In the Army, being a member of a Special Operations unit meant something unique, and those units and their members hold to certain values that others may not. One often-repeated phrase was that we "operate in all weather and terrain". This phrase is common to infantry and combat arms soldiers from around the globe, and ingrained in their very nature.
To a soldier, this means simply that "You can't stop me." If you put your fortress on the top of a mountain, I'm going to climb that mountain to attack you. If you hide in a swamp, I'm going to wade in to find you. If you take shelter from a storm, I'm going to use that storm to mask my advance on you. In fact, most of all, I'm going to use the fact that crappy weather and austere terrain make you slow, tired, depressed, and complacent to my advantage, and strike when you are weakest.
This translates to the civilian world in a couple of ways, especially for survivalists and outdoorsmen.
- The Attitude to Thrive: In many cases, it may be very easy to simply "survive" something. Being familiar and comfortable in inclement weather and rough terrain, sets the bar of what is an extraordinary challenge a bit higher. Where the decision process of others may seek alternate routes or times, because to them the environment and geography seem daunting, to the experienced this will be "just another day".
- Aversion to Shortcuts: There will be times when the most logical and correct choice involves working in poor weather, or crossing difficult terrain. The more comfortable and prepared you are to go there, physically and mentally, the more likely you are to make the correct decisions when you need to. Shortcuts usually aren't actually shortcuts - if the easy way was the way to go, it would be called the normal or correct way.
- Less Stress: If you are familiar with, and prepared for, austere conditions, they will take less of a toll on you psychologically. This in turn frees up your mind to focus on more critical tasks at hand. When others are panicked and barely able to take care of themselves, you will be calmer and may also be able to take care of others in addition to yourself.
The easiest way to learn to operate in all terrain and weather is simply to do it! That sounds comical, but I'm serious. Next time there is a snow storm, dress appropriately and take your dog(s) for a walk in it! Take an overnight camping trip where you have to hike to the location. Take a course on snow-shoeing from your local sportsman's store. Most of all, after each of these small outings, review and reflect on what went good and bad, and adjust accordingly for next time.
Lots of little doses of exposure will lead to a great many lessons learned. You'll answer questions you didn't even know you needed to ask. Ultimately, this will build your skills, and your confidence, and you will be far more prepared to face outdoor challenge you may meet.
So how do you keep your canteen from freezing when you spend many hours, or days, out in sub-freezing weather, anyways? Just a little example of something for you to ponder.