Vehicle Emergency Kit

By Poet on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 - 11:46pm

So this is my current car kit. I have two such kits as we have two vehicles.

They are identical in probably 90% of their contents. I had been adding things over time, stuffing whatever I wanted to stuff in the backpacks, so as you can see, there is a lot of overlap.

I already I know that I want to pare down some things, but I thought I'd share with you the contents as they currently stand.

Clicking on an image opens a larger size in a new window.



Contents of vehicle kit. Everything fits into the backpack to the right. The backpack has an integrated two-liter hydration bag that is flat when empty. Not pictured is water stored in sealed canning jars in a tool box.

Additional comments: Looks like I have 4 sources of light, two of which are rechargeable (one headlamp, one hand flash light). Four blades, two of which are folding knives, the other is a mess kit multi-tool, and one is a general muli-tool. Yes, there are diapers in the upper right. And there are square picnic napkins in 3 zip bags in the lower right, each with 18 four-ply napkins (takes up less space than a 200-sheet one-ply toilet paper roll). There is a portable stove with two cannisters. Middle bottom you see a first aid kit, an Israeli battle bandage, and the IKEA kids' stainless steel cookware set. On the left is IOSAT. On the bottom left are trash bags and mylar blankets. There is also a mylar emergency tent and a few N95 masks. Ointments, bug wipes, etc. Ask me if you want something identified.


First aid kit. Contains a "Save a Tooth" system, customized with an Israeli bandage, Quik Clot, etc.


Goal Zero solar charging kit - has a USB charge port, came with a 5W LED Luna Light, 4 AA and 4 AAA NiMH batteries. Added 4 AA and 4 AAA Sanyo Enerloop batteries.

Additional comments: There are also extra alkaline batteries and a SteriPen bottle that uses UV light to sterlize water. Inside the bottle is also a thermometer (in case kids get sick) and water purification tablets.


Aaron M's picture
Aaron M
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excellent write up!

Im really glad to see this kit come together. It looks very solid and im especially liking the goalzero kit.
If you don't mind, how much did it cost and how well does it work?

A couple thoughts:
Consider adding a water purifier (or two). You'll need to refill those camelbaks on any voyage that lasts more than a day, so a canteen cup (or any metal water container) that you can use to boil water should be added. A katadyne filter as well, and perhaps some water purification tabs.

For your medical kit, consider an NPA - nasopharyngeal airway - many times injuries to the face make can cause interruptions to the airway, and these can really mean the difference if you've got someone with an obstructed airway due to upper airway blockages.

Consider getting some mylar sleeping bags in addition to the blankets. The blankets work best as fire reflectors, so the combination can get you a long ways with a little know how and setup.

If you don't already have them, a Bic lighter or two is good. A blast match with them is better. The pair and a magnesium fire starter is best. Fire is pretty critical, so I like to make sure I have lots of ways to make it.

Consider carrying some of these things on you, if possible.
A pocket knife, multi-tool and lighter are easy and not offensive in most places. These three tools are the foundation on which a lot of your survival skills will rest upon.

Think of equipment in "lines":
Have to have
Nice to have

I think there's a section on the EDC thread regarding that, if you're interested.

Poet's picture
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Thanks For The Emergency Kit Feedback, Aaron!

Thanks, Aaron!

Actually I do have 2 Bic lighters (in the cannister above the paracord) and 2 mylar sleeping bags (between trash bags and first aid kit) already - just too small in the first picture.

I don't know how to use an NPA, but that's good to know. I'll make sure to get one, along with a water filter, something to boil a larger amount of water, and matches and a fire starter. EDC, I'll have to be discreet, but I'm sure it can be done.

As for the GoalZero product, I'll admit I haven't used it yet. I really should test both kits and make sure they work. It's supposed to fully charge a set of 4 AAA batteries in 3 hours of full sun, and it can be clipped to a backpack on the outside if you're on the move. I did a whole write-up on it a while back. Here's the link:

Hopefully in a few months, my boys will be potty-trained and I can lighten the bulk a bit...




LesPhelps's picture
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Sierra Stove

Have you ever tried a Sierra Stove.  Check out www.zzstove.con.  You can cook la meal with a sandwich bag full of dry twigs, bark and pine cones.  They work suprisingly well and are perfect for when you don't want the added weight of fuel, but may also come in handy for when fuel is unavailable.  However, they do require batteries.

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Emergency Kit

Excellent, as Male Nurse, CPR and First Aid Instructor I´m very glad to see an Emergency kit that is very useful for multiple purposes. 


What is the cost and how can I get it in my country Republic of Panama. 

Poet's picture
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Stove and Kit Cost


I just use the Sterno portable folding stove because it folds down nicely and it cost me about $8 - no batteries required. The fuel cannisters cost me about the same for two. I'm sure I could burn twigs for the portable stove, too, though likely not in rain or wind.


It's a custom kit that I put together myself and am in the process of revising. All the parts were individually purchased.


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Aaron M
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Emergency Cooking

I like sterno as well - it's a nice, contained, and fairly inexpensive alternative to a fire when either security issues or fire control prevent an honest to goodness fire. Jetboil also makes a good product I don't use, but have heard strongly recommended.

One thing about sterno (and fires in general) is that they are much more difficult to use at elevation. If you're trapped in a pass, for example, it's much harder to get your fire going, and use it in a meaningful way. Boiling and cooking will be more difficult. Under such conditions, a fuel stove has a distinct advantage, so it may well be a good idea to pack on away in the car.

I know this is easy to overlook, but there's also the matter of things to keep on hand FOR your car (and I'm pretty sure based on our previous conversations you've already consideredthis):
- Extra fuel, oil or fluids
- Jumper Cables
- Spare tire, Jack and flares (I prefer them to the little cones, because the cones aren't good for much... Flares are)
- Distilled water (for batteries, drinking or radiator)
- Clothes and Shoes. If you are stuck at the office in an emergency, you might find yourself in loafers and suit pants, when what you need is cargos and a good set of boots. A sweater and a jacket go a long ways as well (instead of just one heavy jacket) as you can layer as needed.

I also think a hand axe or machete goes a long ways, even in addition to the pocket saws/knives.



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Amanda Witman
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This is great -- thank you for sharing

I have a car kit that is not yet as comprehensive as I'd like it to be.  Mine also includes food (nuts, raisins, energy bars -- no chocolate, as the addicts in the family wouldn't leave it alone), hunter-orange hats and good wool socks for each member of the family, a crank radio, a whistle/compass, maps of ours and surrounding states, rain ponchos, utility cloths, and...clearly I should go revisit what's in there...

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Aaron M
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You're 100% on with having maps.
Thank you for mentioning this. I keep a U.S. map in my backpack, and state maps in the glovebox.


gillbilly's picture
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Might add

one or two ratchet tie-down straps. They have gotten me out of a few jams in the past. Thanks for the post...a good list to have!

ARDave's picture
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A few suggestions

These are general suggestions more than a specific critique of your kit per se.
There are a few things that I have either found to be extremely handy in a car kit from direct experience, but which are often omitted or that I would suggest based on worst case necessity (& ease of adding).

In no particular order at the moment.

  • A few lengths of wire in various gauges, from strong stiff wire to help repair stuff to thing flexible wire that could be used as cordage, strong fishing line, snares or??? - these can be recycled from various sources like old guitar strings, military snare wire, electric fence wire, etc. 
  • A few feet of insulated electrical wire in a reasonably stout guage (12-14 maybe), spare fuses, and a couple of clamp on splices and a few crimp connectors can help you make an emergency electrical repair that may keep your car moving.    I also carry about 24"-36" of a thick standard electrical (NOT plumbing) flux core solder (make sure it's flux core).
    BTW, I also keep a spare battery cable tie wrapped in parallel to my regular one (at least the one that goes from the battery to the solenoid, it's the most prone to failure), corrosion can be hidden inside of the jacket of your battery cables and they can fail unexpectedly.  If this happens, remember that in an emergency you CAN use a red cable to replace the black cable & visaversa - it's just cable color! (substituting the parts - not where they go!!)
  • I make sure that one of the lighters that I carry is a refillable butane "jet" type (in fact I like the double or triple jet models).  They are completely wind proof, burn incredibly hot, and can (&are) used as torches to solder or even to braze some metals.  Obviously they can melt a LOT of materials and they are wickedly efficient at starting a fire, especially if all you have to work with is wet tinder.  They do use a LOT of butane, so I also carry a spare butane cylinder, at Home Depot, in the BBQ department or near the welders, you can often find a 3 pack of some very small yellow plastic refill cylinders that work great for this (they're about the size of a stretched C-cell battery) that are made for refilling BBQ lighters but which are perfect for our application.
  • A spare headlight bulb (at least one, if you have replaced old bulbs that still work, save the old ones as spares, same with windshield wipers - both can save your ass on a dark stormy night when no gas stations or WalMarts are open for 100 miles).
  • A Valve stem repair kit for your tires - a tiny thing, but when it fails...
  • A can of LARGE size Fix-a-Flat (always get the biggest can they make, you never have to use it all, but you can't add more air than is in the can)
  • A tire plug kit.  Easy to use & cheap, again it will save your ass in the middle of the night when your tire's attacked by a stray nail or screw
  • Tie wraps - various sizes & lengths - just too handy for too many things not to have.
  • Jewelers loupe or magnifier of some sort - a plastic credit card sized fresnel lens works well.  Helps see the little things and adds an easy way to start a fire any time the sun is out.
  • A pair of fine tweezers - now that you can see the little things (splinters & so forth) you can work with them, or grab stuff stuck down in cracks, etc.  Generally part of the first aid kit, didn't see if you had one in yours.
  • Vet-Wrap.  It's like Coban, a conformal elastic bandage that only sticks to itself.  It is single use only, but can take the place of an ACE bandage or can hold on any other dressing.  IMHO it make the VERY best platform for building pressure bandages with, or for creating soft casts (I have done PLENTY of both with it).  One of the BEST things about it is that it can be found at almost any Farm/Ranch supply or Feed Store and generally runs around $3 for a roll (4"x~10yds - I think), it comes in a huge variety of colors & patterns - I generally use black, flourescent orange & a camouflage pattern, and there are a couple of alternative brands (VetWrap is a 3M brand).   I normally buy them by the dozen.
  • Epi-Pens.  This is a prescription item that almost nobody should have trouble getting from their doctor if they, or anybody in their family, or anybody they know, has allergies to anything.  This fat pen sized auto-injector of Epinephrine will be the ONLY thing that may save somebodies life if they go into anaphylactic shock for ANY reason (Epi may be used for other emergencies as well).  Even when NOT covered by insurance these pens are generally less than $20 for a 2-pack (plus practice pen).  Anaphylaxis is the kind of emergency where waiting for 911 could kill ya, so an Epi-pen should be in every serious first aid kit.  Just make sure you know how to use it, and DON't inject your hands or feet with it or you might lose a finger or toe!
  • Tubing - I carry a few feet of 1/4" & 3/8" flexible tubing.  It can be used to siphon liquids, as a straw, to move water around in something like a solar still or whatnot, to fashion an emergency Tracheal tube or as an improvised stethascope when I want to listen at something or someone.

Those were just the random thoughts that came up when I read through this post.

Cheers -



ARDave's picture
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Umm - oh ya - a couple of tools

A couple of basic tools for your car would probaby be helpful as well.
I would start with a 4in1 screwdriver, a medium crescent wrench, a good pair of pliers, a good pair of vise grips, needle nose pliers with wire cutters.  From there I might add one of those all-in-one dog-bone looking combo wrenches or a set of just basic 1/2" sockets in either SAE or metric as appropriate, you could add a couple of box end wrenches, generally just two to four sizes will cover 80% of what you would use them on.
Oh & make sure I had a couple of spare hose clamps to boot - for when trying to patch a minor hose leak (pinhole style - forget ruptures) with duct tape, you need a couple of hose clamps to go over the actual repair site - otherwise you can repair with PVC pipe or whatever else you can find to splice in for your temp ride to a garage.


Particularly in my wife's kit, I like to make sure she has a way of dealing with the folks who pull over and who may want to do more than just "help" (since she is CCW resistant) - so there is a good brand / delivery system for tear-gas/pepper spray and a 750KV stun gun that she knows how to use (on the trunk, apply hard and solid, maintain contact and follow your target down and keep applying the force until all resistance has stopped - then let off trigger, but maintain contact and be ready to reapply for several seconds while you reassess.  If they start to "recover' in a threatening or surly mood - correct that threat as well & continue until help arrives.)

yogiismyhero's picture
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Suppositories are a must as I just now found out...

...not comfortable and all consuming, trust me. My first bought and hopefully my last and it didn't happen to me (never has) but my grandson! He was NOT happy, and placing them where they needed to go wasn't a delight either but love prevails over all. I never gave this a thought, not one. I imagine too that you could find other uses as I handled these things. Perhaps as a lubricant for other things. Maybe a battery post or some darn thing. :-)

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Wendy S. Delmater
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Marvelous post, Poet. Both our personal vehicle and my husband's company truck have first aid kits. In afdition therei s our personal home bugout bag, and also a "get home bag" with these things for my husband, who often works at sites that would take anywhere from two days to a week to walk home from.

Your post reminded me to check the food in both: I rotate it out every year to six months.


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