Camping and outdoor adventures dominate the spring, summer and fall seasons. When the weather turns cold most people pack up the tent for the year. When the wildflowers are in bloom there is no better place to be than in a colorful field. That said, a virgin snow-covered highland can be just as breathtaking. Just be sure you bring that 100% wool blanket.
The beauty of nature in the winter is lost on most people but for the hunters and trappers. The contrast of holly berries and snow-covered fields is enough to make you wonder if you have teleported to some alien world altogether.
The winter environments are unforgiving, there is no getting around that. Still, they can be just as beautiful, if not more so, than those more popular times to get out into the wild.
It all comes down to preparations. You could set up a collapsible wood stove inside a canvas tent and rush the temperature up to 80 degrees! Humanity is not new to fighting the cold. It's more of a skill we lost central heat and air.
Better than investing in a collapsible wood stove and canvas tent, maybe its time you add a 100% wool blanket to your winter survival kit.
The Danger of Cold Weather Survival
You can sum up cold-weather danger in one word: Exposure. Of course, that can rear its ugly head in forms like frostbite or hypothermia, end of the day, its all exposure to cold that our bodies cannot handle.
Now, having a ferro rod and a survival knife might give you the ability to do something about fire and shelter. These things are important to have in any survival pack. They are essential pieces of survival gear.
Do you change out your gear seasonally? It’s a pretty good sign of how much time you spend in the woods. If you are out there often enough, things get swapped out by default. Necessity will make you throw in more layers or more calories in the winter
When the weather is warm you will be on a weight shedding frenzy to make carrying this bag less arduous.
If you aren’t prepared to deal with the cold you will suffer the consequences. When we say cold weather it is easy to think about snow and ice. However, surviving outside can get dangerous at much warmer temperatures.
COLD WEATHER SURVIVAL IN DISGUISE
This brings to mind a tale of survival that didn’t involve things like deadfall traps. It was a couple of guys who decided to make a weekend of fall camping. They had a tent and some survival gear, but they were hardly prepared for what was to come.
Long story short the rain came hard and the tent was leaking. It was about 45 degrees outside and they had never experienced cold quite like that before.
In a few hours, they were drenched with water, the tent was pooling, and they were introduced to the realities of exposure. The most notable line of the report that came from this camping trip gone wrong was: We basically spooned each other and shivered the whole night.
They were not prepared to deal with the cold and the moisture. Even at 45 degrees, these things can be deadly. It doesn’t have to get down to freezing.
The Importance of Wool and a 100% Wool Blanket
Having the right survival gear makes dealing with the cold much easier. One of the most important pieces of gear in the winter is the 100% wool blanket. With so many space-aged materials it is hard to look at a wool blanket as something of a necessity.
While a 100% wool blanket will cost you some money so will a wool-lined coat. Of course, the coat can be used for only one application where wool blankets are multi-use.
The reason that wool is so lauded for its use in cold weather is not just because of its highly insulative properties but also because of its ability to wick moisture from the skin. From a comfort standpoint, this is a difference-maker.
Surviving a cold weather disaster is also about layering. Many base layers will simply hold onto moisture in the form of sweat and press it against your body. If you do not have moisture-wicking materials on you will cold and wet after a long day.
You sweat, even in the cold and this sweat, if allowed to accumulate, can contribute to hypothermia through a cold night. This is where the wool comes into play.
Adding a 100% Wool Blanket to your Sleep System
How much thought do you give your sleep system? For most campers and hikers, the sleep system is a simple foam pad and a sleeping bag. There is nothing wrong with that but in cold weather, you will likely want more.
You can add a 100% wool blanket to your survival gear sleep system by finding one of the right dimensions and qualities.
Our pure and simple 100% wool blanket by Self Reliance Outfitters comes from all the right places with all the right ideas in mind.
The blanket is a medium grade 100% wool that is processed at Faribault Woolen Mill. This blanket is made on a long-standing tradition that this mill was built on.
Our blanket is machine washable and weighs 6.2lbs to add to your pack. Again, since it’s a 100% wool blanket and has that typical hard outer layer we can stand on its quality and water resistance. From a survival standpoint, this is one of the biggest reasons people choose wool.
The full length of this blanket is 96” X 90” and is big enough to cover your entire body with ease.
The moisture-wicking insulated and breathable qualities of wool all shine in our pure and simple blanket. You cannot get these benefits from wool blankets that aren’t 100%
Other Uses for your 100% Wool Blanket
Outside of just being a warm blanket to get you through a cold night the 100% wool blanket can become many other things for you in a survival situation. Some might seem like no brainers but I am sure one or two of these will surprise you.
Survival is all about adaptability and your ability to get the most out of each and every piece of survival gear that you carry. A good example is the many ways we can use our survival knife. A basic Morakniv can be used in all sorts of ways and that adds value.
Using a Wool Blanket to Make a Coat
If you want to take full advantage of your wool blanket you should also invest in a simple brass blanket pin. These can easily turn your blanket into much more. We have a brass blanket pin of our own at Self Reliance Outfitters.
This pin is used to close the wool blanket around its edges. You can drape the blanket over your head and pin it around the neck or in front of your chest. This will give you the ability to use this as a coat. Of course, it won't have sleeves but it will keep you dry and warm.
Making a Sleeping Bag from a Wool Blanket
Rather than just pulling the wool blanket over the top of you like a blanket you can use our large blanket as a sleeping bag. This simple method just requires you to lay the blanket out first. You can then fold it in half with you inside and even fold it up over your feet.
In cold conditions, this will keep you very warm.
You can even wrap yourself up in the blanket before getting into a hammock to give you another level of insulation in hammock sleeping.
Making a Poncho from a Wool Blanket
Because of its water resistance, you will be able to use your brass blanket pin and turn your 100% wool blanket into a poncho. This is not going to work as well as a completely waterproof poncho but in the interim, it could be great.
If you have no other options this could save your life while you build a true shelter. It might be the difference between you being soaked in your shelter and freezing or being dry and safe.
Using a Wool Blanket to Make a Water Filter
Because of its water-resistant and dense nature, you can run water through this wool blanket, and it will certainly remove sediment. If you are dealing with water that is running murky or stained, your wool blanket will remedy that.
If you have no other options, you could also add some pulverized charcoal from your fire to the wool blanket and this will give you two layers of filtering. The best practice would be to boil after this step.
A Wool Blanket Backpack
You can roll and tie your wool blanket into a backpack.
You could take your tools and survival gear and place them into the center of the blanket. Then fold it to create a half diamond shape rather than right in half. From here you simply roll the larger end towards the smaller end. It will capture all your gear into something like a long wool blanket cigar.
This cigar can be tied around your waist or over your shoulder. It’s a great way to carry limited gear if you lose your pack.
Creating an Insulated Seat with a Wool Blanket
Sometimes just insulating your seat can make a huge difference in how the heat leaves your body. A cold seat will sap your body of its precious heat through conduction. This could be a cold stool or a cold rock. Even cold space under a seat can do this.
We have all experienced the cold bleachers at least once in our life. It’s the same principle.
Your 100% wool blanket can be folded up and used as an instant seat insulator. While it might not seem like the best survival perk, it could make all the difference when you are very cold.
This might be a last-ditch effort but if you are in truly dire straits you can cut thin pieces of your wool blanket off in order to make cordage. Of course, this will come at the expense of your wool blanket but in a true survival situation, where your life is on the line, you must do what it takes.
This emergency cordage might be used to repair or build a better shelter, it could be used to repair clothing or shoes. You just never know when you are going to need cordage for survival use. It's going to sting to take your full tang survival knife to that beautiful wool blanket but just remember; You can always replace your wool blanket.
While there is any number of great items to add to your survival pack and an ever-growing collection of survival gear, the 100% wool blanket deserves your attention. Sure another ferro rod, flint and steel or fire kit are exciting additions, survival is about much more than the sexy stuff.
Here is the difference in all this. The entirety of bushcraft and wilderness survival comes down to dirt time. Its all about the time you put in in the woods. You progress rapidly when you are in the woods seeing and doing.
When you opt for a new Morakniv when you already have a reliable survival knife, you are setting yourself back. If you don’t have cold-weather gear, you are losing a full season of dirt time. Sure the dirt might be hard and frozen but it's still an opportunity.
By adding a 100% wool blanket to your survival loadout, you are going to be able to stay out in the woods later into the year. You will learn to master another piece of survival gear that goes way beyond being just a blanket.
There is something about the higher stakes of winter weather. You know that your fire-making skills are necessary, your shelter has to be tight and if not you might need to abandon ship. You cannot just suffer through the dangerous cold as you might on a hot summer night.
The time has come for you to dominate the cold weather and wool blankets are a very important piece of that puzzle.