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My wife is going on a trip this weekend and as luck would have it a winter storm is forecast and some of the mountain passes around here can get scary. While she is from "up north where it snows" I have no worries but I'll be making sure she has plenty of items just in case for the trip. What's your best tips for winter travel, what's the most important things you would take on a winter driving expedition? 

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When I was back east, my winter car kit included:

  • Space Blanket
  • Winter sleeping bag
  • Fire starter(s)
  • Road flares
  • Spare water
  • Spare food
  • Spare gloves/socks/hat
  • Kitty litter (for traction if stuck)

Not an all inclusive list, just what is on the top of my mind.

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I pack a skidoo suit, think a sleeping bag that you can walk in. Mitts ( insulated snow mobile style gloves are ok too ), snow boots and liners, toque and scarf. I have slept comfortably in that, + a sleeping bag, in -40 in a VW Rabbit. Have a couple of 6 cell battery banks for charging cell phones. Winter sleeping bag.  Catalytic hand warmers and lighter fluid. Most of that is in a hockey bag that lives in the car all winter. There is an all year kit too, smaller but has the first aid kit and more food and tools. Also a stainless steel bucket.  Shovel, air compressor, spare tire, tire plug kit, a gas stove and tanks, camping cook kit, dried food. Strap on pouch for insulin etc. to wear inside the suit.

If I'm traveling I also probably have a day bag.. change of cloths, spare socks, money, passport, first aid kit, flash lights, 2 meter HT, batteries, chargers, spare laptop ( it's me after all ), mini GPS ( charges off the same USB battery banks )

And then there is the stuff in my pockets and belt .. Cell phone, single cell battery bank, Flashlight ( same battery as in the bank ), knife, lighters, magnets, keys, USB drives, 3" wrench, diamond file, pens, paper, dosimeter, one ounce hand sanitizer, tire pressure gauge, insulin pens, test kit, driving glasses, reading prescription glasses, contacts and reading glasses. Yes I have large pockets and wear a denim jacket. 

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I agree with pretty much everything so far. My most useful winter thing so far has been a cheap plastic "kid size" snow shovel. Not as good as a full size one, but better than an e tool, and fits in a small space. Handy for cleaning off the vehicle,  if nothing else.

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Vehicle condition........ Check fluid levels, lights, horn.......... tires and tire pressure. Look for anything broken, missing, loose, or leaking. Wipers and wiper blades. Make sure your vehicle is up for the trip. You don't want to get stranded and find yourself in an emergency survival situation because of a breakdown.
Plan your trip and the roads you'll be driving on. No shortcuts! Stick with the well traveled main roads and highways, that way if you do became stranded your chance of being rescued is pretty damn good. Know what's along the way. Gas stations, rest stops etc. If the weather does start getting really bad, head for one of those places and shut her down for a while.
Don't travel in packs....... Keep a safe following distance from others and leave yourself a space cushion. LEAVE YOURSELF AN OUT! If someone screws up, you'll be able to stop and avoid becoming a part of a 60 car pile up.
Be well rested and take your time.

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I agree with everything PappyHiker said, with 1 caveat. Know your shortcuts, and when to use them.

Years ago, I used to drive about 60 miles each way to another state for work. I used a backroad shortcut in most weather, the big roads and interstates in snow. Until I got distracted one winter morning and took my shortcut, which went through an area of ultra rich folks and diplomats. There were plows and sand trucks every half mile, with engines running and lights flashing, every mile, waiting for snow, unlike the normal highway. I cruised through that little winding road in all weather for the next 3 years, even when Rt. 7 was a disaster area.

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