Get Warm & Stay Warm
January 23, 2023
Get Warm & Stay Warm

Do you know what the unit of measurement for a calorie is?  


That’s right.  Burning calories is really creating a certain amount of heat.

Know where I’m going with this?  Wanna get warm?  Burn calories!

This reminds me of one particularly cold moose hunt in the Yukon.  Despite a pack of 7 horses on the hunt, we walked, leading the horses instead of riding.  Why? It was simply too cold to sit there, and walking was enough to warm up.  

 Many times, people’s reaction to being cold is to ‘hunker down’, bundle up, or curl up in a ball.  This is the WRONG approach. Get moving, and the warmth created coupled with increased blood flow will act like a heater for your entire body. 

But there are other things you can do as well:  


The reason is simple - when you have a good conductor - heat travels away from your body at a more rapid rate.  Water is one of the best conductors, so wet clothes instantly become radiators pulling heat from your body and cooling you down.  If you’re wet, you will NEVER get warm.   Yes, that means despite being counter-intuitive, it’s worth stripping down and changing in to something dry.   While you’re at it, high loft clothing is a great insulator - because air is a poor conductor, and the more air you can put between you and the outside, the warmer you’ll be.  


If you’re helping someone who’s hypothermic, or close to it, get them drinking warm water, and eating.  Eating will turn on digestion, which in turn burns calories, and you guessed it, creates warmth.  

Drinking warm water is a very quick way to also drive temperature change from the inside out, calm an anxious person, and psychologically get them back on the right path. 


Sounds weird, but it works - swinging your arms will help push warmer blood that’s been near your core, out to your extremities, helping warm fingers, toes, etc.   That said, if someone is hypothermic, do not do this, and instead keep the warm blood near their core,  protecting vital organs. 



If you’re camping, and temps are dropping, one of the most effective hacks is to throw a water bottle full of boiling water in your sleeping bag, or puffy coat.  It will act as a personal furnace for most of the night!  Just test this before hand, and make sure your water bottle doesn’t leak, or you’re going to make your situation much worse.  Our Nalgene Tritan water bottle is a great option I’ve used countless times. 



Planning ahead is the name of the game.  Including a couple instant hand warmers is a great way to stay comfortable when the itinerary calls for a long day in the cold. 



Sitting directly on cold surfaces will suck the heat out of your body.  Carry a thick foam pad, or sit/stand on your backpack to conserve heat over extended sits.