How to Prepare for Winter Conditions & Travel

As we have transitioned from the autumn season to winter here in the American West, it has myself thinking a lot about what lies ahead these next few months and what all I need to do to prepare. Its that time of year when the leaves have fallen, the wood stoves have started and we are seeing our first big snow storms up high in the mountains. This shift in seasons is always one of my favorite yet always brings about some apprehension as I know there is a lot too prepare and a number of large details to take care of. For someone who lives in a mountain town and deals with fairly rural conditions like myself, I’m sure you can relate as everyday there are chores like shoveling snow, splitting firewood, checking the weather and road conditions as well as simply thinking about how much food is in the fridge. For those of you that live in more urban areas, staying prepared for winter can seem as easy as pulling out some warmer jackets and turning the furnace on. But we all know that there are often scenarios where we all could find ourselves lacking the basic tools to help aid in winter driving and extreme road conditions either in the city or on longer stretches of road in desolate areas.

As a full-time mountain guide, I’m constantly thinking ahead a few steps whether it is about the next move on a rock climb, the next turn while backcountry skiing or quite simply what is in my car in case I encounter wintery conditions on the road. I wanted to address this subject as I found myself pulling out some gear the other day and stocking my car for the months to come. This annual routine seemed perfect to talk about as we are getting our first orders together for The Seventy2 Survival Kit. I quickly realized that our kits are full with many of the tools and objects that I would have in my car for the winter but there are also a number of other pieces of gear and equipment that I would urge folks to supplement with a kit like The Seventy2. It is my hope that the following list and details will help and urge you to think about what is in your vehicle and what sort of conditions you should truly be considering this winter.

The following list is what I would deem essential gear for your vehicle if you expect to be driving in the snow, traveling long distances this winter or quite simply find yourself on a ski vacation in a mountain town.

  • Ice Scraper for windshields and windows
  • De-icer fluid for windshield
  • Metal shovel
  • Tow strap
  • Snow chains for tired depending on the vehicle
  • Jumper cables as colder temperatures can drain batteries
  • Small to medium size first aid kit
  • Snow boots, mid to high top and waterproof
  • Extra socks that are stored dry with the snow boots
  • Light to mid-weight gloves to avoid frostbite and direct contact with meta
  • Hand warmer packets for hands and feet
  • Mid to heavy-weight beanie cap
  • Headlamp with new batteries
  • Mid to heavy-weight down or synthetic insulted jacket
  • Heavy-weight down or synthetic sleeping bag or mylar space blanket
  • High energy snacks that can be stored and will stay fresh
  • Half a gallon to a gallon of water and or an electrolyte drink mix

I have learned too many times in the past that one can never predict the weather and or how it may affect us on a daily basis. I have personally found myself in situations where I was lacking the tools and ultimately had to depend on someone else and or put myself in danger to remedy these situations. Too many of these cases have unfortunately been while driving or traveling long distances and encountering harsh conditions on the road. Simple occurrences of leaving home in ideal weather and driving to work or the airport or even traveling for the holiday season can end up with unexpected outcomes. We all have our own stories of being stuck at a rest stop or gas station while waiting for weather to pass or quite possibly have heard stories from friends and family of spending unexpected hours somewhere due to the weather. We have also heard the awful stories of people sliding off the road or getting stuck in snow banks and being in their heels or dress shoes and having to wait hours for help.

Again, I come from a background of always thinking about worst case scenarios and how to be prepared for them and I will admit that driving on a daily basis is at the bottom of the list for concern but it certainly deserves some thought and consideration. I realize that the above list may seem quite extensive but I would much rather know that people and families are thinking ahead and making sure that they are prepared to deal with severe driving conditions and accidents this winter season.

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