So, you’ve decided that you have no other option than to bug out in winter weather. That means you’re going to have to shelter during rest. To do that, you need to understand what you need to do/have to stay alive without a fire if you’re not in a semi-secure (meaning remote where there’s a good chance nobody else who means you harm is located) area.
Yes, it can be done, and can be done quite handily. I know; for about 8 years (in my 50’s), I would go to a very, very cold forested area in a very, very northern area, and practice what I preach. So, that said, and, of course, YMMV, depending on where you are located. Fires are wonderful, and you should have them whenever you can, but sometimes they’re a distinct disadvantage, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you can be targeted by entities that do not have your interests in mind.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but by all means…..CHEAT!” Well, it applies here. Don’t think about doing the ‘Spartan Survival’ method – use anything you can to give yourself the edge of making it through and not losing strength and drive because of the cold.
First thing, besides what you’ve chosen as a winter sleeping bag, vapor barrier (that which you put on the ground under your sleeping mat), and sleeping mat is, simply, a wind tarp (basha, poncho, etc) and some 550 cord to lash it to whatever concealment you’re going to use.
Next, you need commercial hand warmers. Personally, I prefer the 12 hour models that are about 4X4 inches and are air activated. I carry about 2 dozen in my SHTF BOB for winter. Simply, once your shelter is built (a simple tarp shelter to keep the wind off you – wind will rob you of your body heat – tents SUCK because you’re blind and they hold moisture inside….), you set up your sleeping bag (vapor barrier, sleeping pad, and bag on top of all) and activate one hand warmer and toss it in the bag while you finish you’re other ‘camp chores’ (securing your equipment, camouflaging your position (no matter if you’re rural, sub-urban, or urban) and setting up for sleep time (security watch if you’ve got more than you – food (get some fuel in your furnace right before you go to sleep – you’ll stay warmer!), and elimination (you want to urinate as much as possible before you turn in…you do not want to get out of your bag before you have to because you’ll lose residual heat in your bag, and if it’s REALLY cold (Zero f or lower), you won’t get it back before you get up for your watch or for the day.
Bottom line is this: All you need is a wind break (a tarp will do nicely if you can set it up), a good sleep system, your personal sleeping clothes (clean socks, a good set of under armor/poly-pro long johns specifically for sleeping, a head covering (fleece cap w/face mask or similar), super light gloves (silk glove liners come to mind – I use them and they’re great!), and something to cover your gear.
And, there you go.