Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills/managing heat


this is the setting, you've been out snowshoeing for a good half of the day and you're on your way home. You'll be back to civilization in a couple of hours. At some point during the day the snow was more iced rain than snow and it got your clothes and gloves wet. You're not soaked as if you plunged into the water but you're damp indeed, plus you're starting to feel the chills as the trail is now easy and you aren't producing much heat yourself.
On the good side of things there's a warm and most of all dry jacket in your backpack. Do you remove the outer layer of your clothes and put on the dry jacket? Though the other layers of your clothing are damp too and you're losing some heat in the process, will you make it up?
Or you put on your dry jacket on top of all wet things?
Or maybe you don't put it on at all and wait until you're back to civilization since it's not so far? Temperature is freezing point or slightly below that, no wind.
I would like to know what'd be the most logical thing to do.
Thanks a lot!

If your clothing material is hydrophobic, meaning the fabric does not absorb moisture, such as polypropylene, silk, or marino wool, than I would leave them on and increase my pace to burn calories at a sustainable rate.  This will elevate your core temperature and dry out your clothes while keeping you warm.  If that proves unsuccessful and you have a hood on the dry coat, remove the top layer all together, put on the coat and again, increase your pace toward warm shelter or fire.  Carrying a pair of glove liners in your waste band with a pair of wool socks next to them allows you to always have warm hands and feet.  Simply switch over your cold/wet pair for the warm dry ones.  Having the finger tips and toes of the socks/gloves down the front to your trousers keeps them near your femoral arteries and it acts as a warmer/dryer.  If you have the means to start fire easily and the distance back to a shelter is too great, a warming/drying fire may be a better option, but mobility is the most efficient way to generate body heat.  I hope this helps!

Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills

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Michael James Douglas


I can answer questions about wilderness survival, primitive skills, bushcraft, mentoring, outdoor education, nature, awareness and tracking. The subsets of these skill areas are vast and include Shelter Building, dressing for the out of doors, fiber arts, wild crafting, making cordage from plants, trees, and animal parts, flint knapping and stone tools, bone tool making, crafting and using hunting tools from the landscape, tracking, trailing, track interpretation, edible, medicinal, and utilitarian plants, trees, and shrubs, primitive pottery, fermentation, fungi for food and medicine, identifying hazards, movement, camouflage, and concealment, making baskets and containers, water gathering and purification, using bird language to read the landscape for survival needs and the movement/location of other living things on the landscape, primitive/modern navigation, fire making off the landscape, fire by friction, ice lenses, and approaches to survival atttude.


Student of Survival and Primitive Skills since 1980. Founded The Maine Primitive Skills School. Have been sharing and learning skills professionally since August 4, 1989. Studied with Tom Brown jr., Charles Worsham, Paul Rezendes, Jon Young, Mark Elbroch, Arnie Neptune, Ray Rietze, and all of the students, volunteers, interns, instructors, and staff at The Maine Primitive Skills School and the schools that have been started by its community. We go on full survival outings at least twice a year to build community and develop our skill sets. New instructors are allowed to bring a metal knife. These trips usually last between 5 and 10 days. We have also been weaving in permaculture and sustainable land management concepts at our main campus.

New England Environmental Educators Alliance Maine Environmental Educators Alliance

MAMLE-Middle Association of Middle Level Education Ancestral Plants-A Primitive Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Udeful Plants of the Northeast.

B.S. University of Maine, College of Education, Environmental Education USMC-Numerous military Survival Schools (SERE, JWS, Cold Weather) Tracker School (16 courses from 1989-2003) Kamana (Wilderness Awareness School) Paul Resendez (numerous Tracking Workshops)

Awards and Honors
Vigil Honor-BSA-1984 Primitive Skills in the Modern Classroom-1992 Volunteers of America Star Award-2002

Past/Present Clients
U.S. Military Unity College Bowdoin College Colby College Scouting Maine Conservation School 4H

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