Drying Clothes in the Cold

Wilderness survival in the cold means heat retention above all else.  You can last for 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, but can die in 3 hours from exposure.  Your clothing is going to be your primary protection against the elements.  But what happens if your clothing gets wet?  Wet clothes will not insulate, you will need to dry them.  Here are some tips on how to get your clothes dry and stay alive in cold weather.



Boots can be difficult to get dry, they can’t be spread out or hung like clothing.  But don’t place them right next to a fire to dry them.  This could easily damage your boots which could be a devastating mistake to make in the wilderness.  Instead, collect 4 rocks just smaller than your fist, place them in a container with boiling water to heat them up.  Placing them in water instead of directly in the fire keeps their temperature from getting too high.  Remove them and give them a minute to dry, then wrap them in any dry cloth you have like a bandana and place one in each boot. Rotate them until your boots have dried.


As with boots you do not want to place your jacket or any gear too close to your fire in an attempt to dry it.  Pass some cordage or a long enough stick through one arm and out the other, this will open up the material as much as possible.  Hang this by your fire, just behind where you would sit, not closer.


Always turn pants inside out when trying to dry them to expose the pockets to the air and heat fo the fire.  Hang them upside down as well so that the bulk of the material is at the lowest point to aid in dripping.  As with your jacket, do not hang your pants closer to the fire than you would sit to avoid damaging your clothing.

Below Zero

If temperatures are below zero you can hang your clothing out until it freezes solid and then knock off and shake off the ice.  This will get the majority of the moisture off.  Then the clothing can be worn while you are next to your fire to finish the job.


Wearing wet clothes can be worse than not wearing clothes at all in cold weather.  Take the time to dry your clothes, and dry them carefully so as not to damage them.  You are going to need them to be dry and intact to survive in the cold wilderness.


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