Project Description

What else could be better than exploring the winter wonderland Eastern Manitoba turns into? From gliding along the cross-country ski trails, taking a brisk winter hike through our forests, or hunkering down on frozen rivers and lakes to knab some fish, the possibilities for adventures are endless. But with adventure comes responsibilities. The responsibility to care for our breathtaking nature, to respect the admirable wildlife that calls the Eastman home, and, most importantly, the responsibility to be safe and smart while partaking in winter activities.

Experience the Eastman region like never before. Many people skip winter activities, namely because of the cold. But, when you bring the right supplies, dress correctly, and take the extra mile to prepare for your venture, you can still live an active lifestyle and be in nature during the winter months.

Clothing

For most winter activities, the dress code is the same. Most people tend to overdress or underdress for their outdoor adventure and often forget that the goal is to stay warm AND dry – not only from the elements but also from sweat. The trick is to dress in layers.

Layers are a wonderful thing, not just a fashion statement. Overdressing results in sweating – which is a big no-no in winter. Sweating in sub-zero temperatures is very dangerous. If you have been sweating and then take a break or slow down, the moisture can begin to freeze, making it very difficult to get warm again.

When starting your adventure, the best practice is to dress so your body feels chilled at the beginning. Eventually, your body will get used to the chill, and, especially if doing physical activity, your body will warm up. If you still find yourself shivering too much, you can always put on another layer and, of course, discard a layer if you find yourself overheating.

Now, how many layers should you wear? You’ll want three layers, a next-to-skin base layer, a mid-weight insulating layer, and an outer shell layer; it is also important to avoid cotton for all layers, but more on that soon.

For a base layer, wear something lightweight, next-to-skin, comfortable, and warm even when it gets wet. Keep in mind that wool is an excellent option for a base layer, so your body temperature stays regulated. Other suitable materials for base layers are silk and various synthetic material that wicks moisture away from the body. The base layer is an important first step to dressing for winter and often gets overlooked. If you hate winter because you’re always cold, adding a base layer to your clothing mix will probably help change your mind.

Your middle layer traps air, which keeps you warm; the more air you trap, the warmer you’ll be. Natural or synthetic materials design for this purpose and are breathable are ideal. Middle layers should also allow the transfer of moisture and wicked through the base layer to continue its journey away from the body. Goose down, fleece, and wool are good options of material for the middle layer.

Other clothing items you’ll need are:

  • Buff.
  • Sunglasses (to protect your eyes from the sunlight bouncing off the solid sheet of white around you).
  • Gloves (recommend bringing two pairs).
  • Toque.
  • Gaiters.
  • Helmet (for fat Biking).
  • Pogie (for fat biking) is not required but is a more convenient way to keep your hands warm.
  • Heat packs

Your outer layer is designed to protect you from the elements. It should be durable and breathable and protect you from the wind, rain, snow, and branches. Something simple like a windbreaker, rain jacket, and winter jackets designed as “outer shells,” which tend to be more durable. Also, this layer should be waterproof. Fabrics like Gortex are perfect for this layer. Keep in mind that the outer layer isn’t designed to be thick or warm (as this is what the middle layer is for).

A huge, mega no-no is using cotton. The reason for this is because once cotton gets wet, it stays wet, making your garment heavy and damp and resulting in you becoming very cold, shivering, and miserable.

Footwear depends on the activity you are doing. Skiing, for example, requires specific ski boots. However, for hiking, snowshoeing, and fat biking, light winter boots or even waterproof hikers (paired with gaiters) are perfect.

For ice fishing, rubber or leather boots are the way to go. Both have their pros and cons, however. While rubber boots are 100% waterproof, they are not as warm. Leather boots are very warm, but eventually, your feet will get wet and cold. Also, if you are ice fishing, consider purchasing a bib to help keep you warm and dry – plus, you can buy one with lots of pockets to hold your smaller gear and tackle.

Wool socks are another must. Often, people don’t put much thought into what socks to wear, but this is another important clothing item. Wool socks are a great insulator, can absorb a high amount of moisture, keeps their insulating properties while wet and, on the flip side, dries much more quickly than cotton or other synthetics.

Check out these great winter activities!

Photos By: Travel Manitoba

What to Bring with You

When heading out on your adventure, there are some things that you should bring with you. When dealing with nature and the elements, it’s always a good rule of thumb to hope for the best but prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Also, don’t rely on your phone. The cold weather conditions are a killer on your phone, and your battery will drain faster than you are used to. Plus, there is no guarantee that service will be available; so, relying on it for emergency help, GPS, or staying connected to your group isn’t ideal.

  • Map.
  • GPS.
  • Extra Batteries (various depending on what tools you bring) because batteries don’t do well in the cold
  • Compass.
  • First aid emergency kit.
  • Multi-tool/mini repair kit.

Flashlight.

Water.

Snacks.

Sunscreen – yes, even in the winter!

Satellite communicator.

Firestarter.

Emergency shelter.

Extra gloves, hat, socks, and shirt.

Check out these great winter activities!

Photos By: Travel Manitoba

Tips to Keep You Safe

There are things you can do before and during your outdoor adventure to keep you safe.

Before you head out, make sure to check the weather report to make sure the temperature is going to be ideal and that no snowstorms are expected.

Before you leave, make sure to tell someone what activity you are doing, where you are doing it, and what time you are going and expect to be back. This way, if something does happen, someone will know that you’re not back and know something is wrong.

Make sure you are using well-maintained and well-fitted equipment. There’s nothing worse than finding out that your poles, skis, snowshoes, and overall, your equipment is damaged or, if renting, doesn’t fit properly. To ensure the best experience, especially with a new hobby or activity, make sure that you are using the right equipment for you.

During your activity, make sure to take breaks to drink some water and eat some snacks. For water, keep it in a thermos if it’s cold – this way, it won’t freeze.

Bringing along energy bars and snacks is also a must. Outdoor activities are hard work, and now you’re adding snow and cold weather into the mix. During your breaks, snack on some treats to keep yourself energized.

Check out these great winter activities!

Photos By: Travel Manitoba

Ice Safety

If you are doing any activities that involve going on the ice, check the ice thickness. A rough guideline for activities on new clear ice is as followed:

  • Stay off if ice is 3 inches or less.
  • You can walk and ice fishing if the ice is 4 inches.
  • You can snowmobile or ATV if the ice is 5 inches.
  • Cars or small pickups can go on the ice if it is 8-12 inches.
  • Medium Trucks can go on the ice if it is 12-15 inches.

There are many factors that affect ice thickness; type of water, location, the time of year and environmental factors such as:

  • Water depth and size of the body of water.
  • Currents, tides and other moving water.
  • Chemicals including salt.
  • Fluctuations in water levels.
  • Logs, rocks and docks absorbing heat from the sun.
  • Changing air temperature.
  • Shock waves from vehicles travelling on the ice.

Ice colour also plays a factor in the strength of ice you plan on going on.

  • Clear blue ice is strongest.
  • White opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Opaque ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice.
  • Grey ice is unsafe. The grayness indicates the presence of water.

If your outing involves going on the ice, you should consider purchasing a set of Winter Ice Picks and a Whistle as part of your winter safety kit.

Ice thickness can be deceptive, especially during the beginning of winter and during the start of spring. While hard water activities can be a ton of fun, they can be dangerous. Be patient and wait for the ice to thicken – because in this case, more is always best. Usually, by March, we start to see melting occur, which means it’s time to say goodbye to on-ice activities as it starts to break up and melt.

If you do fall through the ice, here is how you get out:

  • Call for help, use the whistle, and try to remain calm.
  • Resist the immediate urge to climb back out where you fell in. The ice is weak in this area.
  • Try to relax and catch your breath. Turn yourself toward shore, so you are looking at where you entered onto the ice. The ice is more stable close to shore.
  • Reach forward onto the broken ice without pushing down. Kick your legs to try to get your body into a horizontal position. The ice picks will help you pull yourself onto the ice.
  • Continue kicking your legs, and crawl onto the ice.
  • When you are back on the ice, crawl on your stomach or roll away from the open area with your arms and legs spread out as far as possible to evenly distribute your body weight. Do not stand up! Look for shore and make sure you are crawling in the right direction.

If you see someone fall through the ice:

  • Rescuing another person from ice can be dangerous. The safest way to perform a rescue is from shore and call for professional help. Your natural instinct will be to provide assistance, but first, you have to make sure this can be done safely.
  • Call for help. Consider whether you can quickly get help from trained professionals (police, firefighters or ambulance) or bystanders.
  • Check if you can reach the person using a long pole or branch from shore – if so, lie down and extend the pole to the person.
  • If you go onto the ice, wear a PFD and carry a long pole or branch to test the ice in front of you. Bring something to reach or throw to the person (e.g. pole, weighted rope, line or tree branch).
  • When near the break, lie down to distribute your weight and slowly crawl toward the hole.
  • Remaining low, extend or throw your emergency rescue device (pole, rope, line or branch) to the person.
  • Have the person kick while you pull them out.
  • Move the person to a safe position on shore or where you are sure the ice is thick and signal for help.

Check out these great winter activities!

Photos By: Travel Manitoba

Learn about Winter Safety and Activities

Winter activities are fun and enjoyable and range from simple to extreme. Just like any summer activity, there are some basic safety and survival techniques that you should be aware of. If you’re new to winter, ease yourself into it before jumping in with both feet. And, when you’re ready to do more, check out these great outdoor training and survival companies that operate right here in Eastern Manitoba. The training offered by these companies is great for almost any outdoor activity you can think of and ranges from extreme training such as pulling yourself from the water if you fall through the ice to how to take up summer hiking!

ICSOS (International Canadian School of Survival)

If you are an avid outdoors person, or just realizing your love for nature, then attending one of the many courses and programs provided by ICSOS is a must.

They offer various programs that teach you what to do if the worst-case scenario becomes a reality. Their courses include:

  • Wilderness Safety & Survival.
  • Land Navigation.
  • Wilderness First Aid.
  • Cold Water Immersion.
  • Wildlife Awareness & Predator Safety.
  • Firearms Safety Course.

Their Specialty courses include:

  • Firearms Safety Course.
  • Winter Survival Skills.
  • Bushcraft Survival Skills.
  • Urban Emergency Preparedness.
  • Aviation Survival.
  • Wilderness Survival Challenge.
  • Custom Courses.

Serving as a Search and Rescue Technician (SARTech) with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for 19 years (similar to American Pararescue, without the Combat Role), Dave MacDonald witnessed the unnecessary suffering and loss of life in situations that could have had better outcomes. Observing firsthand the lack of standardized survival training programs, the inadequacy of most instruction, and the profusion of complicated or misdirected intentions, Dave – along with his aboriginal wife – founded the International Canadian School of Survival Inc. (ICSOS).

ICSOS has adopted a method of survival instruction based off and mirroring the RCAF’s standards of information (and taught throughout the militaries of NATO) and within the Search and Rescue community. ICSOS teaches a Survival Pattern that can be used in any environment – arctic, desert, jungle, grasslands, or forest; and whether travelling by boat, plane, or overland. This unique training program compliments and often underlines any disaster preparedness planning, whether urban or wilderness, man-made or natural disaster.

Wilderland

With Wilderland, you can learn how to participate in outdoor activities and how to be safe while doing them. Their programs include:

  • Environment & Education.
  • Adventure Tours
  • Adventure Retreats.
  • Learn to Camp Program
  • Wilderness Experiences.

Wilderland’s goal is to provide outdoor education for people of all ages; whether your interests lay in backpacking, paddling, hiking, camping, or winter adventures, you can experience activities that you’ve always wanted to try while gaining the knowledge to be safe.

SAYZOONS

The best way to describe SAYZOONS is by calling them, Outdoor Lifestyle Coaches. Not only do they offer outdoor equipment rentals and year-round programs and events, but also mentorship to guide you through learning a variety of outdoor activities.

Prairie Gal Fishing

Have you always wanted to learn how to ice fish? With Prairie Gal Fishing, you can! With lessons created for novice ice fishers to teach them ropes, you can discover your love for ice fishing.

Included in lessons are a headed shack and all the equipment you would need. Throughout the day, you will learn:

  • Operating an auger
  • Selecting tackle, knots, baiting the hook, rod and line choice and more.
  • Fish Identification and fish handling
  • Electronics, bottom structure and basic fish location techniques
  • Other information as requested (setting up a tent, fire starting, etc.).

​Prairie Gal Fishing’s mission is to inspire and empower women in fishing and help bring gender parity on the water; to create a safe and comfortable environment for women and novices to learn to fish in Manitoba, and to introduce or reintroduce adult women to the sport of ice fishing in Manitoba and in doing so increase the number of female anglers in the province.

Check out these great winter activities!

Local Hotspots

Local Hotspots