US and Finnish soldiers training in Sodankylä
US and Finnish soldiers training in Sodankylä (Joonas Mattila/Finnish Army)

What it Takes to Survive a Winter War

US and Finnish soldiers training in Sodankylä

As Ukraine prepares for months of frigid conflict with Russia, its troops might look to another nation that held its own against the Red Army in the cold: Finland. During the winter of 1939-1940, Finnish soldiers, many on skis and using snow caves as shelters, weaponized the freezing conditions, fending off the much larger Soviet Union army for 105 days and ultimately conceding only a small amount of their borderlands. Today, Finland’s soldiers are some of the most advanced winter warfare specialists anywhere. In this episode from our archives, we head into the snow with the storied Jaeger Brigade for combat training and hear remarkable tales of how the Finns pushed back against Stalin’s forces.

This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by the Golden Isles, a destination off the coast of Georgia that’s one of the best adventure getaways in the country. Learn more at

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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, and have since expanded our show to offer a range of story formats, including reports from our correspondents in the field and interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and the outdoors.