Be prepared.
Be prepared.
Gear Guy

The Gear You Need to Get Your Car Out of the Snow

Seven items that will help you get back on the road

Be prepared.

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Over the past few weeks, the Western half of the country has been hit by the winter’s largest storms yet. That means the skiing has been all-time, but the roads have been a mess. I’ve had to stop and help several people dig out of snowbank on the way down from my local ski area near Ashland, Oregon. While shoveling, I started thinking about the list of gear I’d suggest everyone carry in their car to ensure they get themselves—or others—unstuck when things go south. (To prevent things from going wrong in the first place, check out these tips for winter driving. Also, invest in winter tires.)

Sorel Caribou Wool Boots ($150)


It sucks to dig a car out in tennis shoes. That’s why I carry a pair these classic waterproof boots. They’re high enough to keep the snow from leaking into my socks, lined with a thick felt for warmth, and come with grippy soles that ensures I don’t slip on icy roads. Bonus: they’re not too bulky to drive with.

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Kinco Pigskin Leather Work Gloves ($14)


You’ll need a good pair of gloves for shoveling, pushing, and putting something under the tires to help the car regain traction (more on that below). I like Kinco Pigskin gloves because they have a lot of dexterity, can take a beating, and are cheap, so I’m not worried about getting them grimy. You can also ski with these gloves if you use a liner.

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BCA B1 EXT Shovel ($50)


If you drive a truck and have room, buy a $10 shovel at Home Depot. If you drive a car like me (I have a 2000 Toyota Camry) and don’t want a long shovel taking up room, look at a backcountry shovel, which is collapsible. I like the BCA B1 EXT, which is a manageable 22 inches when not in use. Once you start shoveling, the handle extends for better leverage, and the durable aluminum head bites through deep, dense snow.

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Cat Litter ($5)

(Arm & Hammer)

Throwing cat litter under your tires can help them find purchase in slippery snow or on ice, allowing you to inch out of wherever you’re stuck. If you run out of cat litter, you can accomplish the same thing by simply sticking your floor mats under your tires.

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ARB Snatch Strap ($65)

(ARB Recovery)

If digging won’t work, pulling a car out is also an option with a dependable strap like this from ARB. But a word of warning: know how to properly use this strap before you try it on a slippery mountain road. There are certain rules you have to follow—like only attaching the strap to designated tow points—to ensure everyone stays safe.

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LED Safety Flare Kit ($25)


Drivers rarely get stuck in convenient or safe places. To ensure another car doesn’t plow into you, place these reusable LED flares up the road to warn drivers. They’re visible from up to 3,000 feet away and can be set so they put out a solid or blinking light.  

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Stanley Adventure Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle 1.4 Quart ($35)


If you fill a thermos like this with coffee or hot chocolate and keep it in your car on ski days, you’ll be glad to have it for the drive down. Plus, you can also share with whoever you stop to dig out. It’s uncomfortable and embarrassing to be stuck in the snow, and some piping hot coffee or cocoa can make things a lot better.

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