Winter travel survival kit

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Winter travel survival kit

I stopped to help someone the other day during a storm and I was surprised at how unprepared they were for an emergency.  I figured post some ideas  for anyone interested in being a bit more prepared.



Ugly bag to put everything in- I say ugly because it's less attractive to would-be theives.

Jumper Cables- better to have longer ones because you won't always be parked in a positiont hat makes getting to your battery easy.

A few bottles of water- they'll freeze in the winter of course but you can heat them up by placing them against a heater OR against your skin.

Spare Winter boots with warm socks rolled up inside- if you're stuck waiting over night or half to walk a few kilometers for help you'll appreciate warm boots instead of flimsy gym shoes.

Spare toque and wintergloves-incase you're stuck out and about for longer than you expect.

Emergency candles and a bic lighter- one candle can give enough radiant heat to warm the inside of a smaller car.

Orange panel marker (or a big orange garbage bag)- important if you go off the road and can't be seen fromt he road (story below)


Snow shovel, cpntainer of salt or sand- it's surprisingly easy to get stuck in a parking lot when you don't notice the ice under the snow. a bit of sand under your tires could give you enough traction to get moving.

Road Map- people are so dependent on their smart phones and GPS for telling them where they are they've forgot how to use a map. Some people really zone out while driving which makes giving directions to first responders or help difficult.

Tow Strap- makes for a quick and cheap pull out of a ditch if you find someone with a truck.

Sleeping bag- incase you're stuck in your car for a while. (wool blanket works too, if you don't have a good jacket you can cut a hole in the blanket and wear it like a poncho)

If you have kids then pack stuff to both keep them warm and entertained like colouring books, toys etc..

It's around $100 but a Jump-Start system will give your battery enough power to start if there are no other cars around. You can use it 2 - 3 times then need to recharge it by plugging it into an AC outlet. This saved me from a 30km walk in the middle of winter to a phone.

Phone charger that plugs into an outlet or USB if your car has that.

Another pricy but very handy item is a cell phone signal booster. Depending on the area you travel you may lose reception. A signal booster can help you get a signal to call for help.

Toilet paper (or baby wipes)

Last but not least some non-perishable food. I put a bunch of snacks and high energy food inside a protien tub.



I think in this day and age we take forgranted that help is close by and cell phones lure us into a false sense of security. It's still quite easy to find yourself lost and out of reach even relitively close to a city. There's numerous stories of people being stuck with their vehicles for a couple of days and having to go for help when none showed up. It doesn't hurt to be prepared.


Great ideas.  Always good to be prepared.


Paladin1 wrote:

A few bottles of water- they'll freeze in the winter of course but you can heat them up by placing them against a heater OR against your skin.

"against your skin" -- yikes!  That does not sound pleasant.


Or you could simply take the train!



Back in the day I had to save a fellow who had stopped to give me a lift. It was early spring, sunny and in the mid-teens just east of Winnipeg. T-shirt weather. The fellow who stopped had just decided on a whim to up and drive from Alberta to where his dad was on the east coast. There was some funny business - him having no money, and wanting to siphon gas, which I had no interest in. The problem got solved when his alternator  gave up at dusk about 20 k from Dryden. Nothing around, way before cell phones, and it was pretty clear it was going to get very cold that night, and I realized he had only a leather jacket and would have frozen to death. He wanted me to leave my gear and sort out how we were going to get back on the road. I realized it was the end of the road for him; took my gear, hitchiked into town with him, and made sure the local shelter looked after him.

I got to Thunder Bay that night, and slept under the bridge in my winter bag. It was -28.

And speaking of preparedness. We actually had to use the car door key taped up under the back bumper this winter - 9 pm in Seattle, and the door clicker just refuses to work, even with new batteries. And unfortunatley the ignition key was not the same. Fortunately I found it. It had been three years, and I stashed it very deep up there.



smith, what a story! Up in Lac St-Jean, everybody has such cold-weather gear in their car or truck. In cities, we forget the dangers outdoors.

I was being a bit facetious about the train; of course it doesn't go everywhere and even if we still had a proper rail network, there would be road travel from regional centres to small towns and the countryside - and remote areas. But I'd just seen a good VIA ad that contrasts the problems in the opening post with the pleasure of taking the train. Usually, even when it was stalled for hours we'd be kept warm and fed. Once I had the late Madeleine Parent as a seatmate when that happened. We weren't travelling together; we simply knew each other from labour and feminist work.

I really miss the train between Montréal and Sherbrooke. US VP Joe Biden was a railway buff and wanted a Northern New England railway line between Montréal and Boston, passing through Sherbrooke and those pretty towns in Vermont and NH. Alas such useful infrastructure rarely gets built in North America.


Yeah. I have heard more than a few stories (from friends, not the news) of people losing fingers and toes, and their lives, a kilometer or so from home.

All because they decided to get out of the car in a blizzard and got lost.


Timebandit Timebandit's picture

lagatta, taking the train is not an option for much of the prairies, especially Saskatchewan.  I'd love to be able to take the train between Winnipeg and Regina, but there's no service anymore. Via passes through SK - closest stop to the capital city is 150 km northeast.


It is great here in Saskatoon though if you are heading to Winnipeg or Edmonton. Cheaper than the bus. My niece took it last week.

Of course the depot, which looks like something out of the cold war (unlike the station in Winnipeg) shows its neglect. They still have the map showing the southern route. I rode one of the last of the Winnipeg-Regina ones in the early 90s.

Sadly there's just skinny dog airlines if you aren't on the yellowhead, and want to go out of province. And last I heard they were trying to extort money to keep their overpriced service in Manitoba.





Timebandit, yes I know that, and I know about the abandonment of the southern Prairie route as well. Many other routes have been abandoned, as I said, even the one between here and Sherbrooke, which I took often as I have friends there. And as I said, there is no longer a train between Mtl and Boston. The dismantlement of the railway system is deliberate, and criminal. And in foul weather, railway lines are more dependable than highways; even big transport trucks can get blown over. Think of the Transsiberian!

It would be so logical to have a rail route between Regina and Saskatoon, and between Calgary and Edmonton. Has that one been rebuilt yet? Those are huge cities now.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

@lagatta Calgary has zero passenger rail transport. During the summer months there are a couple of (very) high end excursions between Calgary and Banff. The last regularly scheduled passenger service was termnated in the late 1980s courtesy of the Conservatives (federal).


Yes, I knew it was terminated back then, but I have heard noise about it being restored. Greater Calgary has over 1.2 million people now. Greater Edmonton has a population of over 1.1 million. Red Deer, the third-largest urban area in Alberta, is right between them.  Distance between Calgary and Edmonton is 280.47 km. This distance is equal to 174.28 miles. Those population numbers are far larger than those of the major central/eastern Canadian cities when the rail connections are built. A rail connection would be safe and dependable in (almost) all weathers, and people can work on the train - modern VIA rail trains have WIFI, even in coach. 

If real (not silly boutique) rail service were restored to Banff, it could be part of the restored southern route to BC, and through the other Prairie provinces eastbound.


Here are some suggestions:

Red Cross 


CDC Zombie Prep Check Lists 


Sounds funny, but they say if you are prepared for zombies it cover most scenarios. 



Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Sounds funny, but they say if you are prepared for zombies it cover most scenarios.

Well, I suppose many situations could call for such obvious things as food, water, supplies and tools.

But seriously... no guns?  Zombies, but nothing to stop them other than waterproof matches and a compass????


A compass is a very dangerous tool.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

You can certainly point the pointy part of it at a zombie, but only if they're north of you.


My compass has a strong piece of rope connected to it, I can use it as a garrotte if required.

Don't trigonometry, with that you can take back bearing and find yourself when lost.

With a compass you can also call in artillery if in supporting range. 


Tongue out


Oh, one two and three point re-sections.

A compass in the hands of a 22 year old can make you walk in circles in a swamp for hours on end.



It was -34C here today. I went to start my truck and heard balefull sound of a battery saying tic tic tic tic.   Jump-start system had it going in under a minute, what a great piece of gear.


I've read that a fictional "zombie check list" is surprisingly accurate for real world disaster preperation.  The Zombie Squad message forums started tounge-in-cheek but a number of the contributors are survivors from US natural disasters like Katrina and also others from say the Balklands. 

I stayed away from firearms on purpose of course but common ammunition in a natural disaster becomes more valuable than gold.

Misfit Misfit's picture

VIA Rail used to have rail service from Winnipeg to Regina to Saskatoon return, but they shut down the service about 25 years ago. In fact. they ripped out the CN rail track for 50 miles. And shut down the next 30 miles between Regina and Saskatoon. The farmers need the rails to haul their grain to port and they are ripping out the rail lines anyway and wrecking our roads and highways by doing so.


Capitalist wreckers!


Via cutbacks are a crime. I have the same personal interest in wishing for a Montreal-Sherbrooke train, though from the other end of the line. 

Saskatchewan, at least, has good publicly-owned bus service serving small communities. In Quebec, those private bus lines to small communities are in some danger. At least Sherbrooke has reliable bus service to Montreal. Parts of Gaspe, Thetford Mines, other areas, all without scheduled bus routes to anywhere now. Thanks, governments of both parties, for being worse than Brad Wall's government on public transit to rural communities. 

Some good ideas for thew winter survival kit - though I woud not need spare winter toque and gloves. I would never even consider leaving home in winter without toques and gloves and scarf on hand!