A general lack of traction and the ravishes of snow and salt on your car’s undercarriage can make driving in winter unpleasant. But walking out to your car first thing in the morning only to find it buried under a layer of snow and ice is one of winter driving’s most underrated annoyances. Though you already know all the tricks for getting your car out of a snow-and-ice-caked hell, the job itself takes serious elbow grease (read: digging, chipping and scraping) to get free. To make life easier when it comes to that harrowing winter-morning task, keep a set of tools handy in your car. You don’t need everything on this list, but having just a few will make breaking free from the tyranny of snow and ice just that little bit more bearable.
Halite RS25 Premium Ice Melting Rock Salt
Rock salt is the most widely used go-to for getting unstuck. It will melt ice and snow relatively quickly, while its gritty texture provides momentary traction.
The Maxtrax is a common tool used among overlanders because its the most reliable way to provide temporary traction in case you get stuck. The principle works just as well in snow as it does in mud, dirt and sand and in a pinch the Maxtrax can also be used as a shovel. If rock salt isn’t cutting it, this will do nicely.
AAA 4004 Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel
A sturdy, full-length aluminum shovel for easily digging your way out of trouble that only weighs 1.3 pounds and can be disassembled to fit in small trunk spaces.
Carhartt Cold Snap Gloves
Made with Carhartt’s breathable and waterproof “Storm Defender” textile these insulated gloves will keep your fingers from feeling like they’re falling off, while letting sweat escape through a breathable membrane so you won’t feel too uncomfortable during rigorous digging. Still not warm enough? Pack a few hand warmers, just in case.
Hopkins 80037 Subzero 60-Inch Snowbroom
Forego the small, handheld ice-scraper (especially if you have a SUV or truck) so you aren’t stuck reaching to get every last bit of ice off your windshield. The Hopkins comes with a brush for getting extra bits of snow and ice off, and can be collapsed to 38 inches for storage.
ARB ARB505 E-Z Deflator
If you aren’t packing something like MAXTRAX, and rock salt just isn’t cutting it, a last-resort option for getting traction is to let some air out of your tires to increase your contact patch.
VIAIR 85P Portable Air Compressor
Because after you deflate your tires, it’s a really bad idea to drive without re-inflating them, this 12V air compressor can use power from your car’s cigarette lighter and will refill most tires in less than two minutes.