Winter Vehicle Gear

by Dan
(Fort Fairfield, Me)

Vehicle Winter Travel Kit - First and Minimum

Vehicle Winter Travel Kit - First and Minimum

To prepare for winter (cold weather) driving, one must first know and appreciate what that is. We all too often jump into a pre warmed car, or even a cold one and within a few minutes the cab is up to a comfortable temperature.

Want to prepare for what may be in store for you? The next time you have gone somewhere in your comfortable vehicle and the temperature is 20 0 F or colder, find a safe parking spot (even your driveway) and turn off the engine. Within 5 minutes you can feel the chill penetrating and the cab cooling off. After 10 minutes you start wishing you could start the engine. Then at the 15 minute mark you’re getting cold and decide this experiment has gone far enough and you will either start your engine to get heat, or leave the vehicle and go inside.

Now, you don’t have to be 60 to 70 miles in on a logging road by yourself to know what should be in a vehicle as I often do, which leads to other “necessities” I’ll mention soon.

Just because you are always near or in a town, do you really think that after a car pileup or a storm that leaves roads unplowed or trees down that you are going to get help within 15 minutes?
All my vehicles, the wife’s and my logging road pick up I have the following:

warm pair of boots (felt lined or snowmobile boots) wool socks, wool mittens, a warm sweater or other liner that can be worn under the garb I travel with, wool bonnet and a wool blanket.

This gear is mandatory to have for each passenger in my vehicles from October through April. Please also include one flashlight that takes lithium batteries. They have a ten year storage life, and more importantly work at temperatures long after alkaline have stopped working.

These items may not quite be enough to keep you living room comfortable, but they will keep you alive. Remember what happens after just 10 minutes? And it doesn’t take much of anything to find you without a running engine in cold times.

All these items store in a very small space all out of proportion to the comfort they can provide.


Second and Long Range (wilderness travel) or Better Prepared.

No. I Keep a well maintained vehicle.

Traveling the back woods of Maine, the greatest problem I have incurred over the years was not vehicle problems as much as fuel problems. That is, moisture in the gas. Believe me there is more water in the fuel you buy that you may believe.

In the past I always carried dry gas and have proven to myself on more than one occasion that this stuff works. Alas, no longer. With all our fuel now containing ethanol, we really have problems. I am told that ethanol actually attracts moisture, shortens the storage life of fuel, builds up moisture in the tank and this further creates rust in the tank. All mechanics and others that should be in the know that I have asked are saying, at least up to this point, that most dry gas may not go well with this ethanol.

So far the only thing recommended that I have tried is Startron, which I now use. It is unfortunate that the only reason we use ethanol is for political reasons, not energy independence (sorry that is another story).

Anyway, unless you are a highly trained mechanic AND have spare parts, there is no need for any great variety of tools other than to change a tire, a screwdriver, pliers and adjustable wrench.

I carry a substantial tow chain, I have helped others more than having myself towed out of a ditch. Along with this (given room) a shovel and come a long. A set of booster cables may come in handy but I’ve only used these once for myself in 37 years in the woods.

I also keep 2 flashlights, a disposable lighter and wooden matches, a multi tool, duct tape, some wire and a piece of cloth for a rag can come in quite handy as well. What doesn’t stow in the cab fits nicely in an ammo box, these are water and dirt proof.

Tire chains are handy but I usually don’t carry them anymore. All these chains, including the tow chain fit quite nicely in a used plastic container (such as an empty anti freeze jug,) which keeps all the dirt and water/snow contained once you have used them and put them back in your vehicle. These are some of items that I carry, and enough to get you out of most spots.


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