For those of us who have a personally owned vehicle, it likely factors heavily into our plans. It will serve as a linchpin during bug out and evacuation efforts as well as a mobile resupply point and erstwhile shelter while underway.
Although common consumer vehicles will work well enough for our purposes, they are not all created equal, and when it comes to prepping there are few that will outdo the modern pickup truck.
Possessing an ideal combination of cargo capacity, durability, off-road capability and versatility, you will rarely do better than a trusty pickup.
If your everyday driver is a pickup truck, you are in luck, because you will rarely be more prepared or ready to face all the many challenges of life and survival than you will with the keys to one of these in your pocket.
To help pick up drivers maximize the capability of their own rigs, we are bringing you today a list of 15 items that warrant permanent inclusion in your vehicle survival kit, a truck-based EDC if you will. With the items on this list, you’ll be prepared for virtually every conceivable scenario.
The Pickup Truck Might Well Be the Ideal Personal Readiness Vehicle
It is difficult to overstate just how ideal the pickup truck is as an all-purpose vehicle. Most modern pickup trucks have ample room for passengers in addition to plentiful cargo capacity, and among typical consumer vehicles only they can carry the large, awkward and bulky loads that are impossible or dangerous to attempt portage with other vehicles.
Perhaps their only shortcoming is there stereotypically poor to middling gas mileage, but in the bargain you’ll have the horsepower, torque, ride height, towing capability, versatility and cargo capacity to tackle almost any challenge.
A pickup truck is just as much at home toting you and your family along with all of your supplies out of danger as it is serving as a towing vehicle, heavy cargo hauler or taxi for multiple other survivors or casualties.
We know the vehicle can do the job, the only question is can you do the job? To maximize your chances, keeping the right items with your truck at all times will go a long way towards keeping you at peak personal readiness.
Quite a few readers are likely to already own these items even if they don’t keep them with their truck, so with just a little rebalancing of your onboard cargo you should be able to outfit any pickup with most of the items on the list below.
As always, you must assess the usefulness of these items against your personal vehicle and your context.
I believe all of these items are universally useful, hence their inclusion, but if one or more simply don’t make sense for you and your objectives, don’t be afraid to delete them. As always, it is a guideline, not a law. With that being said, let us get to the list!
15 Truck EDC Items to Have at All Times
A good medical kit is far and away one of the most vital preps that anyone can have, and if you have one in a dedicated bug-out bag, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a second, dedicated kit in your vehicle.
Out of all the supplies and other gear that you might acquire for the purposes of personal readiness, I cannot think of a single one that you are more likely to need at some point over the course of your life then a med kit.
Be it from an accident that you are involved in or one that you come upon, or any other incident that should befall you or another while you are out and about in the world having the right supplies on hand and the skills to use them will mean the difference between a successful intervention and watching someone you love or a stranger bleed to death, or maybe even yourself.
When lives are on the line, seconds count, and so it is in your best interest to have a medical kit permanently mounted for quick access somewhere in the cabin of the truck.
You definitely don’t want to be rummaging around in the toolbox or in the truck bed looking for it after a crash, that’s for sure.
Be it a result of off-road travel or sliding off of a road because of inclement weather, vehicles get stuck when they leave the pavement, and trucks, despite their usual aptitude for off-road driving, get stuck also, sometimes even worse owing to their size and weight especially when loaded heavy.
Accordingly, lacking a winch you can attempt to extricate your truck or help someone else extricate theirs utilizing tow straps.
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These lightweight, foldable fabric straps are nonetheless designed to withstand an incredible amount of force before breaking, and they are much easier to store and use compared to chains or other implements, not to mention far safer than chain or cable.
This is an item that can be stored in pretty much any truck, be it under the seats or in a toolbox, but make sure you spend accordingly and get a known quality brand.
This is not the time to cheap out with a version sourced from your local tool store that is stocked from front to back with the cheapest crap that China can produce. A good set of tow straps with a few minutes worth of set time can get you back on the road with nary any delay.
Recovery boards are another item that can help you or someone else get unstuck from whatever terrain happens to be hindering progress, be it mud, snow or sand.
Looking for all the world like a poorly designed, knobby and crenellated surfboard, these long boards are designed to give tires something to bite into while simultaneously decreasing overall ground pressure by increasing the contact patch of the vehicle with the surface beneath.
Using two or four of these recovery boards in tandem can help virtually any truck creep across the most inhospitable terrain so long as it is in the least bit solid.
Perhaps the only shortcoming of these boards is that they tend to be on the pricey side, for high quality models, and they’re necessary length mandates that they be stored in the bed or attached to exterior cargo mounting points.
a small price to pay, but for those who can afford them and have an effective mounting or storage solution they are one of the best possible products to keep with your truck as they can help even a single driver alone perform self-extrication reliably and safely.
Jumper cables. You know them, you love them and some of you still for some reason don’t keep them in your truck. If you have been waiting for a sign to finally get off your duff and get a good set for full-time truck usage, this is it.
Beyond that, trucks benefit from specialized jumper cables that are heavier and of higher quality than ones used for typical passenger cars, and also longer to help them reach up and around another truck that is offering assistance. Most common jumper cables are just a bit short in this regard.
Once you have the jumper cables, make it a point to periodically inspect them from time to time, even if you aren’t using them.
The rubberized coating on the cables can suffer and dry rot when kept inside a truck cabin that gets scorching hot or blistering cold at turns. Be sure to check the clamps for oxidation and corrosion and keep them clean if necessary.
Other than this, don’t let them kink, make sure you connect them correctly and always keep them handy!
Tire Patch and Plug Kit
It is just a fact of life that if you drive long enough you’ll eventually wind up with a tire that has gone flat from a puncture well before the end of its service life.
It will likely be an errant nail or bolt but occasionally other things will puncture tires, but regardless you’ll need to patch the hole if you want to air the tire back up.
Most trucks of all sizes carry a full size spare tire, but in the case of multiple punctures resulting to a widespread roadway hazard or just plumb dumb luck you’ll need to be prepared to fix your own tire if it can be fixed, and to do that you’ll need a patch kit.
A patch and plug kit contains the tools you need to remove whatever hazard has puncture the tire, ream out and clean up the hole and then insert a sticky, epoxy coated, gummy worm-looking plug through the hole before cutting it off flush and allowing it to cure up.
In a very short time, you’ll be able to reinflate the tire and get on your way, and though the plug may or may not be suitable for a permanent repair they are more than capable of getting you to a garage that can properly take care of your tire.
Note that plugs are only effective against holes going through the tread of the tire. For punctures going through the sidewall, you might be out of luck, as most of these cannot be effectively repaired in the field with the tire mounted at any rate, though some off-roaders swear by various patching solutions for the purpose.
The high-lift Jack, AKA the farm jack, is that lengthy, skeletonized lifting apparatus that looks a little bit like the jaws of life and a common jack stand had a baby.
Designed for lifting tall trucks and other vehicles off the ground that cannot be helped by common, compact automobile jacks, and mandatory for lifted trucks and SUVs, the high-lift jack has been around for a long time and remains a staple because of its sheer usefulness.
Aside from lifting up taller vehicles, they can also be used as a spreader for emergency vehicle extraction and a come along for vehicle recovery and countless other tasks.
This is truly the “Swiss army knife” of jacks and one belongs in every truck and other large vehicles as far as I’m concerned. However, there is no other way to put it than to say these jacks are frankly dangerous and finicky.
They are quite tall with a surprisingly small foot pad that is vulnerable to slippage, especially when loaded heavy and lifting high.
They are notorious for their ratcheting handles failing to engage if short stroked and then rebounding with ferocious force to knock out teeth, crack fingers and cause other injuries.
This is a tool that must be respected, but despite being so temperamental they remain invaluable.
No matter what sort of stoppage or breakdown you are facing, or whoever you come across that is facing the same problem, you’ll need tools in order to fix it.
Sure, many trucks feature a mounted toolbox in the bed but not all, and for my own purposes I have found keeping common emergency repair tools in their own dedicated bag is a better use of space and an efficiency hack.
The type of tools that you’ll need for your truck will vary slightly depending on the size of the fasteners and other commonalities, but in general various pliers, some vise grips, drivers, sockets, wrenches and all the usual mechanics offerings will do the job, along with a hefty mallet for encouraging recalcitrant parts to do as you ask.
Throwing a roll of heavy duty duct tape and a can of penetrating lubricant and you should be all set. If you can’t get it done with that assortment, you’re probably not going to get it done at all.
A jump box might seem like a superfluous inclusion if one carries jumper cables, but jumper cables require another vehicle to help jumpstart a dead or dying battery.
A jump box, provided it is charged, can allow you to handle it without need of assistance from a second truck, be it for your own or helping someone else that is in a position where jumping is impossible.
Beyond this, a jump box usually has several other useful options built in, including a small area flood light, air compressor capable of re-inflating tires and USB ports for charging mobile devices. That is a lot of capability for a small box.
This is yet another option where quality makes all the difference. Many and I mean many options on the market from brands that you might recognize as trusted in the tool sector are hardly worth the plastic and lead that they are made from and will rarely hold a charge for any length of time.
Take your time, do your due diligence and find and purchase one that has the capacity required for your vehicle’s battery and is also tested to hold its charge for a long time so you don’t have to constantly babysit it.
You can think of a bailout bag as a smaller, leaner version of the go bag you might grab when leaving the house.
Compared to a go bag, a bailout bag has many of the same supplies, but usually less of them with maximum emphasis paid on a small form factor and lightweight.
It is this small form factor that makes it so suitable for use and storage inside a vehicle in the first place, and easy to grab when bailing out of a wrecked, sinking or burning vehicle.
The bailout bag should contain all the supplies you need to survive and sustain wherever you happen to be and whatever the climate conditions, and so each one is tailored to individual circumstances and objectives.
You should have shelter materials, food, emergency water and more in your bailout bag.
Like most of the other supplies, this is one that should be kept in the cabin and securely placed with an easy reach while not being so secure that you’ll have to fiddle with it to free it before hopping out. Think of it as a survival parachute that you’ll grab when you need to abandon the vehicle in a great hurry.
The ammo bag, sometimes called the doom bag, is a firearms support bag containing everything you need to keep your favorite blaster up and running should you run into major trouble while out and about.
Considering the sorry state and direction of society today, it is far from unbelievable that you might run into a cataclysmic civil unrest scenario where the rule of law is just a happy memory.
In such a case, that spare mag or speed loader you carry for your daily carry gun is going to be cold comfort indeed.
You’ll need more ammo and plenty of it, and I like to load my ammo bag with primary EDC handgun ammo as well as a few reloads for a long gun that I might have incidentally included or tossed into the truck that day.
Spare magazines, some spare batteries, an extra flashlight and any other incidentals that you might require for a rapidly developing situation that you’ll need to shoot your way clear of should be included.
Also, I like this bag to be of a sling pack or side pack nature that rides on my non-dominant side and has external pouches allowing me to easily retrieve and move ammo up towards the gun when required for a reload while making use of my existing skill sets, similar to how I would access the ammo if I had it in a pouch on my beltline.
As you might expect, this is one of those items that you should definitely keep completely out of sight unless you want your truck broken into!
A gear organizer is usually a bag or pouch rack that drapes over one of the seats in your truck’s cabin, either resting in the front passenger seat or strapping to the back of a front seat to keep all of the miscellaneous things you need day in and day out in your vehicle organized, out of nooks and crannies and easily accessible.
This might not be a purpose driven piece of survival gear, but it is a huge quality of life improvement for anyone who lives and works out of their vehicle.
We all go through the pain and misery of rummaging through an overflowing glove compartment or center console stuffed with tons of riff-raff and a desperate search for our tire pressure gauge, lug nut key or some other important but rarely used item.
a year organizer will solve that problem, and if you aren’t of the mind to keep your storage solution in plain sight, a bag type gear organizer that features a rigid body, flip up lid and strap for securing the whole assemblage to the front seat can easily be removed and taken in the house or office with you if desired.
Tie Down Straps
Moving cargo in an open bed mandates a security solution for safe transport, and here we will rely on the tried and true ratcheting tie down straps.
Supremely useful in innumerable ways, most guys who own trucks and use them as designed will already be familiar with these, but if you aren’t, it is time to become familiar with them.
Tie down straps rely on hooks that can grab hold of any hard points in the bed along with a two-piece nylon webbing arrangement with a ratchet assembly that will incrementally tighten the straps once fixed in place.
Compared to amateur or sloppy work with rope or cordage, which works well enough in the hands of someone’s skilled, tie down straps are quick, sure and easy to use even for unconventional cargo loads.
Failing to tie down your cargo can mean damage or loss and a subsequent domino effect on a busy roadway in the case sudden maneuvering or braking is required. Don’t take that chance: Spend an extra 5 minutes strapping down your load properly and drive with peace of mind.
If you’ve got a truck, it needs a tarp. you’ll most obviously use a tarp for protecting anything in the bed during inclement weather assuming you’re lacking a bed or tonneau cover, but tarps also have innumerable other survival uses, including as a shade, for shelter creation, as a windbreak, ground cover and more.
But good tarps are a little spendy and not available just anywhere. Especially for one that you might use to cover or secure a load in the bed the grommets must be up to the task of dealing with the incredible Force generated by wind when moving at speed down the road.
This requires some skill and placement along with equally strong cordage or fasteners to keep it in place.
Don’t cheap out, get a good, high quality tarp for my trusted manufacturer, or better yet make that too, and keep them in your vehicle at all times.
Maps and Compass
I remain constantly astounded by how many preppers still don’t keep an assortment of maps and a bona fide compass inside their truck as a permanent fixture of the vehicle’s equipment.
As best I can tell, this is sheer laziness due to the preponderance of GPS and other navigational systems that come factory installed in modern day vehicles, and are also present on virtually every mobile device of our era.
Although these systems are increasingly ubiquitous and reliable, they nonetheless May fail and traditional skills of navigation are fickle, and very much like a muscle and that if they are unused they begin to deteriorate.
Keeping a good road atlas along with area and regional maps in your vehicle accompanied by a high quality, analog compass will serve as a wonderful hedge against the loss or failure of our usual electronic navigational aids.
You might even go so far as to install a vehicle specific analog compass on your dashboard, but you can get away with using a common handheld model.
Should you become lost, all you need to do is step away from the vehicle to prevent an influenced reading and then remount the truck before carrying on.
Traditional, chemical highway safety flares are a vital component for any vehicle readiness kit. Despite all of the high intensity LED equivalents we have, and no matter how good reflective glint tape might be, nothing is as noticeable and as many conditions the other drivers as the flickering red flame of a chemical road flare.
Highly reliable, affordable and versatile, these are a must-have whenever you are forced to stop near a busy road or one where visibility is limited owing to short sight lines or inclement conditions.
Numerous transportation and highway safety organizations along with countless independent tests cannot be wrong in this regard as they all point to road flares being the best option as far as sheer visibility is concerned.
They might not last as long as an LED light equivalent, and you’ll always have to be cautious of starting accidental fires and dry conditions, but this is generally a small price to pay in the bargain. Get a bundle, pack them up and keep them aboard.
A good pickup truck is priceless when times are tough, and its ability to carry cargo and people over varying terrain with ease makes it the ideal choice for bugging out or general preparedness.
Equipping your truck with a full-time compliment of smart tools, gear and accessories will further increase this capability and allow you to tackle any situation that you run into.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.