Today we had our first really cold day of the year with a high of 28 degrees and 3+ inches of snow. That may not seem like a lot to some of your Northern folks, but in this area at this time of year, it was kind of a big deal! The roads are slick, and even though I only had to drive 4 blocks to get to work, I slipped around a bit and passed more than 1 car in the ditch. I didn’t brave the interstate, but according to Facebook there were numerous wrecks and closures throughout the day, and the local schools are closed tomorrow due to the anticipation of more ice sheets forming.
The weatherman has been talking about this weekend for about 10 days now, so this week I got out the car kits and our bug out bags to update them for winter. I usually do this near the end of September, but since I had just started my job I got a tad behind. Plus, it was still pretty dang hot at the end of September to be stocking everything with long sleeves and wool 🙂
Besides what you have in your kits all year round, here are a few of the things I think are absolutely necessary for the winter season:
- Warm clothing- Wool hats, gloves, and socks, a big heavy coat, an extra set of thermals (I like either the fleece lined ones for extra warmth, or the polypro material to wick away moisture. Both are good for different things, and we keep both on hand at home, but for your kits, it just depends on what you feel is more important. I like the fleece lined ones better because I am ALWAYS cold, and these seem to keep the edge off better. My husband prefers the polypro because he sweats more and he doesn’t get as uncomfortable wearing the polypro. If you have enough space, you could throw them both in there 🙂
- Waterproof boots- I keep our hunting/hiking boots in the car during winter. Usually when I’m out and about or headed to work I wear tennis shoes, which aren’t the worst shoe attire to have on, but they definitely aren’t the best either. Having some warm, waterproof footwear on hand can definitely save your feet from frostbite if you should have to walk a distance in the snow. I’ve got a pair of Boggs on my wish list, but for now, the $25 Academy special will do just fine. And yes, I wear the little boys’ ones. 😉
- Wool blanket- 100% Wool blankets are getting a heck of a lot harder to find than they used to be, and unless you’re willing to spend $200 on a Pendleton, you’re going to have to settle for something else. Army surpluss stores will sometimes carry 70% or 80% wool blankets, or you can check thrift stores. I’ve heard of crafty people making quilts out of wool thrift store sweaters 🙂 Otherwise, you can try a heavy fleece or something like this microplush/sherpa throw.
- Materials to make fire- This is a no brainer to me, and something you should have in your kit 24/7 365 days a year, but I’ll reiterate. Having more than one method is a good idea as well, just in case your first option doesn’t work out. We each carry a lighter, a couple waterproof matches, and some homemade fire starters (cotton balls soaked in vaseline inside a Toilet Paper tube) in our bags. Hubby’s knife also has a magnesium bar in the handle, which I should really learn how to use! Also note that your water (which you should already have in your vehicle hint, hint ) is very likely to freeze during the winter months. Being able to build a fire (and having some sort of pan/cup will allow you to melt water for drinking.
- Sterno “Heat in a can”– This nifty device is a great thing to have on hand in case your car breaks down and you’re stuck there for awhile. This bad boy will heat up a cold car quickly and keep it warm until the fuel runs out. They’re small enough that you can keep several in your car just in case. Just be extra careful with the open flame if you’ve got little ones.
- Defrosting spray- Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle. You can use it to defrost your windows before driving. The vinegar will melt ice and snow away so you don’t have to scrape as much 🙂 Speaking of, a sturdy ice scraper/brush is a good idea as well!
- Hot Hands hand and foot warmers- These are a no brainer for me. They just plain work, and they work for a long time. Hubs uses them hunting, and I always keep several in the car for emergency pit stops without heat. Put one inside each boot to keep your toes toasty.
- A shovel and/or kitty litter- A good quality, compact shovel can be instrumental to help you remove snow/ice from around your wheels so you can get enough leverage to drive the car should it get stuck. Kitty litter serves virtually the same purpose, as it provides traction that the tires can catch on and allow you to drive out of a sticky situation.
Note: These are mostly geared towards car kits, but I keep another set of almost everything listed here in our Bug Out Bags as well. Never know when you might need to get somewhere on foot during the winter!
What About You?
What are your essential winter items? Anything you would add to this list?
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