GEAR: Things To Keep In Your Car Kit


What’s in your car kit?

Please put together a simple backpack car kit to keep in your vehicle for an emergency. 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…

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

Without getting too elaborate, I feel that these items are a fair choice for survival preparedness during a relatively short period of time, and as it relates to being in your vehicle as a car kit.

One assumption or caveat is that in most cases you will (should) stay with your vehicle, which itself will provide shelter and security.

In the event that you need to hoof it though, you will need a backpack and some or all of these items at a minimum (adjust according to your travels).

These are the items that I currently carry in my survival car kit, which I will add to, depending on where I’m going, and for how long…


In case you have to hoof it, you will need a backpack to keep your supplies in. A comfortable soft decent quality pack should do just fine.


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 I figure 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 on the backseat floor. The cooler helps to slow down the heat effect of summertime temperatures which can really heat up the inside of a car.

LifeStraw Water Purifier

In case I exhaust my supply of water bottles that I keep separately in the vehicle, I also keep the LifeStraw because it is small, simple, and doesn’t require that you first put the water in a container. 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 knife on my person, but I also have one reserved for the car kit backpack.

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-pound-test paracord. 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 current national Road Atlas and at least one local atlas of my state/region. I also keep several paper maps. Also consider getting a topographical map of your area or the areas 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 kindling 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.


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Updated: February 22, 2014 — 12:55 am

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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