Here's What To Put In Your Car's Cold Weather Emergency Kit

If you drive anywhere that has severe winter weather, it might make the difference between desperation and relief.

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Emergency situations can happen at any point and time. A little insurance in the form of an emergency kit can be helpful whether you are on the trail or the road, especially where cold weather is a concern. Jalopnik alum Wes Siler calls this insurance a “Winter Car Kit,” and suggests you put one together for your car. Now that we’re in the middle of the cold season, I encourage you to heed his advice.

Winter storms immobilized drivers in Virginia for more than 15 hours on Monday, which only proves Siler’s point about winter weather affecting travel, both on- and off-road:

Climate change is making winter weather less predictable and spreading uncommon weather to new parts of the country. Preparing for the likely event that it could effect your travel is a sound idea, and with this in mind, Wes Siler has assembled a kit of essentials that should be kept in your car. This isn’t stuff you’re only going to pull out during a zombie apocalypse; these are just common, everyday items you probably already own and will be able to use day to day, too.


Siler’s emergency winter kit is suitable for all drivers, and basically contains things you’ll need to better regulate your body temperature and stay alive. Layers of clothing and food are the focus here, instead of repair or recovery tools. The following is what Siler recommends you carry with you this winter, emphasis mine:

  • Water, pair of boots, basic first-aid kit, warm coat, insulating layers (sweatpants, gloves, hat, socks,) can of Fix-a-Flat, portable jump starter, fire extinguisher, cash, spirits flask, camp stove, camp food (freeze-dried, energy bars, coffee, tea, candy,) baby wipes, hand sanitizer, batteries, flashlight, pocket knife, hand warmers, paper book, paper maps.

Siler puts all this stuff in heavy-duty cases that stack easily, but I would say throwing the stuff in an old gym bag or duffel would do. Siler says that, ideally, you’d own most of these items already. You’re just gathering and stashing them in your car, so don’t spend a fortune buying them.

These items are for emergencies, meaning the likelihood that you’ll need them is low. But that low likelihood never entirely goes away, and that’s the point.


A little extra warmth and some hot chow could make an emergency winter situation — like being stuck on a snowy interstate for the better part of a day —slightly more tolerable. You’re not exactly going to kick back and relax, but at least you’ll be stuck and relatively comfortable with these essentials (candy, coffee, a good book) rather than being stuck and miserable.