12 Essential Tools for Your Winter Survival Kit

You’ve got your bug-out bag ready to go. Your car is well stocked with emergency survival gear. Your home has a variety of solar powered gadgets in case the electric or gas goes. But are you really prepared to survive outdoors in middle of January? Winter is coming, and you never know what might happen. Be prepared with a good winter survival kit.

From your car to your home to your office, you should be ready for anything during the icy months to come. Here are 12 winter survival tools that you simply can’t be without.

Solar Generator Goal Zero Yeti

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1. Goal Zero Yeti Solar Generator

In the winter, heat is typically your main concern. But what about electricity? When the sun sets at four in the afternoon and doesn’t come up again until seven or eight in the morning, having light in the house is important. If you live further north, say Alaska, it becomes even more critical. While gas generators are useful, what happens when an EMP wipes out the computers at the gas station or war sends prices skyrocketing? A solar powered generator is an essential winter back-up. Goal Zero offers a variety of sizes.

Winter Snowshoes Survival

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2. Tubb’s Xpedition Snow Shoes

If the snow gets deep you don’t want to be stuck post-holing your way around. Depending on the scenario, you’ll need to collect firewood and water. You may need to venture a long way from your shelter to check your traps or hunt for food. Or you may have to trek to the neighbors to borrow medical supplies or fetch a doctor. No matter the situation, be prepared for rough weather with a set of good snow shoes.

Winter Survival Bivy Sack

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3. Bivy Sack

This is a light weight item that should be in every bug-out-bag, not to mention in your vehicle or home. A bivy sack fits over your sleeping bag. It is made out of synthetic material that is designed to both reflect and hold body heat. This will make a 20°F bag into a -10°F bag. Plus it is waterproof so you can sleep soundly in the nastiest conditions. An emergency bivy sack will fit easily in your bug-out bag.

Heated Clothing

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4. Heated Clothing

When weather conditions get really nasty, putting on more layers simply isn’t good enough. It’s time for clothes that actually generate their own heat. You can buy base layers with micro-carbon fiber heating elements designed to keep you toasty on your snowmobile or motorcycle in the nastiest weather. If the cost is prohibitive, consider making your own DIY heated clothing.

Camping Survival Food

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5. Food. For at Least 3 Days

This may sound obvious, but you aren’t going to make it long in the cold without food. In freezing weather it essential to have enough calories in your body to stay warm. Your car emergency kit and your bug-out bag should both have enough food to last you for three days. Good options include MREs, granola bars, jerky, dried fruit, nuts, canned food like tuna or sardines (choose items high in protein and fat).

Sun Protection Eyes Survival

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6. Sun/Snow Goggles or Glasses

Every survivalist should include eye protection in their winter survival kit. The sun alone can be damaging, causing sclera (scarring on the surface of the eye) over time. When you add in the reflective snow, the effects can be painful. If you find yourself trekking any distance in the winter, protective eye wear like these CS Army Tactical Goggles will protect your eyes from wind, snow and sun.

Insulated Water Bottle

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7. Insulated Water Bottle

There is nothing more important in any survival scenario than hydration. In cold conditions you may not feel like drinking, but you need to if you want to keep going. If temperatures are extreme or you are outdoors for an extended period, keeping water in a liquid form could be challenging. An insulated water bottle like the HydroFlask will keep your water drinkable. This particular model doubles as a thermos and has the added benefit of never sweating.

Winter Survival Kit

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8. Bug Out Survival Sled

Ok, so you probably aren’t going to harness up the neighborhood hounds and try to make an Iditarod team. But a simple, tough survival sled can make winter survival much easier. It is bad enough trudging through heavy, wet snow, even in snowshoes. If you have to carry a lot of weight it gets even nastier. Sleds are also great for hauling exhausted children or an injured person to safety. Even a good quality, round steel sled will work in a pinch, and your kids can play with it until you need it.

Survival Tinder for Winter

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9. Wetfire Tinder

If you are outdoors in the winter for an extended period of time, you’ll need to make a fire at some point. Your winter survival kit should contain at least a small amount of quality tinder that will burn when wet. For instance, this Wetfire Tinder actually needs to be damp to burn well. You don’t need a lot, just enough to get a good fire started. Then you can dry out material to use for the next fire.


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10. Gaiters

Keeping your feet dry is critical to outdoor winter survival. It isn’t practical to keep a full snow suit or heavy snow pants in your winter survival kit, because they are simply too bulky. While you should have a full set (if not two) of winter gear ready to go in your vehicle and home, consider packing a pair of lightweight gaiters in your bug out bag. Outdoor Research makes the Verglas Gaiters, designed to be easy folded and packed or you can make your own using duct tape.

Compass for Survival

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11. Maps and Compass

These are essential winter survival items that are often forgotten until you find yourself caught outdoors without them. Your car emergency kit should have local road and topo maps, as should your bug out bag. A good compass is an invaluable tool. Make sure you know how to use it before you need to rely on it. Make a game with friends or your family. You can hide a prize at specific coordinates in the woods and practice using a map and compass to find it. For survival scenarios, you want a tough, reliable compass, like the military grade Cammenga Lensatic Compass.

Car Emergency Kit

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12. Car Emergency Kit

Every vehicle should be equipped with a winter survival kit. The most likely survival scenario you will face in cold weather will involve your car. You could slide off a deserted road, get stuck behind an accident or simply be unable to go further due to extreme conditions or damage to your vehicle. Every emergency kit for a car should have food, water and lots of warm clothing. Many of the items on our list, like the insulated water bottle or bivy sack would be great additions to your car survival kit.

Both your car emergency kit and your winter survival kit should have a good first aid kit. Consider something compact and easy to carry like Verco Auto’s Emergency Hardshell First Aid Kits.

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