Finding and Creating Heat Sources in the Wilderness

Editor’s note: Today we have a guest post from Kent Page McGroarty from Even in the summer heat, staying warm and dry is an important topic.

Finding and Creating Heat Sources in the Wilderness

by Kent Page McGroarty

Light my fire!

Light my fire!

Finding yourself alone in the wilderness is certainly panic-inducing, but best to stay as calm as possible and set about finding water, building a shelter, looking for food and keeping warm. Perhaps one of the toughest aspects of wilderness survival other than staying off of bear trails is remaining warm. Check out a few tips for staying warm and dry while waiting for rescue!


One of the best and most obvious ways to keep yourself warm is to build a fire. The ability to create a good-sized flame will also prevent animals and insects from getting too curious. If you have any paper and matches on your person, you’ll be able to start a fire easily so long as you have access to dry wood. There are many options for creating fire if you do not have these items, such as the friction method or the flint and steel method, though note that such methods require a whole lot of patience.


While fire is arguably the best way to keep warm in the wilderness, you’ll want to build your shelter first so strong wind guests don’t destroy what you’ve just created. This is especially  important if you’re already low on matches, are down to your last lighter, or have spent the last hour rubbing sticks together. The shelter doesn’t have to be fancy; if nothing else place a few good-sized logs and branches up against a rock or tree and bind them together with vine materials. However, insulation is essential. Think moss, leaves, grass, dirt and any other dry debris you can pack along shelter walls. It’s very, very hard to stay warm when you’re wet, after all! You’ll also want to make the shelter as small as possible so you can use body heat to keep the space warm.


Another way to remain warm is through dry bedding. Make your pallet as thick as possible, and don’t forget to use dry debris only to avoid a bone-chilling dampness. Start with a thick layer of dry dirt before piling on leaves, grass and thick moss. A thick bed means protection from the cold, hard ground.

Shelter Placement Tips

Where you decide to construct your shelter also plays into how warm it will be. If possible, stick to areas that receive a lot of heat. If there’s large boulders and rocks around, make your shelter against one as boulders absorb heat and will help keep you warm and dry. Spaces featuring lots of natural protection such as vines and trees are also ideal options and will contribute towards shelter insulation. It’s preferable to create the shelter in an area that is easily seen for rescue purposes. A piece of bright clothing or other applicable material tied to the shelter will help rescuers find you as well.

Remember the most important part of staying warm in the wilderness is staying dry!

Kent Page McGroarty is a blogger for Check out more of her wilderness survival tips on the Survivalbased blog


Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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