Here’s Your Essential Winter Survival Gear

The 10 essentials you need to get you, and your ride, through the storm.

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Would that every man’s life were a Land Rover commercial! Were that the case, winters would be spent blasting up snowy mountainsides in winter tire-equipped luxury 4X4’s while wearing luxurious overcoats and sporting a glow that only Glenfiddich can imbue. Unfortunately, winter for most is akin to the cross between the “before” part of an advertisement for Dayquil and the cut footage for a regional ad produced by the Fargo Chamber of Commerce: mundane and difficult. And several feet of snow only gums up the whole thing further. If you drive to work and your daily is a maroon ‘94 Cavalier with bald front tires, that journey will be a difficult one, and you’ll likely be stuck. But don’t despair! It takes relatively few dollars and light preparation to outfit yourself with the necessary tools to get even the sorriest sled through winter.

Here’s the lot. All are useful, many are cool, one is drinkable. Chin up, lads.

Black Diamond Snow Shovel


Snow! Pow! The White Stuff (at least outside of Dade County)! Great for beautifying landscapes and padding ski hills, but a real joy-buster when atop and around your car. This light, portable and collapsable shovel—meant to help mountaineers dig themselves out of avalanches—is perfect for stashing in the trunk. Though small, this sexy techno-spade can reveal a snowbound car in minutes. [$74.95,]

Wagner Heat Gun


When the temperatures really dip, metal stops cooperating as it should. Doors, locks bolts all freeze into an unhappy rigor mortis. However, not even artic temps are a match for a proper heat gun, which can loosen to the tune of 1000 degrees. For something so useful that shares looks with a futuristic ray gun, the Wagner Heat Gun is quite cheap. [$21.97,]

Zippo 4-in-1 Woodsman Axe


Sometimes, snow finds creative ways to block your path. Older trees can’t stand too much snow or ice before they topple, sometimes right across the roadway. This compact tool combines a vicious axe head and a handy saw—a real necessity for any impromptu lumbering needs. [$59.99,]

Carhartt Chill Stopper Gloves


Many hands make light work; cold hands make it hard to do any. Any wintertime shoveling, scraping or sawing is greatly improved with warm hands protected from the elements. Carhartt is an unofficial clothier to any American with work to do, and their insulated work gloves warm hands while allowing those hands to maintain dexterity. [$39.99,]

Uniden Bearcat CB Radio

Right Channel Radios

Heaven forbid you lose cell service—think of the scores of missed Tweets! Also, in a storm, you may need to call for help. In places where the long arm of the tower reaches not, a CB radio can get your distress signal out to nearby drivers. (Mostly, probably, truckers.) While you wait for rescue, practice Smokey and the Bandit style code-talking. [$69.95,]

Traction Sand


All the power in the world, even a knobbly tire, won’t do you any good if the surface you’re contending with is pure slick. That where traction sand comes in: good grit that facilitates the friction necessary before road and tire. Buy a 60-pound bag and use it as helpful ballast in your rear-drive truck or car. At $5 a pop, buy a bag for everyone in your zip code. [$5.31, Lowes]

Jameson Irish Whiskey


Your chest cavity is filled with frost. Your spirit’s low. Your fingers are raw. Warm all three with Jameson’s patented Whiskey technology, which provides heat and comfort to all who partake. Use moderation, though, or you’ll end up like Jack Nicholson in the end of The Shining: dead in a snowbank, face in a happy rictus. [~$25, liquor stores]

Leatherman “Tread” Bracelet


Okay, so this is the priciest and most fanciful entry on the list, but bear with us, there’s function here. Every link in this bit of butch jewelry contains a useful tool, from allen wrenches to screw drivers to box wrenches. We would recommend using this wrist ornament for major repairs, but for an emergency roadside screw-tightening, the bracelet will come through. [$165,]

LL Bean Mad Bomber Hat

LL Bean

LL Bean’s famous bomber is a great way to put rabbit’s fur in your ears. With its fully comprehensive shape and bunny-proven insulation tech, this cumbersome hat will swaddle your noggin in all the warmth it needs to solve the mystery of Getting My Jetta Out of a Ditch. Plus, you’ll look like a fighter pilot, circa ‘41. [$39.95,]

Brass Blade Ice Scraper

Home Depot

Keep the credit card in your wallet doing what it’s meant to: hurrying you into debt. For scraping stubborn layers of ice off glass, try a purpose-built, brass-bladed scraper. The metal vanquishes the ice but, because brass is softer than auto glass, leaves windshields and windows unblemished. Seeing your clear windshield amid a storm, locals will note: “That’s guy’s got a pair of brass… ice scrapers.” [$3.98,]


Ben Keeshin is a former staff writer for Maxim, and before that, contributed writing to the digital sides of Road & Track and Vanity Fair.