• Windshield/ice scraper
  • A sturdy pair of boots
  • Shovel
  • Ice melt/salt/cat litter/sand
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water
  • Warm blankets and clothing/warm sweaters, coats, jackets, other layers, gloves, hat
  • Space heater/alternative heat/energy source
  • First aid kit
  • Sunglasses/sunscreen


If you’ve never experienced a winter in Flagstaff before — or snow, period — it can be easy end up unprepared — whether you’re a visitor, a college student, or a permanent resident who’s just moved here. Arizona is warm and sunny and full of sand and cactus, right? That might be true of elsewhere in the Grand Canyon state — but not in Flagstaff, nor a good portion of the rest of Northern Arizona. We experience a full four seasons here, including winter, snow and all. Moreover, they can be pretty brutal sometimes.

While yes, it’s rare to see below zero temperatures like elsewhere in the United States, and our colder, snowier days can often be interspersed with warmer periods reaching highs of 40s and 50s, we also regularly find ourselves one of the snowiest cities in the country and see an average of around 80 inches of snow each winter — so it’s important that when those days do come, you’re prepared, particularly if you plan on actually spending any time outdoors.

Here we’ve composed a list of things you should keep on hand for those cold and snowy winter days, whether you’re just stopping through for a couple days or planning on sticking around long-term. A quick stop at HomCo Lumber & Hardware and you’ll be ready to take on the Flagstaff Winter!

      1. Warm blankets and warm clothing (including long sleeves, long pants, long socks, sweaters, coats/jackets, a hat, gloves, and perhaps even other layers, like a thermal long sleeve or leggings to wear under all of that). This should be an obvious one, but if the temperatures outside are even close to cold enough for water to freeze (32 degrees Fahrenheit), you probably shouldn’t be dressed the same way you would for a day at the beach. The majority of your body should be covered, and pieces with a water-resistant or waterproof element to keep out moisture are a plus. Other things to keep in mind: Even if the air temperature alone isn’t that low, factors like high winds/wind chill can make it feel much colder, and as is common in mountainous areas, temperatures can vary drastically between various times of the day and night, so layers that you can add and/or take off throughout the day are great. You’ll also want to keep a few extra blankets in your car and/or place of residence in case the heating stops functioning normally.HomCo employee showing a customer their vast warm clothing, outerwear and apparel section


      1. Sturdy boots, for the same reasons as above. Waterproof ones are pretty much a necessity if you’re going to be walking in the snow, and those that come with a bit of grip or traction are a plus for dealing with icy sidewalks.


      1. Sun protection in the forms of sunscreen and sunglasses. Out of all the things on this list, we’re guessing this one is probably the one you’re most likely to forget or not even have cross your mind. We tend to associate sun protection with warm, summer weather, not the colder seasons. However, if you’re going to be spending any portion of time outside above 5 minutes or so, we’d recommend you make sure to forget it. Just because it’s snowy outside doesn’t mean the snow won’t be shining, and when it does, it can reflect a blinding white that can hurt your eyes and burn your skin even faster than normal sun rays would. Not to mention Flagstaff’s high elevation (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re at 7,000 feet above sea level here), which also raises our UV index, as well as the fact that we also get our fair share of fair-weather days (above 200 days of sunshine, that is), you’ll definitely want to make both of these items an essential part of your winter-weather prep.


      1. Windshield/ice-scraper. If you’ve got a car, this one’s an absolute necessity — you likely won’t be able to get yourself going and on the road safely without it. Yes, you can try out other alternatives, like a credit card — but these can damage your card (and potentially, your car), and ultimately, they just don’t work nearly as well as the real thing. Besides, they’re so cheap, you almost can’t afford not to buy one.


      1. Shovel. Although it’s the city’s job to plough, shovel, treat, and clear away the snow and ice from publicly-owned roads and sidewalks in Flagstaff, and your landlord or property manager’s responsibility if you live in apartment complex or similar community. If you rent or own your own home or business, however, sorry — hate to break it to you — but that’s up to you to take care of the areas both on and bordering your property. In fact, not doing so can land you with a fine or even a lawsuit if someone injures themselves while on your property. So if you see snow accumulating outside, it’s probably best to break out your trusty shovel and hop to it.


      1. Ice melt/salt/cat litter/sand. In combination with the aforementioned shovel, it’s a good idea to keep something on that can help you either melt down the ice or at least provide more traction so the surface becomes less slippery, like sand, gravel or cat litter, all of which can be great tools for everything from preventing you from slipping and falling on your own sidewalk to getting your car unstuck from a sticky (or, should we say) slippery situation


      1. Water. And some extra water to go with that water. Even if it’s cold outside, you can still get dehydrated, and especially if you’re doing a strenuous activity like shoveling snow or skiing, it’s especially important to drink water to prevent exhaustion. Although we hope it never happens to you, it’s also important to keep some extra water in your car and in your home in case you get stuck, trapped, or your pipes freeze. Keeping some high-energy snacks and non-perishables on hand is a good idea, too, but if it ever came down to it, you can last a lot longer without food than you can without water, which is why we’ve made water a priority on this list.


      1. Flashlights and extra batteries. Similarly to water, flashlights and extra batteries is something you’ll definitely want on hand in a weather-related emergency, especially if you or your car ends up trapped in a bad situation or if the power goes out. It’s a small, simple thing, but they can really come in handy, particularly during those long, dark winter nights.


      1. Space heater/alternative heat/energy source. Not only can using space heaters in specially designated, frequently used rooms help you save on heating costs, they (or another alternative heat/energy source) can be a lifesaver if your regular heating breaks down or just isn’t doing the job.


      1. Sled. Okay, so we’ve covered the basics of what you’ll need to stay safe and comfortable, but we also figure that while you’re here you’ll want to make the most of Flagstaff’s fine, fresh powder and actually have some fun out there. That’s why our last item is a sled that will send you slipping and sliding down those gleaming hills of white in no time. If you haven’t already got your own, you can buy a new, shiny one right here in Flagstaff, directly from us at HomCo. Have fun!