Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cold Winter Travel Preparedness

This post is not really ham radio related, but as winter gets closer, it's always good to have some winter items in your car.  Below is a synopsis of what winter items I carry around.

I do a lot of traveling for my job.  I can drive 60+ miles from one location to another during the course of the day.  Lots of these miles are not over the same familiar roads to and from one location.  One day I might be at a site 40 miles east of my house and the next 20 miles west, so I cover a lot of ground.  I have a Ford Fusion, not a truck or 4x4, so if it snows a lot during the day, I could get stuck on the road or at a site for a period of time.

4 years ago I was at a site 40 miles southwest of my house and a rain storm turned icy unexpectedly with temp dropping below freezing.  I started home once I heard it was going to get icy, but it was too late.  The interstate literally shut down around 30 miles from my house and I was stuck in my car for 12+ hours.  It wasn't the greatest.  I fortunately filled up on gas before I left so I could run my engine every 30 mins to get warm, but I was totally unprepared for the cold weather and basically surviving in my car for that length of time.  I did something about it and created my cold weather travel kit.  Every rotation of the seasons, I check this kit to ensure it's properly stocked and ready to go.

Here are the things I keep in my trunk at all times, no matter the season.  Some of these items you might need to bungy down as if you take a corner too fast, they could end up tipping over and spilling.

1) sandbags - sand can be used to grab traction in the snow
2) 5 gal water (full)
3) plastic drinking container
4) blue tarp
5) wool sweater
6) sweatpants
7) wool socks
8) basic tools - this is a cheap auto tool set form Harbor Freight
9) 2 gal gas container (full)
10) large camp chair
11) small camp chair
12) tow strap (3 ton)
13) extra log jumper cables
14) air pressure gauge
15) misc rags
16) 2m j-pole for ham radio
17) small shovel
18) volt/ohm meter with wire brush
19) OBD2 reader (with manual and code look up for my car)
20) work gloves
21) spare tire, jack and breaker bar/socket wrench

Things I keep in the cab compartment (not pictured) of the car.

1) heavy winter coat
2) heavy gloves, scarf & stocking hat
3) flashlight & extra batteries
4) paper USA road map
6) umbrella
7) ice scraper
8) 2m mobile radio with APRS

Inside the trunk, I also have a back pack that has a large number of items.  I keep this in my trunk year around too.  This back pack also has a 2 liter bladder for storing water.

1) Baopotato 2m/70m with rubber duck antenna & instruction manual
2) repeater book
3) extra battery that uses AAA batteries
4) sack to store radio stuff
5) zip ties
6) insect spray
7) sunscreen
8) snacks (peanuts, cliff bar, peanut bars, energy bars/chews)
9) higher db antenna for baopotato
10) fire starters (flint, lighter, cotton balls soaked in vasoline)
11) first aid kit (not a trauma kit) with misc items (hand warmers, Advil, band-aids, etc..)
12) 3 solar emergency blankets
13) emergency bivy
14) buck knife
15) leatherman
16) compass
17) paper map of my area
18) 3m dust mask
19) contractor trash bags
20) ziplock bags
21) light sticks
22) rain poncho
23) Maxpedition faxmax (pencils, write in the rain paper, markers, advil, chap stick, extra batteries, lighter, etc..)
24) work gloves
25) extra glasses
26) towels/wet wipes/toilet paper
27) scarf
28) 100ft 550 cord
29) duct tape
30) bowl + spork
31) eye protection

In my work bag I travel with the following items.

1) flashlight with extra batteries
2) Leatherman Surge
3) earbuds
4) extra battery for charging cell phones with cable
5) pocket knife
6) misc hygiene items (TP, Q-tips, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, etc..) 

If you search YouTube, there are hundreds of videos on cold winter car preparedness.  Your mileage will vary based on your location and what you feel comfortable with in your emergency kit.  I hope this post will get you thinking about what you would do if stuck on the highway for 12+ hours like I was.


  1. Great items in your kits! A very much overlooked item is the paper road map.

  2. It would have been great to have a portable potty chair when that was not an option. With my daughter, however, that was never an option. We needed a way for her to go potty while traveling.Best Travel Potty