What’s in your car kit?

If you are like most other people, you probably spend a fair amount of time driving in your car. While it may seem like you could easily and quickly get help if you broke down or became stranded, please do not assume that this will always be the case.

What if you had to ‘bug out’ in your car?

Please consider any or all of the following items to include in your car kit…



In case you have to walk, you will need a backpack to keep your supplies in. A comfortable – quality pack for you, and an extra pack for any potential passenger (to help carry supplies – e.g. water is heavy).


I actually keep 2 pairs of gloves in the truck. One pair is a medium-weight winter pair and the other are work gloves. The winter gloves could become useful even during warmer months during cool rain or bad weather. The work gloves are a good quality leather and will become useful for any related task.


I keep at least 2 flashlights… one inside the vehicle for normal use, and the other in the backpack. Both are LED flashlights for longevity. For the one in the backpack, I keep the batteries out of the flashlight because it will be the least likely to be used and I don’t want battery acid leaking into the flashlight from aged batteries that I’ve forgotten about. I replace them once a year.

Signal Mirror

I keep this exact signal mirror, but any will do. An inexpensive and readily available solution are those compact mirrors that the ladies keep in their purses…

Water bottles

I store six conventional size water bottles which I keep inside of a small cooler (along with food bars) on the backseat floor. The cooler helps to slow down and temper the heat effect of high summertime temperatures which can really heat up the inside of a car.

LifeStraw Water Purifier

In case I exhaust my supply of water that I keep separately in the vehicle, I also keep the LifeStraw because it is small, simple, and you can drink directly from a stream or pond, etc. Having said that, ANY water filtration device is better than none. There are a number of portable water filters available that could fit in your backpack. You could also choose to keep water purification tablets, but check the expiration dates every year.

Water Container

In addition to my water bottles I have a steel water container, the kind that are typically used by hikers with a screw-on lid which also acts as a handle/loop for tying on to things. I prefer steel because you could boil the water if you needed to, and steel is safer than aluminum regarding consumption.


The most convenient and calorie dense food for a car kit are some sort of food bars. I keep a variety of them in a gallon size Ziploc bag, inside of the same cooler where I store the water bottles (and for the same reason). If I ever had to hoof it, I would simply put them in the backpack. I also keep a sealed DATREX pack of emergency food bars (these are what’s used on lifeboats – very compact and calorie dense).


Any knife will do. The sky’s the limit and there are a zillion choices. I always keep a pocket knife on my person, but I also have one reserved for the car kit backpack – a fixed blade knife.

Knife sharpener

I have several DMT knife sharpeners, but I like the DMT mini for the backpack because, you guessed it, it’s small.


Whatever you do, don’t forget the toilet paper. You will thank yourself should you ever need it! It weighs next to nothing and a roll of it consumes very little space in your backpack. Keep it sealed inside a one-gallon Ziploc bag (squish the roll a little to make it fit if you have to).

First Aid Kit

I keep a medium size First Aid Kit inside the vehicle itself. You could also choose to build your own mini First Aid Kit to keep in the car kit’s backpack. One first aid item that I highly recommend that you purchase separately (assuming your kit did not come with it) is a QuikClot or similar, to stop the bleeding in a serious accident situation.


Every prepper should own a supply of 550 paracord (the ‘550’ refers to load weight – pounds). I keep a supply of at least one full 1,000 foot roll at the house, of which I strip off what I need for various tasks, kits, etc. Spool up what you feel you need for your car kit backpack. I wrote this article awhile back on the Five Benefits of Paracord.


Keep a compass and know how to use it with a map.


I keep several maps in the truck. One National Road Atlas and at one road atlas for my state and surrounding states. I also keep several paper maps. Also consider getting a topographical map of your area or the areas that you frequently travel.

Fire Starter

In the backpack, I keep several sources of ignition including a magnesium flint, a lighter, and matches in waterproof container.


Keep a small supply of tinder in a waterproof container. I keep several Vaseline soaked cotton balls and store-bought kindling sticks in a small container in the backpack. If it’s wet and rainy, you might need this to start a fire… unless you’re Cody Lundin ;)


A cloth hand towel and/or bandana will have many uses, including water filtration of heavy sediment prior to further purification. A bandana on the head will drastically help keep the heat off and will absorb sweat. Having a cloth material assists with cleaning, splinting, strapping, and all sorts of countless uses.


I keep a small pad of paper and pencil sealed in a Ziploc bag. It could become useful to leave a note or notes for others if you leave your vehicle, etc. It’s also a good idea to have emergency documentation (hard copy paper) in your vehicle.

Rain poncho

Even in the summer, hypothermia can be an issue in the cool/wet rain. You must keep some sort of rain gear in the vehicle in case you have to hoof it. A small rain poncho is just that, small, and easily fit in your backpack in its original pouch that it came in.

Seasonal clothing extras

Always keep something extra. For example, in the summer you might consider to designate one of your sweatshirts or light-weight spring/fall jackets inside the car. It gets cool at night and you might need it. And, or, also keep a blanket, preferably wool.


This is a broad category, and I’ll leave it to you to decide what group of tools works best for you – regarding potential repair of a vehicle breakdown, etc.

Personal Protection

A weapon. Improvised or otherwise. Fact is, you may be glad you had it…

Walking Shoes

If you have to walk, and if you are not wearing comfortable walking shoes, you will be sorry you hadn’t kept a pair in the car.


You can go “all-out” and really fill up your car with emergency supplies, but these that I’ve listed I believe are fairly adequate for most any normal emergency situation while out in your vehicle.

Consider it food for thought.
A 72-hour kit of sorts.

Also, knowing that no two people would build the exact same kit, comment and add your own opinion or experience with putting together a basic preparedness car kit

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