Prep Monday—What to Keep in Your Vehicle

All of our vehicles have an emergency bag behind the seat or under the floor. And I’m not talking about salt or litter for winter, or flares, or the typical things people consider an “emergency car kit.” This is not for your vehicle, but for you.

Think about the important things you’d need for survival: water, food, shelter. Of course, just like a car kit, this is dependent on weather, so you’d probably want to seasonally change things up.

Next, think about where you could be stranded and where you have to go—how far is it? What are the conditions between here and there? Would you normally be alone or with your family or group? How many?

Because there are two of us and we usually aren’t more than a few hours’ driving distance away, under normal conditions, I keep four bottles of water in each vehicle. That’s half a gallon, which is only enough, under emergency conditions, for one person for half a day—that includes washing and cooking, neither of which you’re probably going to be doing if you’re focused on getting home.

The biggest consideration, of course, is how long it will take you do that.

With a three-hour drive on country roads, we’d probably still have a three-hour drive. If you’re in the city and trying to get to those country roads, you might have to add a lot of time to that commute. Even if you’re just going to the ‘burbs, it could take close to a day—particularly if you’re reduced to walking.

A three-hour drive, walking, could take two days or more, which is why our kits also contain water purifying tablets. Much easier and lighter to transport than water itself, and in the country, you’re much more likely to find water sources. If you live in an urban area, I’d recommend two gallons per person.

We keep granola bars, dried fruit, and beef jerky, hiking staples, in our vehicles. You’re going to need energy, and the convenience stores and gas stations and fast food joints are likely to be shut down or looted during a SHTF event. Or be in the process of being looted, which is a whole other issue.

You won’t be full, you won’t have an actual meal, but you’ll be able to keep going.

Right now, you’re probably picturing a nice, sunny day, about 70 degrees or so. Think about that heatwave the last couple weeks—could you keep going when temps are close to 100? No, and you shouldn’t try. That extends your travel time, and especially your water intake. You could travel at night, which means you should also keep a flashlight and batteries in the car, and check/test/replace as needed, as well as matches.

You could also keep a sun hat (or rain hat) and a couple bandanas in your bag. Bandanas can cool you off, bind a wound, keep smoke or gasses or smells away, and filter water, among other uses.

We have two reflective blankets in each vehicle, because, on the other side of the coin, it could be 20 degrees. Plus, you can make a dandy shelter, fairly warm. Bandanas again: they’ll help warm the air you breathe and keep frostbite off your face. We also, at all times, keep various gloves in our vehicles; work gloves, winter gloves, they can all be used regardless of season.

We also have knives in our bags. Get one, learn how to use it, keep it sharp. Its uses are endless, and not only potentially for defense: cutting branches for a shelter or fire, making a splint in case of injury, cutting cloth, opening packages or cans, and so on.

You don’t have to Tetris a ton of things into your car, but you do have to have the basics, just in case. Just in case of what? A blizzard, a heat wave, mechanical failure, an EMP, SHTF, even a major road blockage from an accident. Remember, though, that you may have to pack out whatever you can carry, so make sure you pack smart and light—and make sure you’re in good enough shape to carry what you need.





Prep Monday—Bugging Out

I  read an article over the weekend that talked about arriving at your bug-out location/retreat/wherever you plan to go when SHTF. This one in particular referenced a cabin in the woods, so naturally I paid attention.

First, a two- or three-hour drive like ours could easily turn into twice that, or more. While we’re used to stopping for a bathroom break or to grab a Pepsi, that could be dangerous or impossible when SHTF. A few hours would be no big deal, but twice that? You need a plan.

Of course, you should already have a few additional routes to your BOL, and you should be familiar with them. I’d also suggest a system of combining a couple routes, just in case you’re halfway there and that second-choice road becomes unavailable for some reason.

See, you aren’t going to be the only vehicle on the road. Or the path. It’s not a matter of going with the flow of traffic or switching to the outer road of the highway to avoid an accident—it’s a matter of a whole lot of panicky people trying to leave in a hurry. A big hurry. Most with no plan or prepping at all.

So let’s say you head out of town around noon, expecting to arrive around 3:00; but you have to take side roads, back roads, gravel. Or worse. You actually get to your BOL after dark.

If you’re off the beaten path, you should be okay; if you’re not, you might find nothing or you might find squatters.

This is why you don’t talk about your preps, and especially your location. Sometimes, even if you don’t, someone may have gotten there before you.

Be cautious. This isn’t a weekend trip.

Hopefully you’re carrying and all your weapons and ammo aren’t stored or cached at your BOL. They could be missing, but certainly would be hard to find in the dark. Same thing with your supplies.

And let’s not forget the comforts of home.

You hear a lot about bug-out bags, and most of these are planned to be carried. By you. Of course, you also know about emergency kits for your vehicle.

But what about a more specific bug-out kit designed for your vehicle?

In a car emergency kit, you’d have flares, a blanket, water, snacks. At minimum. You might also conceal-carry or have a weapon in the glove box. And of course, you have a bug-out bag standing ready by the door.

With a delay or poor visibility conditions upon arrival at your BOL, you might be looking for a bit more:

Extra water or beverages

Extra snacks—or MREs on arrival



Card or board game

Extra blankets and travel pillows

Toilet paper


I keep a tote with the larger items, ready to go if needed, as well as a survival bag with the smaller items already in my truck. Don’t discount those “comforts” like toilet paper and coffee and a simple hot meal.

If I got delayed or stuck, I’d be pretty much set.

And yeah, a good map with ALL the roads is a necessity. Take it out of your vehicle for plotting routes, and put it BACK IN, IMMEDIATELY.

Don’t rely just on your memory—you’ll be at some level of panic too, regardless of your prepping.