Warm Hat and Gloves
Staying warm is the most important survival tactic when you're stranded in the winter. It's always a good idea to have an extra hat and gloves so you (or an under-clothed guest) can keep warm while getting your car out of a ditch, changing a tire or taking a look under the hood.
Digging out compacted snow from under the car or around the wheels is much easier with a proper shovel. Plus, using your hands, even in gloves, can cool you down fast. When you don't have room for a full-size shovel (and really, who does?), the next best thing is a foldable shovel. You can pick them up online or in military surplus stores. Maybe the best tip, though, is becoming a better winter driver. Learn our best winter driving tips here.
Notepad and Pen or Pencil
When you call for a tow, there are likely additional phone numbers a dispatcher will give you, as well as a possible incident number. Or if you're in an accident, you'll need the other drivers license and plate number. If your pen isn't writing, it could be frozen, so warm it up between your hands. Or you can use a trusty pencil, too (though it might be harder to read in poor lighting).
Cell Phone Car Charger
Cell phones are welcome lifelines when your car is stuck, but they're only effective when they're charged. So keep a spare cell phone charger in your survival kit to keep your phone charged up.
Simple Tool Kit
There are a few roadside fixes that can be accomplished with some common tools. Pack a couple screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench and some duct tape. If you can get your car moving again and to a service station with a few Macgyver tricks, you may not only get home safe and sound, you'll save yourself the cost of a tow. Check out this guide to troubleshooting a car that won't start.