Weatherization for Preppers

If you’ve been prepping for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the survival rule of three. This concept says that the average adult can only survive for about three hours in the elements without shelter before experiencing negative effects on the body.

Negative effects on the body from exposure to the elements can include everything from hypothermia to heat stroke, depending on temperatures and other conditions. One of the most important skills you can master as a prepper and survivalist is the ability to protect yourself from the elements. Much of this skill centers around weatherization for preppers.

Weatherize Your Bug Out Bag

When it comes to prepping, your bug out bag is a lifeline if you have to leave the safety of your home for any reason. A bug out bag full of supplies and food won’t last very long if it is at the mercy of the elements while you carry it on your journey. So when it comes to weatherization for preppers, you definitely want to protect your bug out bag.

Start by purchasing a bug out bag that is made from a water resistant or waterproof material. One of the easiest ways to protect your bug out bag against the elements is to line it with a plastic garbage bag before you begin packing your supplies inside. If your budget allows, you can purchase dry bags to pack your supplies into before they go into your pack.

For those who are budget conscious, zip lock bags and other plastic bags or containers can help keep your vital supplies dry and protected. There are also sealants you can buy, similar to fabric protector spray for shoes and boots, which you can spray on your bug out bag in order to seal it and give it some additional water resistance. For additional protection against heavy rain, you can use a backpack cover which is additional material that folds down over your pack when you are wearing it.

Weatherize Yourself

Wear a hat in cold weather to help hold body heat in and keep your body warm. Dress in layers and make sure the layer closest to your skin has wicking properties to keep moisture off skin. Wool socks are definitely on the list of things to do to weatherize yourself against cold weather. In warmer climates, wearing a hat can help protect your face from dangerous sunburn.

Carry chapstick and lotion to protect delicate skin from chapping and cracking from repeated exposure to sun, wind, or cold. Wear a raincoat or rain poncho to help keep your clothes dry.

Weatherize Your Boots

A large part of weatherizing yourself is to weatherize your boots. It’s critical in winter months to help keep your feet warm and dry to stop frostbite or hypothermia from taking hold. There are multiple ways to winterize your boots including:

  • Using plastic bags or zip lock bags over your socks
  • Spraying or coating your boots with a water repellant spray such as Kiwi Rain, Scotchgard Fabric Protector, Nubuck, or even WD-40.
  • Wrapping insoles with duct tape for added insulation
  • Applying wax to fabric of boots to repel water (buy a wax toilet ring for less than $5)
  • Buy boots with a Gor-Tex inner lining (do not warm boots by fire, it melts Gor-Tex)

Weatherize Your House

The first thing to consider is also the most expensive: insulating your entire house. Probably not a great idea if you anticipate a hurricane or tornado will devastate it.

Cold weather brings a host of issues if your house isn’t weatherized including drafty rooms, icy windows, and frozen water pipes. As a prepper, it’s critical to fully weatherize your home in case of a power out situation where your available heat is minimal. Old windows can be drafty and can be the cause of major heat loss from your home. This can cost you more money in heating costs every winter. If possible, include the costs of replacing windows one or two at a time in your summer budget. By replacing windows in the summer when window companies are scrambling for customers, you can sometimes get a better discount.

Another trick to save money on heating costs is to seal around window frames and door frames and any cracks or spaces along baseboards or inside cabinets with caulking. You can buy a draft blocker for under doors or you can use a pool noodle, cut in half, and wrapped in fabric to block drafts. Blocking drafts from getting in will keep your house warmer in the winter months. You can use a lit candle to check each room of your home for drafts.

Another method of weatherization for preppers or anyone who wants to stay warm and still save money on heating bills is to use bubble wrap and heat shrinking window film on all windows for the winter months.

First dampen a piece of bubble wrap the size of your window pane and apply it to the window. It will stick because it’s damp. Then follow directions included in a shrink wrap window kit to cover the entire window with film and heat with a hair dryer to shrink it tight.

Once you have sealed your house against cold air and drafts, you should also weatherize the water pipes in your home. This can be done by using an electrical heat wrap which will warm the pipes as long as the power is on. As a backup to your heat wrap when power goes out, wrap your pipes in foam insulation specifically for pipes which you can buy at the hardware store.

Finally, weatherize your house by making sure you do have at least one alternate heat source to use in a grid down situation. This can be done using whatever works best for your home, such as a fireplace, kerosene heater, or a fuel run generator. Since homes are sealed up tight in winter weather, make sure you also install a working CO2 detector to monitor any fumes that may build up.

Weatherize Your Log Cabin

When it comes to weatherizing a log cabin, you will follow many of the same tips as weatherizing your home. Check for drafts and seal them off around doors and windows and make sure you have an alternate source of heat.

But for a log cabin you’ll also want to inspect the exterior for any chinks in the logs that need to be caulked. This will stop drafts, keep mice out, and also help to keep moisture out of your cabin. It’s also a good idea to reapply your exterior stain every four years or so to ensure the wood is sealed against the elements.

Weatherize Your Vehicle

If you live full time in one of the colder climates, you may already be in the habit of weatherizing your vehicle to protect it from extreme cold in winter months. This can include using an antifreeze that is rated for low temperatures and replacing standard window washing fluid with Ice Guard washer fluid.

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You may also decide to change your tires to snow tires, all weather tires, or even add snow chains to your tires for the winter. As a prepper, another important tip to weatherize your vehicle is to make sure your car BOB includes warm blankets, and winter accessories such as wool hat, gloves, hand and foot warmers, and a scarf or balaclava to cover your face. If you travel frequently wearing only dress shoes or tennis shoes, you’ll want to include a pair of wool socks and warm boots as part of your car BOB.

In the trunk of your car you should also store a small shovel, some kitty litter or other method of traction, along with road flares and even tow chains. Many preppers even equip their vehicle with a small winch. This way if you are stranded in winter weather or get stuck in the snow, you’ll have what you need to get unstuck or stay warm until help arrives.

Weatherize Your Livestock and Pets

When it comes to weatherizing, don’t forget your livestock/pets. Make sure your animals have a shady place to get out of extreme sun and heat along with plenty of fresh water in summer months. Most animals also need to be in a dry and draft free barn or coop to keep from getting sick.

Groups of animals will keep their pen warm from their body heat but if they get wet or can’t get away from cold drafts, staying warm will become more difficult. Some people actually put some of their chickens inside their greenhouse to keep it warm.

Inspect the barn or pen for drafts and seal them with caulking or even stack several bales of hay to block wind. Repair or cover any broken windows to keep rain and drafts out. Horses can be blanketed in winter to keep them warmer. Lastly, inspect the roof of your animals’ pen for any leaks or drafts, and do necessary repairs before winter.

Are you ready for winter weather? Have you thought about how to protect yourself from wind, rain, or extreme heat this year? What’s your process for weatherizing your home? Share any tips you have in the comments below.

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6 thoughts on “Weatherization for Preppers”

  1. article Megan.

    My brother recommended that I get some foam board for my windows and cut to shape. Not only will it be a good insulator, it will be a good black out material in the event it is needed so no one can tell you have any lighting inside.

    • Almost There,

      My brother recommended that I get some foam board for my windows and cut to shape. Not only will it be a good insulator, it will be a good black out material in the event it is needed so no one can tell you have any lighting inside.

      You and I have discussed having things like foam board around as a general construction material. We recently had to use 3 pieces to help keep one of our 2nd stage propane regulators from freezing up during the recent ice storm and -12.5° actual temperatures. At $1.00 per sheet at Dollar Tree, we keep some on hand for the “Just in case” moments, and they have proven to be handy on numerous occasions.

      • TOP,

        Not sure how big or thick the foam is at the DT. The sheets at home depot come in 4′ x 8′, so it will be easy to cut the size of the window. If the ones from DT at at least 3′, one could possibly tape 2 together. I will check it out on Monday. I’m working on getting the propane heater hooked up this weekend. I’m sure I’ll be calling you… 🙂

        • Almost There,

          Not sure how big or thick the foam is at the DT. The sheets at home depot come in 4′ x 8′, so it will be easy to cut the size of the window. If the ones from DT at at least 3′, one could possibly tape 2 together. I will check it out on Monday.

          I still have quite a few of the ones from DT and I just measured one @ 20”x40”x1/4”. They are probably really meant more for school projects; but, are holding up OK and can be taped or tie wrapped together for a larger size. The size and cost allows us to just bring a few home in the car when we visit DT, while a 4×8 sheet even of something light like foam core board can be unwieldy.

          I’m working on getting the propane heater hooked up this weekend. I’m sure I’ll be calling you…

          We did all of our errands and shopping today, so we’ll be here, just trying to stay warm.

  2. Megan,
    Since we’ve been living this lifestyle in one place for the past 35 years, winterization is something that has been ongoing for us.
    Weatherize Your Bug Out Bag
    While you can take the steps you list to winterize your BOB, and I did in the early days; I found it best to just get the correct bag in the first place. I have several UTG Ranger bags, one in Black and one in Digital Camo. We keep these packed for the season, with one stored in each of the vehicles.
    Here are the bag features:
    • Heavy nylon construction with waterproof Inner Lining
    • Hide-away Padded / Adjustable Ergonomic Backpack Straps, including a Light/Tool Keeper
    • 2″ Heavy Duty Wrap-around Carry Handle in the Middle for Comfortable Carry
    • # 10 Heavy-duty Zipper with 3 Sets of Buckle Securing systems on Top
    • 17 X 12 x 36 inch

    That last item is a little problem for my 5’ 6” small frame, so I generally carry the pair by the handles, one on each side; but, for a taller person, the bag packs relatively comfortably over the shoulders.
    Weatherize Yourself
    Being a person who is follically challenged, I were a cap with a bill all of the time and have a rather large collection of both warm and cool weather hats, with my best winter hat being a Carhartt Men’s Workflex Ear Flap Cap like this one:

    It is rather heavy; but, well insulated and when you put down the ear flaps it protects both the ears and a portion of the back of the neck. Add a hood from another jacket or coat, and your head stays toasty.
    For the rest of the body I dress in layers with lots of wool. My DW isn’t fond of wool; but, I can tolerate it as my first layer with no itching, and that can make all of the difference. For rain gear there is nothing like Gore Tex and both the DW and I have rain suits made by Frogg Toggs that are lightweight, breathable and comfortable.

    Weatherize Your House

    The first thing to consider is also the most expensive: insulating your entire house. Probably not a great idea if you anticipate a hurricane or tornado will devastate it.

    This statement is kind of self contradicting, since we all live somewhere, where something could devastate our house, from natural events to a simple house fire. We need to keep devastating events in mind; but, having them limit your lifestyle due to fear, means you’ll most likely be living in a perpetually uncomfortable situation, and for at least some of those events, that’s why we keep insurance on our property.
    Over time we have replaced all of our windows with high quality multi-pane windows and recently had the entire house foam insulated. It has cut our heating costs significantly and made the house much more comfortable as we dive deep into winter. As we get older, sometimes the comfort outweighs the financial savings
    We have no central air; but, with just a few portable A/C units, we also keep the house nice and cool in the heat of summer. When you essentially live inside a Styrofoam cooler, amazing things can happen.
    The only place where we could potentially have frozen pipes is in our unfinished basement; but, using incandescent lighting and turning on the basement lights on very cold nights keeps the basement ceiling where all of the copper plumbing resides, well above freezing. While CFL and LED lighting can save some money on the electric bill, there are places where the good old inefficient incandescent heat producing light bulb can’t be beat, especially on a rural homestead.
    Our pipes are also wrapped in foam pipe insulation and we have on occasion during power outages, placed a Kerosene, propane, or candle heater in the basement to provide just enough heat to keep the pipes from freezing. You can place the heat source almost anywhere, since heat rises up to the pipes and it doesn’t take much. You can also leave your water running at a trickle, since that continues to bring 50° water into the system and also keeps the moving water in the pipes from freezing.

    Weatherize Your Vehicle
    Anti freeze in the cooling system should be standard year round, since it not only protects from freezing; but, raises the boiling point of the water in the system and makes it more efficient in the heat of summer. All weather tires are pretty much standard on all of our vehicles as is a battery tender when the vehicles sit in the unheated garage.
    While we don’t have a good place to mount a winch on either vehicle, a come-a-long is often a handy tool to have with you; but, perhaps more important is watching the weather forecast and checking for road closures and conditions before you decide to venture out.
    We are lucky enough to have two large old barns and a chicken coop, so our animals all live lives of virtual luxury, with dry stalls and lots of room to run, even on days when we keep them closed in. Large barns are almost always a bit drafty; but, as long as you have corners of the stalls well away from drafts and provide the critters with enough bedding, most will do fine, as they did long before we domesticated them.
    While we used to do some of the steps you list, over the last 33 years, we have slowly made permanent additions / corrections to this old house not to ”winterize”; but more to ”weatherize” the place against both cold and heat, snow, ice, and rain.


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