The Essentials to Have in Your Car Bug Out Bag / Emergency Kits

Many people might have a few small tools they carry in their car — like jumper cables or a few screwdrivers, fuses, etc. But I cannot tell you how many people’s cars I’ve been in that don’t have any type of emergency or preparedness kit at all. Even emergency organizations like the Red Cross or relief agencies now advise people to have small emergency kits just in case you were to be caught in an emergency situation.

Many preppers have put together their own bug out bags (BOBs), which typically includes about 3 days worth of gear/food. But the purpose of building your own small kit is for everyone to have the most crucial items for at least 2-3 days in case of an emergency… any emergency… like a vehicle breaking down in the middles of nowhere, a terrorist attack, or even just simply getting lost in the woods.

In this article I will post as complete a list of the kits I have put together for our vehicles. I also add some items on a regular basis in addition to what’s listed below. But this list will hopefully give you a head start in case things really do “hit the fan” and you need access to important survival items.

Standard Items for Emergency Auto Kits, aka Bug Out Kits

Firearms, Ammo, and Knives:

  • I keep a NEF 20 gauge shotgun behind the seat in my Jeep and at least 2 boxes of shells.
  • Since I have a CCW, I always have either a small .380 Bersa Thunder or my S&W MP .40 cal. With this, I also carry at least one full magazine and a box of either ammo (.40 or .380) in my vehicle.
  • I also keep a SOG Zoom with aluminum handle and a serrated, Jungle Primitive knife just in case I need to be in the woods for any length of time.

Standard Emergency Kit Items Outside of Firearms

Food, shelter, water, and misc. items:

  • 2 to 3 items for making a fire — These include a Bic liter, magnesium striker, and waterproof matches
  • Spool of heavy para-cord or twine — This comes in handy for building shelter, helping to create traps for small critters, or for a security border (with cans, rocks), to replace broken shoelaces, and pretty much anything you can get creative with that requires cordage.
  • A folded up tarp or sheet of 10x 12 mil plastic — This helps to make a quick shelter, or to use as a rain fly, to gather water, use as a blanket. etc. It can also be used to wrap around or over you as a make-shift rain suit. Again, tons of options for plastic or a tarp are at your disposal.
  • 1 to 2 days of food — I don’t get elaborate. But this can be something as simple as a couple of small bags of trail mix, or a small bag of rice or ramen noodles.
  • Small pot for cooking —  I really like the Optimus Terra Weekend Cook Set that I picked up at Gander mountain for around $30. I can make noodles, cook small portions of rice, etc.
  • Water purification straw or filtration device — Since a dire emergency means you most likely will not have access to clean water, I use a LifeStraw water filtration straw I picked up for around $20 on Amazon. I also picked up a Sawyer mini-filtration system at Walmart for about $19. This little filtration system is super light-weight and can easily be stashed away in a small bag.
  • A water container or small canteen – While on the move, something to carry your water in is crucial. I use a military-style canteen to hold about a liter or water. This can easily be tied to your belt with the included belt strap.
  • Small first aid kit — This kit can be really small and light-weight. In it, I keep a small tube of antibiotic ointment, a few blister pads and bandaids, about a foot of duct tape wrapped around a small piece of plastic, and even a couple of maxi pads for any major wounds or gashes. I also make sure this small kit has a small bottle of ibuprofen to control fever/swelling, and some anti-diarrhea pills.
  • Toilet paper — Napkins will also work here. But at REI or even WalMart, you can pick up the small camping rolls and place them in a small Ziploc so they stay nice and dry.
  • A decent whetstone for sharpening my knives — Even the best of knives will get dull depending on what you’ve been using it on throughout a single day. I carry a small 3″ whetstone like that I picked up for around $3.
  • A few small fishing hooks and eye hooks with line — I keep about 50 ft. of fish cord in a film can along with a few small split-shot sinkers. The cool thing about any larger eye hooks is that you can set up limb/trot lines to catch any larger fish while you sleep or are doing other things. The smaller hooks and line to go after blue gill, perch, or even bait fish. Even these smaller fish can make a good meal!
  • A small travel mirror in a case — I keep a little travel mirror my wife didn’t want in a really small tin can. The tin can has enough room for the fishing hooks and line noted above as well. The mirror provides another way to make fire with sun reflection. Or, you can use it as a signaling device for airplanes or helicopters… or even across large ridge lines with others you may be wanting to signal.

Looking at all of the above, it really sounds like a lot of stuff to carry around. But honestly, this emergency gear, with the exception of the guns and knives, can fit into a small fanny pack that weighs about 3-5 pounds total. It’s very easy to carry around. I can even wrap the knives and shot gun in the tarp and carry them pretty easily, which frees up my hands in case I need to use them for climbing or chopping brush out of the way.

What’s in your survival kits?

Recommended Items

Where to Buy
Everlit Complete Emergency Bug Out Bag
Emergency Zone 4 Person Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug Out/Go Bag
Sustain Supply Co. Premium Family Survival Bag
Life Gear Disaster and Emergency Bug Out Bag
Rescue Guard Emergency Survival Bug Out Bag


It’s great if you have a bug out bag and emergency kits prepared because they can really give you a big help in case of emergencies or disasters. If you want to have your own bug out bag but you do not have much time in collecting all the items needed, no worries because there are bug out bags and emergency kits you can purchase that already contain the complete items needed. To help you out, here are some of the best ones we found.

1. Everlit Complete Emergency Bug Out Bag

This bug out bag is uniquely customized by the US military veterans and it is designed to get you well prepared for emergencies and disasters. It contains upgraded first aid supplies, water, foods, survival gears, and safety protection equipment. The foods and water included in this bag have 5 years’ shelf life and they are approved by the US Coast Guard.

The bag is very easy to organize because it has many compartments. It is also tear and water resistant with its 600 Denier polyester. This survival bag can provide help for 2 people for up to 72 hours.

2. Emergency Zone 4 Person Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug Out/Go Bag

This is a multi-purpose 72-hour survival kit that is designed to prepare your family for emergencies and disasters. It includes US Coast Guard approved emergency water and foods that have a 5-year shelf life. It also contains survival and medical supplies which are all conveniently packed and are easy to organize. It also comes with an emergency guidebook that will give you knowledge and confidence about survival.

3. Sustain Supply Co. Premium Family Survival Bag

This family survival bag can provide 72-hour sustainability for 4 persons. It has a premium Sawyer Squeeze water filtration system that will allow you to use nearby water sources while avoiding contaminants. The bag also includes 48 packets of water and high-quality freeze-dried foods for four people. Aside from the foods and water, it also includes LED lanterns, flashlights, a fully stocked first aid kit, emergency blankets, bath wipes, portable stove, bowls and utensils, knife, fire starter, and whistles.

This survival bag is something you can rely on to survive when emergencies and natural disasters occur.

4. Life Gear Disaster and Emergency Bug Out Bag

This bug out bag contains a safety kit that includes first aid supplies, emergency blanket, all-weather poncho, and a hygiene kit. Aside from that, it also contains survival gears such as multifunction tool with knife, signaling mirror, pen and paper, whistle, compass, magnifying glass, gloves, respirator mask, emergency flasher, and a waterproof document bag.

This bag can provide a 3-day supply of food and water for 1 person and these foods have a shelf-life of 3 years. The bag is water-resistant, lightweight, and durable. It will really be a great help during emergencies and disasters.

5. Rescue Guard Emergency Survival Bug Out Bag

This bug out bag contains all the essentials for a 72-hour sustainability. It includes 12 packets of water and high-quality freeze-dried foods that can serve up to four people. Aside from food and water, it also includes high-quality items such as tent, ponchos, light, rope, first aid kit, compass, fire started, and thermal blankets. This premium bug out bag will surely make you and your family ready and prepared for emergencies and natural disasters.

These are some of the best bugs out bags and emergency kits that you can have in your car. We hope the information we shared will help you in being prepared for emergencies, natural disasters, power outages, and more.