Ski season is in full swing—which means the mountain passes are getting flooded with snowboarders and skiers alike. Whether you’re a first-time tuber or an ultra-experienced backcountry shredder, make it a habit to keep these six things in your car every time you head for the hills.
Emergency Contact Information
It’s not enough to just have the important contact numbers stored on your phone—they should be written down on paper, too. Make a list of your emergency contact information, your AAA number (if you have it), any relevant medical issues or allergies, and your insurance details, then seal it in an envelope. Label the envelope clearly, then keep it in your glove box in a Ziplock bag.
A Source of Light
This could be a headlamp, a lantern, or a flashlight—just make sure to pack at least one extra set of batteries. (“I hate being able to see so clearly,” said no one ever.) During the darker winter months, consider stashing a designated headlamp in your glove box with a couple of extra sets of AAA’s. (And remember: any time you’re heading into the backcountry, it’s worth bringing a light source, no matter what time you’re planning to return.)
A First Aid Kit
Just do it. Make sure you include the normal supplies (Band-Aids, over-the-counter medications, athletic tape, Steri-strips, etc) in case of the normal bumps and bruises, and personal protective equipment (latex gloves, a surgical mask, and a face shield for CPR) in case you’re the first responder after somebody else goes off the road in icy conditions. If anybody in the car has medical conditions that require special tools or medications to manage, carry a backup supply. Be sure to stock up on handwarmers for chilled extremities, blister supplies for skiers who might be breaking in new boots, and a space blanket.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you carry an extra blanket, a spare sleeping bag, or just a couple of layers of clothing and jackets—just make sure you’ve got enough insulation to keep everybody in the car warm in case of an expected night on the side of the road. When you’re calculating what to pack, consider number of people (and pets) in the car, the average day and nighttime temperatures in and around your destination, and what kinds of insulating layers your passengers will already have with them. It might sound like overkill, but there’s no cost to tossing an extra layer or two into the trunk—and if those layers could be the difference between an inconvenience and an emergency.
While you might not want to lug around a full-sized snow shovel, there are lots of portable options that fit nicely in the trunk of a car. Look for a model with a telescoping or extendable handle, which gives better leverage if you need to dig out your ride.
A Long-Handled Ice Scraper
Because when you get back to your car at the end of a day on the slopes, scraping the ice off your windshield with your Costco card isn’t that awesome.