Add These Items To Your Survival Kit For Winter Preparedness

unique items for winter

It’s cold. It’s dry. I had been working outside for awhile. Later that old familiar feeling of chapped lips hit me. So I had to go look for that tube of relief.

It got me to thinking about the unique items that I add to my survival kit or every-day-carry for winter.

Assuming that you already have other recommended gear and supplies in your kit, here are a few additions to consider for winter.

Lip Balm

One of them is some sort of lip balm. My favorite has been Carmex. I keep it in the truck, my 4-wheeler kit and the one in my snowmobile. And I carry a tube if I’m going through a spell of cold, dry weather working outside.

Hand & Foot Warmers

I don’t like really cold hands or feet! Who does, right? Gloves, hats, and insulated boots are a no-brainer. And typically that’s adequate.

Related: Thinsulate | How it works & What you need

But when it gets really, wicked cold, that’s when it’s time to get some more help!

My winter transition involves getting out the box of hand warmers and the other box of foot warmers. I’ll take individually wrapped warmers and add them to my various kits.

My current favorite hand-warmers are the 18-hour “HotHands” (view on amzn) (I buy the box of 40, and they last for a number of years.)

I suggest these FOOT WARMERS because they cover the entire bottom of the foot (as opposed to others which are smaller).

Goggles

Goggles for the eyes! Let me tell you something… Cold wind will impair your ability to see! Cold dry air/wind on the eyes is painful. And your natural reaction will be to squint or shut your eyes.

I regularly use googles during the winter while using the snowblower when it’s windy. Or when it’s extra cold or snowing a-lot. During the Fall season and early winter I wear googles while riding my ATV doing trail maintenance.

But for a survival kit, the use-case might be hoofing it home during a snow storm (or for whatever reason)? Though arguments can be made for staying put and sheltering for a time (which I won’t get into here).

Sunglasses

They help to an extent (a small extent) like googles during poor conditions. However the big reason for having sunglasses for winter is the blinding snow!

It’s amazing how BRIGHT all that white snow is on your eyes. Sometimes you really have to squint A LOT in order to reduce the painful light rays! Who wants to be out in that stuff squinting the whole time?!

Neck Scarf

Roll it up or fold for a practical addition to fit into your winter survival kit. You’ll thank yourself later when using it to block that cold wind that always seems to find a way down your neck into your coat!

Road Flare

The presumption is that you already have a Fire Starter Kit within your overall kit. However a 15-minute Road Flare may be an advisable add-on. Why? Because it may be the only way you could start a fire with numb hands/fingers if dexterity of your ‘digits’ is almost zero.

Winter Survival For Your Vehicle

With snow and ice comes a snow brush and ice scraper. I don’t need to tell you that. But what about a few other items to keep in your car or truck for winter survival?

SNOW SHOVEL. Collapsible and designed rugged to keep in your vehicle. (This one) is “Amazon’s Choice”.

BATTERY JUMPER CABLES. A car battery can lose half it’s “juice” when really cold. A weak battery will make it even worse. I wrote an article on the best jumper cables.

TRACTION MATS. (These) will get you out of a jam if you get stuck in the snow.

What about you? Anything unique and particular that you might add to your own “kits” for during the winter months?

Continue reading: How To Make A Survival Kit

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62 Comments

  1. I bought surplus full face masks. They have a small hat bill sewn in. Long enough to tuck in the collar of a jacket. I keep a couple in my bag when the weather turns unpleasant. Really warm and work well with goggles. I keep goggles with them too.

    Cold air really bothers my eyes as I’ve gotten older. Bought a bunch of goggles surplus too.
    Thinking I’m going to put a pair of those gloves you recommended as well.
    Doesn’t add much weight either.

    1. Speaking of goggles and cold eyes in the winter, it reminded me of another pocket item. A small bottle of eye drops (lens wetting drops) when I wear contact lenses. They dry out wicked fast in the cold! Though I usually wear my glasses, there are times when contact lenses are preferred due to fogging issues (wearing goggles, snowmobile helmet, etc.).

      1. Look into prescription safety goggles . They are not that expensive depending on what you want . You can find them in clear , darkened or even on some sights transition lenses .

    2. If you’ve got extra winter gear, remember your local homeless people always need help this time of year.

  2. “But when it gets really, wicked, cold…”
    Congratulations on proper use of the word wicked, you have just attained New Englander status!

    1. Ahyup… born-n-raised, though spent 15 years in Kalifornia during last career. Now I’m back in the wicked cold northeast. And why did I do that again? FL is sounding awful nice right about now…

  3. Here’s one for ya.
    Hand and body lotions.
    I know it sounds sissified, but I dislike dry, chapped hands and feet, more so than the greasy, slimy feel of lotion.
    I’ll admit I use it on occasion in the winter.

    1. Hand lotion is not just a winter thing it is all year long for me. I get into some nasty chemicals working on cars and my hands will get so dry they will crack open and bleed.

      1. Car guy, can you use neoprene gloves? I know mechanics that have used them to save their hands.

      2. Ultimate gold is a lotion that doesn’t have alcohol in it and so it doesn’t dry out your skin.

      1. Lol
        I just grab whatever is available at the bathroom sink or shower.
        But I don’t use the special Christmas run of something or another….
        That will give you disgusted looks and a sermon.
        So I’m told.

    2. Great advice! What do you recommend for cracked finger tips on the ends and corners of finger nails? It’s only happened a few times on 57 years. Don’t know what it’s called. But it hurts like hell for a week or two.

      1. Glen from norther Kentucky — hunt yourself out some cream/lotion (I had to buy two separate products and apply each cream/lotion)..with ceramides , and urea and Allantoin in. One lotion I bought has ceramide and urea in, and cream I bought has Allantoin in. Most often these ingredients are found in high end face cream/ant aging creams. I lucked out and bought (by accident) some off a discount rack. Only problem is, the cream I bought (cheap) off discount rack no longer seems to be for sale, even on the company website. But I will keep hunting the discount racks. Anyway, I use one, then the other few hours later/whenever. Seems to work wonders

        1. I am in TX and winter here may not be as bad as you all but I have a very dry skin especially my heels & sometime if I don’t apply lotion regularly on my hand, my finger cuticles would crack & bleed…YEP..hurts like *&@×&(I’m a lady so no cussing…lol). I use petroleum jelly & it works every time. It has greasy feels to it so I only apply it at the affected area at night before bed. It started to heal the next day. I do apply on my cracked heels every morning after shower. It’s cheap & works for me but not for every one. Thank you.

          1. I use the store brand of A and D ointment, works every time. As for cracks on heels, apply a thin layer at night on the affected areas then wear a pair of footies or ankle socks while you sleep. I use the same pair of footies for several nights and then wash them for reuse. The footies keep the ointment from staining the sheets.

      2. Glenn:

        “Great advice! What do you recommend for cracked finger tips on the ends and corners of finger nails?”

        Dollar Store toothache gel, at 20% Benzocaine. Lay a small bead of that under the nail edge to end the pain. Then proceed with hand moisturizer of choice.

      3. I use avon silicone glove. It is thick and sticky when you first put it on but it works well on the cracking.

      4. Glenn, sometimes that’s caused by dehydration.
        Bag Balm is pretty good.
        Something that works best for me is petroleum jelly with Shea butter in it.

      5. Glenn, try super glue on those cracks. My wife has the same problem and has had good luck with it. We buy the 5 pack of super glue from dollar Tree for a dollar. It stops the pain and helps it heal.

  4. I’m not a fan of long underwear but flannel-lined jeans are a must in our cold northern weather. I wear sunglasses and a military Arctic coat with a fur-trimmed hood and have a problem with my breath having nowhere else to go but to fog up the glasses, I think goggles would solve that problem.

    1. flannel-lined jeans, I didn’t know they existed till I found some at goodwill back in 2017 cheap.
      I was thrilled, such a simple thing and so practical.

      1. I just bought some of them flannel lined jeans from Carhart for my son.
        $$$ but he works outside year round so hopefully worth it for him.
        He was excited

        1. Flannel Lined Jeans…— you all have made an impression. Had no idea they were so good. I know someone who works outside/in cold, will be getting him a pair for xmas. thks

        2. Matt in Oklahoma
          You can find those same pants though Haband, we ordered them for colder climates. JIC

  5. We keep old ski goggles in our kits. Also large trash bags. Cut a slit in the bottom for your head, pull strings at the bottom. Great windbreaker and waterproof, tho I haven’t actually tried it walking home yet! I’ll try it around the homestead this winter, I think. Good boots are essential, IMHO. Either wearing them or tossed in the vehicles whenever we leave. I also like a good sturdy hiking boot for (almost) everyday wear, the insulated kind in cold weather. Heavy Sorels get tossed in the truck over the winter. I have an older pair the dog chewed a bit from a few years ago. My extra pair now. After watching people in NY after 9/11 happened, I decided to never have footwear I could not run in, or hike home.

    I need to check our hand warmers. Do they get old?

    1. Yes , they get OLD. They have an expiration date on them. When old they might warm for a short time. Not near the normal time. I would not want old ones in a survival situation.

    2. DJ 5280, Yes hand warmers expire..they won’t heat as long after the date on them.., usually good for a few months after but not a long time after…..I keep ours rotated out…via use for packing in dehydrated food../seals the jars.

  6. Beautiful photo, Ken. Is that the view from your place?

    How about some of the “rations” where you press a button on the pack and shake and it heats it up? Some hot soup or chili might be might comforting in a pinch.

  7. Joe C. in regards to skin lotions and lip balm:

    You are NOT sissified and I am in full agreement with you. My dry skin becomes even more dry during the winter. Lotion after a shower is a big help to prevent this from getting worse.

    I found great help to put lotion on my exposed skin prior to going out in windy+ cold conditions.

  8. I like hot hands and toes also, but I keep therma care wraps in my bags. They last for 16 hours and keep your core warm. They work two fold for me. Keeps my back from hurting too much and warms me all the way up. They come in many sizes and I even put them on the Grandboys when we go to mountains or to MT. Individually wrapped and weigh almost nothing.

    Lotion is a must also. Terribly dry itchy skin in winter. I use curell right outta the shower and neutragena Norwegian formula for cracking hands and feet.
    Stay warm all
    PEACE
    MadFab

  9. During my Search and Rescue time, we talked about our winter gear. Here’s some addition to our gear:

    Snow googles
    Very good insulated gloves
    thinsulate barclaves
    Leg Gators
    ear protection (ear plugs)
    extra batteries
    Insulated First aid kits
    Para cord
    Velcro safety straps
    road flares (15 minute)
    flare gun and extra flares
    extra water on person
    personal ID locator
    2 member teams, no solo
    head mounted lights (LED)

    I know some of this doesn’t apply here, this is just what we did. We were always in an emergency situation so we had to cover a lot of bases.

  10. I did Ski Patrol in the North east for a number of years… Once you have had to work outside in -50ºF, you know what cold is. At that temp, frostbite can happen in minutes if you aren’t prepared. It is dangerous. I have seen idiots wear shorts and t-shirts traveling in their cars. What do you do if you get in an accident or your car fails?

    Most people say at 10ºF “Oh its too cold out”.. That is warm relatively…

  11. I have tried every type of lip care there is from the fancy dept store brands and all in-between. Plain ole Vaseline in the tubes works great. Cost 1.25 at Dollar General.

        1. Mrs U
          I used the 18 hr Hot Hands the last couple days of hunting.
          Ohh, my.
          Broke them open at 6am, brought them in the house, went back out still nice and toasty at 6pm.
          Now if someone here could invent a heated fore stock and trigger for rifles….
          ….I want part of that claim.

  12. No where does this mention wearing wool clothing. Never wear cotton or cotton blends in cold weather. Look for wool or wool blend clothes, polyester fleece is a cheap but not as reliable back up.

      1. Ken….so, in response to your cotton info. Re those flannel lined jeans we’ve been discussing, especially good for cold weather…Should I be looking for a pair which have a flannel lining made from something besides cotton, or does one assume the person will have longjohns on (have no idea if)..Any thoughts on this? thks

        1. Jane Foxe they do have polyester fleece lined jeans. I find them very useful when working in the snow as they retain most of their insulation even when damp from sweat or melted snow.

          In the military I was initially issued cotton long johns, then wool long johns and finally before I retired polyester long johns. The last is the best in my opinion.

          1. me2— thank you. If not for this discussion re jeans/fleece/cotton etc, I would’ve had no idea of the benefit of fleece lined jeans, or that it mattered what type of fleece, etc.. Will start keeping my eye out for this for xmas present. thks

          2. My flannel-lined jeans are cotton and have never been a problem, very comfortable while doing exertive work.

  13. How about a good old fashioned Scarf, better yet a wool Scarf and a wool hat, remember 80% of body heat is lost through the neck and head.

  14. Was going to suggest a scarf or any type of mask/shield to protect against the cold air. It can really take your breath away. Especially for those with asthma and such.

  15. Mittens are better than gloves if you don’t need all the dexterity. With quality mittens I can stay outside and still warm my fingers back up. So even if what I’m doing requires me to wear gloves I have mittens standing by for backup.

  16. Rode motorcycles year round for a living, plus personal motorcycle for 123 mile round trip commute. Wore a “bunny suit” (quilted insulated coveralls) for sub-freezing weather weather, full face helmet, boots with 3/4″ felt liners, and the heavy scarf NRP suggested round my neck. Even with temps in the teens at highway speeds, I could go over an hour before cold seeped in. Wore heavy leather gauntlet mittens.

    I finally grew up when I retired. I don’t ride when it’s cold anymore. Now I putter around the homeplace in a full cab side x side with a heater.

  17. In my years of doing winter search and rescue there were things I always used the most that I otherwise never used:
    Extra socks.
    Warmer than normal hat.
    Neck gaiter.
    Decent gloves, usually split grain leather fleece/velvet lined that are worn but not wore out.
    Coast Guard water packets.

    This wasn’t like ski patrol kind of search and rescue. This is big dumb truck on 44-49″ tires to float on the snow to go find people that were lost (most were suicidal and didn’t want to be found). So a lot of driving, snowshoeing, walking, etc. So you’d go from huffing and puffing to sitting in a warm truck to freezing to huffing and puffing and rinse repeat. Might end up armpit deep dragging winch line for an hour on top of it.

    I still wear cotton socks. Found only Darn Tough brand that come in size Sasquatch that I’m not allergic to. Would like some suggestions.

  18. I put a set of tennis shoe soles inside my boots. I could walk or stand in snow for long periods without freezing feet. A small piece of scarf can be velcro’d to the edge of your coat hood. Pull it across and fasten it to velcro on other side for a quick handy face mask. Put tape on the edges of a space blanket to enable handholds or tie out points to keep it around you as a shelter. Tape 2 space blankets together along one edge to double the size. Still very light weight and better wind blocking.

  19. – Spent a little bit of time in Europe, up on the Chech border. Remember a couple of nights that got a wind chill down around -80° F, and there wasn’t that much wind. Still have a face mask for the extreme cold, a Parka with the poly liner and wolf fur trim that wouldn’t freeze up from the moisture in your breath. A long, wide wool scarf, and a couple of pair of Mukluks I bought from I guy who wintered over in Antarctica. I once turned down $200 and a pair of fur-lined Sorels from a captain who wanted to buy the pair I was wearing. The second pair were to change into while the first pair was drying. Unless the temperature was below zero, they were too warm to wear.

    A pair of field pants with the liner. I wore both wool long johns and synthetic long johns under those and a pair of L’eggs queen-sized winter pantyhose under those. Smile if you want to, I could go out in the snow and lay down in three meters of snow with a pair of binos and count Russian tanks for an hour and not get cold. I had so many layers, I would probably been safe if you’d shot me with a .22. Just don’t drink too much coffee, LOL.

    Where I am now doesn’t get nearly so cold. I’ve never worn the mukluks here, and they are mostly just a souvenir of colder times. Here, a wool sweater and a long-sleeved cotton overshirt will keep you just as warm as it did for everyday winter wear in Germany, and a rain jacket to add if the wind gets up. I do have smart-wool long johns and Hi-tec boots in or with my bag.

    – Papa S.

  20. Cheap little cotton throw rug. When it’s slick outside I toss it outside driver’s car door to make getting in and out of car less hazardous. Could have multiple – one for each door – if carrying passengers.

  21. That is a good idea, Anony Mee. Many years ago when my husband was alive, he slipped getting out of his vehicle and ruptured two disks in his back. He had surgery and was out of commission for months. I wish he had had a throw rug.

    Now that I am old and still have to wear an orthopedic boot (with slick soles) I will use your idea.

    Thanks

  22. Living in a quiet cold area in Norway me and my family are commuting 15 km’s x 2 allmost every day between school-work-shops-home. What we allways bring in the car in winter is:
    Wool-blancket, snowshovel, icescraper, flashlight, powerbank for cellphone, lighter/matches, candle, powerbars.
    We allways try to have a full fuel-tank to: A. avoid condense in the tank and B. have a longer range if shtf. Good idea to bring a 10 liter extra can with fuel. We allways dress for cold, even our trip takes just 20 minuts. Never know. I do prefer to drive my car “cold” (no heating, windows slightly open) because when parking a warm car outside in winter 80% of the time i have to remove so much ice from the windows.. When driving a cold car it takes much less time and effort when i am done at work and want to go in a hurry. Another idea is to store a big bag of old rice or cat-sand in the car as it will absorbe moisture and prevent ice to build from condense inside the car. Sheep or reindeer-skin to sit on. When it is colder than -10*C i use a “motorwarmer” which heats and circulates the coolingwater for the engine, so it allways starts in any weathercondition (as long as there is power in the sockets)… If no electrical power is available i start the engine every 3 hours and let it run for abt 30 minuts (in extreme cold). I still love the winter here :)

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