If you want to cover just about anything that could happen to you or your vehicle during a bug out, then you need to take advantage of all that extra capacity in a vehicle. Carry some gear!
Great Gear To Include in Your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV)
The following gear is awesome for a bug out vehicle, or one that is meant to get you home to your family, if you get cut off.
Bug-Out Bag (BOB) is #1
A quality Bug-Out Bag (BOB) is the first thing you should consider keeping in your vehicle, since it is designed to give you a minimum amount of survival gear. The majority of my other suggestions are based on a properly stocked Bug-Out Bag (BOB) being in your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV).
Keep Plenty of Fuel
Always keep your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) topped off. You never know when something may happen causing you to be separated from your typical route. If a further distance is required, a full tank could give you 3-400 miles total.
As soon as your vehicle gets to a half tank of fuel, fill it up. It costs about the same amount of money to run with a full tank as it does with an empty one.
Water is A Priority
Of all your needs, water is priority #1. You can only live about three days on water, so make provisions for everyone to stay hydrated.
Each person that you plan to have in your vehicle should have 2-3 Liters per day. If you have two adults and two children, then you will need 8-12 liters of water.
Some of the best containers for water would be 2-Liter Soda Bottles, or thick plastic juice bottles. Never use milk jugs.
Keep Food in Your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV)
A person can live for 3 weeks without food, but the entire time, that person is slowly and painfully dying. So don’t let that happen to you. Keep a 3-Day supply for each person in your vehicle BEYOND what you have in your Bug-Out Bag (BOB).
Count pregnant or breastfeeding mothers as two people when you are calculating the amount of food required. Women burn a lot of calories when they are feeding a child.
You wouldn’t keep heavy cans in your bag, but your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) can handle the extra weight. Keep cans with easy-open tabs, if possible, and keep a can opener for those without tabs.
Freeze Dried Foods are also a great addition to get nutrients. You can carry enough water to re-hydrate your food, so this is a good idea.
Meet Your Shelter Needs
Your Bug out vehicle is a great shelter. It can provide you with hard cover and serves as protection from the elements, animals, and extreme temperatures. There are also ways to run small heaters in your car, as well as having a backup… the car’s AC system.
Tents, Tarps, and Hammocks
Beyond hoping that your vehicle is enough, keep a tent, tarp, and backpacking hammock in it. Tents can be used in different locations that the vehicle can’t get to. Tarps can be used for ground cover, makeshift shelters, and even some type of blanket in a pinch.
I love keeping a backpacking hammock in my vehicle because it takes up so little space and provides a great comfortable way to sleep on a warm day. Hammocks help keep lots of spiders, scorpions, snakes and other creatures away.
Stay Secure in Your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV)
An easy way to stay safe, is to always carry a defense item. This could be lethal or non-lethal based on your comfort level.
Non-Lethal Defense Items
For non-lethal defense, every automobile should have pepper spray, a Taser or stun gun, and a strobing flashlight. Not only do these help you when you are in your vehicle, but now you have equipment available to carry if you find yourself in an area that doesn’t allow carry of personal firearms.
The flashlight can be use to blind someone allowing you to react unpredictably to the situation. The taser or pepper spray is useful to help stop the aggressor.
Lethal Defense Items
A firearm is always useful to carry on your person, but I don’t ever recommend keeping one in the vehicle when you are not in there. If you are going to ignore my warnings and keep one in your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV), then at least make it a cheap one, and have the serial number of the gun to give to the police when it is stolen.
Ensure You Have Energy, Light, and Warmth
You can make it several days in a vehicle with almost none of these items, but your comfort levels will be extremely low, and it will reduce your actual survival expectancy.
Most important is to stay warm. For this, you can keep a jacket, wool blanket, a Mylar space blanket, and bedsheet for each person.
The jacket doesn’t have to be your nicest, because I want you to keep it in your vehicles. You could even get one from Good Will to save money.
You can get a cheap wool blanket from industrial tool shops and clean them a few time to keep a nice warm blanket in your vehicles.
Mylar Blanket and Bedsheet
If you are short on space, keep a Mylar blanket and a bedsheet. The Mylar blanket will keep you warm and the sheet goes between you and the blanket to make it a little more breathable and comfortable. Both fold up nicely.
Candles and Lanterns
You can also stay warm with candles and lanterns, which provide light as well. If you are using these items, you need to keep your windows cracked so you don’t get buildup of toxic fumes in the vehicle.
Keep road flares, to improve your visibility to other people, and flashlights to improve your vision.
Electric Blankets and Portable Inverters
Another amazing thing for extreme warmth is to keep an electric blanket for each person and a 400W power inverter. I actually keep a 150W, a 400W and an 800W power inverter in my vehicle for emergency power options.
Keep Everyone Healthy and Sanitary
If you are in a vehicle, you could easily get into an accident, hit an animal, or another hazard in your day to day driving. Being prepared is more about the everyday emergency than it is for the less likely global pandemic. If you are bugging out or just driving to the next town over, you can get into an accident.
First Aid Kit
If you are in an incident, you or someone else could be injured. If you have a basic vehicle-ready first aid kit, you can assist in many minor injuries that could occur. Keep a good kit in your vehicle for both bug out and every day driving.
Portable Camping Toilet
Another item that is useful is a camping toilet, which is just a plastic lid you may purchase for a 5-gallon bucket that has a seat on it. You also purchase a bucket and thick trash bags for it.
If you have an emergency stop during a normal trip, or you have to stop during a bug out, you could use the bathroom and dispose of the waste.
Other Useful Items When Bugging Out in a Vehicle
When you are travelling, you could face situations that would require tools that you typically wouldn’t have on you. You never know what may happen, where you need to navigate to, or even if your tires will get stuck? You can keep some basic items on hand to help with a lot of random jobs.
Do you have a good fold-up camp shovel or military e-tool? Keeping a camp shovel in your vehicle will allow you to dig latrines or even dig out around a stuck tire.
Extra Clothing and Shoes
It is obvious to many preppers to keep an extra set of clothing for the season, but I say if you have the extra room, keep one set of summer clothing, and a set of winter clothing. You can use a variation of the two to provide spares during spring and fall. This won’t be perfect for every single day, but it will cover most weather types.
I’m not going to tell you never to wear dress shoes or high-heel pumps. What I will tell you is to have an extra pair of decent hiking boots or hiking shoes. During the winter, keep shoe chains for ice or snow.
Duct Tape or Gorilla Tape
You could get a crack in your window. You could have something hang off your car and drag on the ground after hitting an animal. You could have to make a splint. Duct tape is great for every one of these situations, as well as countless others.
Compass and Maps
Always keep a compass in your vehicle along with maps of your normal areas of travel.
Also keep maps in your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) for all of your planned bug out routes as well inside your Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Each of these should have a minimum of 3 pre-defined destinations, 3 routes to get to each one, and 3 rest-stops along the way so the group can catch up and stay together.
Along with the road maps for travel, you should have topographic maps for the entire area between your home and Bug-Out Locations (BOLs).
For convenience when available, I always keep a Navigational GPS in my vehicle. My field ready GPS is in my Bug-Out Bag (BOB), so I don’t HAVE to have another… yet.
Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
I already mentioned it when I mentioned the maps within it, but you should have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in your vehicle.
I have done full podcasts on the Emergency Action Plan (EAP), so I won’t go into details, but the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is basically a notebook or binder with most of your important information in it. You will have items like:
- Bank Information such as Phone #, Account and routing info
- The addresses, phone numbers, emails, social names of important family and friends
- Emergency numbers
Cash or Card
There is no limit to the amount of things that would need $20 extra, like extra fuel. An emergency could result in your staying in a hotel over night for $150. This is why I think you should keep at least $200, and up to $500 hidden throughout your vehicle.
If you feel safer doing so, you could keep most of that amount on a prepaid debit card that needs a pin number to use. Don’t keep all of it on there. Machines go down.
Gear That Will Keep Your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) Reliable
If you want to keep a fully reliable Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV), then you MUST keep it well maintained. Even if you have a beautifully kept engine that should last for 500 thousand miles, crap happens! You need to keep your reliability when things go wrong. In a bug out, this is even truer.
If you find yourself in a serious situation, where reliability is crucial, you would benefit dramatically with the following items:
Lengths of Chains
Chains are extremely useful, not only for defense, but more so for traction. Having tire chains is best, but even just lengths of chains held with large zip-ties would hold for a LITTLE while on soft snow.
Zip ties can be used to hold things together all over your vehicle. It is great for temporarily running wires and attaching them to holes and hoses for stability.
Sand or Kitty Litter
With all the items that preppers have in their vehicles, weight is not usually a problem. But sand or kitty litter helps add weight to your vehicle and keep you on the road when conditions are poor.
If you do get stuck in snow or ice, the sand or kitty litter may be used to add traction to your tires so you can get unstuck.
CB or Hamm Radio
With a radio, you can get information from other drivers ahead of you. You can keep up with emergency communications in your area, so you are ahead of the emergency or disaster.
If you break down, and you already have it in your plan, you could radio back home even when cell phone towers are down.
If you are in a car, I DON’T recommend that you keep fuel in your vehicle. Don’t keep anything that could fume into the cab of a vehicle.
I recommend keeping fuel in designed containers for extra fuel that attach to the outside of a vehicle. If you have a truck with a bed, then you can strap down many different gas can types. In this situation, 15 gallon drums are perfect for extra fuel.
From normal use, fuses have been known to blow out. It could be due to an actual fault in your vehicle or a defect in the fuse. It would be great to replace a blown fuse at least once. I would hate to be stuck in the middle of nowhere from a fuse failure.
Keep a fuse kit that has the style fuses used in your vehicle both in the engine compartment and the fuse panel in the cab.
Many vehicles already come with one. You need to check that yours has one. If not, get one. It is hard to swap a blown tire out with the spare without a jack.
Not all jacks are created equal. Many floor jacks are much better than the mini hydraulic jacks that come with many cars. It is your choice what you want to use.
Lug Nut Wrench
I have two vehicles that came with a wrench for the lugs. I can use it, but it can be difficult for a smaller person without a cheater bar.
If you have a 4-side wrench, you can get much more power into the lugs, making it easier. At a minimum though, you must ensure that you have the one from the manufacturer.
Belts and Hoses
If you have had to change out your belts due to whining, DON’T THROW THEM AWAY! You can reuse the old belts as spares, just in case your new belts break.
Because of this, I think if your vehicle has more than 50,000 miles on it, I would purchase new belts and change them out. Keep the old ones as spares.
Belts that you should probably keep on hand are:
- Fan Belts for any fan NOT on your serpentine belt, such as engine cooling or air conditioning.
- Serpentine Belt for your engine.
Hoses get holes. When they do, you can cut them and repair them, or replace them. Clamps fail or break sometimes as well.
Each of these situations may require the use of hose clamps. I have use hose clamps for solid temporary mounting of equipment when zip ties just aren’t strong enough.
Radiator, Transmission, and Tire Sealants
I don’t agree with using nearly ANY of the quick sealants out there. Most of them cause more damage in the long-term than they fix. But when the long-term doesn’t matter, and you have a small leak that could cause your tire to deflate, or your radiator to overheat, then these sealants can do a lot of good.
Water isn’t only great for drinking, but it can also be great to add into a leaky or low radiator. But if you must add water, it is best to add anti-freeze coolant as well, especially during the winter.
Anti-Freeze coolant is designed to assist in the thermal transfer rates of your coolant mix as well as lower the freezing point, so your radiator doesn’t freeze up, causing the engine to overheat.
If you have ever left a set of lights on during the winter, you know how easily you can deplete and destroy your battery. With jumper cables, you can charge you battery and assist the crank of your engine.
You can’t depend on someone else having jumper cables, but if you do, most people have a battery in their vehicles! Help them HELP YOU.
Cigarette Lighter Air Compressor
I have a tiny air compressor that I use all the time to top off my tire pressure, to inflate bike tires, and more. You aren’t going to use this to fire pneumatic tools, but it will slowly inflate a tire and takes up very little space.
Don’t forget that full sized spare tires can provide you with up to half of the needed pressure in a tire, if you have the proper hose to equalize the pressure and the tire is sealed. Be careful doing this, you are wasting good inflation on the spare.
Tire Plug Kit
If you get a hole in your tire, you need to plug it up. If the hole is small, it is best to use the tar-type strips with the T-handle. This isn’t supposed to be permanent, but I have had one hold longer than the tread depth.
This can also be removed in a shop, when fix-a-flat cannot, for a proper permanent plug can be placed in your tire.
Starting Fluid or Aerosol Lubricant
If you get your tire plugged well, but the tire came off of the rim, only a high capacity air compressor can reseal the tire on the rim. In the middle of the woods, when you have already used your spare, Liquid Wrench or WD-40 could help. I do NOT recommend inflating a tire with fire at all, this is for informational purposes only.
If you sprayed the fluid or lubricant on the side where the seal is separated into the area inside the tire, you could carefully ignite it and the force of the air will expand and seal your tire. At this point, you may want to check your plug to make sure it held.
Tool Kit (Full Wrench and Socket Set, Hammer)
You should have a toolkit even if you know nothing about vehicles. Although a mechanic could stop to help you on the side of the road, he or she may not have tools on him. Once again, help him/her help you! You can get much luckier this way. Luck is made.
The tool kit that you have should at least have the following items:
- Full Wrench Set
- Socket Set (including spark plug socket)
- Phillips and Flat Head Screwdrivers
- Adjustable Wrench (Monkey Wrench)
- Adjustable Locking Pliers (Channel Locks, Knipex)
Tow Straps / Ratcheting Straps / Bungee Cords
Ratcheting straps and Bungees can be used to tie stuff down. It can be used on the fly to hold things in place, such as a fallen gas tank.
Tow Straps are great if you get stuck and another vehicle comes to your assistance. Don’t rely on them having the gear needed to help.
The Right Gear Will Get You Through Many Emergencies
Whether you get stuck because you slid off of the road or your vehicle falls apart of a bumpy road in an earthquake, with the correct items, you can fix most problems you will face in an emergency.
If you get a flat or hit an animal, unless your Bug-Out Vehicle (BOV) is totalled, the proper tools could get you back on the road on your way home without an expensive tow truck bill.
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