Vehicle Emergency Kit


There’s a lot of talk in the survival world about preparing for major calamities: natural disasters, electromagnetic pulse, economic collapse, etc. It’s attention-grabbing and fear-inducing, but statistically, less likely to occur than other emergencies. 

Take your vehicle for example. Most of us are riding around in it every day and now and then, we take some long trips and occasionally go through some remote places. We’ve all experienced some kind of hiccup when on the road.

What happens when an emergency strikes? Do you have a kit that will help you deal with that situation?

Humans have gotten pretty lazy concerning preparation because we’re often counting on someone else to bail us out. We have cell phones, roadside assistance, first responders and On Star. All these things are great, but they each have limiting factors. Reception is often the weakest link. If you can’t call for help, nobody’s showing up anytime soon. Then you’re stuck waiting until another motorist comes by. 

How long will that be? 

Will they even stop? 

If they do stop, are they even prepared to handle the emergency or are they dependent, too?

Are they going to let you (and your family) jump in with them?

On the flip side, what if you’re the one that drives up on an emergency? It feels pretty good to be the prepared guy that has the tow strap or the jumper cables and knows how to help out. 

What’s your plan for medical emergencies? Do you carry a medical kit (with tourniquet) so you can control major bleeding that is common with vehicle accidents? With the right equipment, you can save a life…maybe your own!

Now that you’re thinking about the need, here’s how we break it down: Setting, seasonal and space.


There should be a baseline set of gear that you roll with every day. This is equipment that makes sense in all environments.

Cell phone chargerLighter or Ferro rod
Flashlight or headlampPortable air compressor
Medical kitTire repair kit
WaterJumper cables
Small fire extinguisherTow strap

Setting specific items are relevant to the environment you spend the most time in or for a trip that you’ll embark on. For instance, I throw in my tools when I’m going on a trip that’s more than an hour away from home or to a place that’s remote or has spotty cell coverage. Here are some other considerations in that same vein:

For off-road adventures-

In remote areas with limited services-

  • Cooler with food, drinks and snacks
  • Fuel cans
  • Toilet paper

The kit you carry will vary according to the time of year and the weather you’ll encounter as well.


If it’s getting cold outside or you’re going through a mountain pass, you’ll need some additional items like:

  • Snow shovel
  • Cat litter or sand
  • Tire chains
  • Cold weather gear for each occupant (hat, gloves, etc)
  • Ice scraper

With your baseline kit and any seasonal gear you have, you’ve got to find a spot for it all.


Cars are limited to the trunk unless you’re willing to give up some space in the backseat or you have a roof rack. The problem with a roof rack is keeping it dry and protected from theft so consider a roof-top cargo box like Thule or Yakima makes.

If your gear is visible inside your car, keep it protected from theft by tossing it in an old box and label it “Goodwill donations” or “Old newspapers” to make it look like a low-value target.

SUVs and trucks have several options, but I carry most of my gear in a Hardigg case that goes in the back of the truck under the Tonneau cover. My medical kit rides behind the backseat so I can get to it quickly and I use the door pockets for gloves, flashlight and other items I use frequently. 

Another item you might consider is an OBD scanner. I keep mine in my glove box so I can troubleshoot any check engine light issues. They’re inexpensive and give valuable information during my trip so I know if I need to stop soon and get the issue fixed or if it can wait until I’m back home.

Outside of what’s mentioned about, give some thought to the tactical gear you carry. I have my Glock 19 on me regardless of where I’m going so I keep my 31 round magazine in the driver’s door pocket for quick access. If you’re making a long trip and/or it’s a high-risk journey, a long gun and several magazines with a chest rig might make sense for you. 

For more ideas on how to set up your vehicle for general preparedness and tactical efficiency, check out the Warrior Poet Society’s video on YouTube.

Dads have to wear several hats when it comes to road trips. They’re often the captain, navigator, communications tech, mechanic, weapons guy, medical tech, rescue and recovery all on the same expedition. Do yourself a favor and make sure your vehicle is ready for the next adventure…chance favors the prepared!