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Is Your Winter Car Kit Really Ready?

KillerFord1977

Ronin
Founding Member
Fortunately in Texas, a winter car kit is a pair of boots and a jacket more than a windbreaker..
Weather Newscasters in TX hype up anything with temps less than 60 degrees that the grocery stores go barren as if we were having Snowmageddon 2021 all over again
 
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Sld1959

Professional
Good info. Always ready. I have them stored in totes ready to go. I did add two things this year, a Halo bolt for each vehicle. The bolt starts a vehicle, charges phones and pumps up tires, have tested them out and they are quite handy.. also have a cell phone Power supply. And I refilled the salt I carry in a coffee can. The kits contain extra blankets, fire starters,, clothing, boots, shovel, chopping tools and a lot more.

 
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ScottJ

Professional
Founding Member
Good article. An item I bought earlier this year, and have already had to use, was the NOCO GB70 jump starter device. I keep it in the truck year-round, and it's small size (even in the case I bought for it) conveniently fits in the storage area under the rear seat of my truck. The GB70 was about $199.00 when I bought it, and worth every penny.

Another item is an Anker PowerCore 26800mAh portable battery pack. The slim, compact size (hard-shell case bought seperately) is convenient enough to carry in either of the small sling bags I choose to take with me when I go out of town. Can charge up to 3 devices at one time. My cost was $59.99 when I bought them (got 2), but I think they're around $69.99 (case is seperate) from Amazon currently.

I consider both items year-round neccessities to have on hand, not just during the winter.
 

benstt

Professional
Founding Member
I keep an impact driver with appropriate sockets for quick tire changes, some non-perishable food, flares, hand and foot warmers, cold weather gear, space blanket, some car repair tools, jump pack, hatchet and knife, fire starters and a shovel in my winter kit. Here in the north we might actually need those things :)
 

Sld1959

Professional
I keep an impact driver with appropriate sockets for quick tire changes, some non-perishable food, flares, hand and foot warmers, cold weather gear, space blanket, some car repair tools, jump pack, hatchet and knife, fire starters and a shovel in my winter kit. Here in the north we might actually need those things :)
I carry several pairs of thick felt pac boot liners. If stuck for a time period we can remove shoes/boots and wear them for less constriction and more warmth.
 

USS Callister

Operator
Good article. An item I bought earlier this year, and have already had to use, was the NOCO GB70 jump starter device. I keep it in the truck year-round, and it's small size (even in the case I bought for it) conveniently fits in the storage area under the rear seat of my truck. The GB70 was about $199.00 when I bought it, and worth every penny.
I keep debating on whether to buy one of those or a batteryless one that has a capacitor, instead, to hold its charge; theoretically, a capacitor will keep its charge (save for internal resistive and/or chemical losses) for many years whereas a battery loses its charge way before then...which is beneficial since how often do people remember to charge a battery?

Either way, I wonder what effect a sudden surge current has on the battery when you use one of those guys? It can't be good for its plates.

In the meantime, I have a set of good battery cables in the trunk--"no tech" can be relied on...unless you're out in the sticks, of course.
 

TSiWRX

Professional
This is an interesting article, and I appreciate both its timeliness as well as its intentions - but in all honesty, I think that our members here have contributed more *_applicable_* wisdom than what the article tries for to begin with.

First and foremost, with @KillerFord1977 's post (and @SimonRL 's tongue-in-cheek follow-up, too :D ), we see that whatever we keep in our vehicles, regardless of the season, should mesh with our actual physical realities. While there have been some rather uncharacteristic winter weather in Texas over the last couple of years, the fact remains that for much of the southern US, less needs to be targeted towards "winter survival" versus overall emergency preparedness. Certainly, one should re-assess their preparedness items should they expect to be out during predicted unseasonal weather events such as Texas' winter storms last year....but overall, just blindly following generic recommendations may well prove less than ideal.

That said, wrapping back to "winter preparedness" in the Lands North of The Wall :ROFLMAO: 😅context.....

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The article proposes that we keep a few bottles of "5-hour Energy" drinks in the vehicle as emergency supplies. Certainly, there is a place for caffeine in such situations, but it should be noted that caffeine's effects on blood-pressure and other cardiovascular conditions as well as sleep alteration can potentially be problematic for some individuals. Additionally, smaller bottles of liquid will freeze faster, and this may in and of itself make these items less suitable for in-vehicle emergency storage, particularly if stored in less-insulated areas in the vehicle and/or if the vehicle itself offers less insulation (for example, bottles of water freezes more readily in my wife's Subaru WRX, which is both a smaller vehicle and also offers less insulation, versus my Subaru Ascent, which is a 7-passenger family SUV). The implications of the vehicle starting-off being parked in an insulated shelter versus out in the open, already having been exposed to freezing temperatures overnight (or longer), should also be taken into consideration in the storage of not just potable water, but of other emergency devices (such as batteries), too.

Of-course, carrying even water has its own concerns - for one, any storage vessels should be vetted to be freeze/thaw-proof, so that in case the water does freeze, it does not rupture the container as to cause not only undue spillage upon thawing, but what can more importantly be the potential re-uses of that container. And while membrane-type filters such as the Lifestraw are excellent survival tools, "vehicle carry" specifically for the winter context needs reframing in terms of not only access to non-frozen water sources, but also in that the filter will need to be kept from freezing once it becomes wet.

The opposite side of the coin is of-course the need to urinate in a sanitary manner - not so much that urine itself is a problem (as it is sterile), but so that the difficulty/inability to easily and discretely perform this task does not unduly drain morale. In 2011, the greater Chicago area experienced a historic snowstorm that trapped and stranded thousands of commuters on its main thoroughfares - https://www.xdtalk.com/threads/lessons-learned-wife-stranded-for-14-hours.167580/ - as Zombie Hunter recounted in this excellent post/thread, one of the items that really would have made a difference for his wife was a female unrination device like the GoGirl. Being that males are the predominate gender on Forum communities like this, it's easy to forget that there are things that we can do that are simply made easier by biology. Similarly, a day's worth of feminine hygiene products will also be a great morale boost, if not be outright necessary, depending on the event's timing and/or duration.

In terms of maps, while I agree very strongly with the author's view that a paper copy is always a good thing to have and definitely belongs in one's emergency supplies, having ready-access to an electronic version really is what modern technology is all about. So as long as you do have a charge in your phone (more about this in a bit), having downloaded off-line maps of your local area (or trip route) can prove very beneficial.

Towards battery/power, I recommend that folks make the investment for lithium primaries. Now readily available in CR123 (multiple brands) as well as AA and even AAA format (Energizer Lithium), these batteries provide both prolonged (10-year) safe-storage (no alkali leaks) as well as are considerably more resistant to temperature extremes than their alkaline counterparts. Yes, they are an investment up-front, but for many folks, lithium primaries are going to be good for the "lifespan" of their vehicle, and is a one-and-done until they clean-out and restock their new car.

Here, I think that words should also be said about modern rechargeable batteries. While modern 18650 ("laptop batteries") are heat/cold-resistant, their capabilities are nevertheless noticeably adversely affected by both such extremes, sometimes cutting their capacity to provide power by as much as 50% or more (i.e. you'll only get half the "run-time"). Since this type of battery -and battery chemistry- is now popular for everything from "tactical" flashlights to "battery/recharge packs" for cell-phones, tablets, and laptops, if this is what you intend to use for emergency power, be sure that you periodically check and recharge these packs/batteries. Most good rechargeable 18650 batteries will retain upwards of 80% of their initial charge for at least a year's time, but seasonal check-ins will be beneficial; and while repeatedly "topping them off" will shorten their overall lifespan, even if you did this on a monthly basis (which few, in reality, will - particularly where it comes to the discipline of doing this for many years), it will take a long, long time before such performance decreases are actually observed. It should also be noted here that for those who carry various forms of "portable jump packs" (which utilize similar battery chemistry as the previously mentioned modern rechargeables), similar care should be given to this crucial piece of equipment - akin to the spare tire in your vehicle, it does no good to have this item with you if you let it run down (self-discharge) to the point that it can't provide sufficient power when it's actually needed.

The article then goes on to note "Cargo Straps and Tire Chains" - ostensibly in the context of self-extrication/mobility aids. First, it should be noted that "cargo straps" are not the same as kinetic recovery straps. Second, it should be noted that many modern vehicles - including high-ground-clearance SUVs - are often noted in their owners' manuals as being incompatible for use with traditional "tire chains." So, here, a bit of additional clarification is, I think, helpful.

A kinetic recovery strap would involve the aid of another vehicle, and as-such is in my opinion exceeding the purview of this article (although having one, like having a set of jumper cables, can mean that someone who comes along and is willing to help - but lacks equipment to do so - now can effect rescue), but the idea of self-help traction-enhancement devices is definitely worth exploring. Here, it's most important to note that more than half the battle is won by not getting into a recovery situation to begin with. Fitting the vehicle with the appropriate tires - whether it be All-Seasons, All-Weathers, or modern Winter Tires (which are *_not_* the same as our grandfathers' or even our fathers' "snow tires" of yore) or even 3PMSF All-Terrain tires can well mean staying on the road versus sliding off of it unintentionally. If one does find themselves there, having (a) snow-shovel(s) (which can be collapsable), some sand/kitty-litter (having some extra weight over the driving wheels - even with AWD/4WD - is often a good thing for wintry conditions), and/or (a) traction board(s) (once commonly found mounted outside overland vehicles, more compact, lightweight models that come packaged with storage bags/totes are now readily available) can often make the difference between being able to get going by yourself versus having to wait for recovery. And while traditional "tire-chains" may not be able to be safely utilized on many modern vehicles (as-noted in the vehicle's owner's manual), temporary low-profile traction aids such as the AutoSock can. Similarly, specialized low-profile "tire chains" can indeed still be utilized "off-manual," as long as the end-user is willing to spend some time researching for ones that are specially designed/sized for such use.
 

BobM

Hellcat
Good awareness article Mike, thanks for posting.
Usually have a go bag to take along inside house by door all year long that always take along. Why inside? Some things freeze. Some things feel are more secure on person. Other things stay in vehicle like blankets, tools. Vehicle's always topped off before returning home. Another concern if using candles, Sterno or some other combustible heat source, is to always make sure there's enough ventilation for people and the device, especially if stuck in vehicle with no power.
 

Sld1959

Professional
If you are going to have water in the vehicle here in Michigan, its going to end up frozen. And getting water from other sources can be equally hard to get. I keep an smallish insulated bag that fits 4 bottles of water with a bit of room/airspace left over. I then keep a box of the disposable hand warmers. One warmer will help thaw out a bag full of bottles usually. If it's super cold out it might take two. Bit inside an enclosed space probably one.

Of course a lot of this stuff is mainly for traveling, not just day to day. But it can happen day to day also.
 
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