Timber Wolf, Lake Superior, Ontario

A lone timber wolf greets
paddlers along the north shore
of Lake Superior, Canada
(Photo by Michael Neiger)


overcomes cold.
overcomes heat.
  -- Lao Tzu
  604-531 B.C.


The snowshoe
and the toboggan
allow for
a level of comfort
in winter travel
that makes
look spartan,
rigorous, and
downright unpleasant.
  --Garrett and
    Alexandra Conover
  A Snow Walker's
, 1995  


Traveling...like this
is perpetual romance
for me.
This stump right here,
this birch,
this snowed up brook;
no, it is not these;
it is on and on
and forever on through
the bright white
and the shadowed trees.
And best of all is
to stand on a ridge
and look ahead
over infinities of
solitary country
dreaming in
the short winter sun...
Sometimes keeps
on and on
to the farthest ridges
that lean
against the sky.
  -- Elliot Merrick
  True North



The Rucksack Masthead
By Michael A. Neiger, Marquette, Michigan
Wilderness tripper: backpacking, winter camping, swift-water canoeing
Web site URL: http://therucksack.tripod.com • E-mail: mneiger@hotmail.com
Contents copyright © 1984-2007 by Michael A. Neiger • All rights reserved.


Gary De Kock's Igloo

On a February, 1999
CUPG snowshoe trip
to Whiskey Bottle Lake,
Gary De Kock of
Fruitport, Michigan
bevel-cuts blocks of
snow for his Igloo in
anticipation of a
40-below night along
Kasubeek Creek,
Lake Superior
Provincial Park,
Ontario, Canada
(Photo by Gary De Kock)


By Michael A. Neiger
Copyright 2001

Last updated on December 20, 2005

Contents of page

   How to dress warm
   How to sleep warm
   How to prep an MSR stove
   How to prep your car for cold temps


Looking for
wilderness tripping
equipment and
For 100's of sources for wilderness tripping equipment and supplies, visit the sources for gear page on this Web site.

Need help
finding a book?
Trying to buy a new or used copy of a book, but can't locate one? Want to find a library somewhere in the country that will lend you the book at no cost? Then visit the handy book finder page on this Web site.

a book, catalog,
or Web site
If you know of a useful outdoor-related book, catalog, or Web site not listed on this Web site, e-mail the book's title, subtitle, author, publisher, date of publication, and short description; or the catalog's address and phone number; or the Web site's URL to Michael Neiger at mneiger@hotmail.com.

** Recommended


See the "how to dress warm in foul weather" page in this Web site.



See the "how to sleep warm in foul weather" page in this Web site.


See the "How to prepare an MSR-type stove for cold-weather expeditioning" on the Rations and Stove page on this Web site.


[  ] Remove water from fuel system

To avoid fuel-line freeze-ups and other water-in-the-fuel problems, whether the water is introduced when you refuel or from natural condensation in a partially-empty fuel tank, treat your fuel with a water remover and fuel system antifreeze such as Iso-HEET. Use according to the instructions so you are using enough for the size of your tank. Some large fuel tanks may require two or three bottles. To minimize condensation in the fuel tank, always try to keep your tank as full as possible.

[  ] Change to a winter-weight oil

To make your car easier to turn over and easier to start in sub-zero temperatures, consider changing the oil to a thinner, winter-weight oil recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle, possibly 5W30 weight oil.

[  ] Replace battery if old

This is essential in deep cold. Get the biggest, high-amp battery that you can stuff in your battery storage compartment. Visit an auto parts store that has their batteries out on display and, after comparing and contrasting the amp ratings vs. physical dimensions of the batteries in their catalogs, get the highest-amp one you can safely mount in your vehicle. This may take some time and cash, but it is cheaper than the alternative: having your vehicle towed a long distance, hotel fees, etc.

[  ] Check anti-freeze rating of coolant

Make sure your anti-freeze can handle 40 below temps.

[  ] Use a locking gas cap

Make sure you have a spare gas cap key too. This is much cheaper than having to go get gas, or have your engine repaired because of vandals.

[  ] Consider installing an engine block heater.

Consider having a block heater installed in your engine. Even if your engine can not be jump started, you can have it towed to a place with electricity where the block heater will rewarm the engine within a few hours. The alternative may be an expensive tow and then a two-day thaw job in a heated garage, hotel fees, etc.

If you install an engine block heater, carry a very long extension cord or two.

[  ] Check tire pressure, including spare tire

To make sure your tire pressure is correct for winter driving, check it on a very cold day. Tire pressure goes up on hot days and goes down on cold days. Make sure your tires are properly inflated cold-weather driving.

[  ] Extra set car keys

String on lanyard and give to someone else on trip.

[  ] Registration papers

[  ] Proof of insurance certificate

In Canada, you must have a "Canadian Nonresident Insurance Card" for your vehicle. Call your insurance agent to get one.

[  ] Jumper cables

Avoid short, thin cables.

[  ] Tow chain or strap

[  ] Tire jack and lug nut wrench

[  ] Snow shovel

[  ] Snow scraper and snow brush in winter

[  ] Check wipers

[  ] Check fluids

Check engine, transmission, and front and rear windshield washers


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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
— John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

Content Copyright © by Michael A. Neiger
All rights reserved.
Comments? Suggestions? Dead links? Inaccurate info?
Contact the WebMaster at mneiger@hotmail.com