Outdoor: Surviving Winter On The Road

Heeeyho Readers! Let's talk about survivalism!

"Nobody knows more about survivalism than those who've had to flee their homes."

That said, this post goes beyond exalting my experiences on the road as an adventurous brokepacker; it aims to discuss information on how to survive in case of a severe crisis — observe the world and interpret accordingly.

Any sane reader may notice that the situations I put myself — and the mistakes once made — are miserable. Cycling across Europe during the winter? An adventure. I dislike the term 'adventure' at any rate. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen once said: "Adventure is just bad planning". It doesn't matter how rough the conditions are if we are prepared. So, let's talk about planning.

Surviving Winter On The Road

There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. This famous quote is extendable to the extremes; whether in a bicycle trip or if we lose our shelter (homes) being prepared to endure the winter outdoors is our primary goal.

I will divide our survival capability in three categories: shelter, nutrition, and clothing.


Camping in a forest, Austria, Nov. 2019


Sheltering is the alliance of a safe and discrete location to sleep, any well-protected enclosure, and a way to maintain heat.

The best way to find a safe spot to sleep is to look around. Generally, as far away as possible from major cities is advisable. Local woods, amid bushes, asking people nearby small communities. Humans generally have a decent instinct to sense fear; that is, you'll know if a place is unsafe. Experience will enhance that.

I've used a tent 90% of the time during my trips as a well-protected enclosure . It's also one piece of equipment that is always ready to go at any time. A good camping tent should:

  • Be lightweight and compact
  • Have a waterproof rating of at least 1500mm
  • Easy to assemble/disassemble
  • A strong structure against the wind

Some people like to use hammocks or bivouac bags, but none of these options are as protected as a good ole camping tent.

Lastly, we should be able to maintain our bodies warm during the night. Hypothermia is, unfortunately, the main cause of deaths among homeless people in southern Brazil.


Camping in -10ºC, Hungary, Nov. 2019

Winter nights require specialized equipment. The photo above is from a field in Hungary, when the temperatures reached -10ºC. Meanwhile, I slept comfortably using a sleeping bag rated for comfort -5ºC over a Sea-to-Summit insulated sleeping pad. Proper sleeping gear do not come in cheap, although it's an investment worth every cent. Remember, we gotta be prepared.

Let's skip the details about gear in this post. Below is a rough guide.

  • Reputable sleeping bag brands rate their sleeping bags according to the norms EN 13537 and ISO 23537 (extreme, limit, comfort temperatures).
  • Sleeping pads depend on their R-value (its capacity to resist heat flow through it. The higher a pad's R-value, the better it will insulate you from cold surfaces.

With a combination of an instinct to find appropriate sleeping spots, a decent tent, and a specialized sleeping bag and pad, you are set to sleep anywhere — I mean it from experience.


Surviving winter conditions also require a reinforced calorie intake. Finding nutritious food — that's rich in fat, carbohydrates and proteins — is easy in a normal-functioning society. Just grab a lot of pasta, tuna fish, peanut butter, fruits, oat meals, rice, etc. Anything that won't rot and fits in a backpack.


Cooking on the outskirts of a village in Chile

Life gets a little bit more difficult in case of a crisis, considering we won't have money and markets will run out of stock quickly (because of a broken supply chain and inflation).

What would you do in this situation?


Are you prepared to sweep your wardrobe and grab clothes to run away in five minutes? Survival clothes are versatile. They keep you warm and dry. Some pieces are multi-purpose. Compactness is important.

My clothing options diminished since I started traveling. Today, my wardrobe is composed of a handful of technical clothes that serve a day-to-day life and outdoors activities. In case of a crisis it takes a minute to throw them in a backpack and go.


Cycling during the winter

Trousers that turn into shorts, thermal shirts, fleece tops, and a good waterproof jacket covers any condition. It's not about fashion, but survivalism. Jeans and wool jackets are heavy and won't dry easily. Think of layers of clothes that complement each other. Thermal layers goes over the skin, followed my insulated tops/trousers, followed by jackets.

Survival clothes should last a long time, be easy to wash/dry, be discrete and technical, fit in a medium-sized backpack. As you can see, clothing is a topic worth an entire post (soon).


Evidently, chances are slim that such a severe crisis will struck us without previous notice. However, by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail. Even if you don't plan to go out camping or on a bicycle trip, having critical equipment ready may serve multiple purposes, like in a bankruptcy situation or loosing your house for a natural disaster.

Are you prepared?


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Access Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/6500272773?

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~Love ya all,

Disclaimer: The author of this post is a convict broke backpacker, who has travelled more than 10.000 km hitchhiking and more than 5.000 km cycling. Following him may cause severe problems of wanderlust and inquietud. You've been warned.

I'm Arthur. I blog about Adventure Stories, Brazil, Travel, Camping, & Life Experiences.

Follow me to stay tuned for more craziness and tips.


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I reject planning and embrace adventure. More interesting that way.

Plus I'm shit at planning.

I don't plan the trips per se, but the equipment I take out is sure planned (though it's always the same equipment, for any situation). If I had to abandon my house tomorrow i'd me ready to live on the streets.

Ha, I thought about a couple of interaction examples I had with family members.

My wife asked me a few weeks ago,

Why buying fishing hooks? You don't go fishing.

I don't but I have as a kid. And I have me some fishing line in a backpack. While the hooks re for emergency, the line comes in handy in gardening and homesteading, too.

The other thing I thought of was my father sharing the wise words of I forgot who,

When famine strikes, fat people go slim, and slim people disappear.

If it were only a matter of Laws of Physics, that might have been true. It's probably true in the case of passive people.

Fishing skills is super handy. As the saying: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". We can take it literally to the word.

When famine strikes, fat people go slim, and slim people disappear

I'd be fucked o\ at 6% body fat my chances of surviving are zero

Well, a worrisome thought but as I said, it applies to passively taking it. You got some ideas of how to find some food, right?

And also,


You got some ideas of how to find some food, right?

Only fish and native fruits. I have zero knowledge on medicinal plants and natural tea leaves (actually I can identify one or two).

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Richard Winters of the 101st Airborne Division, WWII. A true legend.

If I ever happen to get lost in the jungle, mountains, desert or go shipwrecked on a deserted island, I hope you will be around as that would greatly improve my chances of surviving :D Cool post mate!

Btw are you sure the picture from Hungary is from 2019 and not 2018? ;)

I hope you will be around as that would greatly improve my chances of surviving

\o you mean we'd die together? Because I'm pretty bad at find food in nature.

Btw are you sure the picture from Hungary is from 2019 and not 2018? ;)

Uh yeah, well spotted, it was indeed 2018. In 2019 I was already in Italy.

Hey hey hey, after months of becoming silent here, due to life, I at least leave a quick comment as new forced winter bicyclist lol. I ripped down 500km within my first 10 days and have a least 200km coming up each week, how do I handle the pain 😅? What do you wear underneath? I have some thermo gore wear pants with bike diapers in it that are supposed to keep my legs warm and my butt pampered ( side note, my butt huuuurtssss lol), for above I'm not sure yet. For convenient reasons I got myself a Dirtlej dirt suit for on top. I hope it holds what it promise, any experience with stuff like that? Well, have a good one 😁

Heeeeeeeey, sorry for taking so long to reply. Are you traveling by bicycle?? That's some great numbers you've got there -- 50km per day is a great achievement.

A few questions:
What kind of pain are you having?
Is it muscular pain (glutes) or like general sore butt? More near the groin or centered towards the perineum?

I ask that because it's normal to have butt soreness when we start cycling long distances (it should go away with time). If it doesn't go away it could be your position on the bicycle or your seat type.

Clothes: For my winter trip I wore normal thermal pants (those tight second skin) under hiking pants. Today I wear proper cycling shorts, and when it's cold I dress the shorts over a pair of thermal pants because I don't have a pair o cycling pants like in the photo


Now if it's reaaaaally cold I'd wear cycling pants under a good pair of hiking trousers.

Heeeeyyyyyyy...don't you worry about replying "late", I'm the master of absence 😂 . Well it is my seat as my butt bones hurt lol. But I push through for a while, maybe I get used to it.

I'm not a rider by choice 😅, just can't drive a car for the next 6 month 😅😎.

Hey but at km 12 today, I found a rather new bike lock with 2 keys in the middle off the road. Jackpot baby, luck is on my side 😂 .

Well it is my seat as my butt bones hurt lol

Oh yeah, butt bones should get used to it soon xD

Think on the bright side, you'll get some really strong and sexy glutes cycling everyday hahaha

I found a rather new bike lock with 2 keys in the middle off the road

See! Bicycles are win win win

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