Preparing for a grid-down emergency in the winter is different than preparing for one in warmer weather. To make sure that you have the best chance of survival, you need to pack high-quality winter survival gear. I know that it can be a little daunting to find the items that you need on your own, which is why I have put together this list of the 21 best survival gear items you need. By investing in these items, you can make sure that you have the best possible chance of surviving the winter no matter what disasters you face.
Winter Survival Gear Checklist
#1. Warm Clothing Keeps Your Core Temperature up
You will want to make sure that you can dress in layers when you are faced with a winter disaster. Knowing ahead of time what clothing you are going to wear and including it in your gear is important as you do not want your core to get too cold. By layering your clothing, you will be able to remove it when you get hotter during the day and when you are exerting yourself and can put the layers back on again when you are chilled as the sun goes down.
#2. A Hatchet Has Multiple Uses
You need to make sure that you have a hatchet packed with your winter survival gear as it can come in handy in many ways. Not only can you use the hatchet to help chop wood, which is the most obvious use of this tool, but it can be used to cut ice, as a weapon, as a hammer, and even to make a splint if you fracture or break a bone. Without a hatchet, you will struggle to do all of these tasks and may find yourself at the mercy of another person when you need help.
#3. The Right Boots Protect Your Feet
There are a number of different type of boots on the market, making it important that you consider what purpose you need your boots to serve before you go shopping. The boots that you wear during summer months simply may not offer you the warmth and protection that you will need during the winter, which is why you need to consider buying different boots for your stash of winter gear. By considering the terrain, the boots’ anatomy, and your needs, you can find the right pair for you.
#4. A Winter Sleeping Bag Will Protect You from Frostbite
Most people already have a sleeping bag in their gear but if your current bag isn’t rated for extremely low temperatures, then you will be putting yourself at risk each time you use it during the winter. It’s easy to get complacent and think that you can rely on blankets to keep you warm but you want to make sure that you have the best chance at survival with the right sleeping bag.
#5. Gloves Keep Your Fingers from Freezing
You need to make sure that you have gloves in your winter gear pack that offer you warmth and protection but still allow you to move your fingers easily or you will struggle to chop wood and protect yourself. Additionally, I think that it’s a good idea to pack two pairs of gloves if you can as they are likely to get wet fairly quickly, which can damage your hands. Being able to swap out for a dry pair will protect your fingers from frostbite.
#6. The Right Communication Device Keeps You Connected
Most people know that they don’t want to rely on their cell phones for communication during a grid-down situation but beyond that, they don’t know what gear they need. There are a few different things that you need to consider so you can choose the right option for you. I have found that this is a very personal decision and one that you will need to complete research on yourself so that you can find the best communication device for your needs.
#7. A First Aid Kit Will Help You Perform First Aid
It is very likely that when you are trying to survive during the winter, you will get injured in some way or another, which is why you need a great first aid kit. Make sure that you choose one that includes items you need for winter survival. I have found that instead of simply updating my first aid kit as the weather changes, having separate ones for warmer and colder weather ensures that I am always ready with my survival gear.
#8. Snow Goggles Help You See
It’s not only blowing snow that you need to worry about when you are in a grid-down situation in the winter. I have experienced how painful harsh winds can be and know first-hand that the right snow goggles are imperative for survival. Without these goggles, you simply won’t be able to see easily in the driving snow or when it is really windy. Having a pair of great snow goggles on hand ensures that you can see what you are doing and will help keep you safe.
#9. Insulated Water Bottles Keep Your Water from Freezing
You probably have a lot of Nalgene bottles in your summer survival gear but you are going to need to invest in insulated water bottles to prevent your water from freezing in the winter. It won’t matter how much water you have if it is all frozen as you are not going to be able to use it to ensure your survival. While buying more water bottles may seem expensive, it’s worth the price to know that you’ll have drinkable water.
#10. The Right Headgear Keeps You Warmer
Just as you need to carefully choose your clothing for winter survival, you also need to choose the right headgear. During the winter, you need to make sure that you have heavy and warm headgear that will protect you from cold weather. While in warmer months you may have been more concerned with keeping the sun out of your eyes, your concern now is preventing heat loss from your head and keeping your ears from freezing. You also need to make sure that you have a few hats or pieces of headgear so you can rotate them out as they get damp and frozen.
#11. Mylar Blankets Offer Many Benefits
Not only are Mylar blankets important winter gear because they help you retain your body heat when you are cold but they also offer many other uses as well. Because they are so small and lightweight, I love to have a few in my winter survival pack so that I can use them as a fishing lure, to melt water, to catch rain, and even to create a makeshift shelter in a real emergency. I have found that when you think outside of the box with Mylar blankets, they offer some great benefits that you can enjoy.
#12. You Can Dig Out with a Shovel
Without the right shovel, you will find that you are stuck. I think that shovels are some of the most important pieces of gear that you can buy but you have to make sure that you have the right one for your needs. It’s amazing how quickly snow can stack up, making travel difficult if not impossible or dangerous. With a shovel, however, you can easily clear snow from your path and make sure that you can get out of your home. It’s also ideal for clearing snow from a campsite.
#13. A Knife Offers Many Uses
Just as you can use a hatchet for many different purposes, the right knife is beneficial and important for your winter survival. I find that you want a knife with a fixed blade so that you don’t have to worry about the knife getting wet and then freezing shut, which can make using it impossible and put you in a dangerous situation. By opting for a fixed-blade knife, you can rest easy that you will be able to use your knife in almost any situation without problems, which can make a huge difference in your survival.
#14. Reliable Fire Starters Give You Peace of Mind
It’s much easier in the summer to find tinder and dead wood to start a fire but searching under snow in the winter is significantly harder, which is why I think that you need to make sure that you have fire starters in your gear. Fire is always important in a survival situation but is even more important during the winter when you will be so cold.
#15. Flashlights Help You See
Obviously, you will want to see when you are facing a grid-down situation but it’s important to pack flashlights in your survival gear that can withstand the cold temperatures without failing you, which is a problem for some flashlights. This is why you need to make sure to thoroughly research the flashlight that you are considering buying so you can rest easy that it won’t fail you when you need it the most on a dark, cold night.
#16. Generators Let You Stay Put
If you want to be able to stay put in your home for as long as possible, then you will want to consider buying a generator. While these are a much larger purchase than the other types of gear that I have listed here, they are a great way to allow you and your family to stay in your home. This is ideal if you think that the grid-down scenario will only last a short time or you have medical reasons for not leaving your home.
#17. Snowshoes Allow You to Move Easily
When you live in an area that is prone to deep snows in the winter, then you need to make sure that you have snowshoes in your winter survival pack. You do still need boots to protect your feet from the cold but snowshoes make it very easy to navigate your yard or a campsite when it has been snowing. When you have snowshoes, you won’t be at risk of sinking into deep snow.
#18. Hand Warmers Provide You with Extra Warmth
No matter how great your gloves are, chances are good that your hands are going to get cold in the winter and that can make it difficult to dress yourself, hunt, and set up a campsite. Hand warmers slip into your gloves and provide steady, constant heat to prevent your hands from being painfully cold, which is why I include them in my winter gear pack and you should too.
#19. Snow Chains Help You Move
No prepper should be without snow chains for his or her car so he or she can still travel in icy conditions. Even if you thought originally that you would stay put and wait out the grid-down scenario, your plans may change and you need to be able to adapt quickly. You never want to wait to buy snow chains until you need them as you may not be able to find any.
#20. Fire Extinguishers Protect Your Home
I think that a lot of people overlook having fire extinguishers in their homes and their cars but they are especially important during the winter when you may be relying on fires to stay warm. For the best chance at survival during an emergency, you need to make sure that you have heat but you also want to make sure that you do not have a fire that is out of control.
#21. Tent Stoves Keep You Warm in the Woods
Upgrading your survival gear to include a tent stove means that you and your family will be warm and comfortable all night long. They are portable, put off plenty of heat, and are safe to use in your tent as long as you choose the right one for your needs. I find that you need to consider the size of your tent, how far you will need to carry the stove, how much it weighs, and if you can afford it.