How an Ex Soldier Preps His Vehicle and Himself for Winter Weather
Soldiers often times have the same problem when it comes to packing a rucksack as do civilians and the problem is too many items for too little space. The average weight for a winter pack in the military is 100 pounds and some change. You as a civilian however, have more say over what goes inside your winter survival pack, and what goes inside of your vehicle for wintertime travel.
Specialized units tailor their loads based on the mission, but for the typical squad on patrol the items in the pack are what the logistics people tell you that you need. You buck up and start humping without complaint, well mostly without complaint.
Define the Mission
The main reason people have vehicles is to get back and forth to work. We also need one to bring groceries home, take children to school and to events and some simply love driving for the sake of driving.
Unfortunately, however, vehicles breakdown, they become stuck because of weather or road conditions or for whatever reason you may find yourself alone in a vehicle that cannot get you any further down the road. Your mission now is to survive in your vehicle until help arrives or to survive as you set off on foot to find help.
What Goes In the Vehicle for Winter Survival?
First, you have to assume you will become separated from your vehicle so you have to plan and pack for this. This means you need a pack with winter essentials that can be carried as you leave your vehicle behind.
In my vehicle, I have a large A.L.I.C.E. pack, which means it has the frame. Some prefer the frame and others prefer the medium pack that can be shouldered without the frame, and some do not care for this type of pack at all. You can secure all kinds of items to the frame however, and to the shoulder straps such as knives, flashlights and other items that need to be close to the hands.
Inside the A.L.I.C.E. Pack which is Also My Survival Pack for Outdoor Adventures with slight Modifications Depending On the Seasons This List of Course In My Winter Load Out
- 2 ponchos and one poncho liner
- 1 wool blanket
- 2 nylon tarps that weigh around one pound each
- Three pairs of wool socks
- Winter coat, cold weather gloves, wool cap, wool face mask, wool neck scarf, work gloves
- Six MRE’s
- Folding Entrenching Tool That Attaches to the Outside of The pack
- 4 bandanas
- 25 ranger bands cut from a bicycle inner tube
- One Lensatic compass, maps of the area, state and country
- One handheld GPS that can be charged using a solar panel
- Sunglasses and one set of wind goggles that are tinted
- One cell phone that is pay as you go, and the reason for this is you can get cards to reload anywhere in the country and one extra battery with charger that connects to a solar pad/panel that can be strapped to the pack
- One gallon of water carried in two quart canteens
- One helmet or head mounted flashlight and one handheld battery operated light
- Spotter scope for range finding
- Gerber Multi-Tool and I Carry The Multi-Pliers 600
- Fixed Bladed Gerber It’s a simple stout knife called the Silver Trident and a Schrade SCHF9 and I believe the Schrade is one of the best survivals knives out there for the money
- Folding Knife A Gerber with clip for belt or pocket carry and any folding knife you have should be such that it can be opened one-handed
- Cold weather boots are strapped to the pack frame
- Fire starting materials: Magnesium stick, heat tabs (hexamine fuel tablet), Ferro rod, matches and a pack of Bic lighters, and one long Bic lighter
- One roll of duct tape
- 6 Bungee cords
- One machete and one small ax/hatchet that has an egress tool for chopping through drywall or thin wood partitions and even through ice, both strapped to the outside of the pack
- Two 50 gallon garbage bags
- One trauma medical kit or sometimes called a medic trauma pack to this I added small bandages, lip balm, sunscreen and more alcohol wipes
- 6 Mylar solar blankets
- One spool of trip wire or what used to be called booby trap wire
- 100 Feet of military grade Paracord
- Diamond stone knife sharpener
- Sewing Kit
- Small stainless steel coffee pot percolator type and of course it can be used for other than making coffee. Many of the small items are packed inside the coffee pot
- Water purification tablets, coffee filters, and one Filtration Device
- Firearm and ammunition
- One block of paraffin wax and a spool of heavy duty jute cordage
- Camo paint sticks and 2 black magic markers for temporarily subduing shiny metal parts
- One collapsible striking baton and one collapsible walking stick
- Sleeping bag rated for extreme cold
- 1 wool blanket
- Cold weather coat and rubber boots, cold weather gloves, hat and wool socks
- Small tool kit
- One cell phone same as described above
- Two gallons of water inside a small cooler to keep it from freezing
- 4 glow sticks
- One flashlight and only one because of the light attached to the battery box
- Folding entrenching tool
- One box of cat litter
- Portable radio
- 2 Boxes of protein bars and 4 MRE’s
- Two large candles
- One metal (empty) coffee can
- One nylon towing strap
- Rechargeable battery box that can jump start the battery and charge up devices, however I have found that many of the jump boxes have a hard time jumpstarting an 8 cylinder vehicle, but the box is handy for charging USB devices and it has a work light attached
- 4 solar Mylar blankets
- 2 Orange garbage bags
- 4 Road flares
- Medical kit
- Heavy duty jumper cables
- 50 Feet of nylon cordage
Your vehicle is shelter and in a snowstorm, it is the best shelter you would be able to find short of a Holiday Inn. Stay put if you break down, or become stuck. The reason people abandon their vehicle is because they do not have any emergency supplies on hand. You can easily succumb to hypothermia trying to walk a mile back home. In white out conditions, you can easily become disoriented and lost just a few feet from the car.
If you do become stranded you want to mark your vehicle quickly to prevent others from hitting you, to keep a snowplow from crashing into you and to help rescue personnel find you if a search is underway. Use a colored garbage bag or some other brightly colored material that can be attached to the vehicle so it can be seen from ground level as well as from the air. Make sure the snow is off the windows and place activated glows sticks in the back and front windshield so the vehicle can be seen at night.
If you have to leave, mark the vehicle location on your map or use a GPS. You may have to get back to the vehicle if you find the conditions are too dangerous to continue hiking out, so mark it carefully before setting off for help, so you can make your way back. Know which direction to travel in, and if you have no idea which way to go to get home or to the nearest town you should not go anywhere.
There is a reason that the military goes to great lengths to teach soldiers how to survive in the cold. The reason being is that many have died from the cold as well as many civilians over the years.
The cold kills and if it does not it can leave permanent reminders of its power, loss of limbs, chronic pain and the list goes on of the reminders of the devastating effects if you are not prepared.
One lit candle inside of your vehicle may very well keep you alive if you become stranded. Why would you want to leave such a homey abode then? The question has been asked repeatedly and people really do not know why their first instinct is to leave the vehicle for help.
Have what you need to survive inside the vehicle. Have a survival pack that can be carried. Do not let your impatience get you killed. Hunker down and survive the ordeal by staying inside the vehicle unless your life is endangered by staying with the vehicle.
Use your communication devices, and begin plotting your location using GPS or topographical maps so if you do contact someone you can provide your location.
Drink plenty of water and consume calories to help you maintain a safe core body temperature. If you leave the vehicle, maintain physical contact with it if white out conditions exist. This means you may have to tie yourself to the vehicle.
Planning is crucial to surviving any situation. Identify the conditions in which you have to survive under, so then, you can plan and pack accordingly.