It’s starting to get cooler outside and winter is on the way. My friends in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana and Minnesota are already posting pictures of the snow they’re dealing with on Facebook. With all that going on, I decided to add a few items to my vehicle “just in case”. As always, I am vigilant in maintaining my personal State of Readiness and thought that I would put together a Simple Winter Vehicle Kit and share it with you. Maybe some of you will take a few moments and add some of these items to your vehicle, or put together a similar kit, so that if you find yourself stranded in the cold, you’ll be prepared to handle the situation and stay warm while doing so.
Let me start with… I am assuming you are dressed appropriately for the conditions and already have some sort of emergency kit in your vehicle that has the basics: Jack, Lug Wrench, Jumper Cables (the longer, the better), Fuses, Flares or Hazard Triangles, Flashlight, Rescue Tool (with glass breaker and seat belt cutter), duct tape and a few basic tools to effect any minor repairs (small socket set, screwdrivers, crescent wrench, pliers, etc). I’m just adding a few additional items in case I get stuck and have to wait in the cold for someone to come rescue me. I live in a rural area and venture into remote areas for hunting, hiking, etc. If you live in the city, you may be much less likely to use these extra items than I. If you do live in the city. I’ll bet you leave the city from time to time. If you do, these items can make a huge difference if you breakdown or have an accident that leaves you off the beaten path. When it comes to Readiness, remember: It’s always better to have and not need, than to need and not have!
My winter items are packed away under the rear seat of my truck and take up very little room. In the event they are needed, they can not only help me survive a freezing night outdoors, but they can make it downright comfortable!
1. Tarp. Mine is a 10′ X 10′ (just because I have several of this size and I find that I have more options for shelter configurations with this size). Not only can a tarp be used for shelter and protection from rain or snow, but it can also be used to keep you off the wet ground while working on your vehicle (remember that you lose your body’s core temperature 25% faster when wet which can get you hypothermic in a hurry). Note: When living in the desert, I also kept a tarp in the vehicle to use for shade if necessary.
2. Cordage. Mostly to secure the tarp, but ends up being used for all sorts of things! I keep paracord with me ALWAYS!
3. Poncho. For working on or around the vehicle in inclement weather.
4. Blanket. For obvious use. Normally, I’d have a wool blanket, but mine is currently drying out from another project so I’ve got a fleece one here.
5. Mylar Blankets & Plastic Dropcloth. Very small, light and effective at retaining body heat. I also use them to reflect fire with some shelter configurations. The plastic dropcloth can be used to cover broken windows or to retain heat in a field expedient shelter (See my article on the Super Shelter).
6. Wool Hat, Gloves & Socks. You lose a lot of your body heat through your head and if you’re folically challenged like me, the hat makes all the difference in the world! The gloves are just insulated work gloves, for warmth and protection. As far as the socks… I’m a Marine, you HAVE to take care of your feet. Keep ’em dry and warm!
7. Water. I always have some in the truck, but a 40 oz Stainless Steel bottle is in the kit for insurance.
8. Food. The odds of being stuck somewhere long enough to starve are extremely slim, but why suffer? Just some energy bars are fine here (I just happen to have some lifeboat rations, so that’s what I put in here). Nuts or jerky are also good options.
9. Stainless Steel Cookset. To boil additional water if needed or to enjoy a warm meal.
10. Survival Knife. This one is not really necessary as I always have a blade with me, but this one has a fire starting tool and mini survival kit in it, that could come in handy. It’s also large enough to process wood for a small fire if needed (See my article on the Schrade SCHF-1).
Basically a few items to effect shelter, to keep warm and water/ food. These simple items roll up small, tuck out of the way (see picture below), are inexpensive and can not only save your life in an extreme circumstance; but can turn a scary and miserable situation into an impromptu camping trip! Along with my EDC Kit (See my EDC kit), I am confident that I can get through a bad winter night or two in relative comfort.
Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of the relative size of this kit and how I stow it:
And of course, like any true Redneck… Mud Boots are always along for the ride!