Much like the outdoorsman’s 10 Essentials, it’s important to have a winter car emergency kit checklist for driving during the Winter. Weather can change without warning and keeping these items in your car could be the difference between safety and much worse for you or someone you are trying to help out.
- Jumper cables are a must, either for yourself or to help someone else. Flares and a reflective triangle are also essentials in the best winter emergency car kit. If you don’t want to carry jumper cables, consider the myCharge AdventureJumpStart, which doubles as a power bank.
- A working flashlight with extra batteries should be part of every winter emergency kit for autos. One like the TerraLUX LightStar 80 would work, or maybe one that can be recharged, so extra batteries are not needed.
- Snacks and fresh water should be kept in the car not just for your winter safety kit, but at most times. Make sure to remove the water if you’re going to leave your car outside in freezing temps for some time. There are plenty of snacks to choose from, from biltong to energy balls to all kinds of trail snacks. Think protein for long lasting effects.
- A sleeping bag and extra clothing can keep you comfortable while you wait for help or, in a true emergency, keep you alive while you hunker down overnight. I recently slept in my car with the temps in the low teens and was just fine in my Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Flame Sleeping Bag – rated to 22 degrees, it kept me warm and cozy all night.
- Sand or kitty litter are usually included in the best winter car kits, as they could be the difference between driving out of a slippery spot, or having to wait for a tow truck. The added weight can also help with winter driving in general.
- An ice scraper is definitely part of the essential winter car kit – it’s surprising how often people don’t think of this one. While one on a pole with a brush is helpful, they are often no match for thick ice. A portable option that gets through everything is the Better Ice Scraper – its shape shifting technology allows the scraper to more closely mimic the curve of the car’s glass. It’s also ergonomic, so more comfortable to use. The only negative in my mind is that it’s small size makes it harder to reach to the middle of the car.
- Don’t rely on your cellphone – keep a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio in your winter driving emergency kit. These will keep you informed in case you are stranded somewhere and need information. Alternately, you can use an item like the Motorola Talkabout T460, a walkie-talkie that also features an emergency button, a flashlight (a flashlight!), and a weather feature, and lets you call out if your phone is unavailable.
- A shovel in the car is a handy addition to a survival kit list. Not only can you dig out your car from a snow bank, it can be used in place of sand or kitty litter to provide some traction under your car’s tires. I recommend a sturdy and compact shovel, something like the DMOS Collective Stealth Shovel – it easily moves snow and breaks down into a relatively small size.
- Hopefully it’s already in your car, but if not, make sure you have a first aid kit in your winter car emergency kit. Pain reliever, bandages, a sling – bring them along!
You never know what to expect when you walk out the door and get in your car during the Winter. Hopefully you’ve checked the forecast and have plenty of gas (don’t get too low or parts can freeze). With all the above gear, your trunk may seem cluttered, but it only takes one emergency involving you or someone you help to make you realize how important each piece is.
(*Some items in this list were provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.)