Snow Chains - Noobie

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
Post Reply
User avatar
Blazersin7
Posts: 13
Joined: July 9th, 2019, 12:00 pm

Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by Blazersin7 » January 16th, 2020, 1:54 pm

I don't feel comfortable driving to trailheads/snow parks in the snow and need advice on snow chains for my 2007 Toyota Avalon. Looking for an inexpensive option that won't break in 1 season. As my comfort level increases, I might explore more this Winter and go once a week. Can anyone give me advice on snow chains and/or driving to Government Camp during this Winter season? I'd like to explore as much of Mt Hood as possible. I'm aware forest roads can get dangerous and I would avoid anything that requires high clearance or too remote.

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 12905
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by retired jerry » January 16th, 2020, 2:53 pm

I got some from Les Schwab. I think they were cables.

Try putting them on here first to figure out how to do it.

You put them over the top of the tires, connect, drive a short distance, tighten them if needed,...

User avatar
texasbb
Posts: 1082
Joined: July 26th, 2008, 8:16 pm
Location: Tri-Cities, WA

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by texasbb » January 16th, 2020, 6:34 pm

I think the cables are best for cars/sedans. There's a number of new-fangled things out there that purport to be easier to install than chains or cables, but those all seem like awkward gimmicks that won't last long (if they work at all). I prefer real chains for my truck, but you need plenty of clearance between the tire and fender/wheel well, which most road cars don't have.

I agree with the Retired One: drive your Avalon to Les Schwab and ask 'em what they recommend. And yes, practice installing them at home at least once, preferably on a windy day with some snow in your driveway. :)

User avatar
texasbb
Posts: 1082
Joined: July 26th, 2008, 8:16 pm
Location: Tri-Cities, WA

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by texasbb » January 16th, 2020, 6:42 pm

Blazersin7 wrote:
January 16th, 2020, 1:54 pm
I'm aware forest roads can get dangerous and I would avoid anything that requires high clearance or too remote.
When I head out on a remote road in winter, I always carry a shovel and come-alongs (e.g.). And, of course, warm clothes, good walking boots, warm blankets, some food/water. That's the one thing Survivor Man and Bear Grylls are careful to never mention: Be Prepared.

johnspeth
Posts: 178
Joined: July 30th, 2013, 8:33 am

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by johnspeth » January 16th, 2020, 7:10 pm

I do a lot of snow driving with a 2014 VW Jetta. I use Les Schwab chains with success. I've tried to use the cheap cables and they're nearly impossible to get on in the dark, with snow/ice, and cold hands. Chains are simpler and work better but you still have to deal with the trouble of getting them on under difficult conditions. As others have said, practice first in your driveway and bring a shovel. Pick a convenient and safe place to don/doff chains. Make sure you keep your speed low with chains or else you can do some major damage to your car.

I think chains are good for plowed or underplowed roads. They aren't for getting down a snow covered road that's never been plowed. The chains generally get you through the danger zone of 32 deg F where slippery ice limits traction.

User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 3086
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by adamschneider » January 16th, 2020, 9:25 pm

Keep in mind that if you go when the roads are mostly clear (i.e., not during a snowstorm), there's a good chance you won't have to put on the chains on at all. All winter long, you're required to HAVE them when you drive into the mountains, but you don't need to "wear" them unless the roads are crappy.

Personally, I don't like to snowshoe unless it's a nice day, so I've never had to chain up!

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 12905
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by retired jerry » January 17th, 2020, 6:21 am

My previous car I don't think I ever put the chains on ahead of time.

I drove it into the snow until I got stuck on this road over the coast range. Then, while it was stuck in the snow, I got the (Les Schwab) chains out and figured out how to put them on. Since I'm writing this, I must have successfully got out.

(It was in the middle of the day and not too cold or snowy. I had a weeks worth of food and fuel to melt snow. Plenty of warm clothes.)

User avatar
Water
Posts: 1276
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by Water » January 17th, 2020, 7:31 am

i carried chains for years in my 2003 corolla, but was afraid to put them on cause I didn't have a clue.

Then one time it was really bad, it just made sense it was time to do it. So I did, and it wasn't really that hard.

It's not a 'fun' experience though in cold temps, dark, side of the road in slush, etc. Some tips to help:
  • have some 'work gloves' that you dont care of they get dirty
  • have a foam kneel pad like a sit pad or a gardening weed kneeling pad (sold in garden stores) to kneel on while installing so you aren't kneeling in slush getting your pants wet, cold, etc
  • have your headlamp ready/a headlamp you keep in the car, this helps a lot for looking in your wheel well during install
  • a 2 gallon bucket in the trunk (less common than a 5 gal but you don't need that big) is a great thing to put the chains in when you're done, no mess or slop going into a bag or into your trunk. Then you can take the bucket and hose your chains off when you're home (if desired, I rarely did it)
the first items really made a big difference when installing. If you do it a few times you'll get fast at it.
Feel Free to Feel Free

User avatar
jdemott
Posts: 613
Joined: July 23rd, 2010, 1:43 pm
Contact:

Re: Snow Chains - Noobie

Post by jdemott » January 17th, 2020, 8:35 am

Don't ignore the importance of good tires for winter driving, with or without chains. When conditions are marginal, good tires can get you through without chaining up. And even with chains on, unless you put chains on all four wheels, the tires on the unchained wheels still are needed to control the vehicle.

In snowy conditions, winter rated tires (with a mountain and snowflake symbol on the sidewall) are best. Regular all season tires are mediocre in snow. But there are now tires rated for year round use which have the true winter rating.

If you stop at Les Schwab to talk about chains, it would be worth asking for advice about tires also.

Post Reply