Winterland Survival Kit




I lived in Colorado for nearly 15 years, in the time I lived there; there were several times I would find myself traveling along the highways and byways in rough winter driving.  In the fall of 1991, I decided I needed a kit in my vehicle; after all I was a Boy Scout leader teaching First Aid merit badge and a member of Mountain Search and Rescue.   What would become routine for me would continue in variations about twice a year.  I put together my Winterland Survival Kit, which I would change which kit and contents I would carry about twice a year.  My Winterland Survival Kit would go in on October 1 each year and would be made of a heavy wool blanket, a spare winter jacket, with a pair gloves and a wool hat stuffed into the pockets, I would place 1 gallon of water with a little salt to change the freeze level.   The next and most important item was the 50 caliber ammo can, which I strapped down on the back (of my Isuzu Trooper II) which contained: 100’ 550 Parachute cord, a 100 hour candle, space blanket, Calcium Carbide (which was in three plastic film containers), waterproof matches (in another plastic film container), some Powerbars, a metal canteen cup, some Richmor Food, Signal Mirror, a small first aid kit, flint and steel and a flashlight.  The idea of this kit was to keep me alive in the event I became mired on the road in a winter event.  The key when running a vehicle while sitting in the snow, is too keep the windows cracked, in case the tail pipe gets blocked with snow.

As you look for through my Winter Survival Kit, you see Calcium Carbide Lumps 50g Bottle and you may ask what is it and what is it for?  Ever hear of a Carbide Lamp or Lantern?  Probably not, unless you were alive in 1894 or so, the lamps were originally made for early bicycles and in about 1900 they were introduced for use in lighting until about 1950, they were also popular with miners and cavers, however, the light produced comes from the material when it is wet and burns with an open flame.   So, if you had a gas leak in your home or underground gasses, the potential for disaster was high to say the least.


In the kit, Calcium Carbide was used to make heat, or cook with.  I could take a snowball outside, make an divot or rounded hole in the top, drop in some Calcium Carbide, which would activate with the water, giving off a flammable gas, which I would light with a match or flint and steel and I would have a “flaming snowball” (Papa Bear Whitmore, 1991).  More importantly, I would have a way to melt snow for water or to cook with or to make a fire outside with.  I carried Calcium Carbide in all my gear everywhere I went, but you had to make sure you used water tight containers.  While Calcium Carbide is a Hazardous Material, it is invaluable in your kits, but use Caution with this, like all things can be dangerous in the wrong hands and can injury or maim or worse.  You are responsible for its use or misuse.


As for my May 1 to October 1 Winterland Survival Kit, while it was not winter in Colorado, we only really had two seasons, one being winter and the other being summer and depending on the day, it could be either or both at the same time.  For my “summer” kit, I exchanged the one gallon of water for two sealed gallons, exchanged the perishables in my kit, changed batteries and removed the coat and blanket.  If I was planning more than a day trip up the hill other than to Georgetown or Idaho Springs, I would take more gear.  There is really no such thing is a little more gear, than not having it and wellbeing found after the spring thaw (which does happen more than you know).


The extra items which were not really part of my kit, but I would add depending on where I was going, I would include my Sorel Snow Boots (which I still have), extra wool socks, E-Tool, a snow shovel, kitty litter and a couple road flares.


Being Prepared is a State of Mind as much as it is having the right Gear.

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