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Winter is objectively the least wonderful time of the year, especially for anyone who has to brave black ice and whiteout driving conditions on top of the normal jackholery of their morning commute. The gifts listed here may not be enough to keep your vehicle out of the river to grandmother’s house, but they will bring a smile to any daily driver on your holiday shopping list with dependable snow tools, handy heated accessories and rugged cold weather gear.
Motor Trend 923-BK Black FlexTough Contour Liners
It’s bad enough that the underside of your vehicle is going to be regularly soaked with ice slush and road salt for the next few months, your vehicle’s interior shouldn’t suffer the same. Instead, swap out your fancy factory-installed floor mats this winter for some ruggedized weather-resistant rubber mats from Motor Trend (no, not that one, the other one). They’re $40, come presized to fit most makes and models — and can easily be trimmed down to a more precise fit with a set of regular scissors.
Gorla Gear Universal Fit Waterproof Car Seat Cover
If only we tracked snow around on our boots — no, it’s on our pant cuffs, jacket shoulders, gloves and caps, which is why we can’t count solely on rubberized floor mats to collect the bits of outside we bring into the car with us. If you’re looking for a seasonal seat cover solution, the Gorla Gear Black Premium Universal Fit Waterproof Stain Resistant Car Seat Cover Neoprene Non-Slip Bucket Seat Dog & Kid Auto Protector Save Your Leather & Cloth Seats, Automotive, Van, Truck, SUV is basically an extra sturdy towel that you drape from the headrest of your front seats to catch and collect frozen detritus before it gets ground into your upholstery.
AstroAI Ice Scraper
Driving around with accumulations of snow on your front or rear windshield isn’t just a great way to get into a wreck, it’s also a highly ticketable offense. So take a minute before starting your commute to swipe some snow from your window. With the Astro AI 47.2-inch ice scraper in hand, you won’t even have to lean over the hood to clear all the way across.The handle extends from just over three feet in length to just under four. It’s got a snow brush on one side, a squeegee on the other so it’ll be useful in the warmer, wetter months ahead as well.
FrostGuard Plus Windshield Cover
You know how you can put a sun shield on the inside of your windshield to keep the hot summertime sun out of your car while it’s parked? The FrostGuard Plus Winter Windshield Cover is the exact opposite. It sits on the outside of your windshield to catch and slough off snow that would otherwise have to be chiseled off with a 47.2-inch ice scraper (just for example). It’s designed to cover the front window, wipers and side view mirrors while a pair of sturdy pvc tubes sewn into flaps along the edge can be shut in the doors to prevent wind, or thieves, from removing the cover.
Voile Telepack Mini Avalanche Shovel
Everybody wants a White Christmas until the next morning when you have to dig your car out of a brand new snow bank. With a collapsed length of 24 inches, Voile’s Telepack Mini Avalanche shovel is compact enough to fit inside a backpack and sturdy enough for all sorts of emergency digging — whether that’s freeing a buried snowboarder or untombing your sedan to get home from the office is up to you. The aluminum handle extends out to nearly 36 inches while the foot-wide shovel blade will make quick work of the snow around your tires and doors. Just remember to lift with your legs and don’t hinge your back.
UCO Stormproof Match Kit
These are perfect stocking stuffers for anyone on your shopping list. Well, anyone except for your one nephew whom everybody’s rightfully concerned about — I mean, there’s no way that many cats just “go missing” all at once. The UCO Stormproof Match Kit is small enough to fit in a glovebox, emergency roadside kit or door bin, holds 25 storm-proof matches capable of igniting even underwater and three strikers. Think of it as a $10 insurance policy against potentially freezing to death in a blizzard. Take it from me, a guy who owns one.
Orion 20-minute flare
Use them to warn oncoming traffic of a hazard in the road or defend yourself from a pack of ravenous wolves with a taste for human blood (like Liam Neeson!) — either way, you’ll have a full third of an hour to extricate yourself from the situation before having to light up another of these high-visibility road flares. Good thing they come in six-packs.
Tire Traction Mat
A longtime staple of the offroading community, rubber tire traction mats are a great way to free a car from snow as well as mud, sand and ice, and a heck of a lot easier to store in your trunk than a 35-pound bag of kitty litter. Just snuggle one up close to each of your drive wheels to give your vehicle enough grip to get out of wherever it is you are and you on the way to wherever it is you’re going.
ThruNite TC15 V2 2531 flashlight
Like the UCO matches, the ThruNite TC15 flashlight is the perfect tool to forget that you have until you need it. USB rechargeable and outputting more than 2500 lumen with six brightness options, the TC15 can illuminate under the hood and flag down passing motorists for help with equal ease. Plus its power button is designed for use with gloves on so your fingers won’t get cold when turning it on.
USB-C Hand Warmers
During these cold winter months, it is essential that we keep our vulnerable extremities sufficiently warm so as to prevent spoilage once the spring thaw and decomposition set in. OCOOPA’s pocket-sized reusable hand warmers will keep your fingers toasty 95 to 131 degrees fahrenheit, heat up in seconds and run for however long it takes to fully discharge its 5200 mAH USB battery.
As an Army brat I can personally attest to the superior heat-keeping qualities of a mil-spec Woobie blanket — the constant sheen of sweat that doesn’t ever wick away necessitating the use of a “leg towel” that your older brother rolls up into a rat tail and snap you with until he “accidentally” pops you right in the fucking eye and then hey, it’s a trip to the emergency room like 1994 all over again lets you know it’s working. These sold by USGI Industries (despite the misleading company name) may not be actual army issue but they’re constructed from the same polyester-fill quilted nylon I remember from a youth spent bundled underneath them in search of protection from San Francisco’s “summers.” Available in eight colors, the 62 by 82 inch poncho liner can serve a variety of uses, from basic blanket or groundcover, to windscreen, sunscreen and cargo sling — even an impromptu sleeping bag.
Outin Portable Espresso Machine
Most of the products discussed in this guide are meant to help keep you alive during an automotive snow emergency. The Outin mobile espresso maker is here to help maintain your will to live through the promise of sweet, sweet caffeination. The $129 battery-powered brewer can make both hot and cold brew from either a Nespresso-compatible pod or ground espresso, and do so in under 5 minutes. Just don’t use it while actively driving, please.