Based on our experience after numerous expeditions to the Himalayas and other remote regions, we would like to share the facts and realistic preparation details for the Winter Spiti 4x4 expedition.
Now that you have your attention, Let us help you understand what it will be like traveling the remote regions of Spiti valley in the winter season. Landscapes are beyond your imagination and snow makes the entire frame more than a wonderland, you would have ever imagined or seen in edited Instagram stories & reels.
As you start your journey ascending from the queen of hills Shimla, the temperature starts to drop. Day temp will range between +3 degrees to - 3 degrees at night until you enter the gorgeous Sangla valley.
Sangla valley makes you feel the major shift in temperature & culture. Modernization starts to leave its traces far behind and small quaint villages make a picture-perfect portrait. At every bend, you will encounter snow trapped and lots of small patches of black ice. Drive carefully on bends, don't let the mesmerizing landscape distract you.
Temperatures out here range between - 2 in bright daylight and all the way to - 11 degrees while you enjoy your drinks around a bonfire at night.
Once you start your journey ahead of Sangla toward Spiti valley. Terrain changes from Green & white to Brown & White, lots of gravel roads, and winds get chilly to the extent it pinches you harder than a needle pierced into the vein. Daytime temperatures range between -3 degrees in bright sunshine to -25 degrees at night. Let's be well-planned and prepared so the extreme environment won't take away the charm of exploring and the irreplaceable experience of watching uncountable twinkling star-lit nights in Kaza & around.
Let's gear up
Our experiences taught us to add items to our preparation list that has always allowed us to go out in extreme & yet enjoy the surreal offering nature serves. A thumb rule over generations that has proved to be true for traveling in sub-zero temperatures is to layer up. No cloth generates heat of its own, it's your own body heat that keeps you warm and a good sensible layering will keep the body heat trapped and make you feel comfortable even in these harsh snowy conditions.
A pair of good base layers for the upper and lower body, keep multiple pairs depending on the number of days you travel ( Winters your body precipitates & sweat doesn't dry up quickly unlike summers)
A pair of body-fitting fleece/wool uppers & lowers to be worn over the body warmer.( Both fleece and wool will keep the warmth trapped and won't let it escape)
A three-layer jacket or down-fill jacket with a possible outer shell is a windbreaker and waterproof
Two pairs of warm pants with outer windbreaker & water repellent.
Carry 2 pairs of hand gloves, 1 simple fleece made for all-day use even for driving, etc & another one a waterproof pair with warm lining to enjoy playing in the snow.
Multiple pairs of warm socks, in winter your feet will sweat more than in summer.
A warm cap & neck warmer to keep ur head, ears & neck covered.
A pair of warm waterproof boots with min rating of -5 to -10 degrees while stationary
Carry a few essentials like Sunscreem with high UV resistance, moisturizer, wet tissue
Carry an electric blanket, they come cheap and are a lifesaver for a very cozy sleep.
Vehicle checklist for winter drives.
Your love for your machine is endless and so you need a few checks to ensure she returns it with pure trill & love.
Always carry the basic toolkit, jack & owner's manual that came along with your vehicle. The owner's manual carry's all the info required about electricals, fuses & basic mechanicals about your specific vehicle make & model.
Ensure to get your vehicle serviced before you venture out. If it was serviced recently ensure you have min 3000 km or less than the next service interval.
Especially for winter expeditions, ensure to replace the fuel filter before you venture out, Usually, Manufacturers recommend replacing the fuel filter only once the check sign glows on your dashboard, however in the real-world fuel does have lots or minor adulteration primarily water vapor. These with time get accumulated in the fuel filter. In normal temperatures, they do not bother much, however, once you are in those extreme sub-zero temperatures. Water in the filter tends to freeze and block the fuel supply and won't let your car start the next morning.
Ensure to have min 60% tread left in your tires, Winter or no winter AT tires are your best companion. they will keep you safe and won't let you get stuck in most places.
Get these small essentials in your truck and you get your self-insurance for a tension-free ride.
Tow Rope & Shackles
A bottle of coolant
A pair of work gloves
Few screwdrivers & pliers
6. Additional gear you will need for winter Spiti or any snow drive. Snow chains, A small shovel, sand ladders, Deisel Anti-Freeze, Tarpaulin, Spare fuel Jerrycan, Tarpaulin
7. 4x4 gears are usually not used most of the time in civilization unless you are a regular offroader. Try to engage the 4H & 4L Gear and drive for small patches to ensure it's engaging and disengaging correctly.
We have curated the above points to help you explore the winter wonderland and relish the fun of 4x4 driving while enjoying the best these surreal locations have to offer.