Suggested Items For A 72-Hour Car Kit


Use the following list as a guide for your 72 hour survival kit. The items in bold should be in every kit, whereas the rest could be shared among a group. These are only suggestions, and personal tailoring is not only recommended, but it get’s you thinking… The kit should be assembled to fit and work with a backpack. The kit should be kept in your car.


Purified water (minimum of 4, 16-oz water bottles per person)
Food, (3 day supply requiring no cooking)
Blanket, sleeping bag or emergency metallic space blanket
Large plastic garbage bag, poncho or rain gear
Eating utensils, can opener
2 rolls toilet paper
Compass, mirror, whistle

Small 2-man tent
Small water filter or iodine crystals
Flashlights (LED style, and batteries)
Sharp knife
Matches, light sticks
Small portable AM radio with extra batteries
Paracord rope, fishing line (20 lb test min.), hooks
Leather gloves, dust masks

Chapstick, hairbrush, hand lotion
Feminine supplies,
Toothbrush & toothpaste
Soap, washcloth, small towel, razor
Extra eyeglasses (even if you wear contacts)
Baby wipes, deodorant
Change of clothing, jacket, shoes, socks, underwear, hat
Infant needs, if necessary
Family pictures
Important telephone numbers
Paper, marker, pencil, money
First aid supplies & essential medications
Over counter meds
Insect repellant
Sun screen
Bandages, antibiotic ointment
Needle, tweezers, scissors
Triangular bandages, gauze, elastic bandages
Hot pack, cold pack
Rubber gloves


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  1. If willing to spend the cash, those SpareOne emergency cell phones looking interesting to add

    1. Plus, these days, most people have a cell phone or smartphone with them all the time. It is important to keep it charged AND to keep a spare charger for your car (and keep it in the car).

    2. Cell phones are great if the cell towers are working, I would go with CB, FRS or even Ham Radio if you can get a Technician license (really easy and about $15 for the license).

      1. You don’t need a license to use ham type equipment unless you want it as a hobby.

        Part 97 of FCC regulations is quite clear on using airwaves in an emergency.

        ยง97.403 Safety of life and protection of property.
        No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radio communication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are
        not available.

  2. Not sure about 2 rolls of toilet paper, thats about 2 weeks worth, seems excessive to me. Also a hair brush? If I’m running I don’t think I’ll stop to take the time to brush my hair, I wont even care what my hair looks like at that point. Even the can opener is excessive as I doubt I will be carrying canned food as it would be too heavy. I would opt for MRE’s or freeze dried because of weight issues. Several other items I have issue with as well but that is just me.

    1. The hair brush was in there because some of this list was originally partly geared towards escaping a nuclear incident (with fallout), and removing particles from your head/hair would be very important in that case. I suppose that beyond that, it would only serve a psychological advantage for some people, particularly a woman with long hair.

      I’ve known some people to excessively use TP ;) Better to have a bit more of that than you may actually need…

      Yes, if you don’t carry any canned food, you won’t need a can opener. Personally, some of my car kit is supplemented with some calorie-dense canned food. Canned food does not have to be cooked to be eaten safely. If I had to leave the vehicle on foot, I would primarily rely on my other food supplements including lots of calorie-dense food bars, MRE’s,etc.

      I would be curious to know, instead of listing items that you have issue with (although all criticism is welcome), what would you include that is not on the list, and why? That is the type of conversation I hope develops. This was intended to spur new ideas, but I do realize that it is human nature to pick apart lists rather than add to them ;)

      1. I would keep the brush and can opener regardless. I’m a man but I have long hair and it gets unmanagable fast. It isn’t about looking good. It’s about hygiene. getting sticks or leaves or bugs out of your hair is key. Even if you don’t carry canned food with you, if you wind up on the move you will fin canned food. Never assume you’re going back home. The benefit of carrying canned food, is that besides not needing to cook it, and that it has water in it so it doesn’t dehydrate you, is that if you want to heat it up it is on its own cooking vessle and can be eaten right out of the can. Also, cans can be reused to trap bugs wherever you may camp. the trade off there is that the food smell may also attract other animals. I used to eat most of a can of fruit cocktail and then fill it 3/4 back up with water and it’d catch so many bugs!

    2. Your hair might be short enough that you can go without combing it, but anything long enough to put in a ponytail can get very annoying. Besides that, hairbrushes are great tools for getting mud off the bottoms of shoes, scraping debris off of clothing, and a lightweight handle that can store extra scrunchies. Believe it or not, there are a million redneck uses for a scrunchie. They have the elasticity of a rubber band combined with bright colors and thick cloth that’s easy to manipulate.

      Same with TP. That extra roll can be mighty useful as a first-pass filter for creek water, or to stop a runny nose from becoming a sinus infection.

      Nail polish is a great way to keep rope from fraying, keep an envelope sealed, keep screws and small tools from rusting, make helpful items glow in the dark, waterproof matches, smudge-proof a document, color-code children’s belongings, and seal a small cut in your skin so it doesn’t absorb more germs.

      The prepper community would do well to not dismiss the value of common cosmetics.

    3. Re toilet paper … for women at certain times of the month … well, let’s just say you need a lot more than GI Joe can get by with … glad the list includes “feminine supplies” and extra TP is indeed one of those things. Just sayin’.

  3. Since hypothermia could be a real issue, my gear is focused around keeping dry and warm. So a change of clothes and a way to dry out and warm up are my primary concern as well as keeping hydrated. You can die from exposure in as little as a couple of hours even when it is 50 degrees outside if you get wet. Food is not as big of an issue as you can live for a few weeks without food. However some high energy food is included as it can give you a boost that you need to do some strenuous activities if needed. I do include water as it may be difficult to find but I also include water purification. I like to keep it simple. Although I admit that a picture or two of family does not add weight but can give you the mental boost that can get you through some tough times.

    1. That is great advice. Hypothermia is a condition that most people are unaware of (as to how easily and quickly that you can develop the condition). Keeping dry is paramount. Adjusting your kit for the seasons is a good thing to do. I also keep a small Katadyn water filter. Having adequate water or a method of getting it, is at or near the top of the list. For those who don’t always wear comfortable walking shoes, keeping a pair in the car is advisable. Like you mentioned, clothing and proper outerwear is a very important thing, especially if you are forced to leave your vehicle.

  4. I would add: garbage bags. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed them in a mini emergency. (I have kids that get car sick and need to change clothes every once in a while.) And sometimes we actually need them for garbage. Small and large, if you have room. And I would personally keep both rolls of TP and the hairbrush. You just never know.

    1. Thanks for the add. In my 72-hour kit, I keep the TP in a Ziploc bag. I just scrunch the roll so it fits (I think I have it in a gallon size bag). Having general purpose plastic bags though as you suggest could have many uses.

    2. I have a box of unopened contractor bags, along with other key items in my trunk. They can become a poncho, you can stash things in them and keep them dry indefinitely, and you can cut it in half to drag and haul a pile of sticks or line a tent etc. Two or three contractor bags cut right with a parcord is a tarp. You can do some primitive fishing with them, wrap them around a tree you have food stashed in to prevent rodents from climbing (i learned this by studying some harcore Russian fur trappers), and even makes a good blind for hunting.

  5. Since this is a 72-hour kit, again I don’t see the need for 2 rolls of toilet paper. As far as filtering water with it, I find it far too flimsy, tearing way too easy. Instead I have several sheets of paper towels folded and stored in a zip lock bag. Anything I put in my bag I try to make sure that it can serve multiple uses. Paper towels can be used more effectively for filtering water than toilet paper and in a pinch it can also serve as toilet paper, and fire starter. Again, hairbrushes have there uses but I just don’t see how having one in your bag will help you to survive, yes nice to have but far from needed.

    1. This is exactly what makes everyone’s kit different. Everyone thinks a bit differently from each other, everyone lives in their own geographic area with its own set of potential issues for bugging out, everyone has their own skill sets and tools they prefer, everyone faces somewhat different risks and have different objectives, destinations, and roads traveled, etc… I would guarantee you that if all Preppers could list their kits, no one kit would be the same. As for the TP, I personally would rather have the luxury (certain things I refuse to give up unless necessary) because it weighs nothing and only takes up the space of a roll which easily fits in my backpack with the other items.

      TP and a hairbrush aren’t needed, as you said, however it is all subjective to the person doing the packing. The purpose (for me and a ‘car’ kit) is not to see what I can pack that weighs a total of 5 pounds or less, or to fit in the smallest pack possible, but so long as I can comfortably carry it (if I had to walk), then I’m good. If I’m building a kit solely for walking, then I would pack and decide more efficiently.

      Also, I would rather wipe my a$$ with TP than leaves (or other), and I’m a guy with short hair, so don’t need the brush. But the ladies might like to have one if they are to be on the road for 3 days. Just sayin. It’s like brushing your teeth… it is not necessary to have toothpaste and toothbrush to survive, however it sure makes you feel better when you take care of some personal hygiene. Attitude is a very big deal when it comes to survival.

      1. I didn’t mean to start an argument or tell anyone what to do. Just wanted to offer some thoughts on why a person would want to bring something.

        1. @SonjaD, You aren’t the one starting an argument… no worries. peanut_gallery might be, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he simply has strong convictions about not having toilet paper in a car kit. To each their own. I believe though that he is only trying to point out that if the kit were to be designed of only necessities, and with space savings in mind, then perhaps some of these items are not necessary. The premise though is simply a car kit, to last 72-hours if you had to drive out of your region (which could potentially involve walking with the kit – worst case scenario).

  6. I’m sorry if I appear to be antagonistic. That is not my intention, I do have trouble getting my intentions across without the use of emoticons. Also I am female and as such would greatly appreciate a comb or brush when my hair gets unruly, however as I was once an avid day hiker I have learned over time what is truly important to have out in the wilderness. Now remember if you need to use your 72 hour bag it could be because you are truly in an emergency situation. Therefore the items in your bag should be items that can help you survive.

    1. Apologies regarding gender, I made an assumption (should know better than that…). Now I completely understand your pressing the points, because you are an avid hiker. That makes complete sense. Weight and extra ‘stuff’ really is very important in that regard.

      It is really good to think about things for any ‘kit’ in the context of being the most practical and efficient multi-use ‘things’. When it comes to my car kit, I tend to overdo it a little because I figure that I can choose not to take certain items with me if I have to walk out, and otherwise I have plenty of room in the Truck to fit what I want. My presumption is that I am traveling from Point A to Point B while motoring down the road, with the possibility that the trip could take up to 72 hours including overnight.

      Which also brings up a point that people should have destinations in mind. And more than one option. Destinations may be only hours away while other choices for other people may be days away…

  7. I do tend to carry excess in my car. At any given time I may have a dozen bottles of water stored throughout the car interior, but if I suddenly had to abandon my car and hike it I certainly wouldn’t gather every bottle left in my car to take. So I agree it is sometimes prudent to over do preps as like you said, you can pick and choose what you may want for the current situation.

  8. Anyone keeping a car kit should also keep in mind inspecting and rotating the contents now and then. Heat and humidity can cause quite the damage and mildew on several of the recommended items. Just don’t store and forget.

    1. That is a very good suggestion… Summer heat especially can really shorten the life on whatever food you have stored in your car kit. One trick to help with shelf life during the summer months is to keep your food stores in a cooler. Even though there is no ice in it, the insulation of the cooler helps keep the temperature inside from getting as hot as otherwise. It makes a big difference.

  9. I don’t use toilet paper. I DO use Kleenex Pocket Packs. (or similar product of different brand.) It is adequately soft on my tushy yet strong enough to catch my boogers during a full blown snot-festival during allergy season.

    Hairbrush, I am losing my hair so I have more need of a fleece watchcap to keep the heat in during the cold weather. (During the Summer, I hike and work outdoors with a broad-brimmed Tilley hat to prevent sunburn) The fine teeth of a standard plastic pocket comb are handy to remove cactus spines which may get stuck on your leg if you are hiking in the desert southwest. (it happened to me while hunting peccaries in Arizona)

    These kits become highly individualized. Get outdoors and use some of this stuff and experiment. Then and only then will you discover that toilet paper really is too soft to make a good water filter or that flint and steel is worthless without tinder. Preferred filter material for first pass: the common cotton Bandanna or cotton handkerchief it is reusable and washable. readily available and relatively inexpensive.

    If you are a surplus bargain hunter, Be on the lookout for: Triangular bandages made from cotton muslin cloth. I use them to cover my bald head, first filter for questionable water and folded multiple times for a pot holder.

    20 lb test fishing line may be good to catch big fish but I would also throw in a small spool of lighter test leader line to catch small fish. Fish can see heavyweight fishing line in clear water. I use 30 lb test for the main line of a trotline (if I was a poacher) and I would use 4-6 lb test leader line on a small #8 or #10 hook. (big hooks catch big fish but small hooks catch everything.) 30 lb test fishing line can also be used to create a pull-through cleaning device for rifles too. (loop the end for pulling through an oiled cloth)

    For snares, I don’t use fishing line, I use braided picture hanging wire. animals cannot chew through it as they can fishing line.

    I learned all about trotlines and snares when I was working as a game officer catching poachers. The are very effective and that is why these practices are illegal today.

    Yes, game officers do sh_t in the woods. That is why I carry Kleenex pocket packs.

  10. I strongly recommend (in my kit) adding a crank radio/flashlight to eliminate batteries, a flint/striker kit, and a 115 hour odorless/smokeless candle. If you are stuck in cold weather – the candle will keep your shelter (i.e. car) warm.

  11. A 72 hour car kit should be over packed if you have room.If you have to leave the car repack into a get home bag.Eat and hydrate before you leave to reduce wieght.You could customize due to weather or terrain from a larger kit.The only thing id add to the list is a good Multi Tool.

  12. Maybe I missed it, but a hat is a must. Not a ball cap but a boonie hat type.

    1. Amen on the bonnie hats, have never found a better way to stay cool and keep the sunburn to a minimum and the elastic holders hold lip balm, a small tupe of toothpicks, a small tupe of matches, etc etc this is a great item period

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