A Place To Store Food For 72-Hour Emergency Kit In Your Vehicle

I came across this short post that I wrote 10 years ago. It’s a simple message that’s still valid. One pretty good place to keep some extra emergency food as part of your vehicle’s 72 hour kit… In a small cooler. Here’s the post:

Small Cooler For Your Vehicle

Ever wonder where’s a good place to store food for a 72-hour emergency survival kit in your vehicle?

There is a good solution to keeping your vehicle’s survival food fresh, the longest. It’s simple. Keep your emergency food in a small cooler. Depending on the size of your vehicle’s trunk or storage space, buy an appropriate size cooler that will fit the best.

For example, I purchased a small cooler (Coleman 16 quart) that seemed about right to hold a decent quantity of food. Focusing on calories, I included some MRE’s. Calorie food bars (Datrex). Peanut butter (high in calories). Foods like that.

[ Read: Datrex Food Bar ]

Stay away from foods that will melt easily! Like, chocolate bars (ask me how I know).

Storing your vehicle’s survival kit food in a cooler will help to keep the heat out during the summer. Heat is the worst enemy of food storage life. A cooler will also help to keep the extreme cold out during the winter months.

A cooler will moderate the extreme temperature fluctuation that occurs in a vehicle. It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty good way to extend the viability of stored foods in that environment.

I chose a ‘mini’ small cooler with wheels and an extendable handle. There are obvious practical reasons for that.

Coleman 16-Quart
(view on amzn)

Swap out your emergency food

Having said that, I swap out my car-kit food every 6-months. I realize that especially during the summer, the heat will have shortened its shelf life (even when stored in a small cooler – which still gets quite warm in the summer heat).

Sun Shade for your windshield

TIP: You can drop the ambient temperature inside the vehicle during the summer. Obtain a windshield sun shade.

(Search for one that fits your specific vehicle)

I also recommend keeping a backpack along with your other additional 72-hour kit supplies. Because if you have to hit the road on your feet, you will have a means to carry some food (and water, etc…) with you.

[ Read: Things To Keep In Your 72-hour Car Kit ]

[ Read: 72-hour Emergency Kit ]


  1. great post ken,
    a bag with ways to survive a snowstorm-ways to keep warm, fed and hydrated if stranded. a lot of people don’t realize the importance of staying hydrated in cold weather.
    it happens more than people think. especially in the Sierra’s. every year there are stories about folks being stranded on some of the state’s Hwy’s. some don’t make it home alive.
    Thanks again

  2. I have a small cooler loaded with bars that I keep in my house and take it with me when I drive further than 1-2 days walk. For me, it doesn’t make sense to leave food in a hot truck when not needed.

    1. Oh, sorry. When we go on a road trip, you should see the spare tire area. It is packed solid. DW, thinks I must have died from starvation in a previous life. 😂

  3. I have been doing this for years because I used to live in a hot climate zone. I still use this because I keep my lunch components stored there for when I go to work (string cheese and pepperoni sticks). I chill the contents with a frozen bottle(s) of water to keep things cool and change out the bottles when they are defrosted. Contents also include bottles of water and a soda and gatorade. Having snacks on board is a lifesaver for several reasons: 1. I work in a high crime area of town so when I get off work, I go straight to my truck, lock my doors and drive home without stopping at the small stop-and-rob markets on my way home. I have taken reports of and known a few cops that have walked in the middle of a 2-11 armed robbery in small urban markets that always seem to take place after dark. 2. The pretzels and 7-Up that is in my truck are frequently given to pregnant ladies sitting in their cars vomiting from morning sickness while the boyfriend/husband is standing by confused. The soda is also good to have for diabetics and hypoglycemic individuals I see in parking lots while shopping. Having an ice chest in the truck is common practice for those of us that lived far from the grocery store. Having one while shopping meant we could bring home ice cream and fresh produce like butter lettuce when the weather outside is 100+ degrees.

  4. – I have a slightly larger cooler in my vehicle. Even in DW’s little car, we keep a cooler bag which will fold flat. It’ll hold a pizza, hot or frozen. What I normally pack are Clif bars, beef jerky, Datrex bars and Slim Jims. I would change them out every six months, but it tends to be just replace as they do get used.

    – Papa S.

    1. That sounds like a good choice of foods for that kit. And the Datrex bars have some high calorie density too.

  5. I live in the Desert Southwest. I use one of those “vacuum” commuter cups to store a small cache of OTC meds, bandages, and the like. These cups go a long way to mitigate temperature fluctuations in a vehicle, which will DESTROY the meds in a first aid kit. This commuter cup then goes in an insulated lunch cooler, which holds the rest of the first aid kit; things that are more tolerant of high/low temperatures. I’ve been set up this way for over 13 years. The meds and adhesive bandages have held up quite well.

    1. Tom MacGyver,
      good idea. maybe nest a small cup into a large? IDK, ill have to check for myself at the store next time i go.

  6. Also, for last ditch emergencies, keep some “Coast Guard” food bars in your kit. Why Coast Guard? These food bars are designed for the extremes of long-term storage in lifeboat survival kits. On top of that, they are formulated to give you the calories you need without sucking water out of your body to metabolize them. And they’re CHEAP to buy!

    1. Tom MacGyver,
      also put some sardines and vienna sausage’s in there. they are right up there with twinkies as far as something that will last the Armageddon. : )

        1. Yeah; I didn’t list a brand, as there are several out there. I keep the Datrex bars myself.

      1. ‘Matter of fact, I DO keep sardines in my car kit, and for that very reason! Spam is good too. Beware though; if you’re short on water, you’re going to run into trouble after eating these. Too much salt! That’s why the Coast Guard bars…

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