Good Night Camping Equipment

Camping Equipment Find all you'll want here.

Lots Of Great Hiking Info

Lots Of Mouth Watering Camping Recipes

Breath Taking Outdoor Posters

Get More Traffic with
RSS Content Feeds

Robin's Adventures In Camping Equipment-Blog

Lets Catch Reel Big Fish Find out more! Blog

Lots of Online Games

Site Map


Outdoor Articles

Understanding Frostbite

By Greg Rouse

Often a misunderstood hazard in the outdoors because it has a tendency to sneak up on us, frostbite is defined as the actual freezing of human tissue. Most often it's a combination of cold temperatures (temperatures must be below freezing), wind, and moisture. It occurs most often in the feet or more precisely the toes as a result of cold wet feet in tight boots (i.e. poor circulation).

Some of the other common sites are the exposed extremities of the ears, face and nose. It can happen in the hands and fingers, but not as often as you would think because of our ability to easily place our hands in a more environmentally friendly area. Even though the fingers are similar to the toes with limited circulation and mass, the hands are more prone to contact and flash frostbite than prolonged exposure.

There are 3 major causes of frostbite

1. Prolonged Exposure (the most common cause): This is the one we traditionally think of and it's brought on by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, hence the name. Usually wind and water are also factors in the equation.

2. Direct Contact: This is when skin contacts cold metal and freezes upon contact. The movies have had fun with this one, such as when a certain person decides to put their tongue on a pole and sticks.

3. Flash Frostbite (the nastiest one): This one occurs when you spill cold fuels on exposed skin at sub-zero temperatures. We've chemically designed fuels to not freeze so we can work and use them at sub-zero temperatures. The only downside is that if spilled on the skin they will literally eat through the skin.

There are 3 major types of frostbite

1. Superficial: Known as frostnip, it's where the first layer of the skin is frozen and is very similar to a superficial burn or sunburn. The skin turns red and can peel.

2. Partial Thickness: Considered true frostbite where the skin often looks white, waxy and moldy, it involves the first two layers of the skin. If you push on the skin it may dent and the dent will linger. When re-warmed this type of frostbite often forms Blebs, a fluid filled blister that's the bodies way of fighting dehydration. Note: if the blebs are clear damage is minimal, if they are dark damage is more severe and tissue loss is highly likely.

3. Full Thickness: This form of frostbite is where it involves all three layers of the skin and even muscle and bone. Often characterized by a wooden sensation or numb and colorless, this form of frostbite is severe with amputation highly likely.

So how do we treat frostbite?

Because frostbite is the actual freezing of tissue, what happens are crystals form in the fluid between cells which draws fluid out of the cells and then dehydrates them. As the body part re-warms the crystals then evaporate resulting in vasoconstriction and further dehydration. Because there are crystals we never want to rub frozen body parts, so as not to slice and dice or do damage internally.

For frostnip one of the best ways to re-warm is skin to skin contact. That could be placing your hands on your ears, fingers in your armpits or feet on someone's belly (not the easiest proposition to make).

For partial thickness frostbite the best method is to soak the frozen part in 100 to 105 degree water until thawing is complete. Soaking helps minimize the damage from dehydration. Thawing is complete when color and sensation return. The skin will usually look red and blebs will often form. Note: keeping the water temperature constant is important but difficult with a frozen body part in the water, so do your best.

For full thickness frostbite thawing can be done in the same way as partial thickness. This is a very painful process and care should be taken not to allow the person to use the thawed body part until a doctor has checked it out. It is extremely bad to refreeze a body part; it will completely destroy the tissue and guarantee amputation. The thought in the medical community is to insulate and keep it frozen until you can properly treat it without the chance of refreezing.

So how do we prevent frostbite? As the saying goes prevention is the best medicine, so here's a nice list to remember:

1. Use the buddy system. Have a friend keep an eye out for any signs of frostbite.

2. Wear proper cold weather clothing, including rain and wind gear, mittens and boots.

3. Avoid tight fitting clothes that constrict blood flow, especially boots.

4. Monitor your feet for moisture.

5. Stay hydrated and maintain calories in order to produce proper metabolic function and circulation.

6. Reject tobacco, it greatly increases your chance for frostbite.

7. Avoid contact with cold metals or fuels by wearing gloves or mittens when handling such items.

8. Condition your hands and feet for the cold by using a moisturizer. Pliable skin resists freezing more than dry skin.

About the Author:
Greg Rouse has been teaching wilderness sports and emergency response at the university and college level for over a decade. He is also the founder of a unique web site called, a one-stop resource for self-guided wilderness trip planning. This web site is basically; a free online guidebook that photo-documents trips with interactive maps and detailed route descriptions. Each trip has free pictures and free topographic maps of the trail, all in a print-friendly format. Check it out at

Camp Cooking

10 Wide Open Tips For Food Safety In The Great Outdoors 
Baked Salmon Recipies 
 Camping Food That Works for You
Cook-Ahead Campouts
Dutch Oven Cooking Basics

Camping Tips

Camping Equipment Essentials
Top Tips for Successful BackCountry Navigation
Primitive Navigation in the Outdoors
Camping and Outdoor Activities
Camping Makes the Weekend Perfect
Great Family Camping Trips
Camping With Man's Best Friend
17 Tips That'll Safeguard You and Your Family From Dog Bites or Attack
Backpacking South East Asia on an Adventurous Route
They're BACK! The (Dreaded) Black Flies
Bird Watching at Its Best-5 Great Tips

Camping Equipment

What To Know When Buying Binoculars
Night Vision Devices
Highpointing: It's Not Just For Mountaineers
10 Benefits You Get from Using Trekking Poles For Hiking
Things You Should Know About Tents
20 Tips on Sleeping Warm in the Outdoors
Let There Be Light, Part 1 “ The Camping Lantern
Camping Lanterns Guide: Backpacking And Camping Lantern Tips
Twenty Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Sleeping Bag

Outdoor Survival

If You're Ever Lost in the Outdoors!
Understanding Frostbite
Post-Hiking Pain
The Power of Ice
Five Life Skills for BackCountry Enjoyment
5 Things You Must Do If You Want To Create a FIrst Aid Kit For Your Family
(Dog)Basic First Aid
Be the hunter, not the hunted - Hunting Safety Tips everyone should know
Black Bear Chasing Kid Style

Water Tips

Are You Buying a Boat Check Out These Tips First
What You Need To Know Before You Sell Your Boat
Costa Rica White Water Rafting Trip
Enjoying Your Vacation in an RV
Kitesurfing Equipment Dangers

Skiing And Winter Fun

You Too Can Ski Down Mount Everest
The Ultimate Skiing Experience
Organize a Cat Skiing Trip, Ski at a Discount
One for Ten Cabin Fever in Haines Alaska
The Road to Expert Skiing
Blind Skiers See the Light
Skiing Exercises for Recreational Skiers
You Don't Have to Hurt Yourself to Snowboard
Fun Places To Go For A Family Snowboarding Holiday
Snowboard Girls Take Your Skills To The Next Level At Girls-Only Camps
Alpine Snowboarding

Skatesailing “ The Ice Age
A Look at The Intriguing History of Snowboarding

Photography Tips

Photography Contest - a Fun and Rewarding Experience
7 Things You Must Do If You Want To Make That Perfect Camera Shot
Nine tips for taking great digital photographs
Have You Read Your Digital Camera Manual?
Digital Camera Auto Exposure and Auto Focus
Digital Camera Macro Mode
Exposure Compensation
Reduce Red Eye
Scouting Cameras
Take Spectacular Nighttime Photos with your Digital Camera - Part I
Landscape Photography
Some Tips On How To Find The Right Camcorder

Fishing Tips

Making the most of your time - Fishing Safety rules everyone should know
Be Prepared!
Red Ear Sunfish
The Tackle Box of Quotes
Change Your Clocks
Uplevel Your Fishin' Rod For Power & Strength!
Photographing Your Trophy Fish
Finding Trophy Bass
Care And Repair Of Fishing Lures
Fiberglass Reproduction “Today's Answer to Taxidermy
6 Things You Must Learn If You Want The Secret To Catching More

Winter Trout Fly Fishing

2004 All Rights Reserved
162 Park Ave., Cambridge,
Ontario, Canada N1S 2S6
Phone: 1-519-740-3123