Getting your vehicle ready for the winter months is something we’re all familiar with, but we often forget that it can save a life, whether your own or another troubled motorist’s. If the unthinkable happens and you’re prepared to handle the situation and the elements, your odds of making it out with minimal hassle are always better. For the majority of you this list is common knowledge and covers the basics of everything you should have when driving through snow and inclement conditions, but we're hoping that a few of you reading this are reminded about some essentials!
This being said, I'm sure there are a few items we missed that some of you can’t believe we didn’t mention, and I certainly expect that some of you don’t carry this gear and have been getting around perfectly fine for years… we get it! Everyone’s level of contingency planning for traversing their environment is different, but these are the 15 items we consider essential in a well-outfitted winter daily driver.
- Shovel: A durable shovel is absolutely essential for digging your way out of snowdrifts or clearing a path around a stuck vehicle. While dedicated snow shovels are great during this season, any sturdy shovel is a valuable tool for self-rescue and helping others out of deep snow. This is also one of the items we see most often on customer's Bedside MOLLE Panels, mounted with our Original QuickFist Riser Mounts.
- Traction Boards: Traction boards such as MAXTRAX can provide the necessary grip your tires need when spinning on slippery terrain. These can be a lifesaver when your vehicle gets stuck in snow, sand or mud, offering the little boost of traction needed to get back on the road. While we opted to mount these in the GMC with Original QuickFist Riser Mounts and a bungee cord, MAXTRAX does sell a dedicated mounting system we installed a while back on our Rivian Cab Wall MOLLE Panel.
- Recovery Strap/Tow Strap + Shackles: A sturdy recovery strap or tow strap along with shackles is essential for assisting a stuck vehicle or getting yourself out of a bind without needing to call for a tow. We’ve been favoring soft shackles for a while now, and find they allow for safe vehicle recovery and towing from many angles. We consider these a must-have for winter travel and find that storing soft shackles in one of our Large MOLLE Pouches and a recovery/tow strap with our Super Clamp QuickFist Riser Mount is a winning combination.
- Extra Fuel/Full Tank: Carrying a can of extra fuel and/or maintaining a full tank is vital during the winter. In case of unexpected delays or road closures, you'll want to have the necessary fuel to keep your vehicle running and warm. Our Bedside MOLLE Panels and dedicated MOLLE-Compatible RotoPax Mounting Plates are perfect for storing RotoPax's robust and modular fuel cans, so we often go that route when it comes to keeping extra gas.
- Emergency Flares/Airhorn: Being seen and heard is key when it comes to safely navigating winter emergencies. Road flares can attract attention and alert other motorists to danger in low-visibility conditions, and an airhorn can signal distress to nearby drivers or rescue services.
- Gloves/Mittens: Protect your hands from the snow, ice, cold and wind when handling tools, scraping or shoveling. An extra set of gloves or mittens is essential for preventing frostbite and maintaining dexterity in the elements. We often choose Kinco gloves/mitts for our dedicated car set because they're well made, affordable, warm and durable. We put the mitts, a few packs of hand warmers, flares and the airhorn in one of our Small MOLLE Pouches.
- Blankets: Staying warm is a priority for survival in cold weather. It’s essential to have a blanket or two inside your vehicle to keep warm if you get stranded and are waiting for assistance. Packable emergency blankets are great for saving space/limited use, while thicker knit, fleece or polyester sherpa-style blankets take up a little more room and maximize cabin comfort. Passenger princesses are also huge fans of the cozy car blanket…
- First Aid Kit: Accidents can happen any time of year, and having a well-stocked basic first aid kit can make a significant difference in treating minor injuries while waiting for help. Make sure the kit you select or assemble has all the items you might need such as a tourniquet, chemical cold packs and up to date contents. We found one with MOLLE strapping on the back, and it mounted to our Seat Back MOLLE Panel perfectly.
- Antifreeze Washer Fluid: Maintaining clear visibility is crucial in winter weather. Keeping an extra gallon of antifreeze washer fluid is always a good idea in case you run out, and making sure it is a reputable antifreeze fluid prevents your windshield from icing up. We normally look for Rain-X products when it comes to windshield care/visibility, and we stored this jug behind the driver's seat with a bungee cord looped around the handle attached to our Seat Back MOLLE Panel.
- Tire Repair Kit/Slime: A tire repair plug kit or can of tire sealant (like Slime) can temporarily fix a punctured tire, allowing you to drive to a safer location or a service station for more proper repairs. Keeping a repair kit like this with you or at least making sure your spare tire is ready for action is a great way to prepare for wheel and tire issues.
- Air Compressor/Pump: A portable air compressor or pump is useful for maintaining proper tire pressure, especially in cold weather where pressure tends to drop. If your tire gets punctured and you successfully plug the hole, you'll need to air back up. A portable air compressor is extremely helpful for scenarios like this.
- Jumper Cables: Colder temperatures take a toll on your vehicle's battery, but honestly jumper cables are a year-round essential item for us. They can be a lifesaver when you or another motorist needs a boost. We love using our MOLLE Pouches to keep jumper cables clean and organized in your vehicle.
- Jump Pack: For a more independent jump-start solution, a portable jump pack is a convenient option. It doesn't rely on another vehicle and can be a reliable source of power in emergencies for different devices in addition to your vehicle. We’ve been using the NOCO jump packs for a while and are confident putting our trust in them. Just like the portable air compressor and tire plug repair kit, we stored our jump pack under the back seats using the truck's factory storage cubbies.
- Brush + Scraper: Clearing snow and ice from your vehicle is essential for visibility and safety. A sturdy brush and scraper combo helps quickly remove snow from your car's surfaces. These things tend to break with heavy use and extreme temperatures, so we frequently cycle through different brands each winter. But we do always find ourselves using an all-in-one scraper, brush and squeegee combo, and if it happens to extend we don't need to drag ourselves over the hood to clean the windshield - always a plus.
- Water + Non-Perishable Food: In case you're stranded for an extended period, having some water and non-perishable food items can sustain you until help arrives. This can be as simple as granola bars and trail mix, it's a small yet often overlooked provision for your safety. We often use our MOLLE Pouches for storing casual snacks, emergency food supplies and water.
Ultimately, being prepared for winter driving means having the right tools and supplies on hand - just in case. By ensuring your vehicle is equipped with these items, you're taking proactive steps to stay safe on the winter roads. Don't leave home without these 15 necessities to navigate the challenges of colder weather with confidence.
Watch our Winter Vehicle Prep video below!