Prepping & Preparedness 1

72 Hour Kit For Your Car (Level 1 Preparedness)

Although it might be nice to pull your emergency kit behind you as pictured above pulling my cargo trailer, lets downsize it a bit to level-1…

Basic level-1 prepping and preparedness includes the following topics, of which today’s topic will cover the 72-hour kit for your car.

Water and Food
– 72 hour kit for your car
– Disruption of electricity
– Kids and Pets
– First Aid and Medical
– Cash stash
– Seasonal considerations
– Safety and Security
– Consumable Supplies
– Gear
– Documentation and Planning

For an overview of level-1 preparedness, refer to the following post:
Prepping and Preparedness 1 – Overview

For an overview of levels 1-4, refer to the following post:
Prepping and Preparedness 1 – 4

Okay lets get started with putting together a 72-hour emergency kit for your car…

“Why is this part of preparedness level-1?”

Because you spend quite a bit of time in your car and away from your home each day (at work, etc..), having an emergency kit in your car makes good sense.

“Why 72 hours?”

We refer to this kit as a 72-hour kit since it is designed to supply you for 3 days. This is a reasonable time-frame for a generic emergency kit covering most likely scenarios, and is enough time before resupply or getting out of the situation whereby you’re using the kit in the first place. For an emergency extending beyond 3 days, we’re talking about a different level of preparedness (level-2).

Note that these kits may also be designed and fitted for the purpose of simply having at home for “just in case”, or a “bug out bag” (BOB) to be ready at home in case you suddenly need to evacuate for some reason. Today’s topic though will limit the purpose of this kit to one that you will leave in your car.

Okay one final note before we get into it. The contents of the kit that I am about to recommend do not all have to fit into one bag, backpack, etc.., rather simply kept somewhere within one’s vehicle.

Also, the following suggestions are intended as a guideline. Having something is better than nothing, so do what you think is right for you. Since we’re only talking about level-1 preparedness, I’m not going to get into all sorts of additional gear which may be appropriate for higher levels of preparedness. The goal here is to get the beginner going without an overwhelming set of recommendations.


72-hour Emergency Kit List (Level-1)

Note: This kit is designed to be kept in your car or truck



The most important thing is water. There’s no excuse not to buy a dozen water bottles for each person that may typically be in your vehicle. The typical 16-ounce water bottle is also a convenient size to put in a backpack in case you have to walk away.



One of my favorite foods for this type of kit due to their calorie density is the CLIF BAR (Chocolate Chip!). Most of them pack about 260 calories each.

Related: The CLIF Bar Might Be The Best Energy Food For Survival Kit

Other food choices might include,

Canned Chicken (don’t forget a can-opener)
– Canned Beef Stew (~ 400 calories each)
– Peanut Butter (~ 3,000 calories in one jar!)
– Low salt snacks (so as not get too thirsty)
– Hard candies (satisfy your sweet tooth)
– MRE’s (meals ready to eat)

Cases of MRE’s

You might buy a small packet of plastic spoons-forks so you can eat civilized…

Just use your own judgement. Having some food is better than none. To truly supply yourself with enough calories for 3 days will require a total of 6,000 calories per person. So check the labels and understand the caloric content.

The following DATREX Food Bar packets actually total 3,600 calories:
Datrex 3600 Calorie Emergency Food Bar (Pack of 2)

I reviewed these emergency food bars awhile ago:
Food Storage Food (Datrex Food Bar)



For ordinary circumstances and level-1 hypothetical scenarios, chances are you won’t need to build a fire. However I still suggest that you have a means to start a fire such as an ordinary BIC lighter. We’ll get into additional methods in level-2 and beyond.



Hypothermia is a very real and dangerous condition that can even set in during the summer months. While your vehicle itself will provide shelter during a breakdown or stranded event, having a warm fleece blanket (get one that’s big enough) could be a life saver if not at least a level of comfort.

Example: Martex Super Soft Fleece Blanket



Think about it… It shouldn’t take much thinking about it to understand the benefit…



If you have pets (a dog?) then keep some food for them too. Keep a leash and collar dedicated to the vehicle. Keep a water bowl for them. Also keep a copy of rabies and other vaccinations in the car (in case you have to stay at a hotel requiring proof). Note that I discovered during a recent road trip that LaQuinta hotels are 100% pet friendly.

The collapsible food and water bowls that we keep in the truck for our dog:
Collapsible Dog Bowl



Any sort of soft backpack will be very helpful if you ever need to walk away from the vehicle. It will enable you to carry your food & water and other supplies. I also use the backpack to keep many of my kit items within.



Some people wear “dress shoes” to work. If this is you, be sure to keep a pair of comfortable walking shoes in the vehicle for “just in case”



It doesn’t hurt to keep an extra change or two of underwear, socks, maybe a shirt. Also, depending on the season, you might not always have appropriate outerwear while you’re out and about in your car. Consider keeping a raincoat, hat, gloves, or any other appropriate extra outerwear designated to the vehicle.



It helps to be able to see at night.

One of my favorite little flashlights:
Streamlight Stylus Pro

I reviewed it here:
Best Pocket Carry Flashlight For Under 30 Dollars



A whistle can be heard MUCH FARTHER AWAY than shouting for help.

Related post: The Loudest Whistle For Your Survival Kit



Important! Keep a First Aid Kit designated just for your vehicle. There are lots of them to choose from. Here’s one, the apparent best-seller currently on Amazon:

First Aid All-purpose First Aid Kit, Soft Case with Zipper

As part of “Preparing and Preparedness 1” use the guidelines above to put together your own emergency kit to be kept in your car. Add whatever else you feel is important. I purposely kept the list short to keep it simple for now…

I know that many of you experienced preppers are saying to yourself that I left a lot of things off this list. Some of them seemingly important. However, level-2,3,4 will pick them up. The intent here is a basic simple kit for ordinary circumstances.

That said, I welcome your comments regarding your own opinions of level-1 kit contents and maybe your own examples of having to actually use your kit for one thing or another…


LEVEL 1 – 4
Preparedness Level 1 – 4 OVERVIEW
Preparedness Level 1 OVERVIEW
Water & Food
72 Hour Kit
Kids & Pets
First Aid & Medical
Seasonal Considerations
Safety & Security
Consumable Supplies
Planning & Documentation
Preparedness Level 2 OVERVIEW
Water Storage & Availability
Water & Food
Electrical Grid Down For 2 – 4 Weeks
Security & Situational Awareness (Level 2 Preparedness)

Similar Posts

Get notified when new comments are posted
Notify of
Affirm you're human... not a Bot

[ Visit: Open-Forum for Off-Topic-conversation ]
Sort by Oldest First
Sort by Newest First Sort by Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments