Get ready for a winter adventure.
Get ready for a winter adventure. (Photo: Georgijevic/iStock)
Gear Guy

Nine Essentials That Belong in Your Car at All Times

The cold and snow shouldn't keep you from exploring. Hit the road with this essential winter road-trip gear.

Get ready for a winter adventure.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Winter road trips tend to be more exciting than their warm-weather counterparts: you never know when you’ll white-knuckle it through a big blizzard. At times like those, it helps to be prepared, which is where this list comes in.

Falken Espia EPZ II Winter Tires (Starting at $60 Per Tire)


Even if you own a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you should have a good set of winter tires for driving in the snow. These are some of the best, thanks to the aggressive siping and special rubber that stays soft in the cold.

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Maxtrax MKII ($300)


If your car gets stuck in the snow, use these to get out. Place this pair of plastic boards with raised plastic teeth under your tires and drive forward slowly, repeating the process until you’re off the icy patch or out of the snowbank.

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G3 Avitech Shovel ($70)


If you backcountry ski, you should already have a sturdy, telescoping aluminum shovel like the Avitech from G3. When you’re not skiing, it should live in your car with a set of Maxtrax (above) for the simplest way to extricate your vehicle when you get stuck in the snow. I used this shovel last week to help dig a buddy out of a three-foot snowdrift.

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Rumpl Down Puffy Blanket ($200)


If you get stuck and need to wait for rescue, stay warm with this plush 600-fill blanket. Or bring it into the place where you’re staying and use it while cozying up by the fire.

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MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes ($200)


Just because it’s snowy doesn’t mean you can’t get out of your car and explore. Wherever you go, find some local trails and take a walk. You’ll likely have the trail to yourself, and the cold weather makes a post-walk hot chocolate taste amazing. I like the MSR Revo Explore because the hearty injection-molded plastic deck can take a beating, and the no-pinch binding is comfortable for long hikes.

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Local Hot Springs Guide ($15)

(Falcon Guides)

Have you ever seen those photos of Japanese monkeys hanging out in the hot springs while it’s snowing? They have the right idea. Most bookstores carry guides to the local hot pools. I suggest finding a spring that’s off the road so you can use your snowshoes and get away from the crowds. The hot water also feels best after a cold hike.

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Skratch Labs Apples and Cinnamon Exercise Hydration Mix ($20)

(Skratch Labs)

Hot hydration mix? Yeah, it’s actually delicious. Pack a Jetboil Sumo, heat up some water, and then add this tasty mix with a nip of your favorite whiskey. I like to drink this out of a Miir Camp Cup because the double-wall vacuum-insulated construction keeps everything hot.

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Tepui Autana Sky Rooftop Tent ($1,800)


Want to score freshies at whatever resort you’re visiting? Sleep in the parking lot. This tent sets up in minutes and shrugs off snow. It’s also supercomfortable, thanks to a built-in three-inch foam mattress. To make sure you stay warm, bring along a zero-degree sleeping bag like the Nemo Sonic 0 Long.

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Spotify Premium Subscription ($10 Per Month)


A well-curated driving playlist is just as important in December as it is in July. The premium account lets you download songs onto your phone for offline listening. If you needs suggestions, check out the Outside staff’s ski hill playlist.

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Lead Photo: Georgijevic/iStock

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