Advise a Noob: What gear should I have for a winter storm

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Arepas

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I am traveling through the Sierras this week and weather forecast is expecting up to 8 inches of snow, Should I be worried? what gear besides chains and basic tools should I have?

Car: Stock jeep rubicon (JKU), Stock tires (BFGoodrich's mud-terrain T/A KM).
 

Fozzy325

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Arepas understand that even though you have cross country style stock tyres, they are only rubber rated for 7 degrees Celsius. After this point the rubber adhesive qualities break down and stick like hockey pucks stick to ice. Look on YouTube fore cross country tyres vs winter tyres (tires). Breaking distance increases by 2/3.
Test your road conditions every now and then. Stay out of polished snow ruts and keep in undisturbed snow.
Gear besides what has been mentioned.
Mobile phone external battery packs
Hand and feet warmers
Long Johns
Reflective vest
Grit or bag of kitty litter
Change you wind screen wash to winter so it doesn’t freeze

If you have a metal mug bring it and you can warm water off of your engine compartment (beside the exhaust) if you are stuck in a traffic jam or stuck.
 
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MOAK

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One word of advice, only because you identify yourself as a newbie, otherwise it is pretty common knowledge in off road vehicle communities. Do NOT engage your lockers on snow covered or icy roads. You will go sliding off into the ditch, or even worse into oncoming traffic at the very first bend in the road. We are headed through in mid-december and I must go and buy some tire chains for this trip.. Good luck and stay safe.
 

PB&Me

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Just a question out of concern for your safety, since you IDd yourself as a noob - have you put on and driven with chains before? If so, fine but if not I’d recommend trying to find somewhere to practice that beforehand.

Sometimes CalTrans will stop every car and won’t let them through until they pull over and chain up on the shoulder where dozens of others are doing the same. If you haven’t done it before it can be stressful, so just asking.

By all means drive the snowy sections during daylight and not at night.

Oh and I’ll add: pack some Gojo or other waterless hand cleaner and paper towels near the chains. the hands get pretty grimy putting those things on... stay safe!
 
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PB&Me

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Oh, and road flares! If you are stuck or even chaining up and visibility is poor , flares will help oncoming traffic see you
 

Arepas

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To answer some questions: I have driven a couple of times over snowy conditions but on highways, this time it will be on regular roads. I did not know about the lockers tip, thank you!

Some questions:
- Should I air down a bit if road is covered in snow?
- engaging 4-high OK as long as I don't go over 50 miles per hour without engaging lockers?
 

Ben Cleveland

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I don't have a ton of experience driving on ice and snow, so I'll let the experienced people continue to speak to that.

I have, however, been stranded for a day or so in an ice storm. Ended up holed up in a Panera Bread, and got to eat free soup all night, It could have been a lot worse though, 20 or so people died in Birmingham during that storm because they were stuck on the side of the road for a couple of days, and weren't prepared. The list of cold weather items and survival/prep stuff I keep in mine AND my wifes vehicle full time now includes:

-10 water bottles
-space blankets
-regular blanket
-tiny pellet stove
-tin cup for heating water
-coffee and tea
-4-6 mountain house dehydrated meals
-12 survival energy bars
-toilet paper
-complete change of clothes
-flashlight
-storm radio
-regular tool kit modified to fit the vehicle in question
-air compressor and tire plug kit
-all my offroad recovery gear stays on the roof rack of our 4runner all the time, so that's nice. My wife's fiat doesn't have any recovery gear, and I wouldn't really expect recovery gear to help it much if it got stuck. Its not much of a "go anywhere" vehicle.

Cold weather specific stuff (December through Feb for me, since we live in Texas with basically no winter)
-extra jacket (thicker than weather forecast would dictate
-coveralls
-extra socks, underwear
-extra shoes
-warm hat

If we're going remote, I'll up all that even further to basically include an entire set of sleeping bags, and most of our camping gear. The ultimate goal is me being able to say confidently that we could live out of our vehicle, even if its stuck in a ditch and not running, for multiple days, while staying warm and dry. Out of everything we carry, water is the biggest restriction, but I'm confident it would keep us alive for 2-3 days, and space is limited.

I'd suggest you think about all those items. We keep most of this stored where you can't even see it in the car. Personally, I keep my glock with me all the time too, and an AR in the car if we're going remote or if the storms are supposed to be really bad. People do stupid, crazy stuff when they're scared and uncomfortable. That's a different topic though, if you want to read into that, there are some long threads on firearms and overlanding in this forum.
 

Mike W

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First thing that jumped out to me was the tires. I can't say enough good things about real snow tires. Blizzaks go on to my LR4 every year. Also, z-chains are great low profile 'chains' for situations like that where you might need them for a mountain pass.
 

Arepas

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Latest weather advisory states 60MPH wind gusts and up to 12 inches of snow. I decided to be safe and get ahead of the storm by traveling tomorrow (a day early), I will still take in to account your recommendations and pack as much as I can
 
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RangerBill

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@Arepas, it all depends on where you plan to travel. Acknowledging that you're heading out early (always a good call), consider this advice for future reference. If you're just heading up one of the highways, the basics are all you need. The lists above are all good, although perhaps overkill if you're just driving over 50 or 80 to Tahoe or Reno. The two absolutely essential pieces of equipment that I don't see mentioned are a shovel and an ice scraper for your windshield. I use those more than anything else. In addition to those, in winter I carry chains*, tow strap and/or kinetic rope, and a blanket. Everything else (water, a few food bars, winter clothes, basic safety gear) I either always have with me or would have otherwise packed for the trip. I am usually traveling Hwy 4 or 80, so the likelihood of my being stranded for any extended period is minimal.

Like any adventure, the more remote you travel, the more self-sufficient you need to be. If you're taking lesser paved roads, add a few more items from above. If you're heading onto isolated dirt roads where others are unlikely to drive, then @Ben Cleveland's list is a good guide.

This weekend's storm is unlikely to cause any significant issues other than it's the first one of the season and there's a lot of holiday traffic. Up here in Bear Valley we're only expecting 13 inches over the next five days. The other drivers will be the issue, not the roads. My best advice: Slow Down! Remember that 4-wheel drive can help you go faster, but won't help you stop faster. Good luck and have fun on your trip.

* I always carry chains, but have never used them in the 31 years since I bought my first 4X4.
 

BrianArailt

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The list of cold weather items and survival/prep stuff I keep in mine AND my wifes vehicle full time now includes:

-10 water bottles
-space blankets
-regular blanket
-tiny pellet stove
-tin cup for heating water
-coffee and tea
-4-6 mountain house dehydrated meals
-12 survival energy bars
-toilet paper
-complete change of clothes
-flashlight
-storm radio
-regular tool kit modified to fit the vehicle in question
-air compressor and tire plug kit
-all my offroad recovery gear stays on the roof rack of our 4runner all the time, so that's nice. My wife's fiat doesn't have any recovery gear, and I wouldn't really expect recovery gear to help it much if it got stuck. Its not much of a "go anywhere" vehicle.

Cold weather specific stuff (December through Feb for me, since we live in Texas with basically no winter)
-extra jacket (thicker than weather forecast would dictate
-coveralls
-extra socks, underwear
-extra shoes
-warm hat
My god. I take less with me on week-long camping trips
 

Ben Cleveland

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My god. I take less with me on week-long camping trips
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I would suggest that if that’s all you take with you on a week long camping trip
1) you’re impressively minimalistic.
2) if absolutely anything goes wrong in a remote access area and you’re stuck, or get into weather or situations not expected, you’re screwed, because my list is a pretty limited set of resources to exist in a remote condition for very long. Especially if you’re stuck and don’t know when help is coming.

Honestly, this stuff takes up the space of a small backpack, and gives me a lot of peace of mind. Mostly for being in urban environments, where unexpected scenarios can cause panic and being stuck with little to no resources. We tend to not worry about being stuck with no food in the middle of a city. But if that place falls under some unexpected and not-prepared for phenomenon (ice storm, etc) businesses shut down. Roads shut down. And the resources we take for granted become non existent. I’ve seen it happen, it’s scary, the weather channel didn’t predict it accurately or expect it, people died. Lots of people got stuck. It wasn’t pretty. And it didn’t 100% clear up for 2 days. All while temperature highs were in the teens. (For someone who lives in the south, that’s basically the North Pole).

Totally get that this would be excessive to some, to me it’s simply a very low cost way of being prepared and keeping my family safe. And that’s my general thought process around that.
 
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BrianArailt

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Haha, I was just joking about the week-long trips. You’ve got quite the impressive kit there. I only carry a blanket, tool kit, flashlight, and gloves no matter what time of year.

I live in the north east, where unless we get a couple of feet of snow within a short period of time, it’s just another Tuesday. Remote where I live also means the nearest gas station is 15 mins away instead of two :wink:. We have the infrastructure and equipment to tackle ice and snow, unlike the south, so I get the need for you to be more prepared.

I backpack and camp in the mountains of PA/WV quite often and I actually did get stuck a few years back. We got ~2-3 feet of snow and had to extend our trip by a day because the plows hadn’t touched the back roads where we were parked. Luckily, we had some extra cans of beans. Unfortunately, we didn’t save any whisky.


 

Ben Cleveland

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Haha, I was just joking about the week-long trips. You’ve got quite the impressive kit there. I only carry a blanket, tool kit, flashlight, and gloves no matter what time of year.

I live in the north east, where unless we get a couple of feet of snow within a short period of time, it’s just another Tuesday. Remote where I live also means the nearest gas station is 15 mins away instead of two :wink:. We have the infrastructure and equipment to tackle ice and snow, unlike the south, so I get the need for you to be more prepared.

I backpack and camp in the mountains of PA/WV quite often and I actually did get stuck a few years back. We got ~2-3 feet of snow and had to extend our trip by a day because the plows hadn’t touched the back roads where we were parked. Luckily, we had some extra cans of beans. Unfortunately, we didn’t save any whisky.


Lol. Yeah you guys up north are better prepared in general for cold weather stuff. Also, since snow is a common occurrence for y’all, I assume that people don’t lose their minds when it snows and drive like maniacs? Snow and ice in the south is a terrifying experience for everyone involved. Even if you know what you’re doing, everybody around you doesn’t, and is actively losing their minds. It would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.
 

PB&Me

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Lol. Yeah you guys up north are better prepared in general for cold weather stuff. Also, since snow is a common occurrence for y’all, I assume that people don’t lose their minds when it snows and drive like maniacs? Snow and ice in the south is a terrifying experience for everyone involved. Even if you know what you’re doing, everybody around you doesn’t, and is actively losing their minds. It would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.
Same situation in Portland Oregon! When it snows, those who can stay home, do. Even if the conditions aren’t so bad, the other drivers make driving seriously dangerous!
 

Arepas

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So, trip went fine, I managed to go through Tioga Pass like an hour before they closed it, no snow at all going there but that very same night we got a few inches.
IMG_20181122_105112.jpg
Managed to do some wheeling and almost f'd up. Here is the gaia link of a trip that got very close to be a disaster due to no recovery gear, being solo, no signal on cellphone, no one knew I was there, turned around when I saw the road deteriorating too much: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/G63pNnjN0VfUjibi7llKXXqe
 

Lunch Box

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Lol. Yeah you guys up north are better prepared in general for cold weather stuff. Also, since snow is a common occurrence for y’all, I assume that people don’t lose their minds when it snows and drive like maniacs?
Oh how I wish. How I WISH that were true!

Yesterday we got 14 inches of snow between 3pm and 3am. This morning at 10 am I set out for town from the farm. About 40 miles one way. Cars spun off in the ditches and median every 1/8th mile all the way there and back. Didn't notice any out-of-state plates. People who live up here, experience this weather every year, and are equipped with FWD/AWD vehicles with traction control, etc. Doesn't make any sense.