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Winter Camping Discussion => Winter Camping Safety => : HOOP July 11, 2010, 11:53:29 PM

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: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: HOOP July 11, 2010, 11:53:29 PM
I am preparing a long list of main content updates before winter 2011-12 (northern hemisphere), starts.    Stay tuned for the long list.

But the one on the top of my list is about fire making materials and skills for if you fall through the ice in deep cold.  So cold that when you get out, your soaking clothing will be flash freezing and your hands will fast be losing their dexterity.  I would ask that everyone think long and hard about this issue over the summer, and be prepared before winter if you travel on ice where you trek.   It would be great if you could share what you know on this essential topic.     

I have been assessing my kit, and questioning myself very thoroughly about if I could make the MUST-MAKE fire, anywhere, anytime, should I fall through in deep cold.  I always have a fire making kit on me of course, but I am thinking that my kit it is probably not good enough in the deep cold situation especially when solo trekking.   When solo, no one is going to save me.  I have to do it all....or die.   When group trekking, you must be able to save your buddy, and your buddy has to be able to save you.   Are your skills and is your kit, ready?   Does your group know what to do?

I think there are 3 basic options:  (1)  make the fire; or (2) no fire, but get out of your wet clothes, and into your sleeping bag up off the snow on boughs, a tarp, or in a bivy bag, and out of the wind, or (3) a combo of both.   But if I am day-tripping with no sled and only a day pack and light clothing, I have no sleeping bag or bivy. 

I remember Dick Pula's excellent solo trekking presentation at last years 11th Winter Camping Symposium, where he mentioned travelling when hauling sled, with his solo woodstove pre-stuffed with tinder and kindling, and his system for falling through the ice was to set up his Snowtrekker and stove (in about 10 minutes he said), and start a fire inside.  A good system.   But I also wonder about the sled also going through, with the tent and stove all getting wet?  If the ferrules of the poles get wet and ice up, they won�t join, etc.    Worst case would be your entire sled going in and soaking up massive amounts of water.    Its one of the reasons I use a rope harness system on lakes (instead of pole harness) that is not clipped onto my hips.   I like to think I can get out, grab the harness rope, and haul my sled out, which will be floating since my sled bags will be holding lots of air.  But I might have to abandon my sled in the ice hole if I have been immersed for a long time and not enough strength to get the sled out.  So what about the scenario where everything I need to survive will only be what is on my body.   This is truly a very grim situation, but a very real possibility that we  ice trekkers must be prepared for.

Here�s what I have been thinking: 

I have relied on matches in waterproof containers, and lighters all my life for fire starting, but I am not sure these are good enough in the scenario of falling through the ice.   

Matches:  These should be waterproofed (e.g. with nail polish or wax), and you need a dry striking surface that won�t get clogged with the scrapings of the nail polish or wax.   E.g. waterproof sandpaper that is coarse enough, and it in turn also has to be waterproof.    And try working matches with frozen hands in the wind?   And you have to have tinder and a kindling pile ready, as well as your fuel wood.    Can you do this with frozen hands?   

Lighter:   The standard butane lighter is almost impossible to light in the wind.   And butane lighters will not work when the butane is cold.   I always keep a butane lighter in my inner layer chest pocket.  But if immersed in freezing water for several minutes, and then the aftermath of freezing clothes as I stagger to the bush to get off the lake, will it work?   It might break.    I have a hard enough time working the flint wheel with dry cold hands.  I don�t think I could make it spark with frozen hands.   

I bought an expensive Brunton Helios �windproof� lighter last year that I fixed with a long lanyard on my belt.  It is a push button piezo mechanism, so I like to think I could press it, and hold it down for a sustained flame.  It closes and is supposedly waterproof.  But I have my doubts if (a) it is waterproof when it absolutely counts, and (b) the butane would produce enough flame to ignite coarse tinder, or worse just spruce twigs and no tinder.  If the piezo gets wet, its useless.   It could also break.  Preparing tinder with frozen hands is perhaps wishful thinking, so with a lighter, I am thinking you are hoping to luck out with big pieces of papery birch bark where you fall through, or big tufts of fallen, dead black spruce tops that can ignite with an open fame�if you have that open flame that will light in the wind�with frozen hands�.if, if if�

If on a multi-day trip, I have my sleeping bag and bivy which I can rely on, if I can get it unpacked from my sled that is not floating in the ice hole.    But I need a fool-proof fire starting system for frozen hands.  If my Helios fails, I am thinking that the answer is the firesteel and a fool-proof, long burning tinder.

Firesteel plus waterproofed tinder:    With frozen hands and the lighter not an option, I would rely on my firesteel and a fool-proof, long-burning tinder that did not get soaked from my immersion, and that is on my person.   This is the system I will work on perfecting for this upcoming winter.

I lanyard my firesteel with its striker to my belt, and it will work.   But with frozen hands, I might not be able to shred tinder.    I like the cotton balls and Vaseline for firesteel striking.  These are great, but the cotton balls need to be in a container and not soaked.  More weight and bulk to carry on me.   I am going to have to add cargo pockets to my wool Codets!   Or add a belt pouch.  I have an idea for a plasticized waterproofed flat, thin card of mushed cotton plus Vaseline that will fit better into pockets.  But I have to design and field test that this summer.   I like the idea of tinder cards with a big surface, rather than a film container or something I might have to fish out a cotton ball with frozen fingers and getting goop on my firesteel.   

I saw a truly amazing waterproofed tinder on Mike�s �Bushcraft Bartons� Youtube channel.   I am not sure if Mike invented it, but he calls it the �amazing cotton ball�.   He makes it with �gelwax�, which dries rubbery, is totally waterproof and needs no container � hence it can pack easier in pockets.   This is Mike�s �how to make them� video: (

This video shows Mike field testing the gel wax �amazing cotton ball�, burning sitting on snow, melting its way through snow for about 15 minutes burn time!!!! (
and another test here: (
That one was a hard start, showing that it has to be opened to expose the fibers.
And another test here: (
In these tests, you can see Mike trying to put it out, but it won�t go out!

I am liking this gel wax cotton ball creation!    It does however need to pulled apart to expose the non gelled fibers inside for the firesteel strike.  It won�t start like a Vaseline ball.  With frozen hands, you might have to open the gel waxed ball with your teeth and one hand.  Provided you can pull it apart, this might be the best fire starting option, since it is windproof and gives you plenty of time for finding more wood while your fledgling fire is started. 

Lets hear your ideas over the summer.    And I look forward to the video when someone is going to show us a real field test, falling through at -30 to -40 and then making your fire.  Any volunteers?   :)

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: canoecountry July 12, 2010, 09:42:32 AM
Wow, thanks for that well thought out post HOOP!! This is a great topic that is worth the discussion!!

Personally, I have a minimum of three "fire kits" with me when trekking as well as a fire steel on my fixed blade sheath. There is one on my body at all times, one in my conover bag and one in the stove. The personal carry and conover bag kkits fit in a small tin and have a small firesteel blank(3/16" X 2.5") , a Wetfire tinder block, waxed jute twine, split fat wood, matches with striker area glued on the inside cover of the tin and a small lighter. In my stove, there is a larger kit that includes a bundle of 8-10" Fat wood sticks, a tube of fire paste, a lighter, and matches w/striker. The start of every trip also has a waterproof bag of wood shavings and a couple small billets of wood in the stove, these are replenished as used throughout the trip so there is always something good and dry, ready to go in the stove. While all of this might add a little weight I feel it is worth it for safety sake.

Here are a couple links to the Wetfire Tinder, the Fire Paste or Fire Ribbon and the Firesteels I use. The Wetfire Tinder will actually burn in standing water and a little squirt of the fire paste/ribbon can work wonders to get a hot fire going quickly even in damp conditions. The Wetfire tinder is strictly for emergency situations while the paste/ribbon gets called into action on a regular basis. ( ( ( (

I will try add some pics of my kits soon.

Here are some pics of my kits.
This is a small tin, that is on my body at all times, I have another usually stashed somewhere else as well. It has everything I need to get a fire started, even in wet conditions, waxed Jute twine, fatwood, firesteel, lighter, matches, Wet tinder and the ranger bands burn as well!!


Here is a crumbled piece of Wet Tinder

The next kit is a little bigger, all the same types of things just bigger. This stays in my Conover bag.


Then there is my knife and firesteel and a few lighters always floating around.



I will try to dig out the wood stove kit and take pics of that as well.

Sorry for the bad images.


: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: HOOP July 13, 2010, 07:24:31 PM
Hi Canoecountry,

Great stuff!   I look forward to seeing pics of your emergency fire kits.   I try and get my sled as light and low bulk as possible, so in my old-think, I have never thought of carrying wood or kindling bundles on the sled.  I may have to change my attitude though, because there is no denying the advantage of having that handy in an emergency...if you can retrieve your sled. 

Your post reminded me that I have two of those items you list, buried under debris piles in the basement that I have not used or even tried.   (You know how the basement gets as one gets older � debris piles up!   :-[).   I dug out the Coghlans "tinder" white things, (
from deep within my never-used-stuff debris drawer.   They appear to be cotton balls and have a waxy, greasy feel, but did not slime me, so I was impressed by that.  I placed one in some water, then squeezed and squeezed it, trying to get the water inside it.   I took it out and then used my firesteel and could not light the smooth wet surface.   I expected that.  I then pulled it apart to expose some fibers, and it caught with the first strike, and burned "wet" no problem, and for a long time.  I like it.   With frozen hands, I might have to use my teeth to pull it apart with one hand, but that's OK.  Thumbs up to the Coghlans tinder.   

I wonder if I can make it cheaply with cotton balls and a mixture of paraffin and Vaseline petroleum jelly?   On the Web I have heard about various mixtures of paraffin to VPJ of 1:1, 2:1 and 3:1, the more wax, the less greasy it is, and the more waterproof it is, but the less free the fibers are for catching a spark.    There is a critical tradeoff there somewhere.

I found an ancient tube of the Coghlans fire paste in my debris drawer.  The paint was peeling off it, and it may be an old lead base, so I hope their newer tubes have better paint!   I squeezed some out of the rather narrow opening.   I am not sure this would be do-able at -30 to -40.  It might be rock hard?   It caught a spark in this summer heat no problem, and burned fairly well.   I am throwing out this old tube with flaking paint (which sticks to everything), so I won't get to test it in my freezer to see if it is squeezable in deep cold.   But I am thinking with freezing clubbed hands, I don't want to be squeezing a tube.   I would lose the screw lid in the snow, etc.

For fun, I tried my firesteel on hand sanitizer, and woodstove starting gel.  The hand sanitizer was very marginal, burning with a small almost invisible flame, and easily blown out, and it did not last long.  These are only half to � alcohol, and the other ingredients might freeze solid.  Thumbs down to the hand sanitizer.

The woodstove starting gel took a spark easily and burned hotter, with a bigger and visible flame.  I was able to blow it out, but it was much better than the hand sanitizer.    I need to test this after deep freezing it.   

I don�t have the Wetfire.   Wetfire has a good rep from the Web, and I have seen videos of it burning on water and catching a spark.  So it should burn on snow.   There is the packaging issue with frozen hands.  One has to crumble a piece off to make a powder before striking.   Do-able with the firesteel itself with frozen hands.   It is relatively expensive though.    Hiram Cook, amateur stove tester extraordinaire, has a Youtube channel where he tested the Wetfire and a much less expensive competitor, called Weber lighter cubes.   He lit the Weber cube wet (crumbled) with a Blastmatch, and it was his conclusion that it was the same substance, more or less, and far less expensive. ( was testing it more for using like an Esbit cube for cooking, but he did light it with a Blastmatch firesteel.   I will have to look for that product around here.

I don�t think that my standard �easy� kit based on matches and lighter, and no tinder, will be good enough for the falling through the ice scenario, especially solo.   I absolutely will need a fool proof tinder carried on me, and that is waterproofed, and easy to use with frozen hands.   With frozen hands, I can�t see using my knife to prepare tinder, or using matches, or anything fancy that requires dexterity.  The lighter issue I covered in the previous post.  I might be dying from the pre-onset of hypothermia, some frostbite maybe setting into the finger tips, and I will need to start a fire under extreme duress, after having been immersed in freezing water for perhaps a considerable time.   I think for the extreme situation, I will only be able to barely grasp my firesteel, and throw sparks into a for-sure tinder pile designed for a firesteel spark, that I will have to have on me, and that I can dig out of whatever pocket or container it is in.

I have heard very good things about the shredded jute twine, so will have to try that with the paraffin.  Any tips on how to mix it so that the fibers stay exposed, but waterproof?  Is it ready to catch a spark, or do you have to re-shred when you want to light it?   

I am going to have to get me some fatwood, and those Coghlans �fire sticks� and see how they work.   I imagine one would have to shred the �fire sticks� though to catch a spark?  Hiram Cook made some fatwood shavings by using a table top pencil sharpener!  Brilliant!   Link here: ( lit it with a Blastmatch, although it took a few strikes.
It is not true �Maya dust�, which is powdered fatwood or pitch, but still they were much finer than a knife could make.   And here with a plastic pencil sharpener, but the shavings were not fine enough to light with a firesteel � he needed an  extra cotton ball: (
I would still need to waterproof fine fatwood dust-like shavings, so I will have to think about how to do that, and keep it fine enough to catch a spark.  Maybe mix it in with some blended VPJ and paraffin?
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: been digging July 13, 2010, 08:09:20 PM
How about carrying a few roadside flares for emergency fires?   I have never tried to light a fire with one; in fact, I've never even used one before.  It just seemed like something that might be easy to light and would burn long enough to light a pile of sticks. 
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: cousin Pete July 13, 2010, 08:45:05 PM
Hello HOOP:  Thanks for bringing up this topic.  I am going to have to re-read a few times the comments made by you and Canoecountry.  On the trip that I did this year with ice travel, I took the following precautions in case I fell through the ice.  For starters I had ice claws around my neck.  This should greatly speed up the time required to get out of the ice.  I have lighters in my side pockets next to my body.  I also keep some additional lighters and matches in pockets next to my body but in zip lock bags to keep them water proof in case I fall in the water.

I also carry a zip lock bag with fine dry birch bark mixed with cottom balls soaked in vaseline.  In this same bag I also have fine resin soaked shavings from the stumps and roots of very dead jack pine and red pine.  This bag is placed in a second zip lock bag and is in the cargo pocket of my wool pants.  

I also, carry a small bundle of larger pieces of resin soaked red and jackpine obtained from the roots and stump regions of the very dead trees.  

At the start of all trips I carry a bag with enough fine and dry birch bark for about five fires.  I collect additional birch bark as I come across it.  

I also carried my axe and saw in one of the conover’s bags for quick access.  

On future trips I plan to keep a full change of clothing in one of my conover’s bags.  

I think that I may need to consider loading my stove with enough wood to get a fire going.

I am going to re-read the posts made by you and Canoecountry and check out the links that you guys provided to see if I can take some additional precautions.  

Thanks guys,
Cousin Pete
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: crooked knife July 14, 2010, 08:29:48 AM
I don't know about everyone else, but I usually carry a whisper-lite stove with a small bottle of fuel for those random times I want to get some water boiling fast.  I don't necessarily use it, but since it doesn't take up much weight and space it's nice to have when you want it.  My other thought about keeping a bottle of fuel is that if you need to start a fire fast all you have to do is get the wood for the fire, pour it on and light.  It will readily take just about any spark or flame to light even in the deep cold.  Which is part of one of your questions, what device do you use to start the fire if it's wet and your wet and starting to loose dexterity.  Nothing is fool proof for starting fires.  I beleive quantity would have to prevail.  What I mean is make sure you have a LOT of different options on your person and gear.  Fire making devices are cheap for the most part and fun if you ask me.  Half the time I'm looking for my lighter since I usually have a million pockets on different layers and constantly taking clothes on and off so I just make sure to have a lot of lighters, matches, flintsticks, etc all over.  On my person, in my gear bags, with the food, with the woodstove, with the whisper-lite, etc.  Some of them are in plastic bags, some of them aren't. 

I'd say that 95% of the time I am with other people when I'm winter camping, so odds are that if I fall through or my trekkin buddies fall through one of us will still be dry and able to help.  There are the times though when one ventures out alone without your gear to explore and enjoy the landscape and leave the buddies back at camp.  And if you fell through far from camp and got everything you had wet, boy you'd be in a heap of trouble then.  At that point it's just up to your fast thinking and experience to either get back to camp, or if you're too far away, get a fire going.  That magic device for starting a fire would have to be dry and servicable at that point.  And that's what it comes down to, moisture kills everything for fire.  Everything that you need is going to have to be dry.  And you're ability to think and act fast before you start to loose your dexterity in your fingers is what is going to save you. 

Now at -30 or below we're talking severe problems.  Because even if you start a fire you're going to need enough wood and it's going to have to be a BIG fire in order to warm you up if you don't have your tent and woodstove.  And if your clothes are wet, they'll freeze fast.  The smart thing would be to carry an extra set of dry clothes with you in a waterproof bag of some sort.  Then you can get dry, warm insulating layers on and wring out your outer layers the best you can before they freeze and start drying them around the fire.  On your sled, it would be easy enough to keep dry clothes in a waterproof bag or container of some sort.  Though in all honesty, I'm not going to go around all winter always prepared for a mid winter dip.  If the conditions are real harsh, windy and cold, I'll usually be taking it easy anyways.  Our slavish mentality toward schedules is what will be ones demise ultimately, or at least a large increase of risk taking behavior. 

I'll have to think more about this and report back.

Joe E

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: pinecones July 15, 2010, 01:12:30 PM
This is a challenge!*

When I think of myself being in a scenario with:
- ¾ to full body immersion
- air temp well below freezing
- travel through snow
- alone
- over a ½ km from camp or cabin
- just a daypack and contents

I think the odds are very long that I would survive without outside help, EVEN if I took action.

A cold water immersion chart states that in water temp of .3 C (32.5 F):
- loss of dexterity occurs in under 2 min.
- exhaustion or unconsciousness occurs in under 15 min.
- expected time of survival while immersed: under 15 min. to 45 min.

I think the odds should improve if my circumstances were different, such as: limited partial immersion (leg, legs + ab), or I was with someone who knew how to help, or I was much closer to camp with a cold stove already prepped with tinder, or I had a sled at hand with additional insulating outer clothes and sleeping bag easily accessable.

I hope I never have to try this, but here’s my 1, 2, 3 if the SHTF in the worst way…

Among contents of daypack/bag or on person: 1. PLB, 2. heavy-duty space blanket and 3. big fire kit.


1. Getting out of the hole, weighed down by wet clothes and a pack full of water would be a feat. But I would now be inside a serious medical emergency. Not the time for a display of bushcraft. Loss of dexterity is a given. I’d put my thumb on the red button of the PLB. Whether help comes in 2 hours, or 24 hours… my odds have improved. And I would have no regret in signalling. The conditions have already been met for the PLB’s usage.

2. Heavy-duty space blanket is durable and easier to unfold than lightweight models. Getting wrapped up and protected from the windchill takes less than a minute, and helps slow my decline.

3. Big fire kit. Suitable for camp use, but good for this scenario too. Being able to get this into action with hamfisted, frozen hands is critical. I tested this setup with taped fists and thumbs and managed to do OK. Opening and striking the firelighters was also doable. The goal is a big, hot, fast fire that only needs some bigger scrounged lumber added. Warming my hands, chest and head improves the odds again.


Fatwood and vaseline cotton balls. Cheap, effective and dead simple to use. If you don’t mind black smoke. I wouldn’t fuss with individual cotton balls – light the whole pack.

I've tried others, but my choice of ignition is still Coglan’s Firestarters. So easy. I’ve never had them fail, rain or shine, and they keep well. A single stick burns five minutes and has the flame head of about 5 matches together.  Keep the box only half full – it's much easier to open in a rush – just squeeze to open. And definitely pre-cut the pieces into singles and doubles.

The old aluminum windscreen wrapping everything up is there initially to prevent the contents of the tin from spilling out when you open it up in a hurry.

Trangia aluminum storage tin. I would begin a fire right inside it. The combined area of lid + bottom = 10” x 8”.

I waterproof tins like this using vinyl tape. This is the same stuff as black electrical tape. Tip: after applying tape all around the seam, pull out an extra 4” or so, double it back on itself, then lay down the end. Now you can get a bite on it and remove the tape with your teeth – works very well. Also, I’m a believer in labelling home made kits like this, including first aid kits.


This is an alternative carry and waterproofing method. SealLine fanny pack. The Trangia tin fits perfectly, with room for dry hat and gloves.


* Disclaimer: I am a n00b
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: HOOP July 17, 2010, 09:46:51 PM
Those are great looking fire kits!

I like Crooked Knife�s idea of throwing on liquid fuel.  But one has to be careful with that!    White gas is known for some really nasty accidents when people use it for fire starting, because its so volatile and vapours may be all around you before ignition.   I wonder about using stove alcohol?   It is known for slow starts on alcohol stoves in winter, requiring priming.  It might not burn to long either.  I will have to test it this winter.     Carrying a 125, 250 or 500ml bottle of it for a splash start up fire is maybe not too heavy to carry?   I wonder about gasoline?  It might be safer, being less volatile.   Kerosene may also not vaporize well to take a spark from a firesteel?   If kerosene leaks into your gear, its really, really bad news too.    There are the liquid fire starting gels, which I mentioned that I would have to test at home using the freezer, to see if they are still gels in deep cold.

A sled kit should be relatively straight forward to prepare with a variety of tins or plastic containers.   Maybe a new trekking rule for group trips should be that everyone�s sled has a waterproofed tinder rich fire kit, no exceptions.   But for the kit that needs to be on me when solo tripping then I am thinking of a small tin that can be taped dry like what Pinecones has shown.   I am thinking I would like something a tad smaller than the Trangia tin for wearing on me or inside my daypack.

I am really liking the look of the Maxpedition M1 gear pouch for a fire kit bag.  I think I should be able to quickly attach/detach it from my anorak waist sash, or  pants belt, or straps on my daypack.   It looks like it can be clipped or strapped anywhere.   A small waterproofed tin for crush-ables, and then bagged or otherwise waterproofed stuff, including a small nalgene of liquid fuel, could be stuffed in it. 

Re clothing:  When sled hauling on trips, I always have a spare set of clothes packed on the sled � these are must-have whenever you are ice travelling, and for hot tenting should you have a tent fire.  So I have that angle covered.  But I solo day trip with just a daypack without the full change.    I do however always have a waterproof bag in my daypack with dry socks and gortex socks, and dry mitts.   The goretex socks would go over my dry socks against my skin, and my woolly wet outers would be wrung out and worn over the gortex.  My boots and wet wool socks would keep in some heat, and my feet would be dry.   The dry mitts would get me back to camp in good shape, after I had my warming fire done with, and would help me while I make that fire�if I could get them out of the bag and on my hands. 

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: northernbc September 12, 2010, 08:43:50 PM
it was mentioned before but i will say it again. a roadside flare with the nail removed and inside  a plastic ziplock bag will be tour best bet for this scene. it burns hot ond will start burning wood that is not dry.these are awesome fire starters.and just the flare itself will provide enough heat to get your fingers working again.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Tomd September 12, 2010, 09:10:20 PM
Hoop, I have a small Primus Micron canister stove. It uses either the bigger canister or the half size one. With a small canister, it will fit into a small Primus pot. This stove has a piezo starter and it takes only a minute to screw the stove onto the canister and get it going. How it would work if emersed in water, I don't know, but it would be easy to carry one in a small waterproof bag. There are a number of small stoves like mine on the market.

Also, REI sells waterproof matches that are like sparklers-they will burn even when wet and will spark on any rough surface. They burn for about a minute.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Beep September 12, 2010, 10:45:29 PM
Hoop, I have a small Primus Micron canister stove. It uses either the bigger canister or the half size one. With a small canister, it will fit into a small Primus pot. This stove has a piezo starter and it takes only a minute to screw the stove onto the canister and get it going. How it would work if emersed in water, I don't know, but it would be easy to carry one in a small waterproof bag. There are a number of small stoves like mine on the market.

Also, REI sells waterproof matches that are like sparklers-they will burn even when wet and will spark on any rough surface. They burn for about a minute.

The problem with any canister stove is that the boiling point of the fuel (necessary to get a gas instead of a liquid to the burner head) is not all that low.  Butane boils at 31° F (0.5° C) while the common canister mix, Isobutane, boils at 11° F (-12° C).  This issue with canister stoves is generally why white gas (e.g. MSR Dragonfly or XGK) stoves are preferred for deep winter weather.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Tomd September 12, 2010, 10:53:54 PM
Beep, What was I thinking?  I forgot for the moment you guys are out in weather far colder than I am here in California. However, if it's warm enough to fall through the ice, it might be warm enough for a canister to work. I've used mine down to about 15F. Thanks for the reminder.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Wayland September 13, 2010, 10:22:50 AM
Some interesting thoughts here which I have not had to consider. (In the UK only a fool would walk on ice because it's never cold enough for long enough to be safe.)

In my canoe kit I have Waterproof matches in a ziplock bag, regular matches in a waterproof container, Wetfire, tindercard, cotton balls soaked in Vaseline, fatwood sticks, a firesteel and a sealed petrol lighter. This is all in a tin wrapped in a piece of rubber inner tube and there are pieces of innertube in the tin as well.

The rubber is waterproof and burns well if a little smokily. It serves as a middle tinder/kindling between something light-able with a fire steel and the first wood kindling in my set up.

In really cold conditions the innertube wrap might be fiddly but can easily be cut away if needed.

In my pockets every day I always carry a waterproof match case and usually an Exotac firesteel if I'm wearing a jacket. A bit fiddly, but always there and I usually have a few Wax dipped pinecones (http://"") packed in with my cooking gear.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: crooked knife September 13, 2010, 05:21:07 PM
Beep, What was I thinking?  I forgot for the moment you guys are out in weather far colder than I am here in California. However, if it's warm enough to fall through the ice, it might be warm enough for a canister to work. I've used mine down to about 15F. Thanks for the reminder.

Falling through ice can be quite independent of air temperature.  Ice conditions are quite variable when you throw in the equations of water movement, water temperature, and the fact that after a light snow everything looks the same on top.  Even though the ice you may be stepping on was open water the day before.  I'd be cautious to come to the conclusion that falling through ice happens mostly when it gets warm.  I've gone through at -20 before (in shallow water near springs).  Just my 2 cents.

Joe E
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Tomd September 13, 2010, 08:48:29 PM
Joe, I thought about that later as well. Just shows how little I know about up where you guys are. I've got a couple of white gas or multifuel stoves as well-the Optimus Nova, Svea 123 and an MSR XGK, which will burn almost anything.  The XGK is probably the most reliable. I've had the Nova freeze up on me in what for you all is mild weather - around -5C. (The little filter in the hose froze, but I took it apart using the tool that comes with it and fixed it, by just taking it out.)
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: lonelake September 15, 2010, 07:51:47 AM

Also, REI sells waterproof matches that are like sparklers-they will burn even when wet and will spark on any rough surface. They burn for about a minute.

Have you added a firesteel, and a stick of fatwood to that kit yet?
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Pathfinder September 15, 2010, 12:53:19 PM
Wow!  Excellent thread HOOP!

Canoecountry, you just gave me an idea on what to do with a small water proof Pelican Case I have lying around.

Lots of fantastic ideas in this thread!

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: lonegreeneagle January 01, 2011, 02:18:33 AM
I wasn't going to respond here seeing as how I have gone through the ice and froze my self to the edge of the hole waiting for rescue (which didn't come and i died, went to hell and have still not thawed out because I became a lover of winter camping)
       A few extended problems along with alot of great ideas! Roadside flares? WP White Phosphorous- dangerous gases, uncontrolled burn (ie; spraying sparks when your already shaking) intense heat and now sun/welders burned eyes!
       White fuel for starters are great if you can control a small amount and not spill on yourself or dry clothes and equipment. Butane stoves put out small heat compared to noxious fumes that a frozen person will be huddled over.

       fire is nice, but I think; shelter(minimal), out of wet clothes and into dry clothes and sleeping bag, once dry any movement will promote body heat transfer. Improve postition and then build fire, do not hover on fire! Thaw and dry clothes and equipment, cook food and warm drinks to aid bodily recovery from temp. From this posture establish a continue or go home to medical help decision.
        I have (obviously) a broader opinion but I won't go into it here.
Good luck in any emergency situation that occurs
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Johan January 01, 2011, 01:47:30 PM
I live in Sweden and people going through the ice happens all the time here sadly many people never get out from it alive again. I have gone through a few times and done it also on training.

My personal experience is that fire is not the highest priority when falling through the ice. First you need to get up, and after falling into ice cold water your body might be in shock and some people become paralysed in this situation or panic. Without crampons around your neck your chance of getting out is already thinned down. Picture of crampons and how to carry them (

Once out of the ice you need to get your wet clothes off and some dry on otherwise you will soon not be able to do anything and then get something warm to drink. After that you can start making fire or try to get your toboggan or pulka out of the ice.

I always have a small backpack on me with a waterproof line inside (this will also help me keep afloat) and in it are a warm jacket, spare clothes, thermos, and firelight kit. When it come to my firelighting kit I carry a big load of birch bark (easy accessible and easy to refill during the trip) and matches and firesteel. I will also carry a smaller firelighting kit on me and a large one in my pulka.

But the best thing is to practice and get the real experience of going through the ice, and then see what works for you. This clip is from a few years back on survival training were all students got a chance to try this before going out on the ice. (
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: James Huffaker January 09, 2011, 11:14:10 AM

 I gotta say, out alone with just a day pack, with the understanding that you may need to shed the pack to increase your chances of getting yourself out if you fell through the ice, your pretty much left with on body carry.

 In the " day pack" I'd want a shelter, bivi, big synthetic sleeping bag, foam pad, a change of clothes, food, pot, maybe a thermos of tea or coffee or hot Gookinaide, and a failproof method of starting a fire. How about a waterproof tinder bundle of birch bark, fat wood, rubber, PJ cotton balls, ooo steel wool and anything else that you can think of that is flammable, waterproof and won't freeze, in a bundle that has a flammable wick/fuse.
 Vacuum packing helps. I think Wiggies will vacuum pack his bag if you want. But that's in your pack. I read here that yous carry a pack on your toboggans that you wear when your separated form your sleigh, that contains what you would need to survive the conditions IE cold camping. Do you not carry the same pack when you day hike?

 On my person, in my pockets, I carry 2 bics, and a small bag of pj cotton balls, with a small piece of fat wood, some birch bark, a piece of inner tube, a WSI ferro rod embedded in magnesium with an attached piece of hack saw blade, all wrapped in jute.

 How do Zippos work in your kind of cold? I read an article once in which the author recommended wrapping the Zippo with friction tape to increase grippabillity with cold wet hands, and to keep it from freezing to exposed skin. While wrapping, attach a loop of paracord at the base for a dummy cord. Carry spare flints/wick in the base. Wrap in plastic wrap to decrease evaporation, and carry a can of lighter fluid to replenish as necessary. I have a brass waterproof match case with a dummy cord with strike anywheres in it. Could a smaller,yet fully functional waterproof tinder bundle be carried on the person?

I think, I would want to be prepared to survive with just what I could carry on me. So what is the priorities/ possibilities for on person carry that is waterproof and won't freeze? Just some thoughts.

Regards, Jim

ETA; Be careful of the wet fire tinder cubes, I had some early ones that didn't have an expiration date, and failed to light under optimal conditions. I won't trust them.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: oldboyscout January 31, 2011, 09:42:30 AM
I'll second the Coghlans firestarters as being excellent.
However you still need good kindling to use them.
I'll suggest carrying the firestarters sold for starting fireplaces i think-the wax and sawdust ones about 1/3 the size of a red brick.  Carry 2.  It will light easily and burn well by itself and light any old kindling while you change out of wet clothes.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: ajwilson1978 January 31, 2011, 09:33:35 PM
Thanks to Johan for the great video link and the reminder about ice crampons.

I second the birchbark idea!
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: pake February 02, 2011, 03:37:11 PM
Hello All!

I apologize in advance for this lengthy reply, but...

I have been following this thread with great interest since its inception last summer, but have purposely refrained from responding until now. It’s in the twenties below F today, and I’ve just come in from working outside.  HOOP’s original post about his re-evaluation of his thinking with regard to fire making and falling through ice and so forth, has been very interesting. I went through these very same analysis years ago, but without the benefit then of internet based, global idea sharing among peers, the process took much longer and was driven primarily by personal experience. My comments are in no way intended to criticize or belittle any others, but are offered “in addition to.” Most of us here know how to stay warm when its cold and we’re dry. But there are undoubtedly some newcomers here too, and some may be wondering what comes first?

Situation 1
In the late 1980’s I was part of a group winter camping in the north, during which time one member fell victim to a very dangerous incident.  In camp, quite by accident, a two gallon pot of boiling water tipped off the stove, fell onto and drenched from head to toe one of our team, instantly soaking his clothing and raising second degree burns on one side of his body. We were not hot tenting. It was 20 below F. Almost instantly, despite his great agony from the burns, he demanded from the rest of us to help him out of his wet clothing because the pain he was experiencing from the heat loss of his rapidly cooling, wet body was almost as bad.

Situation 2
In 1995, while kayaking in Alaska’s Icy Straits; late summer, air temperature 50-60F, water temperature also 50-60F. During an approximately two to three mile channel crossing, which we had deliberately planned in advance in order to minimize risk from currents, waves, wind and so forth, one of our group of four ‘yaks’ overturned. Although the swells were high, we had almost no trouble helping our friend back into his craft. Once safely there and bailed out, and at this time suffering no more serious injury than a bruised ego, we took a few minutes and considered our next action. We were not quite half way across our intended route. Another five to ten minutes would have put us past the halfway mark and on to the opposite shore. We chose instead to go back to the nearest beach. By the time we got there our friend was barely able to continue to hold his paddle, let alone use it efficiently toward his own locomotion. Our very first order of business was to get him out of his soaked clothing and into a dry change. Then simultaneously, as we stuffed him full of chocolate bars and tea from our thermos, several of us rubbed his now dry, but still cold body, back toward warmth produced through exercise and circulation, while another made a fire where we all eventually re-warmed up our spirits. I wonder often what another ten minutes of warmth stealing wet clothing might have done to him.

Situation 3
October, 1999. A solo canoe trip. Late afternoon, nearly sundown, air temperature 45F, nights have been below freezing with a skin of ice on quiet bays in the mornings, near shore the water temperature was mid 30’sF. Ready to be through paddling for the day, I approached my intended campsite, which did not include a gradual slab to beach the canoe of the kind that is so common in the north. This site had a small vertical ledge surrounding the landing. Normally, an easy step up would put you on solid footing. Looking back I made several careless mistakes. At any rate, I stood slowly in the canoe, began to steady myself with my paddle braced against the rocks, and for reasons that I still can’t justify nor recommend, leaned over the thwart to pick up my pack and throw it ashore. You can see this coming, right? Before I knew it I flipped the boat, sending me and my gear topsy turvey. Once again, at this point the only real damage was a bruised ego. But I was alone. And I was completely soaked head to toe in ice cold water, but I was standing, and climbing out onto dry ground, began cursing myself for my foolishness. I knew experientially by now that dry clothes were of paramount importance, but I didn’t have many. Retrieving my pack, I watched in dismay as water poured out as I hoisted it ashore. But I also knew experientially that I didn’t have a lot of time. On the spot in the receding daylight I was becoming numb at an alarming rate. I stripped off every article of clothing. Jacket, pants shirt, undies, socks, boots, everything. Stark naked I began to squeegee off with my Pac-Towel, which I have now come to consider an essential piece of survival gear useful for many purposes, and almost instantly began to slow down the rate of heat loss. I felt better. Next, I pulled out my sleeping bag, which in those days was the only thing I carried in a real dry bag. It looked to be OK. Then I set up my tent. I knew from experience that I could do it in under three minutes. So now, with a standing tent and a dry sleeping bag, I felt that I had a situation that I could manage. By now I had worked up a little body heat, and once again still buck naked, I began to get a fire going. It must have been a sight! A grey haired guy scrambling around naked, setting up a tent, and gathering stuff in the brush to make heat. “Sasquatch becomes civilized.”

Fire is important. Dry clothes are essential. Air is a good insulator. Water is an excellent conductor. Water conducts body heat away 25-30 times faster than through dry air.

Since that time so long ago  I have rethought my own packing system, for clothes, gear, everything. Everything in my main pack is in a dry bag of some sort. And since then I always, always, always keep one dry layer in my day pack. It’s not that hard and takes up no room. Summer or winter, my day pack now has a dry bag liner in which among other things I keep a pair of merino wool long johns and a pair of socks. Wet clothes will kill you.

Thanks for the thread HOOP! Lots of good info on fire too.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: canoecountry February 02, 2011, 04:30:39 PM
Wow Pake, I don't even know what to say other than thanks for putting your experiences into writing, truely eye opening. I am glad that in all three senarios everybody was fine.


: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Ted February 02, 2011, 05:05:08 PM
Really Good stuff.
I'm mostly an armchair quarterback when it comes to survival so my plans and gear are basically "what-ifs" based on research.

What is really illuminating are the first-hand experiences shared here. I now have two important changes to make to my survival gear. Many thanks and still hoping that I'll never need them!

Cheers Ted
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: kgd February 02, 2011, 05:15:48 PM
Very enlightening set of experiences Pake, thank you for putting the time in to share your experiences with us.

I only experienced bad hypothermia once while I was a teenager (about 25 years ago).  We tipped a canoe in late November near Sudbury Ontario.  It was cold then, near freezing and we had a couple of flurries but nothing that was sticking.  I had on a set of coveralls, like the cardharts but some no name brand that was warm, a similar jacket and set of rubber hunting boots with the felt pack.  I remember sinking to the bottom like a rock with the only saving grace that where we tipped was shallow.  Standing on my tippi toes I could bring my nose out of the water.  Two of us went down like that and dragged ourselves and canoe back to shore.  We had tipped right at launch so it wasn't a far distance to get to the car, but we reloaded the canoe onto the car while it was running in order to get the heat up.  I recall on the way 15 minute ride back to the cottage my feet went completely numb and I started to get the shakes.  This was all while in the car with the heater going on.   At the cabin, we built a fire and my buddy and I just wrapped ourselves with blankets next to the fire.  It took the entire night to re-warm.

I wasn't mentally or experientially prepared at the time that happened to me.  I am only glad it happened at a point where we were able to get back to home base relatively quickly.  I agree with Pake about the drybags especially when near or around water.  Not a bad idea to have a dry bag on the sled either.

As to fire packs, my need it now fire consists of a bundle of coglans (12) fire sticks, fire gel (in a marked handsanitizer bottle), REI Stormproof matches in a waterproof container and lighter.  I carry a firesteel always on my knife sheath, but using it with bitter cold hands can be a real challenge.  I find matches, and the thick REI ones are very easy to negotiate, under lack of coordination.  The idea is to slather the fire gell onto the coghlan sticks to at least get a handwarming fire and then supplement that with fuel on site.  I think a 'need it now' fire kit really should include some time of accelerant and fuel (or kindling at least) as opposed to just an ignition source.  
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: HOOP February 02, 2011, 08:32:39 PM
Good stuff.  This thread is accumulating good info.

Re gel fire starter:  be careful.  If it is alcohol based, it may not ignite or burn well in deep cold.   Maybe test it in your freezer at home. 

Pake:  I always have my sleeping bag dry-bagged, and I always bring a bivy, and I always have a spare set of clothing dry bagged, and a rain shell set.  My dry bagged stuff included dry mitts so I can save my hands, since I will need dexterity to survive.  I also have gortex socks and dry socks, so I can still use my wet frozen boots with dry feet.  My nightmare is if my sled goes through as well and I can't retrieve it.  Then I am wearing what I have on and its all about quick big fire or die.

If I have my sled, then I can pull out the bag and bivy, strip down, get inside right in the snow because my bivy will keep me dry, and re-warm.   Then I have my second set of clothes and rain shell for wind protection, and I can wring out my outer wool layers and wear them.  Then I can get a big fire going, and make camp, or move to make camp. 

I have an external pouch bag made up that I can clip on my day pack, or if my day pack is on my sled, I can slide it on my belt or sash so that it is on me.   I am still developing it, so when I get it sorted out I will photograph it and post the contents, and maybe make a Youtube video of it as well. 
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: pake February 03, 2011, 09:14:37 AM

how'r ya doin? It's been awhile.

And I hear you about having all the stuff, albeit packed in bags on the sled. I was running into similar kinds of things on my summer trips too. ie, the water purifier wasn't nearby when I needed it, or my camera was on one end of a long portage and I was on the other when I would almost certainly see something like a fisher or a waterfall or whatever..., or on a miler port it would be sunny on the first lap and pouring rain by the middle of the second. You get the idea.

So after many years, many trips, many seasons and a few close calls, I realized that for me, I needed to rethink things. And I soon quit thinking about survival, which had always seemed to center around how much stuff can you cram into an Altoids tin? I started thinking, "what is essential? Then, what is convenient? Heck, what is just fun to always have near me?" That caused me to start thinking about how I would carry the stuff.

It took awhile but I searched for and finally found what works well for me. Nobody else should do this.  ;)  Summer or winter, canoe or sled, my main gear and clothing are where we all put those things......and finally they are all in waterproof sacks.

My essentials, my convenients, my just for fun stuff is in a small day pack type backpack, or, as my beautiful bride M chooses to call it, "The Man Purse", and that always rides on my back. On a winter pull, it's on my back. On a summer port it's probably on my chest cuz the big load is on my back. At the end of the port it'll get taken back across with me, unless I'm 100% certain there is no compelling reason to do so.

Like I said, mainly this has become a change in MY thinking in answer to my question, "What do I want to have right with me?" The contents of the bag change with the trip or the season, but they are always waterproof. If I go through the ice, that bag goes with me, and assuming I can get out, it's gonna be there with me. In winter it contains the previously mentioned long johns, socks, beanie, as well as my fire making kit and insulated water bottle. It's actually lighter in the winter. In summer it would include my rain gear and a fleece. The reasons for my choices in the summer have as much to do with where and how I place packs in the boat, but the man purse is always within arms reach. Last summer when M and I went to Vail, I used it in the Ritzy downtown shopping center (sans all the survival stuff of course) as a shopping bag. M said, "Ooh pake, you look so Cosmopolitan...."  ;D

Like I said, it has has solved for me some of the problems that we have talked about. In the winter the man purse weighs next to nothing. That small amount gives me peace of mind. By the way, this whole line of thinking was also an extension of what my sons and I were doing in another area of interest, black powder shooting. There, you typically carry some of the same kids of things, and stick them into a leather possibles bag.

Same idea, different bag......


: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: pake February 03, 2011, 10:58:31 AM
HOOP and others,

Hi again. I don’t want to, nor do I mean to hijack this important thread. HOOP, I’ve got the notion that you and I are very nearly thinking along the same lines.  I know that early on in your original post you laid out various scenarios and asked the question, “but could I do it?” That is exactly the kind of thinking that brought me to do several things. We’ve already talked about how we like to carry stuff. I believe that each one needs to figure that one out and be comfortable with it. Your second very important point that still IMO needs more discussion, or at least some thought relates to the fire systems. There have been lots of very good examples put forth here. Whether or not the proponents of these ideas are competent, I cannot say. My own experience proved to me that I wasn’t. For example, like you said regarding Bic type lighters, I too have a terrible time trying to even spin the wheel in cool weather. My arthritic thumbs simply refuse to be able to work those things. When its cold, forget it, so my system needed to address that acknowlegement.

No amount of reading makes one proficient. No amount of dialog or discussion, disagreement or strongly held opinions. Don’t get me wrong. These things are all good first steps. But, I think you know what I am going to say…..practice makes you proficient. Lots of it.

After you think you’ve got it figured out, try it another way. Once you’re proficient in warm weather, switch to cold weather. Fuels act differently in cold weather. When you’re proficient in dry climes, go to wet conditions, and so forth. You will soon find out where you are deficient. I teach a few of these kinds of things from time to time. Every kid and most adults want to feel independent. It’s part of who we are I guess. But think about it. Being independent means by default that you are In Dependence  of the most limiting element of the whole situation, and that is you!

Any body who wants to know how they’ll do making an emergency winter fire, for example, might try this little exercise.
•   Fill up the bath tub with very hot water.
•   Step out onto the back porch and ask your wife to pour a pail of water on you paying particular attention to your head, legs and hands.
•   Step out into the yard, lie down and make a few snow angels.
•   Get up and plunge both arms into the nearest snow drift, at least to elbow depth. Hold them there for at least a minute cuz that’s the minimum time you’ll be in the water before you get out.
•   Get up and find your fire making stuff, wherever and whatever it is.
•   Try to do it.
•   Get up one last time. Go in the house. Try to avoid your wife’s look of wonder and amazement. Get in that tub of hot water and re-think things.


: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: planB February 03, 2011, 11:47:59 AM
With regards to Situation 2 I have experienced a similar situation.
The surprise to me now was how quickly I made the transition from:
1) I think I’m OK
2) A bit of trouble here
3) Hey, I’m in real trouble
4) I can’t think and my muscles don’t work
5) Its too late

Fortunately I only made it to step four but the transition was a matter of minutes. From step one to step four took less than ten minutes. I was in trouble before I realized it. Part of the problem was denial and self reassurance.  If repeatedly told myself I was OK then I would be? Wrong! Certainly panic is not helpful but neither is self deception, as comforting as it my be.

In hindsight I realized this was the sort of situation I needed to think about and plan for in advance. Then if the situation occurs I must recognize the situation and then adhere to the plan. When the circumstance arises execute the plan regardless of how you feel. Even though I may think I’m at step one, I am in reality probably at step three. and these discussions are a more vital component to winter safety than a whole catalog of gear.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: pake February 03, 2011, 12:02:01 PM

Hi, I agree with you 100%. And no amount of talk gets you there. You mentioned having a plan. I assume you also mean practicing the plan because that is how you will become able to execute it properly.

I am among other things, a First Responder.  I can't explain more enthusiastically than to say, Plan, Practice, Plan, Practice, Plan, Practice. As you have said, frequently in the rush of adrenaline that accompanies any emergency, but particularly one in which we personally are involved, your thinking can become "mushy". That reality is exacerbated when we are injured or incapacitated in any way. We are continually taught, "Make a Plan, Work the Plan".

Rely on your training.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: The North Runner February 03, 2011, 06:23:12 PM
I have had this kit for a long time now, I haven't needed to use it yet, but I will always have it if i need it. It is a shoulder harness for a hand gun. I removed the scabbard for the gun, and fastened a Spyderco Moran to it. This goes under my left arm. On the other side I installed a pouch, in this is my kit in a tincan.
2 NEEDLES. This all goes in the tin and is sealed with tape.
SAK. These slip in the pouch. I wear this under my clothes,and don't even notice it there. So if I go through the ice  or dump the canoe, possibly losing my pack. It is next to impossible or maybe impossible to lose this kit.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: pinecones February 10, 2011, 02:24:32 PM
A timely article from today's Toronto Star online:

The 1-10-1 Rule:

What happens if you fall in and no one is around? The 1/10/1 rule, a simple set of guidelines that could save your life if you take a dunk in icy (the icy part is key) cold water.

1:  If you fall in, you have one minute to regulate your breath and during that time try to scramble out onto safe ice, get back to your footprints and hold on to that ice.

10: Then you have 10 minutes of meaningful muscle movement. That is a nice way of way of saying you have about 10 minutes, likely less, before your arms and legs become almost useless.

In icy cold water, moving quickly will actually whisk heat away from your body faster than if you remain somewhat still. So thrashing around to keep warm, like you would on land, is not a good idea. If you can, try to get into a ball-type shape to keep heat in your core.

1: Then you have about one hour before hypothermia kicks in. That is about the time when you will likely lose consciousness. (

So, it comes down to what can you accomplish in that 10 minutes.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: deepwoods February 10, 2011, 05:49:46 PM
Here's the link to a great bit of video by the Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht referenced in the Toronto Star article- (

Scroll down to Video files and click on the Cold Water Survival link. Good stuff!
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: mbiraman February 18, 2011, 03:29:32 PM
This has been a good thread. As someone who is a new member i just saw it because Hoop brought it back up recently. Thanks to Hoop for bringing it up originally, to Johan? from sweden to focus the conversation more on the water immersion reality. To Pake for his experiences when paddling and Plan/practice approach and general common sense.
 Over the last couple of yrs, in my late fifties, i've gotten back into hiking,paddling and more recently focusing on winter camping. Because i do almost everything solo  i had to think about everything from a "what if" point of view. I've always been a cautious, safety minded person  but that doesn't mean you can't get in trouble because of what you don't know and its happened to me  a few times yrs ago. I'm on the West Coast Paddlers forum and the topic of ending up in the water and losing your kayak and gear came up. People started talking about a survival bag attached to yourself so you would have what you need if and when you get on land. Number one was a change of cloths, fallowed by food/ fire / shelter. Since i started hiking more seriously i've carried a day pack with a change of cloths in a dry bag, the essentials for making fire quickly. 1-2 days worth of food, Medical Adventures bivy, small first aid kit, etc. This goes with me at all times no matter how short the hike. It weighs about 8lbs and when i go kayaking, it , along with other survival gear in another bag ,goes in the boat. This yr i'll be having a bag on the deck with float line attached to me so if the worst happens i'll at least have that. One thing i didn't read here was whether some folks would change their approach to winter camping such as if your solo you would travel on land only, if your with others you venture onto the frozen lakes and rivers. In my area there is no travel by water in the winter as its doesn't get cold enough for most of the lakes to freeze so i'll be on land. In fact its hard to travel with sled by land here also as almost nothing is flat but i do have a few places scoped out for short overnight hikes by sled. Anyway whether paddling,hiking,winter camping, many things overlap and there's lots to learn.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: PackRat February 24, 2011, 05:26:53 PM
Just make sure you keep your skates on when going through the ice!  :)
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: mbiraman February 24, 2011, 09:09:22 PM
I think the vodka was the key.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: crustysnow February 25, 2011, 08:43:47 AM
Attitude, another very important player in this.  Having a 'plan' and practicing have a role with attitude as well.

On the lighter side, if we could get Steam Bender to build a tobbogan of Fatwood, or at least have a 'breakaway' tailsection about 2-3 ft. long piled with fatwood shavings, birch bark, browned pine needles and birch twigs, with 2 road flares mounted within, connected to a firing/ingnition cord that you could pull without needing the use of your fingers to peel any tape apart, and maybe one of those instant pop-up hunting blinds with a Lil' Buddy piezo ignition heater inside.  Hmmmmmm, I like coffee.;-D
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: bark-eater April 15, 2011, 08:27:18 AM

when Im out on the ice by my lonesome, I've got self rescue spikes rigged and I carry a marine flare.  I think I will add a space blanket and a can of sterno to my carry gear. That way I can step into a one man sauna immediately, a buy a little thinking time before acting.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Moondog55 April 16, 2011, 04:29:21 AM
Check out this idea mate ( I like the idea so I am promoting it by multiple postings of the link )

Turn the thing inside out so the main reflective layer is to the inside and you have a wearable survival suit, unfortunately it doesn't pack down as small as I'd like but using a couple of Mylar blankets to make on would get the small packed size you need for a belt or pocket kit.

But from other posts here I am under the impression that time to think is in very short supply and better to act immediately and to save the thinking for after you have warmed up
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: rbinhood April 16, 2011, 10:42:35 AM
My own experience. Son was leaving to go to college and I thought it might be nice to take a father/son canoe trip before he left. We had paddled for about 4 hours and it was getting dark. Temps were about 60 deg. F. We were looking for a place to put ashore and camp for the night. We hit a drop on the river below a bridge that was very sharp, and at the bottom there were several large boulders. The canoe hit one, and in a second we were both overboard in water that was actually slightly warmer than the air. Soaked from head to toe, we gathered up our gear ( I lost a nice rod/real combo). We paddled for a few hundred yards and found a flat place to land. By then, my son was beginning to shake.

Our first course of business was to build a fire. We tore birch bark off of several trees and gathered up some kindling. Fortunately, I had a lighter, and fortunately, we were not fighting sub zero conditions. However, it is important to note that more people die of hypothermia at 60 degrees in wet clothes than any other temperature. My son's condition was deteriorating by the minute.
I got a fire going, and we both got out of our wet clothes. Fortunately, I had packed a tent and sleeping bags in a dry bag. We set the tent up as we huddled around the fire and then turned in for the night. Next day was a short paddle in damp clothes to the take-out.

Moral- You can die even in moderate temps if you don't have warm dry clothes and a way to start a fire.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: red pine April 18, 2011, 09:14:11 AM
There's nothing like experience to understand a situation....I suggest that if you really want to know what is required, get out there now, cut a hole, immerse yourself, and see if you can get out.  (Of course, you will have safety backup and a warm place nearby.)

Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht has at least 3 excellent videos that demonstrate this reality. 

My own experience of falling though the ice taught me that clothing is far more important than fire.  No cotton.  Wool, silk, or poly-pro next to the skin, and a wool layer on top.

The first two times I went in, it was just to my waist, thanks to a 10 foot pole I carry when I'm worried about the ice.  Breaking through is very fast, the pole automatically bridges the hole and gives something to hold on to to pull myself out.
While walking the kilometre home, my outer wool pants froze solid, making an excellent wind break.  Inside, I was wet but warm.

The last time I went through the ice (at -20 C), it was too thin for the pole to hold, so I got wet up to my neck.  I was not able to self-rescue.  Lucky for me I was close enough to home to be heard.  I was in the water for maybe 20 minutes or more.  Once out, I was just able to walk 300 meters to the house.

Would I have been able to light a match?  Probably not. 

A better plan would be one of those self-heating pads...either the disposable ones or one of the gel packs.  Press a tab inside, and it heats up.  Enough to warm the hands and more.  Meanwhile, the wet clothes you are wearing should be warming up next to the skin.  Now you have time to seek warmth in some other way. 

The point is, don't focus on fire...
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: bark-eater April 18, 2011, 09:20:44 AM
The survival blanket and sterno came to mind, while I visualised crawling out of a puddle 2000 yards from the nearest  tree.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: James Huffaker August 18, 2012, 01:51:23 AM

Anything new? Come to any conclusions?

This should be stickied.

Regards, Jim
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: HOOP August 18, 2012, 11:00:56 AM
Good bump Jim.  Its that time to start thinking about this again before the first travel ice.  I have alot of time here, as our first ice won't be ready until end of December, but its amazing how time flies. 

I still don't have my kit "finished".  (I am not sure it will even be finished).  I promised I would get my kit finished and make a video, and add some main content to our e-book here, adding wisdom from the memebrs inputs, but I have been slacking.  Time for me to get on that.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: ravinerat September 06, 2012, 12:08:22 PM
Lots of good stuff here. I alway carry a throw bag with 70' of floating rope. More for rescuing somone elese in the group. One bag at he front and one at the rear. My Magnesium stick and flint is always in my pocket or PFD. I also carry a small "torch" it is the size of the old fluid lighters and is used for soldering. Real easy to operate with cold hands and will catch anything on fire since it is a torch. I do lots of eary ice travel doing fishing into the back lakes. Ice picks are a must. I always carry a "ditch bag" while paddling or even hiking. If I loose everything I still have this. The contents always change but it has the min. of fire starting stuff.



: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Snowwalker February 11, 2013, 09:26:12 AM
My rule of thumb is this...the things I need for an emergency are ALWAYS on my person.  I usually keep them in a Hill People Gear "Kit Bat" which goes on my chest.

It can also be worn with a pack, but if the pack has to be ditched the kit bag is still on you.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Moondog55 September 20, 2014, 06:58:45 PM
Southern winter finishing; Northern winter stating I think it's time for another
What's happened to peoples thinking in the last year?
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: kbro34 January 16, 2015, 09:00:16 PM
This is my set-up, I keep one in my backpack and one on the sled at all times. Its a bit cumbersome and you don't want to leave it near the stove but its very reliable. Can also be used for jet power when tied to the back of the toboggan in a pinch! :D

( (
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Bioguide January 16, 2015, 09:05:54 PM
This is my set-up, I keep one in my backpack and one on the sled at all times. Its a bit cumbersome and you don't want to leave it near the stove but its very reliable. Can also be used for jet power when tied to the back of the toboggan in a pinch! :D

( (

OK, after a bottle of Heldeberg Meadworks Heritage Mead this struck me as VERY FUNNY!.. Hello and welcome kbro34.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: kbro34 January 16, 2015, 10:54:48 PM

OK, after a bottle of Heldeberg Meadworks Heritage Mead this struck me as VERY FUNNY!.. Hello and welcome kbro34.

Wow , what a cool bottle, wax sealed and all. I googled it but seems only for sale in the States. Im enjoying my 1.8L of Philips chocolate porter! cheers!
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: NordicNorm January 21, 2015, 03:29:43 PM
...A better plan would be one of those self-heating pads...either the disposable ones or one of the gel packs.  Press a tab inside, and it heats up.  Enough to warm the hands and more.  Meanwhile, the wet clothes you are wearing should be warming up next to the skin.  Now you have time to seek warmth in some other way. 

The point is, don't focus on fire...

I've been packing a reusable gel handwarmer in my kit for ages. Weighs a few oz, but beats dyin' for lack of dexterity with which to do all the other self preservation tasks required
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: crustysnow October 21, 2015, 08:03:33 AM

So, the above link should take you to an interesting article regarding how people warm up after being soaked through in the winter - as well as a couple other articles. 

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: GearFreak October 21, 2015, 08:36:33 PM
Thanks Crustysnow for the link.  Good read.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: h_t October 21, 2015, 10:09:40 PM
interesting, but for someone severely hypothermic, this won't work.
Not too mention SEALs are young and in top shape.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Hutchy October 22, 2015, 11:50:14 AM
I think everyone should take a bit of time one day and purposely fall through the a few times. Me and two friends did this once. We didnt have any real issue getting out. We went through, went up in the bush, made a fire, etc.

We then went back down, and wearing what we would normally be wearing, and we stayed in the water for as long as we could stand.  Longest we could stay in the water, and still function (get ourselves out of the ice) was close to twelve minutes. Any longer and we would have been far too cold to get out.

The day was just about the freezing mark, it was march, so the ice was grippy, and easy to get out. Had it been early winter ice, and been slick, it would have much different.

Oh, and we eventually did get a fire going.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: GearFreak October 22, 2015, 01:32:16 PM
Based on Hutchy's example this bit from the article is worth quoting:

Every Rewarming Drill John ran had the benefit of trained medical observers, as well as fire extinguishers and other key safety equipment. So DO NOT cut a hole in the ice and jump in without taking the same precautions.

- just in case you push that line a bit too far. 
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: h_t October 22, 2015, 03:54:35 PM
Hutchy, that's a great idea. I think I am too old/wuss for this stuff.
I did however go swimming to get my dog out last spring. She was stuck in the ice.
I didn't have to swim far, but it was interesting experience. I didn't have any issues putting  my clothing back on and running to the truck after it, no fire :)
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Canadian Corey October 22, 2015, 10:35:02 PM
Interesting that I was reading this article a few days ago and thought about bumping it back up.  Once again, thanks to Hoop for starting this thread; it might make the difference between a well ending trip and a not so well ending.

So, I'll throw this idea out there:

I bought some silicone fire-resistant cloth to make the stove jack on my tent, and I was thinking about using a square piece from the remnants as a base for the "must-make-fire" kit.  The idea would be that I have some pieces of fatwood and other small fire starter rolled up into this square piece.  I could just unroll it, light it, and it would burn on top of the fabric, on top of the snow until it finally burned through the fabric, which I firmly believe would take a long time.  The main point is that the snow wouldn't slow down the fire development, and there would be a decent fire before the cloth fell into the snow.

The cloth doesn't take up much space or weigh much at all.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Moondog55 October 30, 2015, 03:46:16 AM
I think the disposable aluminium tray is the best idea
One of small ones that cat food come in or a bigger one like TV dinners
Even the 60*60 cat food size can hold quite a bit of fire starter plus a strike easy match or three
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: scotiatrek October 30, 2015, 08:21:34 PM
Still reading through this so I hope I'm not being repetitive.

"My boots and wet wool socks would keep in some heat, and my feet would be dry."

Sounds counter-intuitive, but if you want to stay warm you have to take off your boots and walk in your wool socks. The dry snow pulls the water out of the socks:

Also from Kochanski, it may be a good idea to set up a steam bath at each side of a river crossing. The materials for this are similar to the super shelter and a crude one could be made quickly with your walking/balance pole, clear polyethylene tarp, and space blanket.

Crossing ice by yourself is dangerous, and rivers may be insane. You cannot really be overprepared. Borrowing from Kochanski again, a modification of his two kg survival kit would make an easy sure fire. Large dry sack with your coffee/cook pot (, acts just like a smudge pot starting your fire in it, this prevents carrying any extra fire tin, making your item multipurpose), down jacket stuffed inside, with sealed matches, magnesium firesteel, Mora/Marttiini knife with sharpened spine, space blanket, polyethylene, and your best firestarter (I'd say shredded birch bark, balsam resin, and tinder fungus for natural tinder).

If you can get wool pants and a twig bundle in there as well then you're about as set as you can be. Carrying your emergency polar bear dip kit in your drysack/haversack hopefully your pole helped you keep dry on top, lean back and get out of the water, get as much water off you as possible while getting your boots off, use your drysack and polyethylene etc to keep the wind off you, get your down coat on, and get to an area with as much spruce and balsam fir as possible (hopefully). Balsam fir is pretty poor fuel, but starting it can be good and the green branches can help with a lot of heat at the start if need be. If spruce is plenty then you should be set, they burn so well.

Once you get the fire going try to save your down jacket.

I would recommend the Hemlock's Hideaway Beast (has tinder handle with high quality magnesium and ferro, good striker with it) for firestarting along with stormproof matches. Wouldn't hurt to carry the stormproof lighter with you as well.

And to be clear, this part of your overall kit can be carried at the front of your sled and need only be carried on you while traversing ice, primarily in high-risk situations such as travelling alone.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Dave Hadfield November 01, 2015, 02:10:37 PM
I've crossed more rivers and lakes and marshes than I can count. It does, and should, give pause for thought.

One good trick is to follow the moose track. If he made it across, so can you.

Marshes are dangerous. The waterway is narrow, but decomposing material in the marsh always creates heat, and thins the ice. And the water moves in one narrow channel somewhere in that wide area between the bullrushes, and that's the bad place.

We once came upon a moose that had broken through in the channel of a marsh. His hoofs could get no purchase in the much below, and he died there, head up, frozen, ice shattered all around. We found him next morning, just after the ravens did. Horrible sight.

If you see ice you don't trust, one good testing trick is to take your axe and strike the ice forward as far as you can reach, with the blade edge, as hard as you can. If it doesn't go through, it'll support you. (I once did this, and the ice was so thin, so deceptive, that I nearly did a front somersault as the blade effortlessly cleaved it.)

It's not a bad idea when walking to fold up a piece of birchbark and stuff it in your back pocket. It's a perfect firestarter. Even if it's wet, all you have to do is shake the water off. And in the Shield Forest there is always a ton of it around. And of course you should have a match-safe and a lighter in your pocket, not in a pack.
The people should spread out on a crossing. If you have a concern, cut and carry a 14 ft pole. Have a rope handy.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: h_t November 01, 2015, 06:22:16 PM
Dave, good to see you post. Getting restless? ;)

one good testing trick is to take your axe and strike the ice forward as far as you can reach, with the blade edge, as hard as you can.

In the 'old' country ice fisherman used stick with metal tip to probe ice they walked on. Something similar to the thingy used here to cut a hole in the ice for water supply, but much, much lighter. I used my walking stick like this few times.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Hutchy November 02, 2015, 10:57:38 AM
Not just in the old country. I trap and play around near the thinnest ice on any pond. Beaver houses. I would be totally lost without my chisel. Sometimes the ice is so thin directly around the house, you can't get close to the house to set channels. When that happens I drive the snowmobile fast across the thin stuff and stop on top of the house. Then, nail it hard when time comes to leave and the sled floats over it. Not to be cocky, but you can get away with a lot with a good amount of experience.

Dave and kie at lure of the north routinely use frozen rivers as their main route of transportation. This would seem brutally dangerous to the uninitiated, but pretty safe if you do it enough. 

Being prepared is huge though, and being confident doing what seems like dangerous things means you have to realize that you will mess up at some point, but you are confident you can handle yourself when you mess up. When, not if. I have been through many times, and its all part of the fun. Last winter we cut down a tree to span some thin ice to set a beaver trap. My buddy walked out on the log to set it, and lost his balance. In he went. A good laugh ensued, but we had to cut the day a bit short because he got a bit cold later in the day...
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Dave Hadfield November 02, 2015, 12:45:26 PM
Yes, we use lakes and rivers as routes because hauling sleds through raw bush is an enormous amount of labour. In fact you pretty much need to camp, then next day prepare the bush-route, packing down the trail, then on day 3 move the camp.

It's different in the far north where the trees thin out. There the wind packs the snow, plus it's colder. It's hardened enough to use without pre-packing a trail.

But hand-hauling, up a heavily-treed hillside, in 3 ft of soft snow, with no packed trail, is brutally hard work.

Where the wind can get at the snow on the rivers and lakes, it often packs. Last winter we were able to break-trail and pull the loads and make steady distance -- just-keep-walking -- that on an open lake, wind-pack, no slush. Wonderful! But it's not always like that...

Anyplace we perceive a risk due to thin ice, we are very careful.

: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Hutchy November 02, 2015, 02:43:43 PM
Its why I like trips on Georgian bay. The wind packs the snow like a rock.  Bush hauling makes for slow days
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: crustysnow February 14, 2018, 03:07:48 PM
Here is an interesting video I came across - some of you may have seen it already.  Guy immerses himself in an ice-covered pond and tests-out a survival kit.  He also narrates after-the-fact as to what he was feeling, what his body was going through, while a clock running time is displayed.

Here is another one where the guy breaks through the ice wearing snowshoes, gets out, and starts a fire using a handdrill.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: AunNordDuNord February 14, 2018, 04:25:35 PM
Here is an interesting video I came across - some of you may have seen it already.  Guy immerses himself in an ice-covered pond and tests-out a survival kit.  He also narrates after-the-fact as to what he was feeling, what his body was going through, while a clock running time is displayed.

Here is another one where the guy breaks through the ice wearing snowshoes, gets out, and starts a fire using a handdrill.
In the first video the guy would be in serious trouble if it was any colder than that... I would rather change in dry clothing. I always carry a minimum change of clothing and then when you are dry then you make a fire to dry the rest of your gear. I went through the ice twice and didn't start a fire once.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Old Guide February 19, 2018, 12:10:55 PM
I agree with Ann-I've went in twice at below zero temperatures, once accidentally part way up my legs at below -30f and once on purpose to my neck to save two young girls who had broken through.
The second was more serious than the first because of how long I was in holding the kids until someone else helped drag them out. I absolutely needed dry clothes, which were nearby, as the ones I had on were frozen to me.
 Without dry clothes I'd've been a popsicle before a fire could have been built, tho I have read stories of guys who went in, got out, stripped, built a fire and dried their clothes! I have to believe they had something to wrap up in in. I couldn't have done it.
Change first and then heat, eat, drink.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Old Guide February 21, 2018, 04:44:58 PM
AunNordDuNord-I apologize for spelling your name wrong in my first post. Kind of stupid of me.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: AunNordDuNord February 21, 2018, 07:51:49 PM
AunNordDuNord-I apologize for spelling your name wrong in my first post. Kind of stupid of me.

Hey no worries mate, it's all good!
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: GearFreak February 21, 2018, 08:59:53 PM
ok, um, yeah. 

I had to go get a blanket just to watch these videos.  I thought I recognised the first guy - Alone. 

Wow.  Could really hear the effects of the onset of hypothermia on them both.     

I need to go get a warm drink!
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Old Guide March 01, 2018, 04:42:31 PM
This past weekend a gentlemen traveling alone in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks broke through an ice crossing and went into his hips or better, got himself out and up on the bank, stripped, put on a set of warm, dry clothes he carries on winter trips in his pack sealed from the elements, and continued on towards his car.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Moondog55 January 29, 2019, 07:19:40 AM
New thoughts about a possible fire kit/ fire starter.
We get Camembert cheese in small wood veneer boxes, I was playing with fire starter kits last week gluing ferrorods to the outside of small tobacco tins when I wondered whether the small boxes would burn well. I can report that they do.
So I am saving these now rather than composting them for garden fertilizer.
Filled with shavings or shredded paper or rolled strips of cardboard they might burn for a good 10 minutes, you'd not even have to open them up as impregnated with wax they might start from a ferro spark or that cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly I keep in the fire tin or indeed one of the lifeboat matches I'll buy when I get over.
From what I read here tho I wonder why wearing windproof pants that are water repellent might be a way to stop the inner insulation layers from getting soaked isn't more common.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: scoutergriz January 29, 2019, 09:25:00 AM
Probably the big thing is that as soon as those "water repellent" pants frost up they stop breathing and become as waterproof as rubber pants, so you get soaked with your own sweat in a matter of minutes!
Right on the bow of my sled I carry a throwbag and a pouch with Ucco storm matches and waxed egg carton pieces full of wood shavings- a couple of them is more than enough to boil up some hot soup and get a big roaring fire going. I keep the same in my pocket (minus the throwbag). Even with frozen fingers you can light those mini blowtorches- I know, I inadvertently tested them after taking a dunk in February! :o
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Moondog55 April 23, 2019, 11:14:12 PM
I've been thinking about the pants issue. While I have had fully waterproof pants ice up on the inside many times I can't recall ever having had any of my windpants have the same issue, either the fully synthetic or the fabric blends. I wonder why our experiences are so different Griz
In fact one of the reasons I paid so much money for my US army NYCO wind pants was their reputation for being so very good at keeping the wind off while being able to pass water vapour even at very low temperatures, ditto the ECWCS Fishtail shell.
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: scoutergriz April 24, 2019, 08:57:51 AM
I used to wear military overpants all the time and they DO breathe better than any of the truly "waterproof" commercial pants. I think it's because of the 60/40 blend they use, which is really woven so tightly that they're virtually wind and water proof instead of the looser weave and coating on regular stuff.
I may also camp in higher moisture areas or sweat more than you
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Moondog55 April 27, 2019, 07:12:30 PM
I sweat like a horse doing any kind of work no matter what the temperature but not so much on my legs.
Feet is another matter, I have used antiperspirants on my feet for what seems like forever
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Old Guide April 28, 2019, 09:03:19 AM
Ever been  checked for Hyperhydrosis?
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: Moondog55 April 28, 2019, 05:30:45 PM
I am supposedly superbly heat adapted after 32 years in stinking hot commercial kitchens but not it is  lack of conditioning too
: Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
: 300winmag November 20, 2019, 08:38:17 PM
->Pressurized butane lighters (directional torch type flame)  must be kept near the body to keep warm so they will function.

->magnesium sparking sticks W/ striker attached by string and Vaseline soaked cotton balls in a ZipLoc will ALWAYS work.

->Wearing ALL synthetic base and either wool or synthetic mid layers is a must.

->Down parkas and mittens should be made with DWR treated down like DriDown or Down Tech. Absorbs l30% ess water and dries 60% faster.
-> extra food like fruitcake, cookies etc. should be available in pockets to fuel you furnace.

Eric B.