September is National Preparedness Month and we would be remiss if we didn't put out an article on this topic. So today we're going to chat about building a Winter-Ready Car Kit using The Chief Backpack.
We know it just turned into Fall. But it's already starting to get cooler here in Kentucky and we're on track for what experts are calling a pretty rough winter. So we wanted to give you guys and gals enough time to put together a great Winter Car Kit, if you haven't already been thinking about it.
Our chief backpacks have served a lot of purposes. But, one new purpose that our personal Chief's will be serving this coming winter will be as an emergency bag in our cars. Here in Kentucky, we're like a lot of other states...You never know how the weather is going to turn on a daily, or even an hourly basis. So, having some sort of contingency plan if you find yourself stranded in your car and away from home is very important.
We're going to break this article up into 3 categories: (1) Clothing & Warmth (2) Everyday Necessities (3) Communications & Tools. Hopefully the gear and items we list off will give you some ideas before winter arrives, in order to put together a great winter preparedness car kit. So let's dive in....
As living, breathing human beings we all have the same need in the winter. We have to stay warm and properly insulated. If we get stuck outside without the proper clothing and gear, we will surely be miserable and potentially fall victim to hypothermia. Below are some valuable pieces of gear that we recommend you keep in your chief bag this winter, or in the trunk of your vehicle.
1. A small sleeping bag or wool blanket: We recommend having one for each member of your family. Having a sleeping bag or large wool blanket could provide life-saving comfort, should you and your family find yourself snowed in your car during a winter emergency.
2. Dress Appropriately: Each and every Winter day when you leave your house, check your attire. Are you dressed to go trampling through the snow, or spend the night in your car without the heater running? If not, either bring an extra set of clothes along and put them in your bag, or change your clothes to fit the weather's forecast.
We recommend you have a good insulating layer (moisture wicking, not cotton), good insulating socks, boots, waterproof or water repellant pants, a good top layer and a warm jacket/coat.
3. Gloves: Have you ever had to scrape snow off your car without gloves? Yeah me too...It's terrible and leaves your hands immobile long after you're done. We recommend having a good pair of work gloves for when you need dexterity and a good insulated pair of gloves for when you don't.
4. "Hot Hands": On the topic of dexterity...Hot Hands, hand warmers, or any of those breakable heat packs are a lifesaver in the frigid months of Winter. Throw a few packs of those in your Chief bag. They weight nothing, and will help warm your body up and bring dexterity back should you need to use them.
5. Ear warmers or a beanie hat: Again here...If you have been in the cold with no ear or head protection you know how bad the Winter wind hurts. Save yourself the trouble and pain, pack some articles of clothing for your noggin' too.
6. Some extra clothing: If space permits in your kit, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pack extra layers of clothing. You never know when you may step in a mound of snow and soak your socks. Or find that it's 20° colder than you thought, and need more insulating clothing to keep your body temperature up.
We all need food, we all need water and other everyday necessities. So, pack them along with you. Should you find yourself stuck on the side of the interstate for a day or two, you'll need to eat - you'll need to use the bathroom - among other things.
7. Food & Water: I am personally an avid hiker and outdoorsman. So I always opt for freeze dried meals as the food source that I keep in my bag. I boil my water on my backpacking stove, poor it in the freeze dried pack and i'm eating within 10 minutes or so. While this may not be the route you take for your Winter Car Kit, make sure you have some non-perishable food stashed away so you can eat. As for water, you can buy some nice water jugs at any big-box store. I personally have a large 6 gallon jug that I keep in my trunk.
8. A small fire kit: Have a small fire kit handy should you need to boil water or cook food, or start a small fire to stay warm. My personal fire kit includes a lighter, waterproof matches, ferrocium rod and some fire starting material (wood shavings, small 1" fatwood sticks and vaseline soaked cotton balls). If you are stranded for a little while, you will appreciate being able to start a small fire.
9. First Aid Kit: An IFAK (individual first aid kit) was covered under our Top 10 Things You Should Be Carrying list. So hopefully you're already carrying one. But if you aren't, now is a good time to start.
10. General sanitation and hygiene products: Some toilet paper, hand wipes/sanitizer will come in handy if nature calls and you're stranded in a Winter Storm. This is definitely a "better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it" item.
Also - I would recommend throwing a personal hygiene kit inside your chief bag. Keep it simple: toothbrush/toothpaste, dental floss and some deodorant (d.o. for your b.o.).
11. Bring extra medications: If you have to take doctor-prescribed medication on a daily basis, bring extra along when you leave the house. I've heard specific reports of people who have gotten stuck in snow storms without their medications and it almost cost them their lives.
This logic would also go for any oddities that you may need on a daily basis. If you have some item that you have to have everyday, bring extras along with you so you'll have them should you find yourself stranded for a couple of days.
Should any of us find ourselves stranded or stuck in a Winter emergency/storm we will need to communicate with our loved ones, or potentially reach out to emergency services. We will also need to remain visible to others. Here are some items that we'd recommend having handy throughout the upcoming winter.
12. Cell Phone Charger: You can pick these up at any big box store for $20 or so. They're small brick-shaped chargers that can typically charge your phone a couple of times. They're not the quickest by any means, but it will keep your phone in operation for a day or two.
13. Emergency Flares: A company by the name of Life Gear makes some great LED Flares. They come equipped with a small flashlight, signaling whistle and many different modes for the flare capability. They are inexpensive and lightweight, making them a "why not" to throw in your pack. These would come in handy should you find yourself pulled onto the shoulder of an interstate. You could place one of these on the exterior of your car to act as a signaling device so other vehicles know to watch for you. Or so emergency services can find you, if you have reached out to them.
14. Flashlight and extra batteries: Again, we hope you're already carrying a flashlight as part of your EDC - But if not, we'll give you one more chance ;) Carry at least one flashlight and some extra batteries as part of your winterized car kit. It only makes sense, as how this is the darkest time of the year.
15. Misc Tools: Have some tools handy should you need to do any work on your car, or dig yourself out from the snow. (ie: jumper cables, common hand tools, foldable shovel, etc)
If you're already packing your Winter kit, or pack one each year we'd love to hear from you! What do you put in your kit? What do you view as your essentials?
And if you haven't already, check out The Chief backpack!