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Do you have the four essential hand tools for your vehicle? The official winter solstice is just a few days away. Cold weather, ice, snow, blizzards, and extreme temperatures are the experience of this season. Many people in the northern parts of our nation ready themselves for this time of the year. Furthermore, a person driving on the roads in these conditions can find themselves stuck on the side of the road. There are four hand-tools that you can store in your vehicle that can help you to self-recover when you are stranded on the side of the road if you are mired in a rut.

The U.S. Army requires the operators of wheeled-vehicles to carry these four items on their vehicles at all times. They are accountable items. Moreover, many soldiers have lost some of their pay because of losing this equipment. These essential hand-tools have a name associated with them. They are called pioneer tools. The main reason for this designation is that the early pioneers carried these tools in their covered wagons as they moved to settle the western United States. A recent experience of mine reminded me of the value of bringing such tools in your vehicle.

1. Shovel

The first of the essential hand-tools that you should consider storing in your car is a shovel. The size of your vehicle will determine the size and type of shovel that will work for your vehicle. For example, the standard military d-handle shovel would be too large for a small compact car. Moreover, a standard military entrenching tool might be too small for an SUV. Shovels come in various sizes and styles. However, the best shovel for emergency roadside vehicle recovery is the d-handle, round-tip. By contrast, military folding shovels (aka. entrenching tools) are not designed for this type of application. Therefore, I would not recommend them for this purpose.

The best shovel for smaller vehicles is the ANViL® D-Handle Utility Shovel or something similar. Utility shovels are miniature d-handle shovels. They are small enough that they can be stored in the trunk of most sedan-type vehicles, such as the Chevy® Cruze or Nissan® Sentra. The best shovel for larger vehicles is the regular d-handle shovel, such as the Razor-Back® 30-inch, Wood D-Handle Digging Shovel. The digging shovel works best with mid and full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs such as the Chevy® Traverse or Toyota® 4Runner.

Furthermore, the value of carrying a shovel in your car cannot be overstated. A shovel allows you to dig out your stuck vehicle. A shovel can be used to place gravel or dry dirt in front of your tires to help with traction. Also, they can be employed to dig a fire pit or fire trough for building an emergency fire. They also can be used to construct a hasty shelter or windbreak.

2. Ax or Saw

Another of these essential hand-tools to carry in your vehicle is an ax or saw. We could collectively call them wood-processing tools. However, the value of carrying an ax or saw in your car is immense. The saw or ax is useful to cut wood. Wood logs can be laid in front of the tires of your stuck vehicle to provide some traction for your tires. Moreover, a saw or ax can be used, along with the shovel, to build a hasty shelter, build an emergency fire, or any number of other uses or needs in an emergency.

Axes

There are several sizes of and types of axes, as there are saws. You can read my article on woodcutters for more information on axes. The best kind of ax for a small sedan or economy car is the Estwing® 26-in., Camper’s Axe. It is not as heavy or bulky as a regular woodsman’s ax, but in an emergency roadside situation, it will be handy. Yet, the best ax for SUV’s and pickup trucks is the regular woodsman’s ax. The best ax of this type is the Hults® Bruk Akka Forest Axe. Those who are looking for a budget-friendly and dependable ax, there is the Echo® 28-in., Hickory Handle Limbing Axe.

Hatchets

Many people do not travel in large SUVs or pickup trucks. Therefore, storage space is limited in many sedans and hatchback vehicles. If you own such a car, then a hatchet is a good option if your car is too small to carry an ax. Hults® and Estwing® have great hatchets to consider as an alternative to the ax. Hatchets are smaller than axes. However, they give some chopping capability that can be useful if you are stuck on the side of the road.

Ax Principles

The working principle for finding a good ax is the material of the handle, type of bit, and weight of the bit. Remember that in a roadside emergency, you do not need a dedicated heavy-duty wood-splitting ax. Wood-splitting axes are not good choppers. They are most efficient using vertical strikes. They are inefficient for striking at angles or swinging horizontally.

Saws

Another consideration for these essential hand tools is a saw. The best kind of saw for roadside emergency applications is a folding saw. The best folding saws on the market are made by Silky® or Bahco®. I would recommend the Silky® Big Boy or the Bahco Laplander. However, the Fiskars® Power Tooth 10-in., Steel Bade, Folding Pruning Saw is an excellent option to consider. Saws tend to be more efficient in processing wood for emergency fires and building shelters. However, with a good ax and a folding saw, most wood processing needs during a roadside emergency can be accomplished.

3. Pick Mattock

The pick mattock is the classic pioneer and miner tool and one of the essential hand tools that you should carry in your vehicle. They are digging tools. These tools break up hard and rocky ground. The ability to dig around wheels stuck in mud or softened dirt is essential. Shovels are not effective in breaking up icy, rocky, or dry, densely compacted soil. Troops fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and at the Chosin Reservoir found out the hard way that a small entrenching tool is inadequate to break up the frozen ground. Therefore, a good pick mattock is a great asset to keep in your vehicle, if possible.

Pick Mattocks come in two sizes, miniature and regular size. A miniature pick mattock is an option if you are driving a smaller car. However, remember, that like the hatchet, a miniature pick mattock has its limitations. A good pick mattock to consider is the Husky 2.5 lb. Pick Mattock with 36-in., Hardwood Handle. The miniature pick mattock that can be a good option is the V&B Manufacturing Mattock & Pick Combo, 26-In. Hickory Handle, or something similar.

4. Sledgehammer

Sledgehammers are part of the essential tools that you should carry in your vehicle. They are excellent tools for larger vehicles. However, they also should be a consideration for smaller vehicles. The value of a sledgehammer is the ability to drive wooden logs into the ground or heavy stakes. In a roadside emergency, these hammers can be used for several applications. They are great for helping dislodge or breaking up large rocks. Yet, their most common use is to help with securing logs in front of your vehicle tires. Additionally, a sledgehammer can be used to break windshields to get an injured person out of a car. Yet, the most common sledgehammer used for roadside emergency use is the 2.5 or 3-pound sledgehammer. Smaller vehicles can store miniature sledgehammers or a heavy-duty hammer.

Final Thoughts

The storage of pioneer tools (shovel, ax, pick Mattock, and sledgehammer) in your vehicle will pay dividends in a roadside emergency. The size of your vehicle storage space will determine the dimensions of such tools. Your full-sized pioneer toolset can be stored in a military surplus duffel or seabag or your truck bed utility box. Moreover, a smaller version of these tools can be stored in a medium or large gym-type bag. I would also recommend purchasing a military HMMWV pioneer tool rack and mounting your pioneer tools in that manner on your bug-out truck or SUV if you can do so. So, be prepared, be safe, and consider storing some of these tools in your vehicle.

There are eight must-have tools to include in your home emergency disaster kit. The change of seasons is upon us. The severe weather that marks the shift from winter to spring will begin soon. Are you prepared for tornados, flooding, or severe thunderstorms? Later, summer and early fall will bring similar weather emergencies to include those from the hurricane season. As the strange weather patterns affect our nation, it is prudent to consider the tools that we have available in our home emergency kits.

1. Chain Saw

The chain saw is one of the top tools that emergency preparedness experts recommend that you have in your home emergency disaster kit. The advantage that you have with a chain saw is excellent. It will help you process fallen trees. Additionally, it will help cut through wood framing of fallen homes to recover or rescue someone.

Several companies sell reliable chain saws: Poulan, Stihl, Husqvarna, and Black & Decker. Chain saws come in two types: gas and battery. If using a chain saw is not part of your regular routine, then it is advisable to purchase a battery powered one. People have their individual preferences on chain saw brands. So do some research and shop around for the chain saw and brand that fits your knowledge, experience, and budget.

2. Fireman’s Ax

Another essential tool to keep in your home emergency disaster kit is an ax. There are many types of axes and brands. Axes tend to come with one of three types of handles: wood, fiberglass, or steel. There are three styles of bit blades for axes: single bit, double bit, and combination bit. The best ax to keep in your emergency kit is the fireman’s ax.

The fireman’s ax is the standard tool in use with most fire departments. The fireman’s ax has a distinctive head. The ax head has a single-bit blade on one side and a pick poll opposite the blade. This kind of blade bit is a combination bit. Firefighters use the ax to breach doors and walls to rescue people inside a burning building. A fireman’s ax is excellent for chopping wood when necessary, such as fallen trees.

3. Limb Saw

A third tool that emergency preparedness experts recommend keeping in your kit is a reliable limb saw. The advantage of having a limb saw handy after an emergency is the ability to cut smaller pieces of wood. The chain saw helps cut the large diameter tree trunks and limbs. However, a good limb saw can effectively cut the smaller diameter limbs not practical for cutting with a chain saw.

There are several styles and brands of limb saws. The most well-known are the folding limb saws in use by outdoorsman. However, the limb saws that will be practical for use in the wake of a weather disaster are the larger bow or pruning saws. The are several types and brands of limb saws. The best brands on the market are Silky, Bahco, and Fiskars. Black & Decker and some other companies make powered limb saws. They look like miniature chain saws on the end of a long pole. Thus, whichever style and brand of limb saw you choose, they are a great tool to keep in your kit.

 

4. Gas Shut-Off Wrench

The gas shut-off wrench is one of the more essential tools to hold in one’s home disaster emergency kit. The wrench is sometimes known as the utility shut-off wrench. These wrenches will shut off both the water main and the main gas valves on your home. Having one of these tools is essential. The wrench will help you turn off water and gas that may be escaping from a fallen house after a storm. There are many styles of these wrenches. Be sure to purchase one that can shut off both water and gas.

5. Crow or Pry Bar

A tool that is often recommended by emergency preppers for a home disaster kit is a crow or pry bar. They are different tools with different applications. However, they both give a person the ability to pry and lift debris after a disaster. Most hardware stores sell these tools. The significant difference between these tools is their size and appearance.

Typically, a pry bar is no longer than twenty-four inches, has a flat body with a curved end. The crowbar can be longer, has a rounded shape, and has a claw hook at one end, similar to a claw hammer. The crowbar is a tool to give leverage to lift heavy objects. A pry bar is a tool used by carpenters for pulling nails, lifting up sheetrock or wall paneling. Pry bars and crowbars can come in lengths that will fit in most tool boxes. They both have flattened ends with notches for pulling nails at each end of their bodies.

6. Sledge Hammer

A sledgehammer is a tool that is often recommended by the experts as an essential item in one’s disaster kit. Sledgehammers come with different handle lengths and hammerhead weights. The most common sledgehammer is one with a eight-pound head and twenty-four-inch handle. Sledgehammers also have handles that come in wood, fiberglass, or steel. Sledgehammers are great for breaking concrete, masonry, and sheetrock.

7. Bolt Cutters

A tool that is not often in the discussion of tools for home emergency disaster kits is the bolt cutter. Bolt cutters come in a few sizes. The most common bolt cutters in use are thirty-six inches and twenty-four inches in length. However, bolt cutters can be as small as fourteen inches.

Bolt cutters are excellent for cutting through fencing, wire, anchor bolts, and padlock shackles. In the wake of an emergency, using a bolt cutter to free someone may be the difference between a rescue and a recovery.

8. Shovel

The final tool that one should have in their home emergency disaster kit is a shovel. There are two kinds of shovels, a squared end, and round end. They also come with either a wood handle or a fiberglass handle. There are a variety of shovels on the market. The rounded end shovel is primary for digging. The squared end shovel is for scooping. Your situation may require keeping both types in your kit. However, a good shovel will make cleaning up your property or helping others do the same much easier.

Some Concluding Observations


The eight essential tools for one’s disaster emergency kit are important for post-disaster cleanup and recovery. The latest tornado disaster of recent days gives insight into how being prepared helps communities come together and recover. These essential tools will not only help you; they can help your neighbor also after a weather-related disaster. As you think about these tools, keep in mind that your location plays a part in what to include. Thus, you can not go wrong with a well thought out disaster kit containing the proper tools.