What preparedness items do you keep in your vehicle?

I’m sure the answer to this question varies widely by geographic region, however I was reading the article: “What to do if you witness a car accident” that The Prepared team put together and afterwards I was curious what items other preppers kept in their vehicles. 

Here’s my list:

  • Ztylus Stinger Car Emergency Escape Tool (a multi-tool window breaker and combined seatbelt cutter attached to a USB phone charger)
  • Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)
  • Emergency Foil Blanket
  • LuminAID Solar Lantern or Flashlight
  • Jumper Cables
  • Flares or Reflective Triangles
  • Wet Wipes or Hand Sanitizer
  • Water
  • Non-Perishable Snacks
  • Emergency Phone Numbers for Auto Insurance/Local Tow Companies etc.
  • Properly Inflated Tire, Wheel Wrench and Tripod Jack (only useful if you actually know how to change a tire)
  • Car Tool Kit (again only useful if you actually know how to use it)
  • Regional Maps/Atlas (also requires some effort in order to familiarize yourself with not relying on a phone/GPS system)

I’d consider keeping oil, extra fuel and a fire extinguisher as well but I’m moving to an area where temperatures are consistently above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and I don’t want to leave those items in a hot vehicle if I don’t have to. Also, for me personally, part of preparedness is always leaving my vehicle with a full tank of fuel, parked facing outwards (in case of severe weather events or emergency) and keeping up with proper maintenance. What do you keep in your vehicle?



  • Comments (18)

    • 6

      About the same, Camille, less the flares, water and jumper cables.  Here, water in winter is ice and in summer too hot to drink and must not ration water.  My daily flight bag has water.  Instead of jumper cables, got something better  – and smaller.  Forgot the name but it’s like tow truck companies carry.  It’s a precharged battery with small length cables.  This whole thing is smaller than coiled up jumper cables.

      For the jack, don’t forget a sturdy and thick slab of wood to place under the tripod jack for side of roads not that well maintained – like here.

      There are some fire extinguishers that can withstand heat.  Types/brands best to discuss with your new area’s fire department.

      Probably unique to me; I’ve got “built in redundancy” for disposable work gloves and thick leather gloves. Instead of loading up on rags, new towels part of setup.  They are multi-functional; as towels and as rags.

    • 6

      At this stage I keep a first aid kit and a tarp in my car. The first aid kit includes baby and antiseptic wipes, duct tape, electrical tape, emergency blankets, hydro blu straw. I have a couple of keyring multitools and a rescue me tool attached to my car keys which are attached to my handbag which always sits on the passenger seat. 

      I have an electric vehicle (Nissan Leaf) so it didn’t come with a spare tyre. I am planning on getting one but I have other things higher on my priority list.

      • 6

        isn’t that nuts how some cars don’t come with spare tires now? i tried to help a lady who had a flat and she said that her car only came with a can of fix-a-flat spray. heard that tire shops hate that stuff.

      • 8

        There are several issues with them. Its not environmentally friendly. Once you stick that stuff in the tyre, you have a limited amount to run with them and it ruins the tyres which means you have to replace rather than  repair. You also can not go over 80km, which is a real issue. The problem with a tyre, you have to figure out how to attach it to the car and the weight will lower distance, but only a little.

    • 6

      These are the things I keep stocked and occasionally checked in both our vehicles.  It’s a mix of things useful in an emergency and things I’ve frequently regretted not having.

      • sunscreen
      • bugspray
      • battery pack jumpstarter thing
      • jumper cables because I have used them 100 times more than the jumper box things
      • water (it may taste gross at this point but still safe)
      • snacks
      • first aid kit (fairly robust, similar to the Level 3 kit described here)
      • toilet paper
      • lighter
      • glow sticks
      • a couple diapers, butt paste, wipes, small trash bag and a fresh outfit for our son

      My truck has some extras, like a 12v air compressor and tow strap.  I carried a fire extinguisher for years and used it once on a car that had just caught fire.  It was laughably inadequate but I thought it was worth a shot.  I haven’t carried it for a decade and haven’t missed it.  My first aid kit covers pulling up on a bad accident but also minor things that might happen while traveling, car camping, or at a trailhead somewhere.  When I drove cars made in the 80s I always had basic tools.  These days I can’t imagine doing any roadside repairs.

      • 7

        That’s good to know about the fire extinguisher. I’ve pondered over adding one to my car but feel like it would be inadequate, just like you said.

    • 7

      Hi Camille, if you have room:

      Any kind of cheap multi-tool with a knife

      Heavy plastic garbage bags! Poncho, water bucket, toilet, ground mat, sling, galoshes, solar still, snow/ice melter, blanket, etc even just a couple

      Small gas can (unused so it doesn’t smell) with $20 bill inside, you can actually put lots of useful stuff in there like the multi-tool

      Fire extinguisher.

      A tow strap is great to have when you need it, I once broke a perfectly good set of tire chains pulling a guy who got stuck in the mud at the side of the road after pulling over during a pop-up thunder-burst in Montana. It is surprisingly easy to get stuck -at least lose traction- on wet grass or clay.

    • 8

      Here’s my list – only so complete because I’ve got it all in a spreadsheet. Call me compulsive 🙂 The first portion is emergency and the second is for repairs.

      Get Home Bag (GHB) – this has a multi-tool, extra sunglasses, clothing, walking shoes, food/snacks, water, fire starting, light, Cordage, a deck of cards, female urinal device, Pen/paper/postits, wipes, etc
      Road Flares
      Seat Cutter/Window Breaker – Resqme on driver and passenger door pocket
      First Aid Kit (smaller L3 type from this site)
      Blanket ( a couple of these)
      Disposable urinals – 2 TravelJohns in glovebox
      Disposable pooper – Biffy Bag in glovebox
      Maps – Hardcopy Atlas in glovebox and downloaded versions in Googlemaps on phone
      Collapsible shovel
      Plug to turn a cigarette lighter into a USB charger
      Phone charging cord
      Machete – My husband’s addition
      Fire extinguisher
      In case of emergency contact Info stored in glovebox with Registration.

      Extra Fuses and fuse puller in the fuse box
      Duct Tape
      Hose Clamps
      Floodlight type of flashlight and easy access AA LED Maglight in glovebox
      Jumper battery in the non-hybrid and non-electric vehicle. Jumper Cables for when Jumper battery is dead.
      Rain Poncho
      Visibility Vest
      Empty Gas Can – Itsagascan which is a collapsible box.
      Jack and Tire Iron
      Spare Tire – had to get an aftermarket donut for the hybrid that didnt’ come with one.
      Tire Sealant foam – because it came with the car tire kit.
      Tire Repair Kit – just ordered a Nealey Mini Kit. Small and looks pretty effective. Needs pliers from the GHB.
      Tire Inflation Compressor – the good part of the Tire kit that came with the vehicle instead of a spare.
      Tire Gauge in glove box – used many times.
      Multitool with pliers – in the GHB.
      Electrical Tape
      Wirenuts – small ones
      Adjustable wrench with a prybar other end. Could also be a weapon.
      Water in GHB supplies could be used as coolant.

      Tire cables/chains and ice scraper when going on trips to snow.

      Items used in frequency order: Phone charging cord, tire gauge, AA Maglite, the blankets because I freeze and my husband doesn’t on road trips, Jumper battery because one vehicle is old and not used much, jumper cables a few times before acquiring the jumper battery, the Road Flares once when I witnessed an accident, the GHB lighter once for birthday candles for a stranger at a restaurant, Ice scraper once.

      Besides these, I have several convenience items: Facial tissues in a dispensing case clipped to door pocket, Extra paper napkins from takeout, reusable straw, metal utensils, lapcloth for eating in the car, reusable shopping bags with shoulder straps (one’s a cooler), Pens, collapsible sun shades for windshield and side windows, Umbrellas, Hand sanitizing wipes and face masks for covid times, coin cup and trash cup. 

      • 3

        Alisa, Not compulsive at all. In earlier times, no one left St Joseph, Missouri in a wagon train without their equivalents; extra rawhide to fix broken axels, …”

        Appreciated reading “visability vest”.  

      • 5

        I’ve been thinking of adding road flares to my kit. Where do you buy them?

      • 7

        Likely any parts store, Walmart probably, online surely.

        Flares make lots of smoke so might be a good daylight signal for aircraft if you are stranded off-road or snobound.

        They will start even wet wood blazing, forget the flint and steel! Be very careful around vehicle accidents for spilled fuel, oil, brush, etc.anywhere really

        Wildland firefighters use them to start backfires, maybe in a pinch to save their own lives, another thing you should never ever do.

        If you are waiting on an ambulance in a poorly marked location you might pop a flare to mark the spot. Ditto marking for helicopter evac., police response etc.

        They might be an effective weapon but you should never do any such thing as you might put your or someone else’s eye out.

        They are good for marking road accidents too.


      • 6

        Thanks! I’ll check out some places to buy them. You are right about the various uses such as starting a fire and signaling. Great prep!

      • 4

        I’ve found 15 or 20 minute versions in the auto-part stores where I years ago originally purchased the 30 minute ones I used.  I got the replacement 30 minute ones on-line (amazon, ebay). Lay them in a line so they start one another and they will last longer than the single flare minute duration.  

    • 8

      i have a 2001 chevy 2500hd. i have a topper with a roof rack on the bed, but the only things I consistently keep back there are ratchet straps, bungees, and two 5 gallon jerry cans of gasoline. the 26 gallon tank and the extra ten will get be about 500 miles… you do the math. i have a milk crate back there with things like wheel chocks, flares, heavy duty recovery straps for the poor souls stranded along i88 in their cars in snow storms.

      the truck has an extended cab and before I knew we were having a child, I removed the back seat and built a wooden platform for the dog and my tools. i have probably 5 gallons of oil back there because the truck burns oil badly sometimes.  the tool box is more of a chest, where the top opens and three drawers slide out. i keep various bulbs, electrical connectors, hose clamps, a set of metric wrenches in the top. the drawers have other mechanic specific tools, some from like the 40s, but they do their job when I’ve needed them. i have a basic med kit and water filter in one of the door pockets. 80% of the time I have my main contractor tool back back their as well, I’m sure my chisels would come in handy but I’m not sure about the sheet rock knives.

      i have a mummy sleeping bag, a hammock, and warm winter gear in a duffel that the dog mostly lies on. i have one of those back window gun mounts but I usually keep a pellet gun and an axe in it. I’m definitely not trying to get pulled over in NY with anything more so prominently displayed. also I find the decent pellet gun is enough for small game and I can find pellets at the store, 400 for $10 today. last time I found 6mm creedmoor they were about $2 a round. i have a headlamp and one of those home depot flashlights that shines a mile and could also be used as a club. 

      i have an older 1000w inverter under the platform, but it runs off my main (and only) battery so it’s not incredibly useful unless the truck is idling. I’d like to get a 3000w, and an auxiliary battery, but there’s too much else to be paid for. i put in a switch board, when I was single and had too much time, and I got some cheap amazon led pods and bars underneath aiming to the side, one in the engine bay, and back up lights. led strips light the bed too. with the exception of the marker lights I’ve installed, I’ve attempted to keep the rest of the lighting discreet.

      PXL_20210202_012137013~2sorry if this is too long.

      i also have a truck camper with basic supplies but if we need to leave, I’m not messing around with backing in and loading it up. the baby should be here in April so that seat will have to go back in, and so many other changes. 

      i do think about finding a used utility bed and mounting the camper full time, gas mileage couldn’t possible get worse. 

      • 6

        Not that long. Some of the tools from the 40s can outperform some of the newer replacements.  The only exception I make is the one piece of metal for the entire hatchet and ax manufacture. 

        Well wishes re enroute baby.

      • 4

        Siri, I loved reading about your truck loadout. I wish I was able to have my vehicle as set up as yours. 

        The things I particularly liked:

        • Extra 10 gallons of gasoline. This is smart not only to help you get further, but also can help out others who may run out of gas.
        • Recovery straps. That’s great that you are wanting to be prepared to help others. I don’t have the necessary gear in my car, so when I see others stuck in the snow, I just have to drive by and feel bad but there would be nothing I could do to help.
        • Interested in hearing more about your pellet gun. Is it powered by air? Are you afraid that someone will break into your car to steal it thinking it’s a real gun?
        • Did your vehicle come with fog lights or were they added after? Mine doesn’t have any, but I think it would greatly increase my visibility.
      • 7

        Siri, congratulations on the new baby!  Always good to hear of happy things in these times.  You have a sweet setup.  It also reminded me that I missed so much cargo related stuff in our truck (bungee cordes, sinch straps, etc).  I have a tow strap on the purchase list as well.  It would probably be more urgent if we lived in a winter area.  As it is, I think it will be most helpful to clear debris or rip open the garage in an “big one” earthquake so we can get to some of our prep supplies.  

    • 3


      After reading about the spate of people stranded on snow-bound highways this winter (Virginia, Pakistan, Greece 7 Turkey) I found your post among many other great guides and built my own Car Bag.  I found that a police style 37-liter duffle bag and milk crate handled the storage just fine.  For the water storage, which is a tricky question, I found that The Mountain brand aluminum bottle resist bursting from freeze to -5F below.  The rest of my items are in line with the kinds of recommendations you can find here.  Very happy to have my kit deployed in the back of my gassed-up Subaru with more winter weather on the way.



      Store in Glovebox and/or Dashboard Well
      Emergency Phone Numbers for Auto Insurance/Local Tow Companies etc.
      Escape tool
      Small jackknife
      Flashlight (plus extra batteries)
      Headlamp (optional) (plus extra batteries)
      N95 Masks (5)
      Hand Sanitizer
      Chap Stick
      Small notebook
      Rain-proof pens

      Store in a Large Milk Crate
      Snow brush
      Snow shovel
      Extra Bottle of Windshield Fluid
      Large umbrella
      Flares or Reflective Triangles
      Basic Automotive Toolkit
      Box of Extra Fuses & Fuse puller
      Jumper Cables
      Portable Jump / Power Pack

      Store in a Medium Duffle bag
      Medium Duffle bag
      First Aid Kit
      Basic First Aid Manual
      Ice Packs (2)
      Emergency Ponchos (4)
      Emergency Blankets (at least 1)
      Emergency Wool Blanket (at least 1)
      Wool Beanies (at least 1)
      Work gloves (at least 1 pair)
      Multi-tool with a knife
      Roll Duct Tape
      Glow sticks (6)
      Emergency whistle
      N95 Masks (10)
      Safety Goggles (1)
      Wet Wipes
      Disposable Lighters (2)
      Hand Warmers (Disposable)
      Non-Perishable Snacks
      Phone charging cord
      Rain-proof pens
      Contractor bags

      • 1

        You are one of the few who sees others struggling through a disaster and steps up to not become a victim yourself. Awesome kit David!