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Car Survival: Why You Need a Vehicle Bug Out Bag and What to Pack in It

You never know when disaster may strike. Ideally, you’ll be at home and have easy access to all your prepped emergency supplies. But in today's day and age, with the time we spend in the car commuting to and from work or running errands around town, it’s perfectly practical to think that an emergency could occur while you are away from home and in your car. 

That’s why you need a car bug out bag—so that even if you are caught off guard while driving your car, you can have a selection of resources at your disposal to respond to the situation. 

Keep reading to learn about the importance of having a vehicle bug-out bag, a list of the essentials we recommend you prepare, and tips to keep your car bug-out bag organized and maintained. 

The Importance of Having a Vehicle Bug-Out Bag

The Importance of Having a Vehicle Bug-Out Bag

All bug-out bags (BOB) should contain a common selection of bug-out bag essentials to satisfy your basic needs during an emergency scenario. For example, every BOB should contain first aid supplies and bug-out bag food

However, BOBs should also contain specific content based on the situations you will most likely encounter. So, in the case of a car bug-out bag, you should prepare supplies that will help you respond to scenarios that may occur while you are in your car, such as car accidents, medical emergencies, and natural disasters.

Ideally, your vehicle bug-out bag will help you survive for a limited time—for example, three to five days—during which you are attempting to evacuate to a more secure location, such as your home or bug-out location. 

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the essential items we recommend you include in your car bug-out bag. 

Recommended Essentials for Your Car or Truck Bug-Out Bag

Every bug-out bag is a little different. What you include depends on variables like where you live, potential local threats, family size, age, your survival skills (or lack thereof), etc. 

With that being said, however, there are critical categories of items that we recommend every car bug-out bag contain. 

Emergency Food and Water

The main purpose of your vehicle BOB is to help you respond to and survive certain scenarios for a limited time, usually between three and five days. That’s why we recommend having a 72-hour food kit in your BOB. 

[product_render product-handle="72-hour-emergency-food-kit"]

Besides food, you will also need water. In emergency scenarios, we typically recommend about two gallons of water per person per day. However, that can be a lot. So having equipment to harvest and treat water is essential to have also, for example, a portable water bottle with an integrated filter. 

First Aid Supplies

First Aid Supplies in a bug-out bag

Every vehicle bug-out bag should contain a first aid kit. What you include in your first aid kit is up to you; however, since you are in a car, you want to ensure that the kit includes the necessary supplies to treat most injuries or illnesses—everything from simple cuts or abrasions to a tourniquet to stop life-threatening bleeding. 

In addition to first aid supplies, we always like to recommend getting professional first aid and CPR/AED instruction

Self-Defense Tools

If an emergency occurs while you are in your car, you may be isolated and feel vulnerable. If necessary, you may consider packing certain non-lethal self-defense tools just in case. Items like pepper spray, a Taser, or a baton can help provide an extra layer of protection if your personal security is threatened. 

Emergency Shelter and Sleeping Gear

Since you are in your vehicle and away from you, you must be ready to spend the night away from home. Depending on the scenario, that could mean pitching a tent in the woods or spending the night in an emergency shelter. 

Depending on the most likely scenario for you, it’s important to consider including items such as emergency blankets, tents, and sleeping bags in your truck bug out bag.

Sanitation and Personal Hygiene

Unfortunately, you never know when you might make it home in a disaster scenario. If you need to live off your vehicle bug out bag for more than one day, you’ll want to pack sanitation and personal hygiene supplies, such as: 

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss

  • Hairbrush

  • Shaving kit

  • Feminine hygiene supplies

  • Soap and hand sanitizer 

Family or Personal Documents and Money

It can be useful to have important familial or personal documents in your car bug out bag—for example, insurance cards and proper identification. 

In addition, you should always include cash in your car bug-out bag just in case you need to purchase something. And if the power is out or the internet is down, rendering credit cards useless, you can still have usable currency.

download our preparedness checklist

Tips for Organizing Your Vehicle Bug-Out Bag

Your vehicle bug-out bag is only useful if you know how to rapidly employ the tools contained inside. In other words, the last thing you want amid a stressful scenario is not knowing where something is inside the bag. 

That’s why organizing your bug-out bag is vital: so you know exactly where everything is located. And remember, a well-organized bug-out bag isn’t only helpful to you; if someone else needs to use your BOB, the bag should be organized enough to the point they can also locate certain items as needed. 

For example, if you are the victim in a scenario and require medical attention, someone else should be able to pick up your BOB and give you the help you require without sifting through a disorganized bag of odds and ends. 

To make sure your BOB is well-organized, we recommend considering the following tips.

  • Compartmentalize your truck bug out bag: A well-organized BOB should be compartmentalized by category. For example, food and water should be kept in one area, and first aid supplies in another.  

  • Label Everything: The more labels, the better. Labels will help you quickly identify what it is you’re looking at. This is especially helpful if certain items are categorized into smaller pouches inside the bug out bag. Plus, it will allow someone else to use your BOB as if it were their own. 

  • Use Clear Zip-loc Bags: One great way to compartmentalize your vehicle bug out bag is with clear Zip-loc bags. Zip-loc bags, or something similar, help keep things organized and allow you to see into the bag to rapidly locate what you are looking for. In addition, they help waterproof the contents of the BOB.  

Maintaining Your Bug-Out Bag for the Car

The irony of car bug out bags is that you never want to use them. Because if you do, that means something has gone wrong and you really, really need them. 

Fortunately, most of us will never have to use the bug-out bags we prep inside our vehicles. However, what that means is that you may have old bug-out bags with expired contents and other maintenance requirements. 

To make sure that your vehicle bug-out bag remains up-to-date and ready for when you need it, we recommend considering the following maintenance tips. 

  • Rotate food and water supplies: Over time, the food and water you keep in your BOBs may expire. We recommend setting a reminder to rotate the food and water supplies so that if you do need to rely on the food in your BOB, you don’t have to eat stale, moldy, or rock-hard food. 

  • Replace or recharge batteries: Unfortunately, batteries don’t last forever. If you prefer tools that use rechargeable batteries, there may come a time when you need to recharge everything. Otherwise, you may need to replace old batteries. And remember, batteries are more susceptible to corrosion if they are kept inside a piece of equipment, like a flashlight. 

  • Double-check medications: Like the food and water in BOB, medications may need replacing as well. Set a reminder to double-check the medications in the first aid section of your vehicle bug-out bag so they can remain up-to-date and potent. 

  • Never forget to restock: If you end up using something in your car bug out bag, don’t forget to replace it afterward. Take note of what needs to be restocked and place it on the top of your to-do list so your BOB never is missing anything critical. 

Final Thoughts on Car & Truck Bug Out Bags

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation found that in 2017, most Americans spent about one hour of their day in the car. If you add all that up, that’s a lot of time! Which is precisely why you should consider the car a legitimate location for prepping a bug-out bag. 

Having a well-equipped vehicle bug-out bag is very practical and highly functional. It can give you the upper hand in various scenarios—everything from treating simple scraps and bruises while playing in the park to bugging out of town in a full-blown SHTF scenario. 

To equip your car bug-out bags with high-quality, delicious, non-GMO emergency food, visit our website. And visit our blog to learn more about prepping, like what to include in your family bug-out bags and which bug-out vehicles are the best.