Last week, I discussed winter survival tips and gear. That’s what most people mean when they talk about survival situations: staying alive in harsh snowy conditions. But there’s also summer survival. What do you do against the heat? If winter survival is all about maintaining body heat, keeping metabolic rate high, increasing both true temperature and the “feeling” of being warm, what is warm weather survival about?
There are a few primary things you need to take into account when dealing with warm weather survival:
Avoiding excess sun exposure.
Staying cool during the day (and warm at night).
Tending to wounds and injuries.
In other words, you need to focus on the bottom two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: food, shelter, water, warmth, security, and safety.
These tips and this gear don’t just apply to full-on warm weather survival situations. They also apply to “simulated” warm weather survival situations—camping, hiking, backpacking. Any time you’ll be out in the heat for more than a few hours, paying attention to all these basic requirements will help you have an enjoyable and safe journey.
You need access to safe drinking water.
Most water you encounter in a survival situation isn’t fit for drinking without treatment. And even if it is, you can’t know for sure, and making a mistake like that can set you back—or worse. There’s nothing quite so debilitating as a water-borne illness.
Another thing to keep in mind is that springs are often clean. Map out any nearby springs using Find A Spring before you’re in a survival situation.
You need to regulate your electrolytes.
Hydration isn’t just about the H20. You also need to consume electrolytes. You need sodium, magnesium, and potassium. You even need a little bit of glucose or sucrose to aid in the absorption of water.
Normally, I recommend drinking a big glass of Gerolsteiner mineral water with salt, lime or lemon juice, and magnesium powder for proper hydration. That’s in the context of someone following a keto diet and trying to satisfy their increased electrolyte requirements—from the safety of their own home. But you can’t exactly lug heavy glass bottles of expensive German mineral water or go around mixing up coconut water with molasses in a survival situation. You need something hyper-portable, lightweight, and shelf-stable.
If you can figure out how to store it, blackstrap molasses is also a great source of electrolytes, especially calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Eating just a couple tablespoons of blackstrap molasses gives you more than twice the potassium of a banana, more calcium than a cup of raw spinach, and almost 100 mg of magnesium. Throw in some salt, add to water, and you’re good to go.
You need food that won’t go bad.
Jerky, biltong, pemmican
Olives or dried olives
Nuts and nut butter (available in single-serve packets)
Trail mix, spiced roasted nuts
Hard salami, summer sausage
Hard cheese, freeze-dried cheese
Tuna packets or other tinned fish
Low-carb protein bars
Dried fruit: mangos, dates, figs, apples, pineapple
Dried milk, coconut milk powder
Scope out the Keto Backpackers group on Facebook for a lot of great tips for keeping keto out in the wilderness.
You need to know where you’re going.
Your phone won’t work forever. Keep paper maps and a compass.
You need a way to disinfect and dress wounds.
First aid is a must. Adventure Medical Kits makes some great first aid kids to fit almost any situation (ultralight, car, even canine first aid). Browse their offerings and get one that can handle the size of your party.
Practice first aid skills before you need them.
Have portable shade.
Maybe it’s a tarp you put up when you stop to rest. Maybe it’s light long-sleeve clothing that reflects heat. Maybe it’s a wide-brimmed hat (see below). Maybe it’s good sunblock (zinc oxide only) or a hiking umbrella. Maybe it’s planning your route through trees. Just make sure you have access to shade.
Get a good hat.
A good wide-brim hat will protect your face, neck, and shoulders from excessive sun exposure. Stetson is always a winner, or you could go for a “performance fabric” hat.
Bring a bandana.
Anytime you come across water, dip the bandana in it and wear it to keep cool.
Spending more time in Miami has made me realize how much I love linen. It’s the perfect clothing material for hot, muggy weather because it wicks moisture and dries quickly. It also sits lightly on your body, allowing air to pass through and keep you relatively cool. I’ve since started wearing it on hikes and more grueling physical outings, and it holds up and works really well. Most people don’t consider linen activewear, but they should.
Alex Crane makes good linen with some “flex” to them.
Wear merino wool.
Merino wool is another breathable natural fiber with natural antibacterial properties that breathes well and keeps you cool. Wool is also fairly good at blocking UV.
Icebreaker offers a good merino wool line.
Stay ahead of exhaustion.
Take breaks in the shade whenever possible. Drink water even when you’re not yet “thirsty.” Eat food before you get hunger pangs. Just stay ahead of it.
Stay warm at night.
Days are warm, but nights can be cold. Make sure you have ample protection for all weather that may befall you. Get a nice warm wool jacket or sweater, some of the blankets from the last post, and some way to protect yourself from the elements—sleeping bag, tent, tarp.
Travel only at night (if serious survival, post-apocalyptic situation).
If there are bad people who will do bad things to you if they see you, traveling at night makes you harder to spot. It’s also much cooler.
Have the ability to start a fire.
Fire is soothing. Even if it’s summer, sitting around a fire at night is a lovely, nurturing way to spend the time. It’s also how you heat up food and water.
Just don’t start any fires in unsafe conditions!
I recommend at least two sources of fire starter: a gas lighter, matches, and/or flint. You also need fire starter substrate. Extra dryer lint is perfect. So are cotton balls soaked in Vaseline. Store in ziplock bags to keep dry. Or, you can use a Blackbeard fire starter.
Other helpful tools.
A good knife.
Something to dig with.
Silk sheet for sleeping.
Anti-insect spray, gel, or clothing.
Protection: firearm, bear spray. Really depends on the situation, of course, and the local fauna (hominid or otherwise).
I could probably go on for a long time and never really cover this subject entirely, and that’s where you come in. What do you have to add? What are your essential tips, tricks, and gear for warm weather survival and outdoor experiences?
Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.