Winter Survival Gear For Your Car

As you travel during the winter months, consider the important survival gear items to keep in your car. Your literal survival may even depend on it.

Example: Stranded on the highway, stuck in a major snow storm or ice storm, along with everyone else. The cars are running out of gas. No heat. Now what? Hypothermia sets in…

Here’s a real world example that is occurring as I post this article:

“Never Seen Anything Like It” – Drivers Trapped On Virginia Interstate Since Monday

The fact is, we’re not always dressed appropriately for an emergency when we hop in the car to go somewhere during the winter. We assume that everything will be alright. During the winter, it’s especially important to have adequate warm clothing and protection form the elements. Even if you’re not wearing them, it is highly advisable to keep a separate dedicated set of cold-weather gear in the car (e.g. an extra jacket is better there than hanging in your closet at home).

Here are a few ideas to consider:

List Of Winter Survival Gear For Your Car

Full Gas Tank

I’ll start with this… Get in the habit of keeping your gas tank as full as possible. Not only providing more range, but if you’re ever stranded in the winter, you will then be able to run your vehicle’s heater much longer.

Winter Jacket

Keep one of your extra jackets in the car. If you ever need to double up, or if you simply do not have adequate outerwear protection when you need it, this could be a life saver. If you don’t have an extra jacket, keep a sweatshirt, sweater, or ‘something’ warm!

Warm Blanket

A wool blanket is a very good choice of winter survival gear for your car. Or a fleece blanket. Keep one extra blanket in the car for each person that typically travels in your vehicle.

Hat

A warm pullover hat that will also cover your ears. Fleece is a good insulator. I have lots of hats. And there’s always an extra one in my ‘glove box’.

Gloves

Not the cheap kind with no insulation, but something warm with ‘Thinsulate’ or other insulation. Mittens are great too.

Scarf

Not the thin decorative type, but a substantial warm scarf. A scarf makes a big difference keeping warm.

Poncho

A rain poncho provides a significant protection from developing hypothermia if you need to walk far in a cold rain (assuming you have a proper jacket underneath!).

Walking Shoes/ Boots

Depending on your climate and geography, this might be sneakers or hiking boots. You may not always be wearing shoes that are good for walking, so this is a good thing to keep in the car just in case. Keep a pair of warm socks with them too.

Hand Warmers

I always have a box of these hand warmers (amzn) at the ready during the winter months. Multiple uses, including keeping some in your car!

Food

Food bars are a good calorie-dense and light weight emergency food to keep in the car. Put a bunch of them in a zip-lock or container and keep out of the sun.

Water

Even having a few water bottles sitting in your cup holders will be better than nothing. If you have to hoof it, water bottles are easy to carry or throw in a bag.

Backpack

A simple shoulder bag or light backpack to carry a bit of gear (food/water) if you have to walk out.

Shovel

Since we’re talking about winter, keep a small shovel in case you need to dig out of a slippery situation.

Ice Scraper

You probably already have one, but double check to be sure.

Snow Brush

Self explanatory.

Windshield Washer Fluid

Keep extra of the kind that will not freeze (sub zero for me). There are lots of washer fluid varieties that will not hold up to freezing temperatures, so check the label.

Newly Installed Windshield Wiper Blades

There’s nothing worse than not being able to see out of a partially icy slushy streaking window while your old wiper blades are barely clearing away the mess. Dangerous…

Tow Strap

A tow strap to pull yourself or others out of a snow drift. If you get stuck, other drivers may stop to help but rarely will they have a tow strap. I always have at least one of those flat tow straps in the truck (example).

Tire chains

If you feel that you might ever need them, just buy a set that matches the size tire on your vehicle. Practice putting them on! Don’t just put them in the trunk without knowing how to install them.

Sand, Salt

You can buy conveniently sized containers of this stuff to keep in your trunk. Obviously used for traction if you get stuck.

Flashlight

Keep at least one decent LED flashlight in the car. Regularly check the batteries.

Jumper cables

An already weak car battery will become even weaker when it’s very cold. What if you need a jump to get the engine started? Or maybe a Lithium Jump Starter Pack (amzn).

Cash

Keep a small cash stash in the vehicle for an emergency situation where you might need it. Don’t be tempted to use it for non-emergencies. If you do use it, replenish it immediately.

Cell Phone Charger

You have a cell phone, but do you keep a car charger inside the car at all times?

72-Hour Kit

Although a typical kit may include some of the items above, here’s one article which may give you more ideas.

[ Read: 72 Hour Emergency Kit Vehicle Food Storage ]

Kitty Litter?

If you are thinking about keeping a bag of Kitty Litter for winter traction, think again. Apparently for the majority of varieties, if you look closely at the bags contents it may indicate “clay” as the main component. What do you get if you mix clay with snow or slushy water and add some heat from the friction of a spinning tire??? You get mud. So now, your car is stuck in snowy mud. Instead, consider using sand, or very fine pea gravel. A strip of old carpet forced under the leading edge of a tire might work too.

Foods Might Freeze

During the winter, any food that you keep in the car which is ‘moist’ (canned foods, etc.) will potentially freeze, making it nearly impossible to eat. So during the winter keep dry foods for emergency storage.

Water Might Freeze

Similarly, keeping water in the vehicle (at all times) will also freeze (and potentially crack the container). The only way I know of to get around this issue during the winter (in regions where it’s often below freezing) is to simply get in the habit of bringing a fresh supply of water bottles every time you go out and drive (especially if on a long trip). I keep water bottles in a small cooler which helps moderate the temperature swings.

Focus on Warmth, Warm Clothing

One of the worst case scenarios would be getting stranded during heavy snowfall whereby you (and others) literally cannot drive any further. Depending on where this happens and the severity of the situation, will affect your potential rescue. The best case under this scenario would be in a populated location where you can walk a relatively short distance to shelter and safety. Worst case, you’re way out on the freeway somewhere in the boonies. To survive, you will need to stay warm. Please focus on your warmth, clothing, including footwear, in the event you have to stay in your vehicle for a long time or to walk away (only if shelter and safety is in sight or certain).

Danger of Carbon Monoxide In Your Vehicle

If stranded in your vehicle in deep snow, while the engine is running (for warmth) you MUST keep your vehicle’s exhaust pipe clear of accumulating snow or you will suffer (or die) from carbon monoxide poisoning.

That’s a start… Hopefully this will get you thinking about specific WINTER survival gear for your car.

Any further ideas?

[ Read: Warmest Winter Blanket Material ]

[ Read: Thinsulate Gloves Insulation – How It Works – Warmth Scale ]

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80 Comments

  1. This is a timely and informative article. We’ve had a fairly mild winter so far. Yesterday morning when I was leaving to take my son to school, it was -2. I had not put extra gloves, hats, etc. in my truck. I grabbed these and told my son to bring his heavy winter coat, even if he wasn’t going to wear it. We live only five miles from the school, but many things can go wrong in that five miles.

  2. Just thank god that you do not have an electric car. Stuck at night on a frozen road could kill you.

    1. ljw, what u said about electric cars, and i am not hoping it to happen but most likely it will, then see what the libs with the electric cars say then.

    2. Couple years ago saw a Prius sitting in a Home Depot parking lot at 40 below. The (gas) engine was running with no one sitting inside.
      Should have taken a photo of it. So much for electric cars…

      No one has mentioned road flares. We call them 30 minute matches. Carry them wrapped (sealed) in duct tape.
      We also carry a 16.4 oz. propane bottle with torch head, along with a stainless camp cup and dry soup mixes. This can also be used to start a fire, saving the road flares.
      We always carry an axe. Used it three times this past year. First to cut willow branches to put under the tracks of the side by side. Then twice more to clear fallen trees from the jeep trail.
      All this, and more, not only in the Jeep but on the snowmachine as well.
      A shovel with a handle long enough to reach under your vehicle if it is high centered on a snowbank or just deep snow.
      In the summer carry a set of tire chains in the Jeep another in the pickup. In winter both sets are carried in the Jeep. The pickup stays home.
      As an aside, those chemical handwarmers work best if they are warmed up before using. Could carry them in a shirt pocket… Ditto Bic lighters, they won’t work at all if cold. Yesterday was carrying the flip phone in an outside coat pocket. It wouldn’t work either even at just 20 something below.

  3. We were always taught to keep a coffee can with tea candles and matches. Light a few in the can and they will provide some extra warmth inside the car.

  4. Ken, regarding the picture you chose for this article, I have to ask, who is the dumb azz who left the door open?
    Other than that, good article and timing since winter is here now.

    1. Looks like my brother’s car after the window controls broke and he couldn’t put the window back up…

  5. We lived in N Va from 86 until 98. The 1st time we saw something like that was around 88-89. Nov 11th we got 11 inches of snow. It was not predicted and OPM did not send anyone home until about 1100hrs. Folks were still trying to get to work and now the ones that made it were told to go home. I-95 and 395 were bumper to bumper. Buses stalled out and the Metro could not get into or out of the Pentagon. We watched cars being abandoned on 395 and people walking to wherever they could get to. A local news reporter walked up to a stranded motorist and asked how he was coping. His response ” I have a quarter tank of gas, 2 cigarettes and I have to pee, How do you think I am doing?”
    We keep a full winter kit in the car now. Sometimes I even forget to take it out during the summer.

    1. Maybe a couple of adult diapers with a wipey or two for the bathroom issue. Would make the wait more bearable, yes?!

  6. Ken, this time of year, I love my Gore-tex outer pants. With snow on the ground, most people remember to bring their winter coat. How many bring warm pants too? The gloves I pack for purpose of installing chains are the waterproof gloves made of neoprene/wetsuit material. These are used by duck hunters to set decoys and manipulate their shotguns and calls. I like my fleece watch caps because they are less itchy than the wool watch caps. In addition to the shovel, I used to carry a chunk of large truck inner-tube filled with shovel fulls of decomposed granite in the bed of my truck. (the ends of the cut inner tube were held shut with baling wire used like bag ties on a larger scale). Several of these, placed over the rear wheels of my 2 wheel drive truck helped me get around during winter storms in the California mountains. My job was to dig out flat-landers that were stuck in the snow. (My boots were Sorel Paks with 2 sets of felt liners and a set of Yak Tracks).

    I can hear Dennis and others telling me to get a 4×4 vehicle. I could not afford one at the time on my salary and I was using the 4×4 provided by my agency. My jurisdiction on snowy days ended on the public roadway I was assigned to patrol. (I dug out driveways and helped those in trouble after I cleared the road of stalled vehicles.). If you were stuck in the back-and-beyond: “Son, you are on your own”. (to quote the preacher from Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles)

  7. Food and drink considerations for cold weather: and the need to address “nature’s call”. There was no substitute for an insulated thermos and an insulated cup filled with your favorite non-alcoholic beverage before hitting the road on a long day pulling out stuck drivers. I drank coffee myself. Others like tea. As long as it is hot and non-alcohol, it will work. Remember that Gorp I talked about on the freeze dried food article? I carry a bag of gorp or trail mix with me in the truck along with sticks of string cheese and “Slim Jim” type meat sticks. I also carry candy bars because they are calorie dense and they will not melt. All of the above are calorie dense and taste good in cold weather.

    To address the call of nature: I carry an empty Gatorade bottle in which to pee into within the cab of my truck and I carry toilet paper because the gas stations and diners that may be open are crowded and may be out of TP on top of being crowded with a bunch of flatlanders on the retreat from the coming snow. I also carry the individually wrapped handi-wipes with me to “wash my hands” after using the overcrowded facilities at roadside diners. It is tough to stay clean under those conditions. To NRP: I have been in the position of sharing my stash of TP and soap with the local diner during times like this. You make a lot of friends that way and the staff remember you years later.

    1. Yeah, ya just can’t trust those “flatlanders.” (kidding)
      One thing to add: I really like the small jump-start batteries. They’re not too expensive now-a-days. I keep one in my pick-up. Easily recharged with the vehicle’s electric system.

      My BOB lives in the truck.

    2. While on the topic of “the call of nature” I like to use those empty liquid laundry detergent containers with the handle on them that comes in handy if you are in an odd position. Just pop out the pouring insert at the top and you have a respectably large mouth of the container.

      Works for the deer stand too….

  8. I just stocked up on cheap bird seed and was wondering if anyone uses that instead of sand?

    1. Jeff in Wisconsin,
      i have family who live in eastern Washington ,St. and they swear that one sheet of newspaper under a wheel will get it going or potato chips. me, i don’t see it happening, but they have lived in that area forever and swear by it.
      it may be worth a try. and it may work. ya never know.
      me,i like my Doritos to much to be tossing them under the wheels !
      good luck

  9. Just look at all the whining, unprepared losers stuck on I-95 in VA and complaining that “ no one is bring them food, water or fuel”. Failure to plan on your part does not create an emergency on someone else’s. Maybe next time they’ll plan ahead but I seriously doubt it because someone will bail them out and they will not have learned a lesson.

    1. Romeo Charlie, you reminded me of an incident back in Feb. (the ice storm that hit TX.), one of our neighbors lost electric and water and was using a butane stove to melt snow for water (they had two generators but, they didn’t work). In June I asked the wife if they had been stocking up for if/when it happens again, her answer “no we’ll be fine” to which I said “so, you didn’t learn anything from that storm? And she said “we’ll be fine” (she is 65 and he is 73). So, when you write “Failure to plan on your part does not create an emergency on someone else’s.” THAT is very true.

  10. I carry nut bars with chocolate. Slow eating and very satisfying. One could travel with a pip-up privacy tent and a bucket based toilet system like the luggable loo. Alternative for ladies’ modesty considerations when traveling alone (without a friend to help provide privacy) a blanket, a cord with a knot at each end, and a couple clothespins go a long way. Open front and rear doors. Catch or tie cord between windows. Knots will help them stay. Pin blanket on cord. Squat, or perch on edge of door frame if knees are old like mine, to pee in privacy. For #2, keep a plastic bag on hand to catch the waste and hold wipes. .. .. .. My BFF has an older car with a cast iron engine. After a few minutes running her car will hold heat for a long time. My newer car with aluminum engine is cold in minutes after shutting off. Wonder if there is some ballast that can be warmed, like water jugs or bricks, and give off warmth for a while? Extra mylar blankets. Making sure one is sitting on it, or fully wrapped, keeps warmer longer than just using as a top blanket.

    1. Anony Mee,
      I’ve had a luggable loo, and keep a poncho for “privacy” issues in my vehicle for years.
      luv ya’ll, Beach’n

  11. Along the same line, over the Christmas holidays we visited with some friends a couple of mountains over. Their son and DIL were there with their new Tesla, bragging about its speed and quietness as it was plugged into our friends house getting charged. They live down in the city and said they had bought two Teslas (they own no gas powered vehicles) and they would go about 350 miles but using the heater, headlights and windshield wipers on the way up to the mountains had reduced the mileage so they couldn’t get back home without a charge and there are no charging stations in our area.

    I told him that’s the same as buying a truck that gets bad gas mileage and then asking the people your visiting to give you 20 gallons of their gas to get back home. He said “it doesn’t really cost anything in electricity to recharge it” and I replied it’s not about the cost it’s the principle and no one else should be responsible for powering your poor choice in vehicles. He didn’t appreciate my analogy and I could tell he just expected to plug in to whoever house they were visiting.

    1. romeo charlie, educate me, on the electric cars, don’t they have to have a special plug? or do they plug into a 220 outlet or whatever? i really don’t know, just seen them on tv commercials and i will stay with my 4×4 thank u.

      1. I’m not sure either. There was a cord running from the garage to the car that was parked in front of it but I don’t know if it requires a special outlet or what voltage. I’m with you OO7, gas powered 4×4 is my choice.

      2. The few electric cars I have been around will plug into a 120 v or 220 v plug. The only thing is on the 120 v plug it takes forever to charge. Had one stop at the marina needing a charge, left the car overnight on 120 v charge and only had 1/2 charge in the morning

        1. Plainsroamer,
          Thanks for the info. I need to invent a cost meter that goes between the outlet and the car charging plug so you know how much electricity was used and can charge the car owner accordingly….and the provider gets to set the rate per watt used.

          1. Romeo Charlie,
            Look around at some of Ken’s advertisers, I think someone sells a “Kill-O-Watt” meter, at least for 120v that could be used to measure out electric “juice” to the ev owners.

        2. plainsroamer, thats real nice to have a 1/2 charge by in the morning if u r going a long way. these libs just need to keep on buying toy cars.

  12. I live right in the middle of this mess in VA. 95 opened a short time ago but vehicles exited onto Rt. 1 which is now at a standstill and we have vehicles on the 2-lane side roads, many of which have trees down and still haven’t been plowed. We had two tractor trailers pass each other in front of our house – 2 lane road. First thing I thought of was Ice Road Truckers. On 95, the truckers were providing food for the stranded motorists. I’m thinking very few people had extra supplies in their vehicles. Temperature was 12 degrees last night. Even Tim Kaine (Senator) was stuck for 21 hours.

    1. KayS,
      Thanks for the update.

      A news clip from this morning reads,

      “There were no reported deaths or injuries from the calamity on Interstate 95, but plenty of outrage from motorists, some of whom were stranded overnight Monday into Tuesday, posting pleas for help on social media.”

      It’s interesting (not surprising) how so many people expect and blame others for not getting them out of their jam. I wonder how many will have learned to become a little bit more self-reliant and prepared for next time? Probably a few. But probably not too many.

  13. Some good advice above. It’s-43C right now where I live. Tomorrow they’re calling for -47 with a wind chill of -54C. In Fahrenheit that’s a bit more than -60F. It’s a bit chilly! I try not to be on the road anymore than I have to, at this temperature. I only have a ten mile drive for work so I don’t worry much about it, but if I have to travel further, my Helly Hansen insulated coveralls go in the truck. They’re big and baggy and will go over anything else I might be wearing. I might look like the Michelin Man but by golly I’m warm if I have to get out in these temperatures! I’ve travelled the Alaska highway several times in the winter and there you can find yourself a couple hundred miles from the nearest help. That calls for down sleeping bags, an axe for firewood, grub for a few days and a 10X12 tarp for a lean to . If I’m stuck in the boonies I’m not going to sit freezing in my truck, I’m going to burrow into a heavy stand of timber and get a big fire going. I carry a box of a dozen 8” emergency candles under the seat which will provide a little warmth if I do need to stay with the vehicle. I also have a roll of wax paper stuffed under the seat . A hundred feet of wax paper starts a lot of fires, even if the tinder is a little icy! I guess the only other thing I have to add is make sure your clothing, especially boots and gloves or mitts are loose fitting. If anything is tight or binds, you’re going to be cold. Travel safe everyone

    1. @nnw,
      WOW that is freaking COLD! My coldest experience (without wind chill because there was no wind) was -32F, about 3 years ago to the day during early January…

      I am replying to your comment because at the cold temperature you describe, Lead Acid car batteries are very very close to freezing solid, which would ruin them.

      I wrote an article about it, which I will link. As an example, if your car battery was at 80% charge, it will freeze solid at -40C (which is also -40F). A 100% charged lead acid battery will freeze at -70C (-94F).

      [ Read: Lead Acid Batteries Freezing Point ]

      1. As soon as I get home from work I plug the vehicles in. Not just block heater but oil pan heater and battery blanket. I don’t normally do that as I’m off grid and all those heat making devices beat up my battery bank, but at this temperature the diesel generator is running almost steady. The battery bank is in the generator room so they stay warm. It’s been over 25 years since I saw it this cold, can’t say as I’ve missed it!

    2. Hi nnw, I’ve done the ALCAN 6 times. 4 winter and 2 summer. I really like it better in winter because the ice filed pot holes are a little smoother than summer. I always had all the survival gear you talk about, but 2 times I was traveling with a 40 ft gooseneck with everything I owned. Even though I had the stuff to survive I lived in the cab of the truck. Twice I made a 7 day trek in winter on that road and the truck never shut off, not even to fuel. An idling diesel burns almost no fuel and I was plenty warm in the cab. A gas truck would idle empty in a few hours. I’d sleep for 6 hours and not burn an 1/8th of a tank. I’d carry extra fuel cans for those 200 mile stretches without a “petrol” station that sells fuel by the liter. I usually carried 4 in the bed and once I actually lost one that some how bounced out of the bed out from under the gooseneck. I was 50 miles from Ft St John running on fumes and needed that last extra can. But I made it, barely. If I’d have run out then yes the axe and saw would be coming out for a fire. For those that need to have a can to pee in I say lose the skirt and just pee on the ground like all the animals whose land you are driving through. Maybe hunting deer on a deer stand you don’t want to do that. But if I’m on I95 stuck for hours ima pee on the guard rail. My ex-wife did that once while we were stuck in traffic in Seattle. I thought that was awesome. She said “I gotta go”, jumped over the guard rail and went. Back in 60 seconds :-)

      1. @prepared
        I’m with you on the extra jerrycans of fuel. Years ago I was heading south on the Alcan with only a couple extra cans of fuel. I was on that lonely stretch between Watson lake and Ft Nelson staring at the fuel gauge, and ended up stopping at a highway lodge to top up. The guy pumping fuel mentioned that not many people bought fuel there, maybe because of the price. When he told me how much I hollered “holy shi t, shut her down , I got enough! I don’t remember the price but it made my hand cramp up reaching for my wallet! Since then, four jerrycans is the norm. The weather man is calling for-49F tonight, I’m glad I have nowhere to go tomorrow

  14. When I read about the mess on the Virginia highways, I began to wonder how often a snow and ice event happens in that region. Can anybody who lives out there tell me that information? It appears that public safety agencies and tow services were caught unprepared.

    I cannot be too harsh in my judgement of the folks caught in the mess. I have been there and done that myself. I have been a public safety officer digging people out and clearing the lanes to get traffic moving. Having done this in my younger years, I have developed several habits that serve me well these days: #1 I now watch the weather channel prior to driving to my destination and/or if you have access to a computer prior to traveling, check your states DOT (Dept Of Transportation) website for road conditions. #2 Pack the clothing you will need and stop at a store to top off your supplies and offload your trash. In an emergency like Virginia, I figure I will be car-camping for 24 to 72 hours. #3 When I am driving in adverse conditions or into a storm, I stop and eat simple bland, plain food that does not give me GI upset. Wearing layers of Gore-tex and fleece within your automobile is a terrible time to get a case of loose bowels from the azz-burning Thai food you ate the night before.

    The fact that some of the truckers were sharing food and checking on other motorists is a testament to their resilience, generosity and ability to survive the unexpected on the road. Another reason to thank these essential workers these days. From what I hear, there were no fatalities from this incident.

    1. These storms seems to happen every 7-10 years. One of the problems with this storm is the temperature was 60 on Sunday so we had rain for several hours, then sleet, then snow. That’s the reason so many trees and power lines are down. Still no power but thanks to being prepared (thanks to MSB), my family is fine.

    2. Christmas Holiday Travel
      I-95 known for major holiday congestion especially in winter
      Potential for winter weather.. no excuse today for not getting a forecast

      They failed to prepare ahead by not bringing even basic winter car travel necessities blankets, water, food….no excuse and no sympathy from me nor would I offer assistance as it only reassures their dependency on others.

      I will help those that have tried to help themselves and to prepare but for reasons beyond their control they are in a bind. Those that could have prepared but “didn’t think of it” are on their own. As we said when I was skydiving “Stupid should hurt!”

  15. Another (important!) thing for winter travel in your car is to know the weather forecast. I’m always know the forecast for the day, and coming days. It’s just something that I pay attention to. However I believe that there are many who just go through life in their ‘bubble’ and don’t even know that there’s a forecast for a foot of snow (for example).

    1. Ken,
      Weather forecast, and travel forecast! Most states have a travel advisory website to give updated road conditions and closures. I-70 is the major E-W artery across the Rockies in my state. You would be surprised how often it gets closed for 8 hrs or more, winter and summer! Detours can add 4-5 hours to a trip over the Divide that normally takes 4-1/2 hours.

      1. I’ve made that I-70 crossing several times during cross-country trips. Been lucky enough not to have been caught in a weather event…

        1. Ken,
          Weather events, forest fires, mud slides, major vehicle accidents. Have had to re-route 4 times last year, and it appears to be getting worse. CDOT will close the highways at the drop of a hat, but if that’s what protects their workers dealing with incidents on the road, I’m all for it.

        2. I also recall a day trip that we were making from where we were staying at Yosemite, to a drive over Tioga pass over the Sierra’s to see Mono Lake in Nevada on the other side.

          After a day of it, on our trip back – about to go up over the pass back to Yosemite, they closed the road. Why? Because of the ‘forecast’ for snow. It was unbelievable to me at the time – closing the pass ahead of time due to a forecast. Maybe someone saw a snowflake and panicked (lol).

          Anyway, long story short, any other way back would have been a very long, long route. So I decided to just stay put and wait it out. We had food and water in the Jeep, so we were good in that department… Well my gamble paid off because after about 2 hours they opened it up.

          1. Ken J.,
            i remember making that trip in winter once when i was 7 or 8 with mom and dad. at the top where the ranger station gate was, the snow was at least 5 ft deep on both sides of the road and that way until we dropped off into the valley.
            i haven’t thought about that in years.
            coming from mono lake up the pass is iffy at best in the summer, narrow and crooked but scenic.
            thanks.

          2. Travelled across Wyoming once in April headed to school. Gave myself an extra day to get there and good thing. Got the last motel room in Rock Springs just as I-80 closed eastbound for a blizzard. Hit the road the minute it opened the next day. Quite a few folks sleeping in their cars at parking lots around town that night. Notice it’s closed eastbound from there right now.

      2. Minerjim,
        I-80 between Reno and Sacramento has been shut down several times over the Sierras in the last few weeks. it’s a major E. W. interstate.

      3. Minerjim
        511 and your state or province name should get you the road and weather info. I have the 511 sites booked for the states and provinces I travel in on my cell phone home screen. Hit one button and I am good to go. The interface for most 511 pages is similar enough that they’re easy to navigate and turn info layers on or off as required.

        1. Jack Frost,
          Thanks for the tip. I’ll get that entered in my phone. I suspect that I will be travelling the West a lot this coming year for work.

  16. Thanks for the response KayeS. I am glad your family is OK and doing well. I look forward to more postings and observations from you in the future. I have lived west of the Rockies for most of my life and I never spent time on the East Coast. Much of the info I post has the Left Coast bias. Areas that do not get large weather events on an annual basis are not prepared or know what to do generally speaking. (Snowstorm playbook may not exist for the DOT or the highway patrol)

  17. Ken, the powers that be that made the decision to close the road over Tioga Pass was the National Park Service. Not always CALTRANS. The NPS is self contained in that each park maintains their fleet of vehicles to include snowplows. (at least the bigger parks out west). The decision to close the road is based upon eyes on the ground in the districts (that was my job). NOAA weather forecasts arriving at Park Dispatch and the decision is made at the local level from district to district. Somebody from Headquarters had to change the signs at the entrance stations after broadcasting on Park-wide frequency. We tried to do this quickly and efficiently because every vehicle headed up to higher elevation in an oncoming storm is somebody I may have to dig out later. Thus my naming these type of rescues: “chicken soup rescues” of people from the flat lands of California. Sometimes, closing a road was as simple as dropping a tree across a roadway with the chainsaw and a winch. This I did on vacant side roads after ensuring there was nobody on the other side of the dropped tree.

    Did I err on the side of caution?…guilty as charged.

  18. Probably a good idea to have some clip-on ice cleats with appropriate waterproof shoes/ boots. I learned my lesson on that sliding halfway home from work (mostly on my backside) after an ice storm in Georgia some years ago.

    1. Chipmunk,
      that’s a good idea. they don’t cost much and a lot cheaper than a doctor visit.
      i tied floor mats from my truck to the bottom of my feet with plastic bags for gaiters once when a friend and i got snowed in at Pine Lake UT while camping in 77 when a freak snowstorm blew through. i was able to walk out, about two miles, that’s a story in itself. the old truck tires were frozen to the ground and we had no jack, two ft of snow, and it wouldn’t move.
      i could tell many stories like that but people here would’t believe me. i have had some adventures in my youth. and have lived to tell about it : )
      not so much in the last 25yrs, but this spring, when the snow melts, i’m going home for a few months.

  19. I keep a bucket of ice melt in the car. Except for trips to town where I load up on scraps for pigs also a tub with all my survival goodies. If I’m going someplace more than a day’s walk home I also bring along one or two rolling carry-on bags. One with bedding and one with clothes. Old car accident prohibits me from carrying a backpack but I can drag a rolly bag. With two I can curl up on top of them and keep most of me off the ground for a rest.

  20. I didn’t see candles on the list. Are those no longer recommended for safety reasons?

  21. For those of you with a vacuum sealer you can stuff a down coat, mitts , scarf and hat into a gallon or long gallon bag for the day you or someone in your vehicle forgets to grab the right clothes going out the door. Good to have when things go sideways. I also have vacuum packed coveralls for a really bad day under the hood or under the car. They take up very little space, stay dry and the bags can be used to collect water, share food etc. A travel bag with candles, stove, soups etc is always there in the back as are an axe and bow saw. It is amazing how much you can pack around your spare mini tire. I also have plastic tracks to put under the wheels just in case. They’re meant for traction and are bright orange so you can find them when they shoot out from under your wheels or sit where you just extracted yourself from. It’s not quite as cold where I live as where NNW is but smart folks up here take winter very seriously. Safe travels all !

    1. Jack Frost,
      those vacuum sealer bags for clothes or other things are great for storing stuff. it reduces the size a LOT and keeps the bugs out. they are great. we are already pressed for space here and they help.
      we love em.

  22. I was wondering if anybody was keeping statistics on electric vehicles and how they fared in the I-95 debacle. There are 2 possible ways I can see in the aftermath: Tow truck services that work with AAA and auto dealerships that sell electric vehicles. In the aftermath of an event like this, I wonder if people will be trading their all electric vehicle for a gas engine or gas-electric hybrid.
    There are many factors that prevent me from purchasing all electric car at this time. #1 is the lack of charging stations outside major cities and close to busy interstates. #2 is the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle at a charging station. Gas and diesel stations are widespread and I do not see that changing anytime soon. Charging stations are forcing people to drive to large, crowded cities and park your car for long periods of time in order to recharge your vehicle. (people that read this site-this violates the safety rule of staying away from crowds) For the place I like to go hunting, I have not seen a single electric charging station in the town every body goes to for resupply.

    1. Cali
      I see alot of suspect implications of the push for the electric vehicle.
      Inaccessible charging locations.
      The push will be for the metropolis areas.
      Country boys and girls;
      Sucks to be you….and me.
      All these vehicles will require charging stations.
      Who will pay the electric usage?
      You and me. The consumer.
      (As usual)
      Has there been any talk of the electric 4×4?
      The electric tractor?
      The electric semi, freight train?, Let alone the electric 2500, 3500, F250, F350?
      But, the vehicle batteries are..
      made in 🇨🇳.

      Fossil fuel free by 2030?
      Pipe dreams of the all powerful.
      ….where stupidity reigns.

      1. Joe c,
        i may be wrong again but i think its just a passing fad like the rubix cube or pet rocks. i can see it being usable in large cities where people commute just few miles each day, but they could never replace gas powered vehicles in urban areas. 8 hrs to fill one up, give me a break, i just don’t see that working out very well.
        and California has passed a ban on gas lawnmowers, weed wackers and leaf blowers. it’s going to put a lot of immigrants out of a job. it would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad but true.

      2. When the Chinese or the Russians start cyber blackouts of the US power grid, us mountain and rural folks that have gas/diesel stored can sit by the old Ham radio and listen to the horror stories coming in from the urban areas about the “trendy woke” Tesla owners having to ditch their EVs to try and escape the nightmare on foot.

        Between becoming dependent on EVs, reliance on meals being delivered with little or no food at home, addiction to cellphones and social media, Covid hysteria, complete dependence on the government for every need and the lack of basic self-preservation ability or knowledge the urban and suburban dwellers are being set up like a line of dominos so when the first one starts falling it won’t stop until they are in begging for internment into a FEMA camp.

        1. Cali, Joe C, NYScout, RC,
          No one has all the metals needed to convert all vehicles in the US to EV! (Let alone other countries!) Lithium, copper, cobalt, etc are all mined, but even if we could increase mining of all by 500%, we don’t have the world-wide reserves to get there. “Go find more!”, yeah they have been looking for awhile, all the low hanging fruit has been picked. Anything they come up with will be $$$ pricey. IMHO, trying to get everyone to have an EV is nothing more than a Fool’s Errand.

          1. Minerjim,

            Don’t know why, but your comment on the future of all electric vehicles reminded me of some supposedly said by Albert Einstein…”I don’t know what weapons World War III will be fought with…but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones…”

            ….Reckon the future of transportation will involve horses and mules?

          2. Hey guys, I been driving an electric vehicle I converted back in 2006. I race one at the drag strip too. It has its uses and benefits. Range is not one of those benefits. Cost is one of those benefits if you drive within its limitations. It cost me less electricity to drive my electric 500 miles a month than to run the block heater on my diesel in the winter just so I could spend $200/mo to drive it. Don’t get me wrong I know where the benefits are. My 80 mile range in the electric isn’t a long range commuter. But I could drive my diesel across the country on what I can carry in the bed. If I gotta go 3 miles back and forth to work 5 days a week, its electric. If I gotta bug to my cabin 200 miles away its my diesel. Not a bad strategy to have both. You gas drivers are gonna be hurtin’ when supply dries up. I can make diesel and I have solar power. Bases covered and gasoline is not one of them.

          3. They don’t want everyone to have an electric vehicle. They want everyone in easily controlled cities and using public transport if they have to travel at all.

          1. Funny you guys bring that up. Got the EMP Proof 6.9L diesel going into a 1996 F-350 Crew cab body. Buddy wanted my ’96 stock aluminum mags and I traded them for 35’s on Centerline’s. Getting the zombie-mobile going. :-)

      3. Electro,

        They will only be truly fossil free if every point of their impact, from production to charging, is non-reliant on fossil fuels. At present, that is not the case. Also, if the grid they are plugging into isn’t fossil fuel free, then in reality, neither are they.

  23. Reply to Prepared: Thanks for the input. Just like I figured from what I’ve been hearing so far: Most people I know buying electric are buying it as their second vehicle having some type of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle as the primary back-up or bug-out vehicle. The electric is used for the “town car” (or racing in your case). The people I know buying electric – only live in the city/like living in the city/live along a travel corridor that has recharge stations in shopping center parking lots.

    Based upon events of this past year, I can see myself getting a hybrid truck in the coming years. (one of those trucks that has outlets in the bed where appliances and tools can be powered from the engine running). For the type of traveling I like to do, I will stick with the conventional ICE vehicle because the infrastructure is there to provide fuel and parts for maintenance when I am out in flyover country. As for gasoline disappearing, I am skeptical about that after living through the Carter years with Paul Erlich playing Chicken Little with his Global 2000 report. In any case, whether it burns diesel or high octane gasoline, I will be driving my ICE vehicle for the foreseeable future. Thanks for your input from somebody that has both type vehicles.

  24. Reply to Joe c: Ford has been working on all electric 4×4 trucks. Dan Neil the automotive writer for the Wall Street Journal did a review on it about a month ago. I am not raging against electric nor am I a convert. I am watching around me and taking note of changes I see. The places I like to go and shoot squirrels in Eastern Oregon, You have to be self reliant, self contained and your vehicle has to have a good range between fill-ups to get to and from the places you want to go.

    In the meantime, Toyota won Lemans several years ago using a hybrid engine using regenerative braking to recharge the battery bank, the folks that produced a show called Top Gear went out of business after crashing a 2-3 million dollar all electric, all wheel drive racing prototype vehicle and Warren Buffet has been investing in BNSF railway because they were among the first ones to be using diesel-electric hybrid locomotives which also use regenerative braking. The technology is coming along and has been for years now.

  25. Where I live ( Southern Tennessee) we don’t have major storms or not a lot. But I do carry certain things that I feel will help if I ever get stranded.
    I have food like trail mix, peanuts, peanut butter, crackers, fruit in a cup, pull top soups, a couple gallons of water and minor things like that because I hope not to be stranded for over a few days.
    I keep a set of clothes to be able to change into in case I get wet. A few pillows and wool blankets, head gear and gloves.
    Mylar blankets, Mylar sleeping bags ( they are 3′ wide by 7′ long) and a Mylar survival tent.
    I have a trauma bag for heavy bleeding, minor cut and lacerations and all round medical care.
    I also bought a set of triangle lights that are heavy and the wind can’t blow them over in case of emergency and I’m on the side of the road, makes me easier to be seen.
    A old TomTom navigation system. You never know you might not have a signal for your phone and in the least you can notify the ambulance and police of your situation and position. I had to do that one day coming back from hunting.
    I always have at least a few ways of making a fire in my kit. I have a striker and waterproof matches and my Zippo I also have Stryno. You can scoop out some and smear it on wood to help a fire get going. I also have Magnesium shards but don’t use that way much.
    I keep a 22 pistol in my bag with a few boxes of shells just in case. I also have a flare gun, lol, don’t think I will ever use it but you never know.
    Last but not least if I ever go on any length of a trip I take my Bug Out Bags with me. They contain pretty much everything that I use when I go hunting and all my many medical bags along with food and water for three days.

    1. WildBill 1889,
      sounds like you have a real good kit, you should be covered for anything up to and including zombies : )

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