Though a bug out bag can help you last anywhere between a couple of days to a week, a well-equipped bug out vehicle can help you survive for weeks away from home, just in case you didn’t get to or don’t have a bug out retreat.
In today’s article I want to focus on the gear that you should stockpile inside you car, excluding food and water, which will be the topic of a future article. Now, before you start spending your hard-earned money on Amazon, let’s figure out your needs. You’re going to need…
- ways to keep yourself warm
- ways to stay in touch with what’s happening
- ways to get from one point to another
- ways to get out of the car in case of emergency
- ways to protect yourself
- ways to fix your car if need be (flat tire, dead battery)
- first aid supplies, of course
- ways to get your car moving again if stuck in mud, snow etc.
Of course, if you really want to be covered for everything, the more questions you ask yourself, the better. For example:
- Do you expect to travel off road much?
- Will you be forced to drive through the narrow streets of your city before reaching the highway?
- How far is your bug out location?
- How many people will use the car to bug out?
- Can I protect my vehicle from burglars pre-SHTF? There’ve been cases where prepper cars have been looted and, although things like food and water can be replaced, other things such as guns and expensive gear… not as easily.
Ok, let’s not waste too much time and let’s see a full list of items you should consider getting (in no particular order).
No point in using precious fuel to keep yourself and your family warm. A fewblankets can go a long way. This one, for instance, is also fire retardent. While you’re at it, why not throw in a few space blankets? If you get a pack of 10, you can split them between your BOB, your GHB and even keep one in your EDC (in addition to your car).
Keep in mind that blankets come in different fabrics, sizes and thicknesses. Wool is great, so is polar fleece. The ones made of wool don’t get you warm as fast as polyester blankets do, however. The reason is, wool blankets also allow your skin to breathe, while polyester keeps the heat trapped inside, making you hot and sweaty. I’m not trying to say polyester blankets are bad, they have their advantages. For instance, they provide better insulation if you’re going to put them directly on the ground to sleep on.
If you’re thinking about getting cotton blankets, I would say “no” to them because, unlike wool, when cotton gets wet, it tends to stay that way. Not a deal breaker, though.
Extra pairs of socks, underwear, a t-shirt, a pair of pants (preferably cargo, because they have lots of pockets, thus allowing you to carry extra items), a pair of boots and even a jacket – these should all be inside the trunk of your car. Don’t forget a couple of bandannas for their numerous alternative survival uses.
Fire and Lighting
Not much to say here, it’s easy to get a quality flashlight and a headlamp. Some of the options to consider:
- a couple of emergency LED flashlights (plus extra batteries)
- a headlamp (in case you need to fix your car when it’s dark outside)
- a hand-crank flashlight in case you run out of batteries
You may also want to add a reflective vest, in case you need to fix a flat tire at night or if you’re forced to abandon your car and continue your journey on the foldable bike you might have inside the trunk. You can get one for less than 10 bucks.
As for starting a fire, there’s no need to get fancy. A couple of lighters kept in Ziploc bags, waterproof matches, blast matches and some tinder should be more than enough.
A Tool Kit
…which should include a claw hammer, screwdrivers, tape measure, hex keys and so on. You might want to give the Apolo Precision Tools a try. Of course, most tool sets are missing some of the less common items so you might have to get them separately, for example:
- a ball peen hammer
- torx set
- distributor wrench
- a circuit tester
- tire traction chains
- electrical tape and duct tape
- a spark plug socket
- breaker bar
- RTV sealant
- jumper cables, in case you need to boost your dead car. (try these)
- a spare tire
- spark plugs
- wiper blades
- spare bulbs
- air compressor
- ice scraper
- snow brush
- tow straps with hooks
- a foldable shovel
- transmission fluid
- washer fluid
- an axe
- work gloves
- engine oil
- a tire repair kit
- a fire extinguisher
- an extra canister with fuel
A Seatbelt Cutter + Glass Breaker
…in case you land in a body of water and need to get out ASAP. First you’ll need to free yourself from the seat-belt, then break the window and get everyone out. You can get this two-pack and keep one in the front and one in the back. You might want to keep at least one in the center console, so it’s easily accessible from everyone in the car.
Means to Purify Water
Having a couple of water filters such as the LifeStraw is a must. One such filter can purify over 250 gallons of water. Speaking of which, you may want to have airtight containers that you could use to fill with water you find along the way or with snow (which you will have to melt before you drink, btw).
… or, if you prefer, a couple of monoculars, so two people can scout at the same time. Needless to say, when you’re out there and there’re dangers all over the place, you want to know exactly what’s happening. Maybe you need to check your bug out location from afar when you get to it, to make sure it hasn’t been already looted?
A good GPS, a good compass (plus the knowledge to use it) and, of course, topographic maps of the area (preferably laminated to keep them waterproof) are needed.
Walkie-talkies, flare guns, CB radio and, of course, a whistle can all be used to communicate. A spare cell phone, an extra battery plus a charger (solar, or hand-crank) are also must-haves. Last but not least, a good AM/FM radio, preferably hand-crank, will let you know what’s happening in the world.
Though your car can make a great shelter, expect to abandon it at some point and continue your journey on foot. This is why you should have a backpack inside the trunk with some essentials, including a 2-person tent, a bivvy bag or, if it’s warm outside, a poncho or a tarp.
There’re a lot of things you’ll be glad you printed out and placed in Ziploc bags: a copy of the SAS Survival Guide or, at the very least, a list of wild edibles and poisonous plants and copies of important IDs and even room to quickly throw in the originals before you bug out.
Having one or more guns inside your car is crucial (if the law allows it where you live), but don’t ignore the alternatives. Who knows what gun confiscation will look like post-collapse. Having pepper or wasp spray, a good survival knife (more on that in a moment) and even an alternative survival weapon such as a slingshot or a bow could not only save your ass when you and your guns are separated, but they’ll also allow you to hunt without making too much noise.
A Good Survival Knife
You should have at least a couple. Also, consider a folding knife because, at the end of the day, you might need both. Fixed blade knives are better for heavy duty stuff while folding knives are better for more delicate things such as skinning an animal.
A few suggestions:
- the Morakniv companion fixed-blade knife
- the KA-BAR utility knife
- the Gerber Warrant (already reviewed by John here)
- the Cold Steel GI Tanto (reviewed here)
- the Buck 0119
This will be the topic of a separate article and I’m sure you already know some of the items to get. Just keep in mind that the shelf life of medicine is affected by high temperatures so, if your car stays for long periods of time under the hot sun, this could be a problem. Putting them inside a wide mouth thermos will help but you should still rotate them.
Anyways, here’s what to consider for your car’s first aid kit:
- antibiotic cream
- gauze pads
- cotton balls
- rubbing alcohol
- and so on.
Other Gear Items
Just think about what you have or plant to put in your bug out bag and start building a similar bag for your car. Why? Because, as I already said, you might have to abandon your vehicle and continue on foot. You can’t take everything with you but you can take the essentials. That’s why having them all pre-packed in a backpack might mean that you won’t have to spend precious minutes packing.
Other items you may not need in your car that you can either put in a ready to go backpack or just your trunk:
- a good multitool such as the Leatherman Wingman
- a good compass
- 2-3 ways to start a fire (which we already covered)
- a tarp
- emergency blankets
- Gorilla glue
- sunglasses (those can go in the front)
- a foldable bike (I already mentioned it but this could be your secondary BOV)
- pen and paper
- hand sanitizer
- toilet paper
- wet wipes
- water purification tablets
- trash bags
- a cooking set
- and eating utensils
Is something missing from this bug out vehicle gear list? Let me know in a comment below.
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