Winter Checklist: 5 Items to Keep in Your Car

The first snow of the year is finally starting to fall across the country. Big fluffy flakes, hard pellets of sleet—whatever the white stuff is, I can’t wait to head to the hills.

I’m stoked to see you out there. But it’s been a year since a lot of us drove into the mountains in the snow. And we’ve all seen the videos on the Internet where drivers on icy downhills seem to be playing a real-life game of bumper cars…

It’s better to get there slowly and carefully than settling for skiing the snowdrift you slid into as you wait for help. So before you head out on winter roads, take a look at my list of must-have, mountain-commute needs:

1. A Full Tank

Yeah, this is obvious. But do you really want to be the one who forgets? That’s an embarrassing AAA call. Plus, if you’re stuck in snow or traffic, you’ll want that full tank for running the heater so you stay warm.

2. Ten Essentials

You’re going into the mountains, so you should have them anyways, right? Grab your map and compass, sunscreen, warm layers, headlamp and batteries, first-aid kit, fire starter, multi-tool and favorite emergency shelter. If you have to hunker down or go for help, these items will help.

3. Hanger Suppliescar driving through the wintry desert with snow-covered roads

Yes, they’re part of the Ten Essentials, but your friends and family want them on your (and especially my) checklist twice. There are lots of reasons you might get hangry: unexpected poor visibility that triples your mountain commute, an endless traffic jam up the mountain or just plain old forgetting to eat that oatmeal you made before you left home. Whatever the reason, snacks and water in the car are a must.

4. Kitty Litter

Cheap and effective, you may be able to get yourself out of any slippery spots by sprinkling some down for traction. Add in a snow shovel, broom and ice scraper, and you’ll be super prepared to help yourself or your fellow drivers actually make it to the resort.

5. Pee Bottle

It’s cold out there. You shouldn’t have to leave the warmth of your vehicle for this annoying human bodily function. And for women, one of those pee funnels can sure come in handy. Pro tip: Don’t forget to label the bottle (don’t ask).

And I should take a moment to say thanks for attending one of REI’s Pray for Snow bashes. All of those roasted Twinkies seem to have worked! See you out there.

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