Sometimes during the winter we want to go outdoors and engage in some kind of activity but it is impossible. Perhaps the temperature is dangerously cold, or there is a blizzard raging, or there just may be other things that need your attention. In any case, there are some ways that we can partake of the winter outdoors without actually going outside.

One of the ways would be to read some books about being in the woods in winter. Some books can be instructions on various techniques while others may be more narrative. We can learn from both styles but the former is a more direct method. A nice aspect of books is that we can engage with them indoors after dark. We can also put them down for a time and take them back up again. With those ideas in mind, here are a very few personal choices of books I enjoy that deal with the outdoors in winter.

Woodcut image.

A favorite narrative style book is Cache Lake Country by John J. Rowlands. First published in 1947, it tells the story of a year in the life of a young timber cruiser living and working in the vast northern forests of Canada. In the process of taking an inventory of saleable trees, Rowlands writes of his other experiences. The book includes a great deal of information about woodcraft, nature, and projects that are part and parcel of living in the woods. While not exclusively about winter, there is a considerable amount of material about making your way in the cold and snow.

Two related books by William Osgood have much to share about dealing positively with winter. The Snowshoe Book gives a great historical look at traditional snowshoes. Written in the days before aluminum frames and neoprene decking, this book details how to use and care for wood and rawhide snowshoes. Much of the information still applies no matter which type of snowshoes you use. Wintering in Snow Country is a lifestyle manual for the “five cold months of the year”. With information on heating your home, preparing your automobile, and readying yourself to survive in style, this book presents solid information. It’s not hard to adapt to the cold, but it does take some forethought.

Garrett and Alexandra Conover have written The Winter Wilderness Companion for those who crave the joys and challenges of camping in the winter. The book considers the various strategies of Canadian indigenous people and presents excellent advice for preparing for, and experiencing, a northern winter adventure. There are also a number of DIY projects detailed in case you choose to make some of your own clothing and gear.

Likely one of the most famous guides to winter camping and outdoor life is Paradise Below Zero by Calvin Rutstrum. Written long before the invention of Polartec and other “miracle fibers”, this book presents time-tested strategies for selecting clothing and equipment. Stories are told of those who live and work year-round in the northern climate and that information is adapted for those who want to go out just for a day hike or a longer weekend camping trip. There are even details for someone who wants to learn to use a dog sled. This book is a timeless classic and the recommendations for gear and clothing are easily adaptable to modern availability.

Winter is a great time of year to get outside, enjoy some fresh air, and experience the cold season. But if that is impossible for whatever reason, a good book about winter adventure and useful skills can be a good temporary substitute. Take what you learn into the woods on your next excursion. Experiment with new skills and expand your knowledge base. And most importantly, have a good time.