Packing emergency supplies in a vehicle is one of the most underrated areas of preparedness. In my experience, this is because so many people do not do it.
This is quite surprising considering that the vehicle does all the work of hauling the gear. There are two basic ways in which I have seen people store gear in their vehicles.
The first is that gear and supplies are rotated out based on the season or area that a person will be traveling in.
The second way is to pack all of the supplies a person will need no matter what and keep those supplies in the vehicle year-round.
As long as you have the supplies you need, there really is no wrong way to pack a vehicle as long as it works for you.
But just as different regions may require different supplies, different supplies will also be needed depending on the season. Weather appropriate supplies and gear need to be on hand. So, grab a pen and paper as I lay out some of the winter gear you need in your vehicle.
Winter Gear You Should Have: Top 12 Items
Below is a list of some of the gear you should have in your vehicle if you are traveling during winter conditions.
Ice Scraper and Brush
For years I used a small ice scraper that could be held in one hand and they work okay. But then I invested in a quality scraper with a longer, extendable handle with a brush on it.
The longer handle provides more leverage when scraping ice off glass surfaces and the brush easily pushes snow off the rest of the vehicle. Clearing piled up snow off the hood of the vehicle is important so that it does not impede visibility when driving.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
Keeping the wiper fluid reservoir full during normal conditions is a good idea to keep the windshield clean and thereby enhance visibility.
Keeping it full during winter conditions is incredibly important. Many roadways are salted or sprayed with deicer and this stuff gets kicked up onto the windshield and can limit visibility drastically.
After topping off the reservoir, always keep an extra bottle of washer fluid in the back of the vehicle. There have been several occasions where I have had to pull off the side of the road and refill the wiper fluid because visibility conditions were so bad.
Extra Wiper Blades
The extra wiper fluid is not going to do much good if the wiper blades wear out. Before winter arrives, it is a good idea to replace the old ones and throw an extra pair in the back, just in case.
I often throw a few clean rags in the vehicle to be used for wiping down windows and cleaning off the exterior lights.
Winter roads quickly make exterior lights very dirty and hard to see. Even a dry clean rag will remove a lot of grime from headlights, taillights, and license plate lights, making your car much more visible.
If you have to spend time in a broken-down vehicle during the winter, it could get cold quickly.
Two blankets are recommended because one could be used as a pillow, for extra warmth, or another passenger. While they are more expensive, wool blankets are recommended due to their excellent insulating capabilities.
The need for this tool in winter conditions cannot be underestimated should your vehicle go into a ditch, or even fishtail into an unplowed shoulder.
If you live in an urban area, you might think you do not need this tool for digging your vehicle out, but you would be wrong.
I have experienced several occasions in the city where a plow buried the side of my vehicle in snow. My vehicle would have been stranded had I not had a shovel to dig it out. A large winter shovel will help in removing large amounts of snow but is a bit bulky.
Whereas a collapsible or tri fold shovel is much smaller and easier to store. These metal shovels will also do well in breaking up ice or compacted snow. If space is available in a vehicle I would suggest packing both kinds of shovels to cover all bases.
Work Gloves and Winter Gloves
Winter gloves are great for keeping our hands toasty warm but they may not provide the dexterity needed if there is any work to be done. Have a pair of winter gloves as well as a pair of work gloves.
Extra Set of Winter Clothes
Having an extra set of dry clothes in wet, cold conditions is a must. But I would take it even a step further and recommend having an extra coat, hat, gloves, scarf, and boots.
You never know what may happen to the clothes you are wearing, and hypothermia is not something to take lightly. Having an extra set of clothes will allow you to stay dry should you become wet can be used as an additional layer for warmth.
Emergency Blanket or Bivvy
Emergency blankets do a decent job of keeping body temperature in and they can be used as an effective signaling device.
A bivvy is like an emergency blanket but it is designed more like a sleeping bag. And since they are sealed on three sides, they are much more effective at retaining body heat.
Water and Accompanying Tools
Our bodies lose water all the time and not just when we are sweating. Keeping some potable water in a vehicle no matter what time of the year it is, is a good idea.
In winter conditions, a person is surrounded by water in the form of snow. However, eating large amounts of snow should be avoided because as weird as it sounds, doing so dehydrates a person more.
But if you pack a heat source such as a biomass stove or a fuel canister stove, then the snow can be melted, boiled, and drank.
To deal with water needs pack a stove, metal water bottle, small pot, and a water filter.
Get Home Bag
Generally, a person is better off staying with a vehicle during an emergency but depending on the circumstances, there may come a time when self-rescue is a better option than staying put.
In this situation, a GOB (Get Home Bag) is going to be needed. A GOB is a bag or pack that will have everything a person needs to safely get home.
The supplies inside the bag need to cover the basics such as shelter (maintaining core body temperature), water, and food. And of course, the gear should reflect the distance and winter conditions that you will be traveling through.
Winter Supplies at a Glance
Here is a quick rundown of the above winter gear items.
- Ice Scraper and Brush
- Windshield Wiper Fluid
- Extra Wiper Blades
- Two Blankets
- Work Gloves and Winter Gloves
- Extra Set of Winter Clothes
- Emergency blanket or bivvy
- Water and Accompanying Tools
- Tire Chains
- Get Home Bag
Becoming stuck somewhere or dealing with an emergency situation is never any fun, but throw cold and wintery weather into the mix and that situation can become miserable.
However, if you take the time to carefully plan your travels, expect the unexpected, and pack your vehicle accordingly, you will find less difficulty when dealing with adverse winter conditions.
Thanks for reading and stay prepared!
What items did not make the list that you like to keep in your vehicle during the winter? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!