love that that thing, but don't get it wet!

Back east I know of no policy for hikers where they must pack out human waste.. But we have out houses along the heavy used parts of the AT..

12:03 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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The article mentioned in the begining of this thread reminds me of a similar one over a decade ago. A hunter had become lost during a winter hunt in the area of La Ronge, Saskatchewan. He had to spend the night out with only the clothes on his back. When he was found the next day, a friend of his was reported to have said that he survived the night by breathing into his parka. This, so the story goes, was supposed to warm his breath and prevent heat loss. The friend attributed this technique to the hunter's "bush sense".

As someone who has spent many an endless night waiting out a winter storm with nothing but the clothes on his back I can see the futility in this as a survival technique. Breathing into your clothing, like breathing into your sleeping bag, will only help saturate the insulation making you wet and cold. Most people should know this.

So, to rely on this or the bag of urine technique as a means of survival, in part or as a whole, is a false conclusion. You may survive the first night but your second is going to be a lot tougher.

Assuming that your urine is at body temperature (37C), it is not going to feel much warmer next to your skin at the same temperature and therefore would not contribute any additional warmth. A hot water bottle, on the other hand, can be closer to 100C, the boiling point of water at sea level.

It is these kinds of stories, the one of the hunter I mentioned and the snowboarder that started this discussion, that the media jumps on, and in doing so, promotes unsound ideas when in fact it was probably nothing more than dumb luck that saved these people.   

5:22 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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When he was found the next day, a friend of his was reported to have said that he survived the night by breathing into his parka. This, so the story goes, was supposed to warm his breath and prevent heat loss.

North1, I am wondering if the friend either made that up or got it backwards. As you say, breathing INTO your clothes would have the same end result as pouring water into them, just a bit more gradual. Terrible idea.

But maybe the hunter fellow had more sense, and what he really did was breathe FROM his clothes? By which I mean, inhaling with his face inside his clothes, but exhaling outside. So the breath taken would be pre-warmed.

This, I have heard of, and done myself.

6:22 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Islandess, I have found from my own experience, that people have done all kinds of crazy things with the expectation of it keeping them alive. Even in the Arctic, where I live, there are many people who still claim that putting snow on frost bite is the best treatment. Not only that, but you can pre-condition the skin by rubbing snow on it before you go outside. I have no idea where this comes from in people's culture, but I have seen them do it.

Human Nature being what it is, when lost, people will often try to save face. I have noticed this amongst men in particular. They feel embarassed about getting into such predicaments in the first place and so try to divert attention away from what they did wrong to what they did right, even if everything they did was wrong from the start. Like the person in your article going out of bounds, BUT! he managed to keep himself alive in part by using his urine as a hot water bottle. So everything is okay then? This is called "deflecting".

In my story it was a lost hunter breathing into clothing to stay warm. It doesn't matter what the person says, they still got themselves lost and had to be rescued.

I have been on a few Search and Rescues up here and could write a book on the first thing people say when they are found. If I have to get up in the middle of the night to go out and search for someone, the last thing I care about is how much urine they bagged to stay warm.

8:49 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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There is, as always, much truth and wisdom in what you say, North1. I am smiling in your direction. If you wrote that book, or any book, I would buy it.

8:56 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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On of my winter camps proved interesting to me. I was on Mt Adams NH bivey camping at well below 0 and was using a home made VB sack.

I am going to assume that on this trip the seams I sewed by machine had let go before i even left home, but went unnoticed.

On the morning of day 7 I noticed less loft in y sleeping system and upon checking it out discovered ICE in the out layer of nylon of the outter sleeping bag, and on the inside of my Early Winters Gortex Bivey, by my feet.

I tore my system apart to find the seam was opened not ripped ot torn and for about 8 to 10 inches.

That was letting body moisture out at the bottom of my system to pass into the inner bag threw the feathers of my outer bag where it condensed just under the last layer of nylon of the outer bag and on the inside of the bivey.

I was bummin' out.  Fortunately RMC Gray Know wasn't far off and i was able to go there for some sewing.

For me it was a great lesson on what a VB bag can do. That day was also well below 0 but bright and windy and my bags got turned inside out and tied to scrub at tree line til dusk. That dried them well too.

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