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Winter Outdoor Survival Must-Haves

by Suryani Omar

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The bitter cold, snow and ice may often deter many from heading outdoors in winter. However, going outside and soaking in the sun is critical for our mental and physical well-being.

In fact, it’s important to try to get some sun exposure during the winter months, as vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy bones and a strong immune system.

Being in nature is a beautiful thing as we are surrounded by Allah’s creations.

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Being outdoors helps build resilience and a greater appreciation for nature.

Allah says in the Quran:

إِنَّ فِى خَلْقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَٱخْتِلَـٰفِ ٱلَّيْلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّأُو۟لِى ٱلْأَلْبَـٰبِ ١٩٠

ٱلَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ ٱللهَ قِيَـٰمًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِى خَلْقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَـٰذَا بَـٰطِلًا سُبْحَـٰنَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ ١٩١

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the day and night there are signs for people of reason. ˹They are˺ those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth ˹and pray˺, “Our Lord! You have not created ˹all of˺ this without purpose. Glory be to You! Protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

(Surah Ali ‘Imran, verses 190 & 191)

For those with young children, going outside in frigid temperatures can be especially tricky. However, going outdoors in all kinds of weather will help build our children’s resilience and imagination. It will also cultivate a deeper appreciation for Allah’s creations, and a sense of gratitude for the bounties that they enjoy in life. Outdoor enthusiasts often remark that, “there’s no bad weather, just badly dressed for the weather.”

Here are five tips to make your winter outdoor adventures fun and memorable.

1. Dress appropriately.

Dress in layers to keep warm, and to protect your skin from the cold and wind. If it gets too hot, you can always remove the extra layers. Packing an extra jacket, socks and gloves can come in handy especially if it rains. Make sure to wear a hat, gloves, and a scarf to keep your head, hands, and neck warm.

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Keeping warm by dressing appropriately is important when heading out in the snow!

When you’re outdoors with babies and toddlers, keep checking their temperature and look out for cues if they are uncomfortable. If they are fussy, it may mean that they are too cold or too warm. Add or remove layers accordingly, and it’s always good to start them in base layers or thermal wear before adding jackets, fleece pants and other gear.

If you are heading out in the snow, make sure to have waterproof pants, jackets, gloves and boots. 

2. Keep your feet dry.

It is also a good idea to invest in a good pair of winter boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Kids’ winter boots can be pricey, but buying a used pair can be an alternative. Just make sure that the boots are still in good condition, with its lining intact, and ensure that the soles are not worn out.

Children outgrow their apparel fast, and often it will only last for one season. If you choose to get them a new pair, reselling the gear or donating them are good options.

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Waterproof gear will help keep you dry while enjoying fun in the snow!

If you live in a place where heavy snowfall is expected, you might want to consider special shoes with metal spikes to walk on ice-covered areas. When the snow melts and freezes to ice, walking conditions can get tricky and slipping on ice is dangerous.

Ice cleats are sold in many outdoor stores and can easily be slipped over your boots to give you extra protection when heading in nature during winter.

3. Hand and feet warmers.

Nothing gets more uncomfortable than freezing hands and numbness in your feet. I remember heading out with a group of elementary school students who started crying because their hands and feet were cold. Hand and feet warmers did the trick for these young ones.

Pack extras in your backpack and coat just in case they get lost. A little comfort when in rough weather can go a long way, In Sha Allah.

Cold hands that get numb will make it hard to carry things or even operate tools. If you’ve run out of hand warmers, keeping your hands in your pockets or under your arms can also help warm them temporarily.

4. Snacks and a vacuum flask.

Nothing beats enjoying a cup of hot drink or hot soup after a walk in the cold. Pack a hot drink in a vacuum flask to keep it warm. 

Freeze-dried fruit snacks, halal beef or salmon jerky, and crackers make for portable treats. Snacks and a hot beverage can really cheer up your littles if they are having a rough time in the freezing temperatures. A short snack break can help everyone recalibrate and reset their moods.

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Packing the right snacks and a warm beverage is crucial for a successful day out!

5. Waterproof canvas mat.

Pack along a light, waterproof mat to sit and enjoy your snacks. You can use break time to observe nature, play games in the snow, or just immerse in the outdoors.

Some people prefer a mini pop-up tent. This is a great option as long as you can deftly pack the tent after usage. If you have several light, waterproof mats, you can tie the ends to branches and make your own outdoor shelter, too. Now, that’s what I call surviving outdoors!

The best way to cap a day of snow adventure- watching the documentary “The Greater Caucasus” on Qalbox, in the Muslim Pro app, to learn about the wild mountain landscape and its extreme climate! Children and adults alike will definitely be spellbound by the visuals and information presented in the show.

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A still from The Greater Caucasus, a documentary that can be streamed on Qalbox.

So, what are you waiting for? Time to head outdoors with your family and friends, and create memories together, In Sha Allah.