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Vehicle EDC: winter

Winter EDC vehicle Alaska car

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#1 kyle woodward

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 02:48 PM

I am getting ready to drive to Alaska with my wife and two dogs. It will be a 4000 mile trip in the middle of winter. We will be driving my Toyota 4runner. I'm looking for suggestions on what survival gear to pack. I have the basics, water, food (for both us and the dogs) extra gas, snow chains, and sleeping bags. What else do you suggest?

#2 Davis


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Posted 02 February 2013 - 06:58 PM

Kyle, I am from Alaska (though currently not residing there) and have made many "dead of winter" road trips in some of the most remote and desolate parts of both Alaska and Canada.
I will first say that if any of this is already obvious to you I apologize and mean no disrespect, but in my travels I have had multiple encounters of people needing assistance because they did not know what they were getting into.

The biggest thing to keep in mind once you start getting far north of the border is that you are not in Kansas any more. It's the simple things that many people do not think about, such as many gas stations no longer have 24-hour pay at the pump, meaning you can only get gas while they are open. Depending what part of AK you are heading to there are some very long stretches between gas stations; know exactly how many miles you can travel on a tank, and typically never pass up a chance to top off. For your extra gas that you plan on bringing, keep in mind that you will probably be driving over several mountain passes, the change in elevation will effect the pressure in the sealed gas cans and can cause them to bloat and leak, so if they are inside you vehicle this can be a fairly big hazard. I suggest not filling them 100% full and keep them on the roof or better on a hitch mounted cargo carrier.

It can get very cold and vehicles are not always happy with the extreme cold. Ensure that you have block heater, oil pan heater, and transmission heater all installed and at least a 20’ heavy gauge extension cord to be able to plug in your vehicle with when you stop for the night. If it is colder than -15 F it is a good idea to be plugging it in, otherwise you may be in for a surprise the next day.

Lastly, plan your trip with precision; meaning have a plan of exactly where your destination is each day, and keep in mind that it is not always easy to find a hotel or place to stay.

As for what you should have with you, I think you already have the basics but also consider:
  • Snow shovel (they make compact ones if you do not have the space for a full size)
  • Road flares
  • Fire starting supplies (which you kind of already have with the gas and the flares)
  • Multiple pars of warm gloves
  • Quality winter boots
  • Easily accessible cold weather gear that you can put on if you have to get out in a remote area for any reason
  • Water (lots of it)– I know you already listed it, but lots of hydration is ever bit as important in extreme cold as it is in extreme heat.
  • First aid supplies
  • Rope (for general utility purposes)
  • Tow strap
  • Jumper Cables
  • Gas treatment (a couple bottles of it, something like “Heat” brand)
  • Cash money (though most places all do take credit card up there now, it is not too uncommon in the remote areas for their system to be down and causing them to only accept cash.)
Depending what rout you are taking and where in AK you are heading I would be happy to answer any specific questions you may have, so feel free to ask or send me a PM if you like.

(Sorry for the long winded response...)

Edited by davis.agd, 13 February 2013 - 07:52 PM.

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#3 sc00ter



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Posted 02 February 2013 - 07:02 PM

I have done this drive myself. If you feel the need to take a gun, take a shotgun. Getting handguns across the border at Canada is a crap shoot at best. You can read their laws online, but they are open to interpretation by the agent at the border. Have to fill out a litlle paperwork and pay $50 (money order) to get it across. Check their website for up to date details. I would also suggest taking extra flashlights and batteries, camera (great scenery), and don't forget the TP. You can drive for most of the day without reaching a town or rest area in Canada.

Fill up on gas before you cross into Canada because the gas prices go way up. Also, as you approach the border to cross back into Alaska there is at least one gas station just on the other side of the border that you will not see advertised in Canada. There are signs that say last stop for gas, but that is last stop in Canada. You are better waiting until after you cross the border.

I also found that having something to cover my face was nice while fueling, the wind was horrible and burned at -25. Keep something in the vehicle to clean off your windshiled and headlights as well. And keep an extra set of dry gloves in the vehicle handy. I had to swap out a couple times when the ones I was wearing got wet from cleaning the windshield off. I found that having a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol worked well. Melted the ice buildup and using the squeegee on my ice scrapper cleared the windshield fine. If you have any questions post them up and I'll do my best to answer them

#4 Davis


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Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:54 PM

Kyle, wondering how the planning of your trip is going or if you have maybe already started it?


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#5 krieger



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Posted 25 April 2013 - 11:41 AM

Hey Kyle, I've been stationed at Fort Drum, NY for a couple of winters and had a kit very similar to Davis', I also carried an axe because in ice storms there was a lot of debris in the roads, but the main thing is extra gas, and communication devices as well as doing an intelligence work-up on the route: I.E.- where the longest sections of road are with out assets close by, gas points, towns, service stations, etc. Knowledge of the area your moving into is key.


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