Stuff You Gotta Have: Winter Driving Kit

December 19, 2010
When it comes to winter driving, it’s always best prepare to expect the unexpected.

Just because the temps are falling doesn’t mean that it’s time to give up on camping. In fact, camping in the late fall and early winter is actually a lot of fun. But to make sure that you stay safe, it’s important to take certain precautions—like checking your car to make sure that the antifreeze levels are right and that your lights in working properly. And it’s also important to add a few things to your trunk or RV, just in case you run into cold weather delays.

Here are 7 things we suggest that you never leave home without:

1. Extra clothes. Having an extra coat or sweatshirt, warm socks, a hat and gloves can make a big difference if you end up out in the cold. Make sure to carry them for each member of your family, and put them in a place where they’re easy to get to.

2. Snacks. Even if you have a hard and fast rule about not eating in your vehicle, you need to relax a little when it comes to emergency supplies. Individually wrapped energy bars, packs of trail mix, dried fruit and jerky are all easy to transport, have a decent shelf life and will give you the energy needed to keep you going—and toss in a few extra bottles of water, too. Do pets travel with you? Don’t forget food and water for them as well.

3. Blankets. Emergency blankets made of foil mylar are inexpensive and take little room, but are exceptional at reflecting body heat. They’re available at most sporting goods stores and online, and cost as little as a dollar.

4. Booster Cables. Extreme weather can kill batteries. That’s why it’s important to carry a set of cables with you. And if you’ve never had to jump start a vehicle before, learn how to safely use your cables before you head out on the road. A friend, family member or trusted mechanic will be more than happy to help.

5. Emergency flares and distress flags. If you do end up on the side of the road, it’s important for other drivers to be able to see you—either to render

Other suggestions? Consider adding in a camping shovel, and or kitty litter (for traction on ice), tire chains and a tow chain or rope. And remember, if you travel with children, make sure you have extra baby food, diapers and wipes for the littlest campers, as well as books and games to help older kids pass the time.

Do you have winter travel tips you can share with other Kompass readers? Please post them below:

  • Maggie

    A couple of things that we always carry in our car when we travel are an emergency (not battery-powered radio), and an emergency medical kit. We have a roadside kit, too, but this got me thinking about how long the flares that come with the kit stay good for. Anybody know? Should I be replacing them every few months? Do those things go bad?

  • Sue

    My girlfriend and I made our college kids “Car Packs”. They thought is was crazy until one of the kids got stuck in the snow. They had to be renwed when we had grandchildren. Each one of the families had a kit put into a cloth bag with a pull string. we included the basics above, but we also put kitty litter in a container to put under tires to get traction in snow and ice. We live in Wisconsin and hand warmers were also included.

    When the children had our grandchildren, we included packets of formula, water, and baby food. Each child had there own fleece blanket (1 1 /2 yard long fleece made by there Grandmas), diapers, wipes and extra warm clothes that we picked up at rummage sales or really good sales at our favorite discount store. For the older kids, juice boxes and snack bars. All freezable items were put into ziplock frozen plastic bags.

    We had fun doing this for them. They now appreciate it.

    We are crazy Grandmas. We love our big and little babies.