If you’re like most of us, the moment it begins to snow, you can’t wait to jump in the Subaru or Jeep and head out to the hills. Many of us here in the Pacific Northwest grab the keys and head up to the Mount Hood National Forest to snowboard at Timberline Lodge, or to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to see all the sites covered in snow. Maybe you just want to get out and do some donuts. Whatever you end up doing this winter, make sure you have a good emergency kit that’s ready to go in case you encounter an unforeseen situation.
Picture this: you swooped up your date and thought you would take her out on a drive through the forest to impress her. Smooth right? You get out to see the sites and enjoy each other’s company for a while and then head back to the car. You turn the key, and NOTHING. Maybe you’ve experienced this, hopefully not. But having a plan ahead of time can be the difference between a second date, and ending up looking like an idiot.
No matter how prepared you are, no one is immune to the occasional dead battery. It’s no big deal, but when you’re 50 miles out from the nearest main road and it’s snowing, it can quickly become a serious situation.
The winter months take a serious toll on your battery’s performance. Once the temperature drops below freezing, it can dramatically reduce the power that your battery can put out.
I’ve used NOCO products in my emergency kit and have had really good luck with them. I would recommend checking out their 1000 amp jump starter. It’s small, reliable, and has enough juice to start up a 6 liter motor.
2. Recovery Gear & Tow Strap Emergency Kit
When you’re out in the snow, your day can take a disastrous turn in seconds. You may find yourself high-centered on hard packed snow, or maybe stuck in a deep ditch and your all wheel drive just keeps digging you deeper. This is why we recommend adding these recovery items to your emergency kit:
- A shovel
- Tow straps
- Recovery ramps/tracks (recovery boards)
These are great items to have regardless of what time of year it may be. They’ll allow you to keep yourself safe, and also to help anyone you may come across that’s in a dangerous situation.
When you’re miles away from the nearest medical care facility, having a first-aid kit can be the difference between a minor situation and a serious medical problem. Being able to treat basic injuries like cuts, scrapes, and insect bites in the field is key to giving you peace of mind.
It’s good to look for a kit that is compact, well-organized, and contains a wide variety of supplies. VeryWell Health recommends the Surviveware First-Aid kit for hikers. This kit weighs right around 1 pound, has 100 pieces, and comes with simple first-aid instructions.
Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from the Surviveware kit are donated to help provide 3D printed prosthetics to kids and veterans in need. You can check it out on Amazon and even get FREE shipping.
According to AAA, they assist an average of 450,000 customers with a flat tire every year – and many of those people were likely on paved roads with very little debris. How much more likely are we to puncture a tire when we’re out on old forest roads that are covered with sharp rocks and lots of obstacles? It’s extremely important to have a tire repair kit and to know how to use it. Also, to be prepared with a good jack, and a lug wrench. Your Subaru likely came with a wrench when you purchased it. But if not, make sure to grab one and keep it in the vehicle at all times.
We just talked about having a tire repair kit, but what good is it if you can’t re-inflate the tire? Adding a portable air compressor to your emergency kit can be helpful for 3 main uses:
- Inflating a repaired flat tire
- Inflating an old spare that has lost pressure
- Airing down tire pressure to give added traction in the snow
It’s not uncommon for people to pull their spare tire out, only to realize that it has gradually lost all pressure. With a portable air compressor, you can be sure that you won’t have this issue. (To find some of the best air compressors, check out this helpful article for a good list of options under $200.)
You may also find yourself in a situation where airing down is necessary. If you’re stuck in a ditch, or on an icy patch of ground, you may need to relieve some of the air pressure in your tires to give you more traction. However, once you get back to regular pavement, it’s very important to re-inflate with a compressor.
You can typically get a compressor that is strong enough to fill most all terrain tires for under 100$ bucks. We suggest getting one that is powered directly from the car’s battery. This helps ensure that the unit gets enough power, and that it won’t blow any fuses. The company Slime makes a really great air compressor that weighs less than 10 pounds and has a reach of 30 feet. It’s a must-have for anyone who drives off road or in the snow.
YOU NEED CRAMPONS IN YOUR CAR. Roughly 34,000 Americans experience slip and fall accidents on level ground each year. When you add ice into the equation, it can quickly become an unfortunate day. If you’re trying to hook up a tow strap, or push a stuck vehicle out of the snow and you slip, you can sustain a head or back injury.
You don’t need anything fancy, but having a set of these in the trunk is a great idea. We’ve personally used Yaktrax walking cleats for hiking and walking in the snow. I’ve had mine for over 3 seasons and have put them through hell. They’re great!
Planning Is The Key To Safety
You know the saying: “fail to plan, plan to fail.” Anytime you head out into the wilderness in your Subaru, make the necessary preparations to overcome any situation with a solid emergency kit. We all want to make it home safely and have a good time. Always go with a group, or let someone know where you are going to be if you go alone.
Have fun, and be safe this year!
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