This arti­cle may be a bit late but Jack and I have been field­ing some ques­tions late­ly about what we keep in our trucks and why. That got me think­ing, I should put togeth­er a list of win­ter-spe­cif­ic items I keep in my vehi­cle for those of you who may have that very ques­tion. Grant­ed my list could be dif­fer­ent than yours and this is by no means a com­pre­hen­sive list (look for a blog arti­cle lat­er this spring about items to keep in a vehi­cle always). For the con­text of my dri­ving cir­cum­stances, I dri­ve most­ly in sub­ur­bia with week­end trips to hunt or shoot where I do mild off-road dri­ving… and the occa­sion­al longer trip out of state. The ratio­nale for this list is sim­ple: imag­ine the worst-case sce­nario I could expe­ri­ence with those para­me­ters and build a win­ter sur­vival kit for that. Recent­ly here in NJ, many peo­ple found them­selves in a some­what dire sit­u­a­tion; the state had­n’t pre­pared for a win­ter storm and the num­ber of plow trucks deployed could­n’t keep the roads clear so the 8 inch­es of snow that fell brought every­thing to a stand­still. My 20-minute com­mute home from work took me an hour… I was lucky…. some peo­ple were in their vehi­cles for up to 8 hours and some nev­er made it home at all. Vehi­cles could­n’t make it up hills on the slip­pery roads and were aban­doned… which lead to traf­fic jams where vehi­cles ran out of gas and those were also aban­doned… and that lead to worse traf­fic jams. Imag­ine you’re one of the peo­ple and have to aban­don your vehi­cle, or maybe you have a four-wheel dri­ve and are in a posi­tion to pull a car off the side of the road to let a plow truck pass; hav­ing the right equip­ment could be invalu­able. So here is a list of things I keep in my truck that are win­ter-spe­cif­ic.

Snow shov­el. I have plen­ty of room in my truck for a full-size shov­el but years ago I pur­chased a col­lapsi­ble shov­el for my SUV and it still is serv­ing me well. I’ve used it on more than one occa­sion to get myself to move exces­sive snow from in front of my tires or to clear a door­way at a remote cab­in.

Ice scraper/brush com­bo. This is a no-brain­er but you would be sur­prised how many peo­ple have nev­er seen a heavy-duty brush like this one. Being able to push large amounts of snow off of your stuck vehi­cle from one side (with­out hav­ing to walk around) could be very handy if you found your­self stuck in a snow­bank.

Tow strap and shack­les. To some of you, this may seem exces­sive but then you’ve prob­a­bly nev­er been stuck in the snow. Hav­ing a tow strap like this in your car can save you hun­dreds of dol­lars in tow fees… all you need is anoth­er car/driver will­ing to pull you out. Some tow straps come with met­al hooks at each end; I’ve seen them fail before Image result for winter car kitand those met­al hooks (or what’s left of them) become pro­jec­tiles. It is bet­ter to have a cloth tow strap with looks and use heavy-duty shack­les to look and attach the strap to the vehi­cle.

Trac­tion mats. These are invalu­able for trac­tion if you ever are stuck in deep snow and your tires are just spin­ning because they can­not get trac­tion. I’ve seen peo­ple try to use floor mats to serve the same pur­pose as these trac­tion mats but it rarely works… bet­ter to have the real thing.  Anoth­er decent option (but I admit­ted­ly have no expe­ri­ence with them) are tire chains… they give added trac­tion and can be added/removed rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly

Blan­kets. If you find your­self stuck for a lengthy peri­od of time, don’t leave your vehi­cle. It has a horn and lights to sig­nal pass­ing cars plus it’s a ready-made shel­ter. But run­ning the engine to stay warm may be impos­si­ble due to the car­bon monox­ide buildup or dam­age to the engine. In that case, hav­ing items to keep warm will be of the utmost impor­tance. Wool blan­kets and space blan­kets are the way to go, even if they inad­ver­tent­ly get wet, they will still keep their warm­ing prop­er­ties.

Win­ter clothes. Again, a no-brain­er but you may be sur­prised how many peo­ple I see dri­ving in win­ter with­out prop­er cloth­ing. You don’t have to go crazy, just keep clothes in your vehi­cle that you would wear to take your kids sled­ding or to shov­el your walk­way. Decent boots are imper­a­tive if you have to walk some­where and work gloves are handy to keep your dex­ter­i­ty while using tools.

You may have or can think of oth­er items to keep in your vehi­cle that are win­ter-spe­cif­ic, and if you do, sound off in the com­ments. Look for a more com­pre­hen­sive arti­cle com­ing lat­er this year about every­day items I keep in my truck such as tools, med­ical sup­plies, etc.

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