What should be in the trunk for a winter in northern Minnesota?

Want to put together a gift of supplies for winter driving in northern Minnesota for my daughter and granddaughter. Ideas?

Are you talking like a winter trunk survival kit ? A triple A membership is a good start, very reasonable and they have a host of benefits available, good to check into. As far as what possibly to assemble into a kit, most anything you would take camping. Small shovel ( possibly to move snow from around the tires or building an igloo), a blanket of some type ( Military surplus are a good source), a few storm candles ( they have a multitude of uses), a good LED flashlight ( battery life is quite good with LED’s ), a few pairs of gloves, scarf and toque. A few MRE’s, granola bars, Hershey’s bars. Depending on where in Minnesota possibly a .357 Magnum ( just in case of bears), joking. Anything that would make a few hours to possibly an overnight stay in a car as comfortable as can be. I would seriously check into getting them a Triple A membership. Get the Premier one and it covers a 200 mile tow I believe, bringing you gas if you run out, jumping your car, unlocking your home if needed. Hope this helps a tad and please bear with the humour injected. I grew up in Pennsylvania so dealt with nasty winters at times.

In the spirit of Tom and Ray I will suggest a roadmap to Florida!

A good set of jumper cables

Tire pressure gauge

blankets, coat hats, gloves

a small shovel that folds up

A shovel is an absolute must, in addition to the other stuff mentioned. When I traveled a great deal in the winter, I had an Arctic survival suit, good for -50.

An interesting read, http://www.grandforks.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-140912-013.pdf Candles are great! Also maybe a checklist, make sure tailpipe is clear for exhaust, do not run car constantly, but only the minimal to maintain comfort. A good book would not hurt.

The Safety Council sells survival kits and the patrol puts out list of recommended items. I’ve found the kits a bit wanting though. Cell phone is first, compass, map, food, coffee, hot choclate, flash light, heat source like candles or chemical hand warmers etc., snowmobile suit, boots, mittens, head gear, and a good dose of common sense. If you are out in weather that you shouldn’t be out in, no one else will be able to get to you including emergency vehicles and the patrol. You have to be able to shelter in your car if you get stalled. Walking can be certain death. A couple pictures of amputated fingers and toes would help emphasize the common sense angle.

THey also sell a fiberglass flag pole and distress flag that has a magnetic base. You put it together and stick it to the roof of the car. If the snow covers your car the flag will warn a plow driver you are there. Better than finding out by the big thud when he hits you’re buried car.
It would be nice too, to include some tips printed out and taped to the inside cover of the tote.
Like clearing the snow from the exhaust and around the drivers door now and then.

We put one together for our daughter when she was young and a few weeks ago I saw her repacking the perishables.
Mittens, Scarf and hat, boots, sleeping bag, shovel, snacks, water bottles, candles, chemical heat pouches, flashlight. On the inside of the lid I included a list of all the county sheriff offices around us, a few other numbers in case her phone is dead and she is using someone else’s phone and a list of points to remember.
The flag. jumper pack and shovel are in a separate box.
Be sure the mittens are waterproof too.


One thing about dell phones: keep a phone charger in the car so that it will always be charged well enough to be ready at any time. If stuck, the phone can be recharged during the times that the engine must be run.

Reemphasize food…calories are needed to keep warm, 4000 to 6000 extra calories per day per adult. Fat is the most calorie-dense food. There’s a reason chocolate bars are standard survival food.

When I lived in Colorado mountains, getting stuck in the snow could prove seriously problematic at times. I always kept a small foldable shovel, sand, and some kind of snow melt chemical, ammonium sulfate fertilizer I think is what I used.

Down sleeping bag
Power bars
Cell phone battery
Bottle of scotch
Good book
Hot girlfriend
Couple of joints

A jumper battery is a must. Both to jump the car and to keep communication devices charged. Jumper cables still depend on someone else and are good have but never at the expense of having an extra battery ! Though it is important to have the right gear in a car trunk, it is more important to dirive in cold states with winter tires and for more security, AWD/ 4 wd. A lot f stuff is less necessary if your car is prepare for the elements. Like, don’t drive a 2wd compact, even with snow tires on a long drive through a cold state with snow covered roads with ditches filled with snow. It is more important to have communication devices that work and back ups for them to call for help. Water is a must and the ability to stay warm for an extended period. You should always, always never let your gas tank get below half full if at all possible. You may have to idle car for a long time. @twotone obviously has no intention of being helped for a while at least.

Your daughters and grand daughter should have mace or equivalent but avoid a gun unless they are trained and licensed if required in it’s use. You want to just throw one in without training and you are begging for the use of the gun to be agaist them and not for them.

There are some good points to be made here and I’m glad that everyone added their input.

Another thing that I forgot and no one else mentioned either. Buy a good reflective vest in case they need to walk along the road. They could get stuck 1/2 mile from home and try to walk in a blinding snow…and get run down.

Where I live I never worry about having more than a jump pack, shovel, vest, boots, and spare gloves. I know the area well, and could be dropped anywhere and be able to tell you how far and what direction the next farm is. But when we head north to visit family and friends, I pack plenty of emergency stuff and food and water.


And a tow rope/strap…not a chain. A braided nylon rope has great pull-back effect, unlike a hard chain.

In the good weather, familiarize yourself ( have them familiarize themselves ) with the tow points on the vehicle being driven. Front and back. ( both owner’s manual and look to see ) This way you can quickly advise anyone doing the pulling, where is the correct pull point. Or if you are doing the pulling you’ll have it right.

I spent many many minutes fishing blindly under the front of a Mitsubishi Galant a few years back. The snow was up to the middle of her bumper cover so even after digging with that shovel we all speak of, it still meant kneeling in the shin deep snow without a clear view under there.

Is their room for a Finnish Nordic skiing champion? To send for help. Or if he/she is hot enough, to warm up your sleeping bag. All of these suggestions remind me why I live in a place with consistently mild weather. If I left here I could see myself going somewhere milder, like Hawaii or San Diego.

I taught my kids to have two things. A cold weather sleeping bag, and a large jar of peanut butter. PB for energy. Lard, real lard, not the white chemical in stores, provided more energy, but who can stand to eat it?

Also, if you think of it, matches. But, for no more than a day or two in the car, the sleeping bag and PB will keep them alive, even if they have to put a bit of snow in their mouths to keep away thirst.

The peanut butter is a great suggestion. Just pull the jar out in the spring and use it, replacing with a new one. It’s also great for emergency kits at home. There it is even easier to be sure it’s fresh as you can replace it whenever you’re pantry jar is getting low. Of course if you hate peanut butter you might need to do something else. A jar of whole peanuts, maybe?

Consider this too. Don’t go crazy throwing stuff in the trunk of a fwd car to be used to drive in snow. Every ounce you throw there unbalances the the weight bias over the front wheels for traction when starting off. That means they are much easier to get stuck while loaded down. Rwd cars and trucks actually increase starting traction when loaded. If you have a RWD lexus, throw what you want in the trunk…but a fwd compact, I would make everything light and flimsy and most of the good suggestions made weigh little. Plenty Of that light stuff stuff around. Just be careful about carrying something like much sand in the trunk of a fwd car and thinking it will help you…it won’t until it’s out and on the road. Inthe mean time, you are more, not less likely to loose traction.

What should be in the trunk for a winter in northern Minnesota?

Golf clubs and enough luggage for 3 months in southern Florida…

Just a slight correction. That gear should be in your trunk in southern Minnesota as you’re on your way out.