Thursday, October 30, 2014

Winter is Coming

Meteorologists and the Farmer's Almanac are both predicting a cold winter this season.  It got me thinking about some of the items I need to inspect and/or consider picking up in order to get ready for the winter fun!

Winter Home Item Checklist

There are two main concerns I  have when winter rolls around.  The first is being able to get out of our driveway.  I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home if need be.  However, if we need to get out in an emergency or for something that may be less urgent, but still considered necessary, then I want to be able to do so.  The second concern is in the event of a power outage.  Our area is known for some wicked ice storms and thick wet snow.  Power lines get knocked down by ice forming on them and/or branches that are weighed down by ice and snow.  Here is my list to try and handle those events:
  • Snow blower - Last year (2013) we really could have used this since my wife was pregnant and I was on the road some weeks.  This year, I am seriously considering one.  I looked at some after this past winter.  However, I still haven't figured out which one to go with.  If you have a recommendation, then comment below!
  • Shovels - A shovel per person plus one is what I like to have on hand.
  • Salt - A must when we get those ice storms especially for the stair areas.
  • Indoor portable heater - I actually have this one covered with our Mr. Buddy Portable heater.  It is rated for indoor use and runs off of propane cylinders.  It wouldn't hurt to pick up a few more cylinders.  The cylinders can also be used with my Coleman camping stove in the event we lose electrical power.  I just have to make sure we use it in a ventilated area.
  • Blankets - We have lots and it never hurts to have additional ones.
  • Food and Water - Pretty self explanatory.  We live in an area that gets fairly good snow removal from the city.  However, last year the city ran short on sand and salt.  They were also delayed on getting to the neighborhoods.  Don't count on the city (or anyone else) to come to the rescue.  Also, in very bitter weather pipes have been known to freeze and burst if not properly insulated.  Have plenty of food and water to ride out any potential snow-in.
  • Movies and Video Games - Cabin Fever anyone?
  • Cold Weather Clothing - Gloves, hats, socks, etc wear out over time.  Be sure your wardrobe is up to snuff.  The best time to buy is after the winter season.  Therefore, set a reminder for yourself to check out the sales after the winter season winds down.  Also, if you have children, then you know how quickly they can outgrow their wardrobe.  Be sure to make sure that your child has the appropriate sized clothing for the upcoming winter season.  

Winter Items in Various Bags

I keep a Get Home Bag and "Bug Out" type bag stocked with items for when I may be in a pinch.  I rotate items through them as the seasons progress.  The following are some items that I rotate in when the cold weather is just around the corner:
  • Stocking Cap
  • Base Thermal Top and Bottom - I was able to find Patagonia base top and bottom thermals on sale.  I have worn these under my BDU's that I hunt in and they work as advertised.  Last winter (2013) was very bitter the weekend I went deer hunting. I had no problem staying warm enough to continue staying outside (although it was not exactly toasty either!).
  • Wool Socks and Liners - I swear by Smartwool.  The best deal I can find on these socks on a consistent basis is here.
  • Winter appropriate boots (sits next to the pack)
  • Pants - I prefer heavy ripstop pants like Wrangler Riggs Workwear Ranger Pants
  • Mid Layer - Any type of fleece mid layer is nice.  I prefer a full zipper so that I can doff and don easier.
  • Heavy Coat (sits next to the pack)

Winter Car Items

I treat my vehicles as if they were mobile shelter.  Therefore, I try to keep a little of all of the essentials at all times.  I specifically make sure I have the following in my car in addition to the usual food, water, first aid items, etc:

  • Windshield scraper
  • Windshield de-icer
  • Snow brush - Usually built into a heavy duty scraper.  Great for saving your gloves from getting unnecessarily wet.
  • Tire chains and tow strap - Luckily, I haven't needed them yet.
  • Blanket and winter hat - One can never have too many of these.
  • Mini shovel (or full size if it's the truck)
  • Kitty litter - This provides traction where there may be none.
  • Chemical hand and foot warmers - I use the Hot Hands brand and have been pleased with them.

Those are the lists that I have come up with in the past few years.  Keep in mind these items are specific to the colder weather.  Please share this with others to get them thinking about getting prepared for winter.

What items did I forget?  Are there items on here you find unnecessary?  What would you have included?  Comment below and share.


  1. For the Mr Buddy IIRC they make a host to run off 5 gallon cylinders. You would probably need to be planning on heating for some time to have it make sense vs the little cylinders but it might be worth looking into.

    I have a hose setup for the coleman propane stove. While bulky these are handy because they can drop your cost to use it vs the little cylinders. Also you can cook with one for a really long time. Cody Lundin mentions using such a set up for around 6 months in a book, though hours of cooking on high might be a more meaningful number.

    1. You are correct. I have the hose and the regulator to keep the lines from being fouled up. Good call, I should have mentioned those items.