5 Essential Items for Your Car on a Winter Road Trip

Thinking of a winter road trip? Here are some essential items you'll want to pack in your car.

Written by

Jason Barnette

on

January 2, 2020

Snow is gorgeous to admire when it’s not on the road you’re trying to drive. From ice on the windshield to snow on the ground winter can be a difficult season for travel. You’ll need to be prepared with these five essential items for a winter road trip.

Ice Scraper

I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Each morning my brother, sister, and I fought over who had to leave the warmth of the house a few minutes early to scrape the ice and snow off the windshield of the family car.

The AstroAI Ice Scraper and Snow Brush would’ve made that job a little easier and maybe even fun. The brush and ice scraper are detachable from each other so you can use just what you need. Fully assembled it is 27” long with plenty of reach to get across the entire windshield. Bonus: it comes in a nifty little carry bag.

Jumper Cables

I always recommend carrying a set of jumper cables or a jump starter battery pack, but it becomes especially important during a winter road trip. A battery’s Cold Cranking Amps, or CCA, rating is how many amps the battery will output at 0-degrees Fahrenheit to start a vehicle. Below that temperature batteries start to become fickle.

I love the Cartman Heavy Duty Booster Cables because they can usually jump start a car almost immediately. Most jumper cables are 4 gauge, and some are only 6 gauge, which means the cables are thinner and carry less of a charge. I have been traveling with Cartman’s 2 gauge 20’ cables. I have connected them to dead batteries in the past and started the car immediately.

As a bonus, do yourself a favor and get the Rugged Tools Cable Bag to store the jumper cables. I never could get the jumper cables back in the bag Cartman provided. The Rugged Tools bag unzips on three sides and makes it super easy to store the jumper cables.

Snow Shovel

Do you know one place a snowplow will never go? A hotel parking lot. I found this out the hard way when I spent a few days in Abingdon, Virginia and a good 20” of snow fell overnight. I found my little Honda Civic firmly stuck behind a snowbank.

The Cartman Scalable Snow Shovel would have come in mighty handy that day. Fully assembled the scalable snow shovel is just a few inches shorter than a standard snow shovel. It’s pretty solid and works well with shoveling snow or sand, as I’ve done a few times already. The shovel disassembles into three sections (blade, center pole, and handle) for easy storage.

Tire Chains

I remember this one time I was a freshman in high school we were sent home early because of an approaching winter storm. I lived about thirty minutes from the school. We didn’t get out in time. After loading all of us up the bus driver stopped at the bus shop and had chains installed on the tires. Do you have any idea how loud it was in a giant aluminum box with steel chains rattling on the tires?

Despite the noise, the chains did exactly what they were supposed to do: gave the bus extra traction. But keep in mind tire chains are only meant to give some extra traction; they will not suddenly make your two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive act like four-wheel drive.

There are a lot of cheap plastic devices out there now for strapping to tires, but nothing beats the old reliable steel chain. Security Chain Company’s Tire Chain is about as good as it gets. They are heavy and cumbersome to transport, easy to install but still a pain in the back, and will help in snowy road conditions for short drives.

Tow Rope

This one time I got firmly stuck in the snow while trying to reach the summit of Whitetop Mountain in Virginia. I had no cellular service and couldn’t call for help. About an hour later another vehicle came by on the dead-end road. Luckily, I always traveled with tow straps so he was able to pull me out of the ditch I’d slid into.

Since then I have ditched the tow straps for DitchPig Kinetic Energy Recovery Rope. A tow truck driver gave me the tip while changing my flat tire last year. Kinetic ropes, a fancy term for an auto accessory if ever there was one, are made of braided nylon rope and are super strong.

I have been traveling with the ½”x20’ DitchPig rope. This rope has a break strength of 7,300 pounds so it’s good for passenger cars and small SUVs. Get the ¾” rope for larger SUVs and pickup trucks or 1 ¼” for RVs.

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