Need advice on my Winter Vehicle Emergency Kit

Winter is coming. I hate my commute during this time of year and always dread getting stuck. So I’m trying to prep now before it gets cold and miserable.

I have snow tires on my car, am up to date with repairs, and have my normal everyday get-home-bag that has maps, fire starters, food, first aid kit, etc… But I wanted to get your advice on my Winter additions. And The Prepared has a pretty nice Kit builder that I thought I would try out. Here is a link to my kit:


My budget is kinda small so these are things I just had around the house, but is there anything you recommend that I add or replace? Tell me the why behind your suggestion too.

Thanks guys!!


  • Comments (21)

    • 4

      This looks pretty good! And I’m perpetually kitting my car out so thank you for putting this kit together. Something jumped to my mind: have you thought of adding some flares in case you get starnded, and some traction pads for the snow or slosh etc? Or are they already part of your normal car kit?

      • 4

        I’ve never thought about flares before. From what I see on TV they are water proof and provide a long hot burn, which could also double as a light, fire, heat source. Great idea!

        I haven’t heard about traction pads before. I get what you are talking about, but could you maybe share a link with an example? Are they just giant rubber mats?

      • 5

        For flares I was actally thinking about something like this https://www.amazon.com/Stonepoint-Emergency-LED-Road-Flare/dp/B000LQ78YY/ but I like your thinking! 

        Re traction pads: yes, something like that. My partner keep these bad boys in his jeep https://www.amazon.com/BUNKER-INDUST-Off-Road-Traction-Ladder-Red/dp/B07NV71XVB/ but I think for a normal car they are a bit of an overkill. Unfortunately, I don’t have a specifc reccomendation – this convo is actually helping me figuring this kind of stuff myself. I know that some peole keep cat litter in their car for the exact same reasons.

    • 3


      Ooo. I thought of something I could add to my car kit that I need advice on! 

      So I used to have those lifeboat rations in my get-home-bag, but it expired this year and I ate it. So I need another calorie source in my bag. 

      Should I get another lifeboat ration, MRE, or a freeze dried meal? I kinda want at least 2-3 days worth of calories in my car, and I live in a winter climate so freezing is an issue. I also don’t want to boil water and such if possible. What would you guys choose?

      • 2

        I would stick to the lifeboat rations, for the exact the same reasons as you’ve highlighted: they pack more calories in a smaller space, and you don’t need to cook or boil water.

      • 3

        The SOS lifeboat rations have sugar as their primary ingredient, followed by flour and fat. That’s it: sugar, flour, fat. Three days @ 3,600 calories per day = 1.6 pounds.

        I prefer Probar meal bars (wholeberry is my fav). Three days @ 3,600 calories per day = 1.8 pounds. I’ll take the tiny extra weight for–>

        Ingredients: Brown Rice Syrup, Oats, Dates, Sunflower Seeds, Cashew Butter, Almond Butter, Cashews, Raisins, Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Almonds, Crisp Brown Rice, Dried Cane Syrup, Apple Juice Concentrate, Blueberries, Blueberry Puree, Strawberries, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Dried Cane Syrup, Vegetable Glycerine, Dried Pineapple, Dried Papaya, Rice Syrup, Unsweetened Chocolate, Oat Flour, Pumpkin Seed, Molasses, Natural Flavors, Non-Dairy Cocoa Butter, Sunflower Oil, Citric Acid, Salt

      • 2

        Also, specifically for me–I don’t have enough mass to run through 3,600 calories a day, even when working hard, so I don’t calculate at a 3,600 calorie rate. ymmv

    • 4

      What a great list!  One thing I’d suggest to add is a good pair of heavy-duty jumper cables.  I recently learned the hard way that the typical, cheap jumper cables you often find aren’t always up to the task.  Look for something that’s 6 gauge or thicker (and remember that when speaking of wire gauge, the lower the number the thicker and more heavy-duty the cable).  I see you have a portable power pack, and those are awesome, but if your car battery is completely drained, and your power pack is running low, it might not have enough umph to start your car. 

      Another suggestion, also learned the hard way, is to upgrade your tire-changing tools.  The lug wrench, jack, and other tols that came with your car will probably be on the cheap and minimal side.  While you are at it be sure you have a few basic tools as well (wrench, screw-drivers, etc).

      And finally, a head-lamp!  Changing a tire or any type of car maintanance at night in the dark is no fun, but a head-lamp will help immensly!

      *I recognize these aren’t necessarily ‘winter’ items, so it’s likely you already have all of this stuff covered.  I’ve had terrible luck with my automobile the past few months and have been forced to confront just how ill-prepared I was to deal with them.

      • 2

        Yes! I need to have a good headlight in my car. Thanks for the suggestion. Also, I need to practice changing a spare on my Jeep. It has one of those weird contraptions where you have to lower the tire from below the vehicle by unscrewing something. Definitely something I need to figure out before I need to do it for real.

      • 3

        Note from having living in serious snow areas in the past (Taos, Colorado, New York)–practice changing those tires in good weather to get an idea how things go…then practice in SNOW. There’s a world of difference.

    • 5

      MY CAR KIT

      Emergency ID card
      Ainope car charger (lighter-to-usb adapter)
      VicTsing 2-pack safety hammer

      2—1-gal. F-style HDPE water jugs (filled 85%)

      Snow Brush–Hopkins 80037 SubZero 60″
      Prestone 15.5-oz. AS240 windshiled washer fluid/de-icer
      Chains–Size and type depends on vehicle and state laws
      Portable Tow Truck traction mats
      Cat litter–Non-clumping
      Snow shovel, folding–Lifeline 4004 Aluminum Sport Utility
      Cold-rated sleeping bag (best) or SOL Escape Bivy (1-2)
      KARECEL Rechargeable Hand Warmers, 5200mAh
      Yaktrax for shoes/boots & Qteclor or Unigear waterproof snow gaiters
      Marmot Precip Shell Mitts (4.2oz.) Over OZERO -30 Winter Gloves
      N-Ferno 6823 Thermal Fleece Wind-Resistant Hinged Balaclava
      Carhartt’s Arctic Quilt-Lined Coveralls

      SlimK 3-pack LED road flares PLUS signal flares and/or snapflares
      Rand McNally 2020 large scale road atlas
      RHINO USA tow strap (3”x20’)
      EPAuto 4 Gauge x 20 Ft 500A Heavy Duty Booster Jumper Cables
      HydroBlu Versa Flow water filter system
      Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade, Serrated Edge [30-000075]Boulder Tools – Heavy Duty Tire Repair Kit
      Torin Big Red Steel Scissor Jack, 1.5 Ton (3,000 lb) Capacity
      CARTMAN 16″ Universal Anti-Slip Cross Wrench, Lug Wrench
      4Monster Microfiber Travel Towel
      Cyalume SnapLight Red Light Sticks – 6” / 12 Hour

      + GET HOME BAG

      • 2

        Wow! This would make a lot better kit than mine. Thank you for sharing. 

        You said that you use “KARECEL Rechargeable Hand Warmers, 5200mAh” 

        How do you like that? How does it compare to the disposable or reusable handwarmers?

      • 2

        I like them a lot because I have a problem with cold hands and I’ll always choose rechargeable over disposable. That said, I have a few disposables in my glove box that my husband bought. He values impulse buys over strategy, mostly because he’s only slightly interested in prepping for unforeseen events.

    • 5

      The list from everyone is really good. I applaud you for the winter bag, 75% of people don’t know what it is. I like your list. Try an army/navy surplus store. You can find gear that the military uses for cheap. Good stuff. I would suggest a change of clothes. 2 pair of socks, silk layer (buy at TJ max or military supply) waterproof boots, waterproof jacket, snacks, spam, canteen, contractor bag, kem light (buy at the dollar store for cheap) Vaseline, gloves from Costco or sams club (on sale now $10), a tarp from harbor freight, tactical knife from harbor ( $9). Just make a list of stuff from the group and for what you would need. That will secure you for any major issues. Oh yeah people laugh, but throw some underwear in a ziploc bag. I also have a hygiene kit in a duplicate bag. Basic first aid kit. My winter bag is similar to a tool bag, and holds a lot. It’s in addition to my edc back back that will act as a secondary bag. 

      • 3

        One problem I haven’t solved–my town/city has an ongoing problem with vehicle break-ins in shopping area parking lots. During the pandemic we’re getting our groceries and other goods delivered, but at some point we’ll go back to shopping and then my car bag/box will be visible. In my suv I can hide things under the cargo area’s cover (which seriously cuts down on cargo space), but the pickup truck doesn’t have that option. The pickup has a shell, but that doesn’t seem like it’s a deterrent from the police reports I read. 

        Any ideas?

      • 2

        Having worked for a police department, I have seen so many stolen vehicle and vehicle break-ins. Here are some tips that I can think of.

        1. Try to park where people are. Don’t park in the very back area of the parking lot where the bad guy will have your car all to himself.
        2. Park under a lamp post at night
        3. Look for the store’s security cameras and where they are pointed at and park there. Don’t rely on this if your car gets broken into though. The cameras are usually old, don’t produce clear video, are far away, and if it is night, the video is almost always to dark to see anything. But maybe the bad guy will think they are smart and only target vehicles out of the camera’s line of sight.
        4. NEVER leave your car running. During the winter there was always 2-3 stolen cars from driveways that were stolen from the owners letting them warm up. We called them “puffers” because the bad guys would just walk down streets looking for which car is puffing out exhaust and doesn’t have a driver in it. 
        5. Always roll up your windows and lock your doors. 
        6. If you have a car alarm system (might need to read owners manual) learn how to use it. 
        7. Tint your rear windows in accordance with your city’s laws to make it harder for them to look into your car.
        8. Use a steering wheel lock. Even if they are just going to smash-and-grab, this might show that you are serious about security. Our PD would give these out for free to owners of the top 10 most stolen vehicle makes if they called in.
        9. Don’t think of your center console or glove compartment as a safe. This is where bad guys look most of the time for valuables.
        10. Get a dash camera that will not only help you and the police out incase of an accident, but many nicer ones have motion detection and parking modes that will start recording if they sense someone walking around your vehicle or if they bump your vehicle. One like this records the outside and inside of the vehicle.  
        11. Another out of the box idea is to place a fake security sticker on your windows. Amazon has some. 
        12. And my number one tip, DON’T leave your gun in your car! So many guns get stolen out of vehicles by criminals who steal your car or just break into it. They do sometimes get recovered, sometimes they don’t. I’ve seen guns get recovered from a car break in from like 40 years ago and the gun is on the other side of the country. Many times you won’t get your gun back because it might have been involved in a crime and needs to be used as evidence. 
      • 3

        Your #12 made my sphincter clench. It amazes me that people will be that neglectful.

      • 1

        Thanks for the insights and tips! I’ll be adding a steering wheel lock and dash cam to my kit list.

      • 3

        My truck has tinted windows in the cab area. Throw a black fabric (like a balaclava) over your gear. It’s difficult to see inside on a good day, next-to-impossible to see at night.

    • 3

      @Liz, I’m diggin’ the kit. I’m in a similar mode now, too. At least the vehicle prep gets easier every year. Winter coming? Remove winter pack from storage, add to standard kit. Spring coming? Remove winter pack to storage, keep standard kit. I think the only real upkeep I have is checking batteries for flashlights, emergency LEDs, radios.

      While I’m here, I have a few suggestions for folks on a much tighter budget:

      – Invest in one really good pair of winter gloves. Make sure they’re warm, comfortable, waterproof, windproof, temp rated. Ditch the fleece gloves and get only the snow gloves. If you need to work on your vehicle, use your roadside kit gloves (eg., MechanixWear).

      – Instead of fancy plastic traction pads, use kitty litter to help gain traction if you get stuck. Bonus, the additional weight in your vehicle can come in handy on slippery roads.

      – Instead of the NeverWet (to keep snow from sticking to your shovel), try spraying it with Pam (or other aerosol cooking oil). Unfortunately, this doesn’t do much for your clothing, so, there’s that. 

      Okay, this part may seem kinda weird, so, let me preface. I’ve gotten to the point in my prepping where a lot of things are going to do double- or triple- duty. What I use for hiking, I use for camping. What I use for camping, also doubles as prep gear. 

      – Instead of the collapsable shovel, consider something with fewer moving parts. Check out something that’s unibody construction, lightweight, strong. Like this… camping… shovel. Also comes in handy if you have to poop. Just sayin’. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BFHMX3K/

      – Ski goggles are a good add. I like that. I currently have a pair of safety goggles (for gtfo situations), but I wonder if there’s safety glasses with anti-glare, sunglasses like feature…

      – If you’re the kind of person that needs it (like me, the human radiator), make sure you have several various layers of clothing you can don or remove as needed.

      -Consider a mummy sleeping bag, in case you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere. You can stay sheltered in your vehicle but you may want to conserve energy and fuel.