We posted an article on the MTL blog about a month ago telling everyone why we think cold weather events are the best events.

Tonight, as I sit in my living room getting ready for an overnight Battle of the Bulge event in Central Minnesota this coming weekend, I’m having second thoughts.

I always have second thoughts about doing events like this, for one simple reason.

They’re fucking miserable.

It seems like every year I forget how much it sucks to sleep outside in below freezing temperatures with nothing but 75-year-old wool to keep my nuts from falling off.

Why do I do this to myself??? I stood outside for 5 minutes tonight while the dog went to the bathroom and was still bitching about how cold it was 10 minutes after I came back inside.

A week from now I’ll remember it is worth it. It’s worth braving the cold to gain the experience of what it was like to survive in those conditions. Plus once you spend a night out like that you feel like you’re the toughest SOB around for a little while.

But for now I’m going to complain, and regret agreeing to do it, and think about backing out (I won’t). The only thing I can do to ease the tension is think of every possible way to keep myself warm for those 24 hours. So, I’ve complied a short list of the “must have” items for a cold weather overnight event. Here goes.

  1. Straw


The low temperature this coming Friday, the night of the event, is 4 F. If the forecast turns out to be true, it’ll be the coldest night I’ve ever spent outside. The absolute, no doubt about it, most imperative tool for braving that kind of temperature is a bail of straw. Peel it apart and line the bottom of your foxhole with a solid layer. Its insulating abilities are remarkable, and while it might’ve been a seldom had luxury in the real Bulge, it’s a must have for these events.

  1. Real socks



I like to think I’m a real hard ass when it comes to authenticity, but I’ll admit that even I break down slightly when it comes to these events. You won’t find any handwarmers in my jacket pockets, but you will find a few pairs of high quality, modern cold weather socks on my feet. There’s nothing more to say, you can’t get by without them. Cold hands can always be warmed in pockets, armpits or crotches. Cold feet are on their own and mine won’t survive without real socks.


  1. Esbit stove



No fires in the bulge, but a covered foxhole with an esbit stove passes muster in my eyes, and there’s nothing better than a tiny, golden red sliver of hope when your nuts are freezing to your leg. Use it to warm fingers, light cigarettes, heat your corn beef hash, anything that’ll keep you going.



4. A foxhole buddy


I’ll try not to sound weird here, but nothing warms you up like, snuggling up next to another shivering, miserable buddy. It’s just like cuddling, but without the reward at the end. I’ve spent nights in foxholes by myself and nights with another reenactor. I can tell you the nights spent in the latter situation were infanantely more comfortable.


So, my socks are packed, the straw is bought and paid for, my pockets are stuffed with fuel tablets. Friday night is the big night and I’m already shivering. Wish me luck!