Test Yourself

Think you know how to survive a cold night in the wilderness? Take this quiz and find out.

Field & Stream Online Editors

1. If you are forced to spend the night outside, the first thing you should do is:
A. Start a fire
B. Build a shelter
C. Climb a tree

2. Why is a wristwatch an important piece of cold-weather gear?
A. It can help you start a fire by focusing sunlight with the crystal
B. It can help you calculate the remaining hours of daylight
C. It can serve as a makeshift compass should your magnetic compass freeze up

3. If you must spend the night in the mountains, where should you seek shelter?
A. On top of a mountain
B. In a valley
C. Somewhere in between

4. If you feel cold, should you refrain from drinking cold water?
A. Yes
B. No
C. It depends

5. In cold weather, how often should you stop to assess whether you need to put on more clothing?
A. Once an hour
B. Twice a day
C. Never

6. What's the best food to eat to keep warm?
A. Red meat
B. Butter
C. Granola

7. If you detect the telltale white spots of frostbite on your buddy's cheeks, you should:
A. Rub them with snow
B. Ignore them until they become painful
C. Stop and build a fire

8. Prepare your clothes for winter wear by:
A. Cleaning them
B. Sewing in liners
C. Wearing them to work to break them in

9. If you break through the ice of a stream and get wet up to your hips, you should:
A. Suck up and keep walking; you'll be uncomfortable but fine
B. Dry out your socks and pants
C. Do jumping jacks

10. If you're spending the night in the winter woods and find yourself nodding off, you should:
A. Go ahead and fall asleep
B. Stay awake-if you fall asleep, you may freeze to death
C. Close your eyes for 30-second intervals

1. B: The first thing you need to do is create a shelter from the wind. If you are not wet and have adequate clothing, you can easily survive a night in cold weather as long as you stay out of the wind, which will suck the heat from you and induce hypothermia before you know it.

2. B: Winter daylight is a precious commodity. You should know at what time the sun sets and plan accordingly so that you won't find yourself in an unfamiliar place when night falls, making it more difficult to find your way out.

3. C: Warm air rises and cold air sinks, so valleys are often 20 degrees colder than higher ground. But the tops of mountains are exposed to higher winds. It's best to seek shelter somewhere in between, going low enough to avoid exposure to winds and staying high enough to keep out of pooling frigid air.

4. C: It depends. In cold weather, you can dehydrate quickly without knowing it. And when you are dehydrated, you are much more susceptible to the cold. You need to drink at least 2 quarts of water per day, and you must drink that water before you feel thirsty. When your mouth gets dry, you've waited too long. Carry water next to your body to keep it from getting too cold. If you have waited too long to drink, it's best to build a small fire and brew up a hot drink, which will rehydrate your body without draining body heat. If a fire is not an option, drink the water anyway.

5. C: Never. You don't need to think about putting on more clothing; you'll automatically do it when you get cold. What you do need to think about, however, is taking off layers as you warm up. It is all too easy to keep walking, and keep sweating, until your base layer is saturated and will sap the warmth from your body. It's better to stop frequently and consciously judge whether or not you are starting to sweat. If you are, strip off a layer. Maintaining warmth without sweating is your goall.

6. B: Food with lots of calories will see you through a cold day and a colder night. And fat packs twice the calories of protein or carbohydrates, which is why the Inuit eat whale blubber. Don't worry about cholesterol. Mash up a stick of butter with some brown sugar and carry the mixture in a sealed plastic bag. Eat it all.

7. C: Rubbing snow on frostbite is a ridiculous wilderness myth. Seek shelter, protect the affected body part, and get a fire going to warm the victim and the frostbitten area. It's far better to prevent frostbite with good clothing and roomy, warm boots than to have to treat it.

8. A: Clean clothing is warmer than dirty clothing (the latter doesn't trap air efficiently). Have woolens dry-cleaned and put synthetics through a second rinse cycle to remove all traces of soap, which absorbs moisture and renders clothing less effective at trapping insulating air.

**9. B: **Being wet leads to being dead. Stop, build a fire, and dry out as fast as you can. Then head for home or camp.

10. A: Don't worry about freezing to death. When you start to get cold, your body will shiver involuntarily and you'll wake up. Only in the later stages of hypothermia do you need to worry about drifting into unconsciousness and dying.