Outdoors Reviews Travel

Winter Prep: Important Tools You Should Have in Your Vehicle

As much as I love the joy of holiday season, along with it comes a deluge of bad weather. This year, winter started early with our first snowfall in late September. We along with other regions have had several snowfalls since. Are you prepared for the winter months, or will you be taken off guard?

Bad winter conditions like heavy snowfall, blizzards, sleet, icy conditions and freezing temperatures can make driving hazardous and dangerous. Always expect the unexpected and be prepared for what may chance upon you. There are several important tools we should keep in our vehicle during the winter season just in case any situation or emergency should arise.

But, there are a few essential things you need before you venture out in the brutal weather. Have a fully charged cell phone. Never leave home with a half charged phone and always bring your charger with you. Another factor to consider is your tires. Do you have reliable winter tires that can handle bad road conditions? How are your windshield wipers? Are they shredding or missing areas on your windshield? Get new ones before the winter season begins. Here’s a list of the necessary items we keep in our vehicles.

Essential Tools for the Winter Season

First Aid Kit – this kit is essential should any small injury happen. Make sure it’s stocked with fresh supplies before you take a trip.

Water & Non-Perishable Food –  Depending on weather conditions, it may take time to get help, so having provisions on hand is necessary.

Jumper Cables – these are vital and a ‘must have’ should your car battery need a jump start. Keep a set in your trunk just in case you or a fellow driver needs assistance.

Blankets – are equally as vital to have in your vehicle during winter. They will provide the necessary warmth should you get stranded in freezing temperatures on the highway. We always carry two and they don’t take up too much room.

Candles & Matches – when electronic sources fail, it’s important to have candles and matches. They provide a small amount of heat and light.

Gloves, Hand Warmers, Scarves  & Socks – having a bag of winter warmers may be the difference between serious frostbite and comfortably warm.

Shovel – if you run into a snowdrift and can’t drive your way out of it, a durable compact shovel will be your savior.

Road Flares – flares brilliant white light will show you are in need of assistance and allow rescuers to find you.

Flashlights – fumbling in the dark is futile, so having a few flashlights on hand will allow you to see where you’re going and even alert oncoming traffic that you need help. Make sure you load them with fresh batteries before you travel. Most iPhones have a flashlight app, but this will drain your cell phone battery very quickly.

Snow Brush and Ice Scraper – the brush end will remove snow and keep your windshield and head beams clear and the scraper will remove frosty ice quickly. As simple as these are to use, you wouldn’t want to be without one. Just don’t get a flimsy one, buy one that’s sturdy and durable.

Rock Salt, Sand or kitty litter – these products can be so beneficial if you get stuck and need a little traction. It will melt snow and ice fairly quickly so you can move on.

Emergency Escape Tool – if the worst case scenario should happen this tool will cut seatbelts and break windows should you need to escape quickly. Fits in your glove compartment.

Extra Windshield Fluid – this product has antifreeze components so it will keep your windshield clear so you have better visibility, especially in storm conditions.

ToolKit – minor problems are inevitable, so having a toolkit on hand to fix basic issues can prove to be indispensable.

Chain or Rope – having a chain or rope on hand to pull vehicles out of bad situations is a good call.

Portable Battery Charger – these chargers will give you enough energy to make an emergency call.

Fix-A-Flat – this product will temporarily seal a leaking tire. Great for emergencies.

If you’re prepared for the winter month’s, traveling on the highways or city roads will be a nicer experience.


  • Great ideas. I know I have some granola bars, but possibly not enough if I’m stuck in a snowdrift on a back road.

  • Always be prepare when travelling. I lost someone dear to my heart! She left behind 5 children. Long story short if they would have had an Emergency Escape Tool the outcome would have been totally different.

  • This is a very thorough list.You have thought of everything.Years ago I bought each of my kids a down filled sleeping bag to carry in their car.

  • Thanks for the reminder. I need to put my winter kit together and get it in the truck. You hope you’ll never need it, but it’s always best to be prepared.

  • You should always keep a portable power charger for your phone. Even if your car dies, you have a way to charge your phone so you can get help.

  • I never thought about kitty litter but that is a great idea! I live in Texas, but we do take the occasional trip to Colorado!

  • I much appreciated your article on Winter Prep…I live on BC’s west coast so we don’t get bad winters generally. But when we do get snow it seems that no one on the road is prepared properly. So I will take your suggestions to heart. Thank you.

  • A great list of essentials when driving in winter, especially here in the Prairies where it gets bitterly cold.

  • I live in a climate where we don’t often get snow and other winter hazards, so when bad weather hits many of us in this corner of the country are very unprepared. I find your article on Winter Prep really helpful, especially the one on Emergency Escape Tool.

  • This is such good info! Most people don’t think of having all of this in their vehicle but it’s so important in an emergency. I always keep a heavy blanket in my trunk. In the summer I use it to sit/lay on for picnics and sunbathing and in the winter to bundle up if car my breaks down.

  • This is an excellent list!! We have a lot of frigid winters here. We keep our old blankets in our car. Flashlights and a first aid kit is a must at all times. There is one more thing we keep in the car is those yellow bottles of Heet. It keeps the gas line from freezing and the water out!. I totally forgot about the kitty litter!! And we have a cat! Pinned and shared!

  • Great list of items to have in the car with you when you travel. I have kept blankets in my car in a zippered bag for years. And they have been used at different times year round. I am retired so I don’t really travel that much anymore but if I did in the winter I would have most if not all in my trunk.

  • Candles can maintain a car’s interior temperature at a safe zone and at the same time consume a very small amount of oxygen, far below any danger level of suffocation.

  • I’m missing a few things on your list. Most of my driving is in the city, so some of the items are less essential, but it’s better to have them just in case. Time to update my supplies!

  • Yes plz remember to pack a blanket you never know how cold it will be when you get stuck and you will need the warmth of as much as possible

  • I went through your list and I have everything in the trunk except chains or rope. I love winter but I hate driving in it so thanks for this list as you never know when you might need something.

  • This list is great! I keep all of those in my vehicle, as well as some activities in case I have the kids with me. I have books and coloring books, as well as a couple of games and a deck of cards.

  • I love this, we did this for my son for Christmas we got the list and I started to buy the items here and there put it in a box, 1st round it looked like he was moving out, my husband said hopefully nothing happens if so a one time ordeal, so took a couple times but we got.

  • My fiance and I talk about this all the time. I think its very important to have these things in your car especially if you have children !

  • We’ve already had our first snow so my truck is packed and ready. Nice checklist and a must have for blizzards or getting stuck!

  • This is very thorough. Most we ever have in our car is something to clean off the windows with and a spare tire. We don’t ever drive very far from home that we would ever need much of this stuff, we could easily walk the short trek back home.

  • You mentioned tools, which is great. But I also keep a fancy Leatherman in my glove compartment. It has come in useful in so many situations.

  • Extremely useful list!! I’ve been getting things for my car’s emergency kit here and there so that way I’m prepared! A lot listed I hadn’t even thought of so thank you so much for posting!!

  • After learning the hard way I now realize to keep these essentials in my car. Lucky for me someone happened by and picked me up.

  • I appreciate your list of winter cautions especially since I live near Vancouver where we have pretty mild winters. It can be easy to be careless about taking precautions for the bad weather.

  • Very informative article for our safety. I have several of these items in my vehicle already but would like to add to it after reading this article. I don’t like snow and ice and I generally don’t wonder out in it but there is always that chance that you have to. Being prepared in any situation is a good thing. Thank you for this information.

  • I never thought of extra windshield fluid, but that’s a good addition to my kit. One thing I added in addition to regular blankets are those little silver survival blankets that reflect your body heat back on yourself. They would certainly help with warmth, they’re very inexpensive and take up a really small space.

  • This list is helpful because I m only a 2nd year out coastal californian, who moved to missouri and the cold weather really bites sometimes. We have the ices craper but ices crape should put and emergency kit together.

  • This is a very good list. It has made me think that I am not really very well prepared. I will show this list to my husband and hopefully start adding some important additions.

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