How to Make the Ultimate Winter Survival Kit

Don’t be scared by that headline! Putting together the ultimate winter survival kit isn’t all that hard — and it just might save your life.

You might be asking yourself “do I need a winter survival kit?” Yes! All drivers need a winter car survival kit. Being stranded isn’t only possible in Alaska. Remember the Atlanta 2014 ice storm? People were stuck in their cars for 12+ hours!


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For those places not used to the winter’s scorn, it can be worse. Not everyone needs the same kind of kit, however. The contents of your kit should reflect where you’re driving.

What does a basic winter car survival kit contain?
If you live in an area where winter doesn’t typically get crazy, this is more of a general emergency car kit. All drivers can benefit from the following:

  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Quality warming blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Water (make sure to pack this to help minimize freezing)
  • Back up power for cell phones

An easy way to make sure you’re all set is to buy a premade emergency kit. AAA sells them, for example.

Make sure you have a spare tire!
Many cars no longer come with one. If yours doesn’t, go to and get one specified for your model.

If you live where snow and ice greedily visit every year, we’ll want to add some items:

  • Snow brush
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel
  • Gas can
  • Non-perishable food
    (packages of nuts or dried fruit are good examples that will keep well)
  • Extra batteries (for that flashlight)
  • Plastic sandwich bags to help protect smartphones in case you need to get out and walk
  • Cat litter or a piece of durable cardboard to help you gain traction if you get stuck in mud
  • Hand and feet warmers
  • Extra gloves and socks
  • Matches or lighters
  • Any medications you take on a daily basis
  • Extra pair of glasses or contacts, if you wear them

A note about food and water. Most experts seem to think two days worth of food and water is sufficient. You’ll want to consider packing it in plastic bags since water is always a potential hazard. Keeping everything dry is a top priority.

Winter Car Survival for Parents
Since putting a child into a car seat with a puffy winter coat is dangerous consider keeping one in the car at all times. I also keep extra gloves for my daughter, and other passengers. As far as snacks go, I’ll just let her eat all of the dried up peanuts scattered on the floor. Ha! Just kidding. Maybe.

Winter Car Survival for Adventure Seekers
Obviously, those of you who camp in the winter or seek adventure by daring the elements will research what to bring for those occasions. I think the most important aspect to remember is to pay attention to the weather and adjust your kit as necessary. While this article addresses how us normal people can survive unusual situations, here are some ideas to get you thrill seekers started:

  • Pocket knife:
    get one that has several different components such as tweezers, screw drivers, etc.
  • Compact portable hot plate
  • Tissues and toilet paper
  • Full set of clothes
  • Snow suit/boots in case you need to get out and walk awhile

Winter Car Survival for New Drivers
We’re always looking out for our newest drivers here on the blog. The first piece of advice for our teen drivers (or adult drivers but still new drivers) is to not panic. In this day and age, getting help is easier than it’s ever been.

  • Get in the habit of keep your gas tank at least half full. This alone will help you stay warmer longer.
  • Know the AAA phone number. Many credit cards now offer road assistance as a benefit. Make sure to know this.
  • Prevention is key: winter isn’t a time to be cocky, no matter what driving experience you have. Read some of our winter driving tips here.

Do you have a winter survival kit? Tell us about it!