Friday, 26 December 2008

Do you have a bail bag?

Just because you live in Fairbanks doesn't mean you can't put on a suit and tie in the winter. It's dramatically overdressed for the town, but I think we already went over that topic. What you have to do, though, is throw gear in the back of your truck so if something is to happen, you're not totally SOL. And given that there are places where you'll be lucky to pass a vehicle at all in a 12 hour period, you can't count on others swooping in to provide your rescue. Drivers need to be prepared to affect their own recovery.

I bring this up, because I spent a few hours digging my truck out of a ditch earlier, after a weak shoulder gave out and my truck slid into deep powder. Worse, it was on Old Murphy Dome Road, which is pretty much not travelled.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of things you want in your vehicle in winter:
  • Shovel - Whether you're digging yourself out of a ditch, or dealing with the after effects of a really heavy snow. Shovels are good.
  • A pair of insulated bibs or snow pants - Most of the time, you don't go around wearing these, so it's good to have a pair in the back. Fairbanks gets $*($ing cold, see. The official motto is `the heart of Alaska,` but I think some other body part is far more accurate.
  • Good pair of pac boots - If you're not wearing them, you should have them.
  • Sleeping bag or blankets - Sometimes, people have mechanical problems that they can't fix on their own. It may be necessary to overnight, in which event you really want to wake up after that nap.
  • Lighter and stuff to start a fire - In the words of Thog the Caveman, `Firegood.` 'nuff said.
  • Food - I keep a hand full of cliff bars in my glove compartment, along with a box of pilot bread in the back. You want at least day's worth of calories, which is easy to get such energy dense items.
  • Tools - Ratchet set, Screwdriver, a few hex keys, and other odds and ends. Strangely, I haven't had to use them on my own vehicle, but I've lost count the number of times I've had to whip out my tools to fix someone else's vehicle (I lie. The count is `6 times in the last two years.`)
  • Flashlight - Hey, you might have noticed. It gets dark here. Fast. Before 4pm. If I need to spell this one out, you're already dim (*rimshot*).
  • Jumper Cabels - You know. For jumping? Dead batteries happen. Though, if your battery goes dead-as-in-no-charge, it's actually more likely to freeze and burst.
  • Tire pump - As temperature goes down, your tire pressure goes down too. When it's $%*(ing cold, it's good to get your tires up to a reasonable pressure. Also, it's just a plain handy thing to have even normally.
Those are really just the basics. Some people throw in traction sand, little stoves, blocks of trioxine, so on. I know someone who keeps a PLB in there, just in case, which seems like overkill to the nth degree, but if I was screwed, it'd be super nice to have. It might seem like this would take up all your trunk space, or room in the back of the cab, but I fit everything into little nooks and crannies, and really the only things that take up extra space are boots, when I'm wearing normal shoes.

I boggle at people who don't even have the barest of required stuff. Most of the time, they're fine. They don't go further than a mile from town. Sometimes, they're screwed; then they make the newspaper as that motorist who needed rescued. Very rarely do those sorts of emergencies need to be emergencies.

1 comment:

CabinDweller said...

I was much better about keeping the car stocked for 'oh shit, looks like we're walking' back when I had the old Loyale. (RIP.) Owning a vehicle where things tended to break down regularly did that.

Always had a set of bibs, boots, heavy duty parka, flares, etc. in the kit.

But since I've gotten a newer Soob (airbags and everything) I've been a bit too cavalier about it. Looks like might be time to stock the new vehicle.