Although we’ve enjoyed an unseasonably warm autumn this year, we all know that snow and cold are inevitable here in Colorado. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stay off the trails if you don’t want to. There are plenty of off road adventures to be had during the winter, you just need to do a little extra preparation before heading out. Especially in the high country, deep snow drifts, blowing wind, and below-freezing temps can put a lot of stress on both you and your vehicle.
After you get your rig a proper tune-up from your favorite Fort Collins mechanic, you should check your gear stash to make sure you have these seven essential items.
If you go off trail during the off-season, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll need to dig yourself out at some point. Be prepared with a compact and lightweight emergency shovel that can easily attach to your rack or gearbox, or stashed in the trunk. You can dig your tires out of snow if you get stuck, or you can shovel out tough spots you know are ahead of you on the trail.
That’s right, even the burliest tires need an extra hand sometimes. Talk to your mechanic about finding the right ones that fit properly and can handle off road conditions. Chains are a great investment to make since they can get you out of really tough spots, give you better traction on the trail, and give you some security if you’re new to winter adventuring.
Truth be told, you should have these with you at all times, whether you’re just playing in the hills outside Fort Collins or you’re conquering backcountry terrain on the Western slope. But in snowy situations, having tools to pry yourself loose can be necessary for your survival. Be sure to invest in high-quality straps in multiple sizes, and know how to use them for yourself or a buddy if the time comes.
Visibility in the winter months can be notoriously poor, so have an extra light or two on hand, even after you’ve scrubbed your headlamps clean and clear. Sometimes the snow can obscure obstacles along your path, and also make it more difficult to see your friends as you’re traveling. Good quality light bars, spotlights, and other high-powered lamps can keep you safe and seen out on the trails.
Scrapers and Brushes
These tools are a must, whether you’re on the mountain roads or city streets. A well-made dual-ended scraper and brush will let you control the ice and snow that can impede your vision and damage your car parts. Before taking off, give your rig the once-over and scrape off any ice, snow, or sleet, and keep this tool handy for on the spot fixes when you’re out and about.
The extreme cold takes a toll on your car’s battery, and the longer you are out in low temps, the higher the chance of losing power, especially if you have to use your winch or make serious effort on hills. Since you should be traveling with buddies, be sure to have cables and know how to use them to restart your battery. But if you’re still not confident, ask your Fort Collins mechanic about replacing and upgrading your battery or installing a dual-battery system if you can.
Emergency Survival Pack
This should be a no-brainer for any off road driver, but it’s a great thing to go through and check between seasons. Make sure all of your equipment works, nothing has expired or corroded, and you have a little extra food and water than usual. If you need ideas on what to include in your rig’s emergency stash, there are plenty of resources online to get you started! Stay safe and warm out there!