5 Essential Things to Keep in Your Car

August 16, 2012

Bugging Out

5 things to carry in your car

The following article has been contributed by a fellow prepper named Kevin. It has been published with permission of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of

Family road trips or relaxing drives can be a great way to spend time during the summer, but they can also be cause for serious security concerns. On long summer drives, people are more likely to be tired behind the wheel, road collisions and breakdowns on the highway during the summer months are becoming far too common. If you’re serious about preparing for the worst in any situation, then you’ve probably got plenty of supplies at home and plenty of precautions and scenarios you run through on a daily basis, but have you considered your car?

Here are 5 things you should keep in your car if you’re serious about being prepared for the worst:

  • Water bottles. Carrying a bottle of water in work or school is an everyday reality for most people, but few people have the foresight to keep a bottle in the car, even though it seems like the most obvious thing in an emergency. Dehydration can lead to tiredness and fatigue behind the wheel, but it’s not just you that needs to keep hydrated when on the road, your car can also overheat and need some H2O.
  • A flashlight. An accident is more likely to happen at night, and whether your car is involved or you come upon an accident in your path, a flashlight is essential in order for you to take charge of the situation and prevent further damage by flagging down other cars or helping those that are wounded. Being seen at night is essential when on the road, accidents are far more likely to occur near other accidents unless the proper precautions are taken.
  • MREs. The biggest misconception about emergency rations is that they have to taste bad. Long lasting food can be anything from packaged soup to chocolate to canned food, a bit of imagination when it comes to packing for a disaster can turn what could have been a tragedy into a roadside picnic. The food should be rotated regularly to make sure it’s still edible (a hot car isn’t the best place to store food long-term)
  • Insurance/breakdown information. Car insurance is obviously a basic necessity in any emergency on the road, but what people often neglect is to always carry a card from their insurance company with all the relevant details on it, in case you get into a fender bender and get flustered on the motorway with thousands of cars whizzing by. The last thing you need is someone suing you or ending up in a bind with the insurance company because the proper precautions aren’t take. While we’re on the topic of accidents and emergencies on the road, breakdown cover is one of the most important things to have if you’re serious about being prepared for the worst and as the old saying about guns goes it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
  • First aid kit. A first aid kit is mandatory in most European countries, but just because it might not be obligatory where you live, it’s always important to be prepared for the worst. there are plenty of good first aid kits available online or from your local camping store, but you can put one together yourself for as little as $20. 

Laura & I keep quite a few additional items in our vehicles. Laura blogged about some of those earlier.

What do you keep in your car? 

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22 Comments on “5 Essential Things to Keep in Your Car”

  1. Wendy Hannum Says:

    Tarp, blanket, Bug Out Bag containing: multi-tool, 2 kinds of fire starter, change of clothes, walking shoes, roll of paper towels, water filter bottle. Jerky.


    • Joe Says:

      Walking shoes are a great item that is commonly overlooked. You definitely don’t want to hike 5 miles in uncomfortable dress shoes.

      Thanks for the comment.


  2. Happy Preppers Says:

    What we stash in the car even on short trips is: water, water and more water… protein bars, beef jerky, blankets, toilet paper and paper towel roll, vehicle first aid kit (equipped to deal with any accident), auto fire extinguisher, walking shoes (and a fold up bicycle), headlamp and a compass, deck of cards, plus a surprise treat for the kiddos.

    The future belongs to those who prepare for it.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson


  3. Dustin Says:

    think of the 10 C’s… plus a first aid kit. All of the above can be stowed in a tidy container or bag.

    I also try to keep some essentials within arms reach in the event you are pinned in the cabin or suffer an injury that impairs your mobility. Small ditty bags can be filled with some basics like a penlight, pocket knife, protein bars, whistle, etc. and could put it in a console, glove box or door panel.

    My keychain has a houdini tool which has a built in webbing cutter, glass break, and whistle… the light on it isn’t very robust, but I keep a few other items on my keychain and can grab them one-handed if need be.


    • Joe Says:

      Good point. We have a couple of levels of items in our car – the first is designed to make a trip more comfortable. It has snacks, water, etc. A long trip with hungry young ones can be tiresome for everyone.

      The second set of supplies are for times of trouble. It contains the flashlights, the emergency rations, the medical supplies, the shelter making materials, the tire repair kits and travel air pump, etc. Those are designed for what we’d consider major emergencies.

      Thanks for the comment Dustin.


  4. Howard Says:

    Personally I wouldn’t store MRE’s they have a very short shelf life when exposed to heat and need to be rotated on a regular basis. The mainstay rations while they don’t taste as good will last 5 years in the back of your car.


    • Joe Says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Howard. It’s critical to rotate your car supplies frequently if you live in a place where the inside temps of a car can exceed 120F in the summer months.



  5. Happy Preppers Says:

    Check out this vehicle first aid kit: It’s also good to have Quik Clot Sport handy for car accidents. Happy Prepping!


  6. Stanley Morris Says:

    One of the handiest devices to keep in your car is a 12 volt tire inflator. Unless you have a total blowout, this will allow you to keep your car moving until you get to a place of safety.


  7. nick s. Says:

    I usually keep around 2 flats of water in my big cooler, my bug out bag( has MREs), first aid kit (one that came with the car, and with my own suppliments), my mini mag (great kubotan), insurance and registration is a must in my state, extra copy of drivers license stuck in vanity mirror, and my smith and wesson m&p


  8. toby Says:

    In addition to my EDC, my vehicle emergecny kit has fix a flat supplies, flahslights, fire extinguisher, jumb starter, extra 5-30w oil, 5 gallons of gas, ATF, power steering fluid, washer fluid, de-icing salt, ice scrapper, work gloves, road flares, tow strap, and a seat organizer with 12 hour supplies and person items….etc. I also take along my 72 hr kit and first out bag.


  9. T Says:

    Military duct tape , its tough as nails , comes on OD or coyote brown and is 100 times better than you can pick up at any store . Army 2 quart canteen , flat pry bar .


  10. James Says:

    In my quad cab truck I have, just to be prepared while I’m out and about, :extra clothes for me and my boy, extra coats, extra boots, knives/small weapons, water, jerky, heat packets, gloves, good spare, better than stock jack, change for tolls, some cash, chargers, writing utensils, checkbook/writing pad/ envelopes/stamps etc in zip up, double a batteries, flashlight, toilet paper, shop towels, gas can, extra fluids for washer/ coolant/ brake, tire pressure gauge, cigarette-lighter-air pump for tires/ fix-a-flat kit, 12 gauge Shotgun, and I have a toolbox on the truck so I have lots of tools and such in there as well… I also have an extra key in case I lose my keys… Prolly more but this is most of it 🙂


    • Joe Says:

      Excellent, James!

      I keep a lot of that in a couple of totes under the back seat of my extended cab. It’s come in handy at times. The only thing that I need to remember is to carry a backpack with me to carry the stuff should I have to abandon the truck. I don’t want to hand carry a couple of totes.



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