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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Low buck vehicle winter survival kit...
Everyone says they don't need one with cell phones so close...

In the event of a major winter storm, the cops and emergency rescue have real problems to deal with, and a stuck motorist is a low priority. Lots of people become stranded on back roads, where it's hard to find you, or there may not be cell phone service at all. "Chance Favors The Prepared Mind". Knowing what to do, and having the correct hardware will greatly increase your chances for survival, and even reducing discomfort while waiting for help.

There are two lists one for everyday all year round travel and one for winter months.

All year round survival kits. There is more but this is what I carry in my jeep all year round. Make sure you check expiration dates on certain items.

01. Flashlight w/ extra batteries
02. Small flashlight w/ extra batteries
03. First Aid Kit
04. Water
05. MRE’s
06. Hi-lift jack
07. Tow strap
08. CB radio
09. Rope
10. Fire Ext.
11. Tool kit
12. Knife
13. Cell phone charger
14. Shovel
15. Couple of sheets of plywood cut in 18 x 18 inch squares
16. Matches and lighters
17. Flares
18. Mechanix gloves
19. Jumper cables
20. Chains

Things added for winter Months

01. Heavy Blanket or Blankets, layers are best,
02. Large Metal Coffee Can, with lid,
03. Colored cloth or ribbon
04. Smaller Metal Coffee Can, with lid, punch holes in sides about 1" up from top & bottom,
05. Fat, Slow Burn Candle, must fit in small coffee can,
07. Pre Packaged, Tear Open Heat Packs,
08. Small Packages of Unsalted Peanuts, Granola Bars, "Survival Butter", etc.
09. Packages of "Survival Water",
10. Cold Weather I.Q.
11. Extra gloves, hat and clothes
12. Kitty litter

If the vehicle tail pipe is obstructed, or you pulled the exhaust lose when you became stuck, you CAN NOT run the vehicle engine to keep warm. If the tail pipe is NOT OBSTRUCTED, you may run the engine, but you have to keep an up wind (windward) side window open about an inch (1") to admit fresh air into the vehicle.
If you don't, carbon monoxide poisoning is a real threat.
Blankets are cheap; keep two or three in the vehicle.
Stay on the back seat and cover up, put any newspapers, dry cloths, seat covers, floor mats, etc. (anything dry) under you, as cold comes from below to displace heat as it rises.
If you have wet cloths, take them off.

Large Metal Can w/Lid...
Keeps your gear together in one place.
When the large can is placed on top of the small can, the metal works as a heat diffuser, you can melt snow for drinking water, leaving water in the can will put some humidity in the air and keep body water loss to a minimum, warm water also works as a heat diffuser, and you can heat small items in the can (like food).

When the candle gets to burning low, place the small can in the large one.
The large can works as a catch can for wax and keeps the smaller can from overheating the carpet or interior.

The larger coffee can will also double as a 'Latrine' in an emergency, as getting out of the vehicle will certainly get you cold, lose all the vehicle heat, and may result in getting you wet from snow melt on cloths.

Smaller metal coffee can with lid.
Punching a row of 1/2" holes around the can about 1" from the top and 1" from the bottom allows air to enter and exhaust to exit as the candle burns inside the can.
With the larger can on top, you have just made a wax fuel stove that is capable of keeping you alive in the average passenger vehicle down to 0 (zero) degrees Fahrenheit.

Fat candle no taller or larger around than your small coffee can.
I like to leave at least 1/2" between the sides of the candle and the smaller coffee can.
If the candle you find is longer than the small coffee can, it's not a problem as long as it fits inside the larger coffee can.
You can also cut off a candle very easily.

If the candle is very thin, it won't stand up very well in the can, so you may want to provide a base for thin candles.
A wire (like a coat hanger) can be bent to hold the thin candle centered in the small can pretty easily, costs and weighs next to nothing.
Sand in the bottom of the small coffee can works well, but you will have to raise the air inlet holes a little, and the sand will require another container when it's just riding around waiting for the worst to happen...
Don't rule out an actual candle base holder. There are some reasonable sized ones for sale that are quite durable.

I like long burn 'Emergency' candles, of the UNSCENTED variety.
(‘Perfume' and confined spaces don't get along very well...)
Several will fit in a small coffee can, and that means lots of heating time...

Matches & Small Butane Lighter.
This isn't 'either/or', you need to have both.
Butane is easiest, but I've seen butane leak out over time, and I've seen it cold enough that butane wouldn't easily light, or even flow through the valve in the lighter correctly.
Wooden 'Strike Anywhere' or 'Lifeboat' matches are the best.
Being larger, they are easier to use with cold fingers, and will ignite easily.
If you don't have the 'Strike Anywhere' matches,
Many types of matches will not ignite unless you have the package striker intended for them!

Pre-Packaged Tear Open Heat Packs.
These things heat up on contact with oxygen, so as soon as you open the package, you are off to the races! Nothing else required.

These are wonderful gadgets, especially for someone that is already feeling the effects of exposure...
Not the, "Damn, it's COLD out there!" exposure, the not talking, not shivering anymore type of exposure...

They are also good for hands and feet of some dipstick that already knew he was too stuck to get out already, but had to spend 30 minutes in snow & slush trying to get the vehicle to move...
You can warm fingers up enough to get the candle lit... And wait for help.

Packages of High Energy Foods.
To stay warm, you have to feed and water the body.
High energy (high fat) foods like Peanuts, Chocolate, Trail Mix, Granola Bars, etc. are excellent.
Calories are the name of the game for making body heat!

Avoid salt! No Salted Peanuts!
Nothing that says, "Electrolyte Balanced" or Electrolyte Replacing"...
Salt is a diuretic, will make you have to urinate more often, and dries out body tissues, not to mention makes you thirsty.

"Survival Butter" is a disgusting, yet lifesaving mix of...
Whole Milk Fat Unsalted Butter, Sugar or Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon.
Non dehydrating, Tons of calories, Taste isn't bad, but texture is pure slime to eat!
Not recommended for warmer climates as when it becomes liquid, it's REALLY nasty!

Chances are if you are stranded in winter weather, there is snow around you, so water isn't the problem...
Cold weather "Survival Water" will need to be in "Freeze Proof" containers.
The US Military has water in bags that expand when the water freezes, and this is the only way I know of to store water.

Dehydration will kill you faster than anything in extreme cold.
The human body loses water nearly as fast in extreme cold as it does in the desert.
Without water, your body cannot regulate internal temperature, and you will have problems...

Loose, Layers of cloths insulate better than one large garment.
Large, oversized coats with sweaters and lighter jackets will insulate better than one big coat of the same weight.

Don't breath inside your cloths to try and warm up. The moisture in your breath will ruin the insulating properties of your cloths.

Manmade insulation works better than natural fibers. Down filled garments don't work worth a hoot if they get damp, and body moisture is all it takes.
Cotton is considered the "Cloth of Death", and depending on the method of tanning, leather can actually work against you.

Shed layers of cloths as you get warm with manual labor or rising temperatures.
Don't allow your body to sweat in your cold weather gear. Skin oils and moisture will be trapped in the fabrics and ruin the insulating properties.

Keep hydrated! You MUST have water to regulate body temperature.

Everybody’s list may be different, feel free to add or take away what you want but just remember weight and space when adding extra things.


404 Posts
Wow thank you this is really helpful information much appreciated.

Premium Member
53 Posts
I'll throw a couple things on the list for winter.

Over sized Rain gear, it should be able to be worn over your clothes, keeps you dry and can function as a wind break.

Wool is probably the only man made fiber that rules in cold weather, it's the only material that will keep you warm soaking wet.

Boots not the $180 LL Bean boots, but the $19.99 Walmart Specials they will keep you warmer then your Jimmy Choo's.

I like cans of soup, you can warm them in the car and use the empty can to melt snow for water.

I always pack extra food, odds are your aren't going to be the only one stranded.

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