Winter weather, its severity, and tracking where and when it will hit, is now increasingly hard to predict. As the effects of climate change start to become more apparent—unusual temperature swings, rising sea levels, and increasing natural disasters like wildfires—it’s critical to always be prepared for unpredictable weather. That’s why it’s important to always have a stash of emergency kit essentials in your car if you’re ever unlucky enough to get stuck in an environmental emergency, like a brutal blizzard.
Heavy snowfall, one of the most dangerous and more commonly encountered weather conditions, is something you can easily prepare for. Most of us have a few winter emergency-preparedness items in our car, especially those of us who live in typically snow-blown areas. But few of us have an extensive array of emergency kit essentials if a true survival scenario strikes on a snow-covered road.
We put together an all-inclusive list of emergency kit essentials you should consider packing in your car for winter’s worst.
21 Emergency Kit Essentials You Need to Pack in Your Car This Winter
1. UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit
Take your old-school safety matches out of your vehicle survival kit and replace them with these. Packed into a waterproof container, the 12 matches are rated to burn at up to 25 seconds each in windy or rainy conditions (and will even relight after being dunked in water). The kit includes three strikers for quick lighting.
[$11; ucogear.com]Get it
2. MSR Aquatabs
For the minimalist looking to have a water-purifying solution on hand, these tablets do the trick. The pack can clean up to 60 quarts (one tablet per 2 quarts) of water and offer protection from viruses, bacteria, and giardia. Let the tablet(s) dissolve in suspect agua for 30 minutes.
[From $10; msr.com]Get it
3. Lightload Extra Strength Towels
Add a pack of these super-useful towels to your emergency kit for a multitude of uses like drying off dangerous moisture when cold, tearing up for a fire starter, or as a mask to help cut biting wind. Made from a bio-based—plants and wood—fabric, these little lifesavers unfurl from a tiny 1-inch square to a handy 12×12 size. They’re super-absorbent, machine washable, antibacterial, and hypoallergenic.
[From $8; liload.com]Get it
4. LifeSaver Liberty Bottle and Purifier
Don’t just pack a water bottle in your emergency kit; toss in this bottle with an inline water purifier instead. Billed as the “first and only” portable water bottle with integrated pump, this handy H2O cleaner removes 99 percent of viruses and bacteria while filtering 2,000 liters of water at a brisk 1.2 liter-per-minute flow rate. It also comes with a 5-foot-long hose so you can purify water that pooled in hard-to-reach spots.
[$140; iconlifesaver.com]Get it
5. VSSL Flask
Before heading out on a potentially hazardous trip in winter, fill this multi-use flask with a bit of bourbon (or your favorite tipple) to help keep spirits up during any unexpected strandings. The sturdy aluminum flask is waterproof, holds two collapsible shot glasses, and includes a quality compass on one end (with the other housing a four-mode 200 lumen LED flashlight).
[$95; vsslgear.com]Get it
6. Esbit Solid Fuel Stove and Coolest
This simple, robust stove is a great option to pack in your car kit if you don’t want to haul around a propane or isobutane bottle in your trunk. Made from anodized aluminum, the self-contained unit includes a 16-oz pot and wind-shielded stove base that uses solid fuel tablets (sold separately) that fit into the pot. We appreciate the handy pour spout and heat-resistant silicone handles.
[$36; industrialrev.com]Get it
7. Mountain House 2 Day Emergency Food Supply
As long as you have a stove handy to boil some water, this emergency supply of meals can keep you full for two days or, if you stretch them out, help you survive multiple days. It comes with two breakfast options and four entrees, all surprisingly tasty—when cooked, that is.
[$50; mountainhouse.com]Get it
8. Poseidon Pro Portable Charger
Slip this tough, compact battery pack into your glovebox to always have a little extra power to top off devices, or charge dying flashlights. The armored (it can withstand up to 1,000 pounds of crushing force), drop-resistant, fully waterproof charger is rated at 10,200 mAh and also comes with a fiber-reinforced USB-C cable, strap for managing cables, and a 5-in-1 carabiner/knife with bottle opener, glass breaker, and screwdrivers to add extra security when stuck.
[$120; darkenergy.com]Get it
9. Ledlenser MH10 Headlamp
A quality headlamp is a must in any car kit—working in and around a stuck vehicle at night usually means you’re gonna need both hands. Ledlenser makes solid, long-lasting lights and the MH10 offers three modes—high, medium, and low—with IPX4 protection against moisture. It locks to prevent inadvertently turning it on, and boasts a rear red light to alert anyone coming up behind you while trudging along a snowy highway.
[$70; ledlenser.com]Get it
10. Ortovox Shovel Beast
Another essential for your vehicle if you live in a particularly snowy climate is a small, light, and packable snow shovel like this. Though made for ski touring and avalanche rescue, it’s a great addition to a car kit as it weighs just over a pound; is made from hardened aluminum; and has a removable, collapsible oval-shaped handle.
[$60; ortovox.com]Get it
11. SOL Emergency Bivvy XL
The budget-conscious traveler who doesn’t want to pack a bulky sleeping bag (and isn’t living in a harsh climate) can stow this useful option. The Bivvy only weighs 5.8 oz and packs up small, but offers life-saving benefits. It reflects 90 percent of body heat back to you (and can fit two people). It’s also tougher than traditional space blankets and waterproof so it can help you survive a night or two in the elements.
[$23; surviveoutdoorslonger.com]Get it
12. Ignik Heated Sleeping Bag Liner
For those living in more extreme climates, where getting stranded by a snowstorm is a real possibility, a heated electric sleeping bag liner can be a lifesaver. Simply plug it into a typical vehicle 12-volt socket (or 12- or 5-volt portable battery) to generate a quick blast of warmth of up to 140 F in 2 minutes. The toasty sack is filled with carbon strands instead of bulky wires, so it’s extra comfy and also machine-washable.
[$100; ignik.com]Get it
13. Big Agnes Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Though not always needed in your survival stash in warmer climates, those in higher elevations should stow a more robust sleeping bag. This is filled with synthetic insulation that’ll keep you warm, even when wet; and, for comfort’s sake, it has expandable baffles on the sides (also insulated) to allow for less-restricted movement during the night.
[From $180; bigagnes.com]Get it
14. Rab Cirrus Flex 2.0 Jacket
Stuffing an extra puffy jacket in your kit is a good idea in case you get stuck in some seriously chilly conditions, or are with a friend who needs an additional layer. Go with something synthetic and insulated. This pick is packed with exclusive PrimaLoft Silver Luxe stuffing, which is 100 percent recycled, and has stretchy fleece side and under arm panels to help free up movement.
[$150; rab.equipment]Get it
15. Appalachian Gear Company All-Paca Beanie
This winter hat is so nice, you may end up stealing it from your stash. Made from soft and warm alpaca fiber, this quick-to-dry beanie is thinner but warmer than other kinds of fleece. It insulates when wet, and doesn’t absorb much sweat or melting snow.
[$35; appalachiangearcompany.com]Get it
16. Hestra Kobolt Winter CZone Flex Gloves
There’s nothing worse (or more dangerous in emergency situations) than to have cold and wet hands in winter weather, so don’t pack your old leather work gloves in the kit. Instead, stuff these sweet gloves from Hestra that have a soft yet durable goatskin palm with stretchy Spandex back that’s wrapped around a waterproof membrane. A neoprene cuff with hook-and-loop closure also works to keep wet snow or water from chilling your hands.
[$30; hestrajob.com]Get it
17. MyMedic Moto Medic Stormproof First Aid Kit
Along with a trusty multi-tool, a solid first aid kit is another essential you should already have in your vehicle. There are lots of great, all-in-one options out there, but we dig this self-contained kit that’s specifically made for keeping in your car. The burly, waterproof case holds pretty much everything you would need to help treat and manage the most frequent injuries and ailments and, besides the usual supplies, it includes a tourniquet, EMT shears, and glow stick.
[$150; mymedic.com]Get it
18. Gerber Multi-Plier 600 Pro Scout
If you don’t already stow a multi-tool in your vehicle, take this as the opportunity to rectify that oversight with this stout Gerber that’s U.S. military’s No. 1 choice. Crafted from stainless steel so it won’t easily corrode in harsh conditions, it has 14 tools at hand, like needle nose pliers (that open with one hand), wire crimper, removable saw blade, nine driver options, and Fiskars scissors.
[$72; gerbergear.com]Get it
19. The Zeus Portable Jump Starter & USB Charger
Your dad’s dusty old jumper cables are a thing of the past with the advent of powerful, self-contained jump starters like The Zeus. Not only can it quickly coax a dead car battery to life, but this 20,000 mAh lithium-polymer power pack has two USB ports for charging essentials like phones and lights, as well as its own light. Just be sure it’s charged up before heading out into inclement weather.
[$150; unchartedsupplyco.com]Get it
20. Matador Beast 18 Ultralight Technical Backpack
If you get stuck somewhere and need to hike out for gas or to be rescued, having a solid backpack with you is key. This Matador pack, though it folds down small, has high-end features like a flexible spring steel frame, hydration pouch, and 210-denier nylon construction with YKK zippers, allowing you to haul heavy loads securely and in comfort.
[$125; matadorup.com]Get it
21. Front Runner Wolf Pack Pro Storage Containers
You’ll need to have a roomy, secure place to store all your winter emergency gear in your car—and this 20x16x9 inch box is the perfect spot. A welcome update to Front Runner’s durable Wolf Pack storage boxes, the Pro brings a major upgrade in the form of a totally sealed compartment with bigger latches that snap securely into place to make them water- and dustproof (read: suitable for exterior mounting).
[$55; frontrunneroutfitters.com]Get it
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!