Cold Weather Survival: The Neglected Face & Airways

Imagine being stranded in barren icy terrain at temperatures below freezing with the weather deteriorating. It is dark, cold, austere, and frightening. Can you survive? Will you survive? Survival requires not only the appropriate gear and physical capabilities, but also the ability to cope with the many stressors generated by a threatening cold environment. Extreme cold is a stressor that can cause deterioration in morale, decrements in performance, and spur anxiety and panic. Our cognitive brain has evolved for goal directed behavior within our normal environment over which we have some control. When the geophysical map of where we are does not equate with our mental map of where we should be our control is threatened. This can activate a “fight or flight” stress response that can cause panic. Panic and the inability to cope can transform a confident person into an ineffective person. Stress has positive benefits by making us more alert and goal directed, however multiple environmental and mental stressors can overwhelm our adaptive processes, turning cognitive decision making into emotionally driven reactions which jeopardizes survival chances. The “will to” and the “want to” survive must drive our cognitive brain to regain control over our emotional brain.

Protection of the face and airways from extreme cold increases survival odds even if you have other proper protective clothing and gear. Temperatures near or below freezing cause frostbite to exposed skin in minutes and heat loss faster then your metabolism can generate leading to hypothermia. An exposed face and airways can accelerate hypothermia because of heat loss through the highly vascular face and the lungs even if you have other proper gear and apparel protection. Cold exposure incites airway fluid loss and inflammation that manifests as cough and bronchospasm, particularly in people with preexisting lung disease such as asthma. The nose helps protect the airways from cold dry air by serving as a heat and moisture exchanger. However,  physical effort such as struggling through snow, running, or climbing increases the depth and rate of ventilation resulting in a physiologic shift from nose breathing to combined nose-and-mouth breathing. Bypassing the nose exposes the airway to the dehydrating and inflammatory effects of cold. Facial skin exposure to cold air is enough to trigger asthma and cough in asthmatics and non-asthmatics even with nasal breathing.

ColdAvenger is a cold weather protection system for the face and airways. The unique ventilator is designed to dynamically mix inhaled cold dry air with hot humid air exhaled from the lungs to achieve a microclimate of comfort around the face and airways. In one field test ColdAvenger transformed an outside 5 degrees F and 15% relative humidity into an inside of 68 degree F and 89% relative humidity around the face and airways. The ventilator  of the ColdAvenger is designed for unrestricted mouth and nose breathing which supports physical performance. The ability to breath freely also helps prevent claustrophobia and panic in a cold environment.

An expedition team crossing the Antarctica in the winter selected ColdAvenger because in independent testing it transformed an extreme cold of - 72 degrees F into a comfortable and survivable plus 59 degree F average around the face and airways and helped to preserve core body temperature  ( ColdAvenger is selected by cold weather endurance athletes such as those running the North Pole marathon at - 40 F.  It’s on the face of cyclists who compete in some of the toughest endurance cold weather races like the Minnesota Arrowhead 135(, the Blizzard Fat Bike Race, Alberta, Canada (, the Big Fat Ride in Anchorage, Alaska (, the Actif Epica celebration of human resilience in Manitoba, Canada (, and the North Dakota B-B-Brrr Winter Classic. ColdAvenger has protected the faces and airways of mountain climbers ascending Mount Everest and K2, two of the world’s harshest environments. ColdAvenger has protected military personnel of the US Army, US Navy and the Canadian Armed Forces helping them to achieve their missions in extreme cold environments. Breathe easy, stay calm and survive with ColdAvenger.