What To Put In Your Car’s Bug Out Bag

When disaster strikes, you may only have minutes, even seconds get the heck outta there. A good preparedness kit is essential for a quick evacuation and can mean the difference between life and death. Your bug out bag should contain enough supplies to get you through 72 hours, or until help arrives.

When you retreat to your bug-out location, your kit will ensure that you are self-sufficient and protected for the time being. But what if you do it by car? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few extra supplies in your car as well?

Keeping in mind that a car allows you to have a bigger BOB because it has the room and you don’t have to carry it (unless you need to abandon your vehicle), let’s see what you should add to your car’s bug out bag.

The Bare Necessities

  1. Water

In any emergency situation, water is an essential need and can quickly become a scarce commodity. On average, humans can go only three without water before they perish from dehydration.

  • For survival, each person will need a minimum of 1 gallon of drinking water per day, so make sure than several gallons of bottled water inside the trunk. Put them in a thermos if you can to protect from heat and temperature variations.
  • If you’re sourcing water from nature, keep a purification system on hand. A lifestraw or a sawyer mini will be more than enough.
  1. Food

  • Granola and energy bars are light and nutritious and will sustain you for the short term.
  • Freeze-dried meals such as those made by Mountain House have a long shelf-life and need only boiling water.
  • Peanuts and raisins are a trusty BOB essential for their high calorie content and minimal weight.
  • A small packet of sugar to add to tea or coffee is a mood booster and a source of instant energy.
  • Instant mashed potatoes are compact, light and easy to prepare. They’re suitable for young children, too, and provide a nutritious meal when food is scarce.
  1. First Aid

While your first aid kit should not be overstocked, it should contain the essentials you need to take care of minor injuries, burns and other afflictions.

  • Be sure to include hand sanitizers and wet wipes to keep your hands germ-free. Falling ill during a crisis can undo all you hard work in an instant, especially if there is no medical assistance for hundreds of miles.
  • You may need to spend several days in the wilderness to find shelter, so remember to pack foot care products, insect repellent and a snake bite kit. Gold Bond foot powder soothes chafed and irritated skin and kills pesky bacteria.
  • Plasters and antibiotic ointment are obvious choices for treating small cuts, but consider including tampons or maxi pads, which can absorb blood from deeper wounds.
  • If you live in a hot climate, sunscreen and a brimmed hat are essential.

Tip: put your meds inside a wide-mouth thermos. This will ensure they stay at a slightly lower temperature on hot, summer days. It also protects against temperature variations which are also known to decrease shelf life.

  1. Fire and Lighting

  • A good supply of disposable lighters and waterproof matches will keep the fire going, while headlamps provide light while keeping your hands free to forage and explore. Keep them in zipper bags, though, just in case.
  • You can be creative with tinder, opting for Vaseline-covered cotton balls, wooden coffee stirrers, bark shavings or dryer lint to feed the flames. Military heat tabs are an optimal extra and will keep the fire burning even with wet wood.
  • Invest in a quality flashlight so that you can choose how much light to use depending on your needs. Same thing: keep them inside ziploc bags, remove the batteries and put them in separate bags. Remember to conserve battery power whenever possible, in case you need to signal someone to come for your rescue.
  • Chem lights can be clipped to your clothing, making you visible from a distance. Tie them to a piece of cord and swing them in a circular motion for an effective signaling device.
  • A road flare or two are also a good idea if you want to create a bit of a show.
  1. Clothing and Blankets

Keeping warm is a priority when in survival mode. Aside from sleeping bags and blankets, your clothing should be season-appropriate and protective.

  • Make sure to pack loose long pants (preferably cargo pants because they have more pockets), a waterproof jacket lined with fleece to protect from harsh weather, a hat, thermal underwear, working gloves, Neoprene over socks and a pair of muck boots.
  • Convertible (zip-off) pants are a favorite among survivalists for their adaptability.
  • Your clothing should be combined strategically to maintain a healthy body temperature, no matter the conditions.
  1. Tools and Gear

There are various common household items that can prove to be lifesavers in a disaster situation.

  • Duct tape is very versatile and can be used to create a splint for injured limbs, repair a tent, fashion a piece of rope or create a sharp weapon, among numerous other uses.
  • Invest in a quality multi-tool, such as a Leatherman, with needle-nose pliers for cutting.
  • Superglue is handy for repairing broken equipment and is even known to seal a small cut. Like duct tape, this power adhesive is great for creating makeshift weapons like arrows or spears.
  • Aluminum foil is a survival staple with a myriad of uses, including food preservation, mirror signaling and water containment.
  • Trash bags are worthwhile BOB staples, not only as containers for your preps, but also as improvised raingear when you need extra protection from extreme weather or flash flooding. You can also fill them with dry leaves or newspaper, and you have a homemade insulation blanket.
  • Mini binoculars are great scouting tools for monitoring your perimeter for friends or foes.
  • Bandanas aren’t just fashion items. In the wild, the bandana rivals the usefulness of duct tape. It can be converted into a sling (both the weapon and the first aid variety), used as an eye patch, dust mask or set of ear muffs or fashioned into a tourniquet. They’re light, cheap and flat, so be sure to pack a bunch!
  • Consider a mini fishing kit, complete with at least 100 feet of fishing line, sinkers and small hooks. Small insects or worms can be used as bait.
  1. Navigationgps navigation

You’ll need to explore your surroundings in search of food, water and possible rescue.

  • A hand-held GPS device, such as a Garmin, with a sustainable power source is a plus. Otherwise, you can settle for a simple compass.
  • Keep a topographic and road map (both waterproof) of your immediate area nearby and memorize the shortest driving route to safety.
  • While scouting, use red spray paint to mark your path in unfamiliar territory to avoid getting hopelessly lost.
  1. Self Defense

You may well be facing a WROL situation, and this means that you need to be prepared to defend yourself or your family.

  • Some survivalists may choose to carry a firearm. For others, a good Swiss army knife or fixed blade will do the trick.
  • A slingshot can be made or scavenged and makes a weapon that is easy to master.
  1. Shelter

  • While a backpacker tent is a nice-to-have, it may not be practical for your BOB’s size constraints, and may take too long to erect.
  • Consider a quick poncho or camouflage tarp shelter which requires only a few 3-foot sticks and some parachute cord to set up.aluminum foil
  • Consider a couple of space blankets just in case. Aluminum foil also has plenty of alternative uses, anyway. You can put it on your windshield, for example, to keep the sun’s rays away.
  1. Communication

Apart from flares, there are more discreet ways of communicating with other survivors who may be close by.

  • A disposable cell phone or satellite phone are great ways of making contact with the outside world when SHTF.
  • If network coverage in your area is disrupted, a solar powered or wind up radio is a more reliable communication tool.
  • For short-distance communications, CB radios may prove useful for locating other survivors within 10 miles.
  • If you wish to attract attention nearby, equip yourself with a whistle to alert your own party, or others, of your presence.

Anything Else?

Well, these aren’t necessarily part of a car’s bug out bag but they should be part of any BOV:

  • a good shovel
  • an axe
  • a chainsaw
  • engine oil
  • jumper cables
  • coolant
  • transmission fluid
  • and even a separate box with spare parts such as spark plugs

We talked more in depth about how to prep your car for emergencies right here.

Know Your Needs

While you’ll have to be selective about what you pack in your BOB, there’s an array of optional extras that you might want to include, depending on your climate, terrain and needs. If you have pets, elderly people or children in your care, you’ll need to adjust your BOB accordingly.

It’s easy to overstock, giving in to the mentality that you might just need everything you’ve packed. Don’t hesitate to cut back. In an emergency, you’ll be thankful that you lightened your load, as you’ll likely have to move quicker and save fuel.

Also keep in mind that if your car is burglarized, everything in it including your guns might disappear. You definitely don’t want to invest all your survival money into tools and gear for your car, even if bugging out is your plan A.

Knowledge is Power

  • Keep a list of edible and poisonous plants in your area and a pocket translation dictionary for the language you’ll need to communicate in, if any.
  • Positive identification, such as a passport, social security card or driver’s license, is a good idea if you need to prove who you are or clear a foreign border. Keep these tightly sealed in a waterproof sleeve and make copies.
  • Other useful documents for your BOB include emergency contact numbers of family members, your doctor, the police, the Embassy and non-profit organisations such as the UNHCRR.
  • Depending on the nature of the emergency, having official documents such as firearm permits and prescriptions.

Cash is King

Although a WROL (without the rule of law) situation is likely to render cash a suddenly useless commodity, it may be a good idea to carry a few bills on you, just in case. These can be used to access food and drink at vending machines (if you don’t want to break the glass), or buy gas or skilled labor from someone who hasn’t yet caught onto the magnitude of the disaster you’re facing.

Look and Feel

Interestingly, the best BOBs are discreet and don’t resemble BOBs at all. While you may be tempted to opt for a heavy-duty, military-style pack, think about how conscious this would be to potential thieves. It’s best to keep the color neutral. Don’t flash your preps no matter how awesome a job you’ve done of putting them together, because you may become an easy target for looting in times of peril.

If you have the luxury, aim to keep some space left over: your BOB needs to fit things that you scavenge along the way, once SHTF. Otherwise you’ll have to use your hands to carry these, slowing you down and making you vulnerable to outside threats.

You should review your BOB every six months and alter it in preparation for changing seasons. The bag itself should be equipped with pockets, zips and compartments for easy organization and access. BOBs are very personal things: no two are alike, although all should contain the bare necessities for optimal survival. What are your BOB must-haves?

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One comment

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    Good list, however a couple suggestions. 1) I keep a small cooler by my front door that I take with me in the event that I travel further than a days walk home with food. Keeping your food in your bag subjects your food to 100 plus degrees. Food doesn’t like that. 2) While I explored the eating of wild edibles, there is proof that your body would rather have you fast than eat a meager 1000 calories or less in a day. Look into the actual calorie count. I’m not sure what it is. Unfortunately, carrying a gun in CA. is not to much of an option, (Stupid, I know) however having a gun in your locked trunk going to the range is allowed, so in the event SHTF, you will have it with you when SHTF.

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