Hot tips for cold weather

Why a turkey baster can be your best friend at -30

by David Maguire

I’ve found myself describing to southern friends the northern sense of humour that develops when you live in a place where the weather is like a bad joke. Part of our northern resilience can be attributed to our ability to make fun of ourselves and the extreme situations we get into living in such a hostile environment.

It’s funny when your beard is frozen like a brick of ice, or when you can almost break a strand of your significant others’ hair off because they went outside too early after a shower. It isn’t funny when you’re 20 kilometres from town with a broken Ski-Doo, slim chance at cell reception and your gear starts to fail you.

Since I love living in the North and believe getting outside in winter is important to maintaining sanity through the darkness and cold, I’ve discovered a few affordable small items that can make time in our frozen-wasteland-of-a-home easier and more comfortable. Here are some hot tips for the cold:

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Stealth Cold War Gloves

These hidden gems can be found at Weaver’s or True Value Hardware. The neon green and black rubberized fishing gloves fit neatly in your pocket for when you need an extra pair. They don’t have the insulation you would want to depend on for a three-hour ski trip, but they are perfect for changing a spark plug or doing any type of activity that requires some dexterity; and they are waterproof, which is handy for when you pull that delicious trout out of the ice hole.

The real bonus of these modern marvels is that they work with your touch phone. Need to grab a quick call or send a text to your buddy? Don’t freeze your hands; just get a pair of Stealth Cold War gloves. Make sure to buy a pair that fits small, otherwise the touch-phone support will be spotty. Best to try them in store before you buy.

The All Mighty Turkey Baster

This classic holiday kitchen utensil is also an essential item I make sure I have in my snow machine’s emergency kit. It may be useful for keeping your holiday bird moist and delicious, but it’s also a godsend when something goes wrong on your sled trip, and anyone who has spent time in the bush around our little town on a snow machine knows that a sled trip without a breakdown isn’t a sled trip at all.

Run out of two-stroke oil and forget your spare? Use the turkey baster to borrow some from a fellow rider in your group or a passer-by. You can use the baster to transfer any number of vital fluids that are the lifeblood of your northern steed. It’s a handy tool to start a quick fire, also if the worst has happened and you got wet because you crossed a body of water that wasn’t quite frozen, or if you just really need a quick fire to cook that hot dog.

A Six Pack…of Socks

If you’re lucky enough to get invited out to a cabin or winter camping trip with all your best buds then you’ll want to bring a few libations. This brings us to the great northern dilemma. How do you get those tasty brew pops from town to the cabin in one piece? Throw them in a backpack and you’ll be squeezing your drinks out of your t-shirt at day’s end.

Instead of risking getting your gear wet, and wrecking a number of perfectly good beers, take a six-pack of socks, place two beverages in each sock and twist in the middle to create a buffer between them. Now tape those beers together and wrap them in a cardboard box. It may be a lot of work but when you arrive after a long sled ride and have all your beverages accounted for, it will be worth it. Needless to say, this is a trick for cans – who brings bottles to the cabin, anyway?

Friends with a Few Strong Backs

Sometimes the most powerful tool you can have at your disposal is a good friend willing to go out of their way to do you a solid favour. I’m not an advocate of keeping score on who-helped-who last, but as a simple rule I make sure that if there’s a friend in need, no matter how brutal the work, I’ll do my best to be there with them lifting, pulling, freezing and laughing at our collective misfortune. Over the 2012 holidays I spent a solid eight-hour day running around between Reid and Prosperous lakes with generators, cables and a few good buddies working to unfreeze some vehicles left out in the cold weather too long. When you’re truly stuck in the bush, sometimes all it takes is putting a few heads together, calling in some favours and a bit of heavy lifting. Better to suffer together than alone.

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