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The Ultimate Checklist for Your Car Bug Out Bag

July 10, 2024

What is a Car Bug Out Bag For?

The car bug out bag, sometimes referred to as a B.O.B., is a crucial readiness kit for individuals. This multi-purpose bag contains essential supplies meant to sustain and support a person in the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters, accidents, or other emergencies. Perfect for the car, a well curated bug out bag is the perfect thing to keep you feeling prepared away from home. 

bug out bag for car in the passenger seat with ballistic vest

Tailored for travel, a car bug out bag typically includes essential items like non-perishable food, water,first aid supplies, a flashlight, multi-tool, emergency blanket, and basic survival gear. The primary purpose is to equip individuals with the necessary resources to endure unexpected situations until they can reach a safe location or get home. This proactive approach to preparedness ensures that individuals have the means to tackle unexpected challenges and remain self-sufficient in times of crisis.


Why You Need a Vehicle Bug Out Bag

A vehicle bug out bag is essential for those who want to be prepared on the go. Whether you are taking a road trip, making your daily commute to work, or simply running errands, a well equipped car kit can be a lifesaver if unforeseen circumstances arise. The portability of the bug out bag makes keeping essentials like food, water, and first aid supplies as easy as possible for the user. 

The utility of a survival kit prepares one not only for day to day inconveniences, but also larger scale disasters. No one wants a disaster to occur, but it is better to be prepared for something that might happen than to forego preparation altogether. A B.O.B is a practical extension of disaster preparation, as it ensures you have necessary resources in case of an emergency on the road. 

A disaster could happen at any time, so it is essential to routinely update your vehicle bug out bag and familiarize yourself with its contents and capabilities. Nothing is better in a disaster than muscle memory. 


Packing to Fit: Truck Bug Out Bags Versus Car Bug Out Bags

Tailoring your bug out bag to your vehicle is a great way to ensure preparedness in case of an emergency. The distinction between a truck bug out bag and a car bug out bag depends on capacity and need.

man with bug out bag for truck walking toward his vehicle

Because trucks offer more space and are often used in harsher environments, it is not unreasonable to customize the contents of your bag to the capability of the truck. For example, the space of a truck allows for additional supplies and bulkier items like camping gear, fuel, or weapons and ballistic protection. 

On the other hand, a car bug out bag should prioritize compactness and efficiency without compromising functionality. Due to the limited space in most cars, a car B.O.B. should focus on keeping the essentials lightweight, compact, and mobile, as cars are more likely to be used in situations like a weather evacuation or commute. 

Regardless of vehicle type, a car bug out bag should always have the essentials. The key is striking a balance between the limitations of your vehicle and thesupplies necessary for your peace of mind in a bug out scenario. 


The Ultimate Car Bug Out Bag List: 20 Essentials to Include

When building out your B.O.B., there are a few essentials to keep in mind that make emergency preparation much easier. Creating a list and routinely indexing and updating your car bug out bag contents helps to ensure that you have everything you need and are aware of everything that you have. Keeping this checklist is no small task, but with a strong effort and proper preparation, you can stay ready for any situation that might arise. 

Emergency Food For Your Car

Ensure your car emergency kit includes non-perishable food and high-energy snacks to help sustain you and others in case of emergency. Food like granola, trail mix, and canned goods are an excellent choice as they are relatively cheap and have a long shelf life. 

Water Purification

It is always important to have clean water, or a way to clean water in case of emergency. Staying hydrated is essential for survival, so something like water purification tablets or a portable water filter ensures a clean and safe water supply in an emergency. 

Water Bottle

Water purification isn’t useful if you don’t have any way to store the water. Carrying gallon jugs of water in the back can help save on water purification costs, and a water bottle or two allows for greater mobility in case of an emergency survival situation. 

Car First Aid Kit

Having a comprehensive medical supply kit is a crucial part of preparing for emergency scenarios. A good first aid kit should feature hand sanitizer, a tourniquet or splint, gauze, bandages, and nitrile gloves to ensure cleanliness. It is also a good idea to keep on hand some basic medications, like ibuprofen or dramamine to help curb fever or nausea if you or a member of your party happens to get sick.  

Self Defense Items

Consider adding self defense items like pepper spray, firearms, or a personal alarm to your kit to enhance your safety during an emergency. If you do decide to include a firearm, it is important to adhere to local gun safety laws and regulations when storing your firearm in your vehicle. 

Personal Protection

For added protection, you can also include ballistic protection equipment like a soft armor vest or bulletproof backpack insert. This helps ensure your safety in case a ballistic threat ever arises while remaining relatively light and portable. 


A good, bright, and reliable flashlight with extra batteries is an essential for night time visibility or vehicle repair. If it's a rechargeable flashlight and doesn’t use batteries, keep a charger bank and requisite cables on hand in case the flashlight loses power. 

Personal Documents

Keep a copy of important personal documents on hand just in case. Documents like an ID, proof of insurance, and contact information can make emergency situations like a car accident much easier for everyone involved. Make sure to store these documents in a waterproof box or bag to ensure they remain in good condition. 


Stashing cash in small denominations is a great way to prepare for emergencies where electronic transactions are not possible. As people have begun to rely on their cellular device more and more for making payments, keeping cash also prepares you for a situation where your device may not be functional, accessible, or usable. 

Sanitation and Hygiene Items

Be sure to include personal hygiene items like soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and sanitation supplies like disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. These help ensure that a wound or infection is not exacerbated by the situation. Hygiene items can also improve the quality of life for you or others if an emergency were to arise.

Space Blankets

A space blanket is a compact and effective way to guarantee the warmth of you and others. The reflective quality of these blankets helps the user to retain body heat in cold conditions and ensure warmth in case of an emergency. 

Hat, Shemagh, or Bandanna

A good hat, shemagh, or bandanna is essential for staying safe from the elements. Headwear helps protect against sun, wind, or dust. Having one on hand can make the other elements of an emergency, like the threat of dehydration, much easier to deal with over time. 

Maps: Car Atlas, Road Maps, and Topos

It is important to stay oriented in an emergency, so be sure to keep a map, atlas, or topographic maps handy in case you find yourself lost or disoriented. Make sure your roadside emergency kit is up to date and relevant to the area you are going to be traveling. 


A reliable compass is a fundamental navigation tool that provides peace of mind in case you end up lost in an unfamiliar environment. Make sure your compass is high quality, durable, and properly oriented to ensure ease of use in an emergency. 

Duct Tape

Duct tape is a versatile material that can be used for repairs to vehicles and equipment, or used to build things like impromptu shelters. Be sure to have a roll or two of high quality duct tape on hand.

Socks and Underwear

If you’ve ever been camping, you know that it is essential to keep extra socks and underwear on hand in case you end up in a wet environment. Having these handy helps guarantee comfort and good hygiene in extended emergency scenarios. 

Swiss Army Knife

A Swiss Army Knife or multi-tool is a compact and versatile piece of equipment that can aid you for various tasks. Make sure your multi-tool has at least a sharp blade, pliers, and both flat and Phillips head screwdrivers. 


Paracord is adorable and multifunctional material similar in overall utility to duct tape. Paracord can be used to secure items, build shelters, and make on the go repairs in case of an emergency. 

Fire Starters

Be sure to include waterproof matches or a lighter with plenty of fuel. A warm fire can be the difference between life and death in many survival situations, so having something to start a fire with, as well as a kindling material like dryer lint or wood chips, can make starting a fire much easier. 

Portable Battery Chargers

Keep portable battery chargers, whether simply a power bank or a solar powered charger on hand in case of an extended emergency. These help ensure essential devices like cell phones, radios, and flashlights stay charged all the time. If you do decide to include a portable charger, always verify it is full before you set out on your trip. 


Storing and Maintaining Your Vehicle Bug Out Bag

Properly storing and maintaining your car go bag is crucial to ensuring you are ready in case of an emergency. Make sure the bag is easily accessible within your vehicle, such as in the trunk or behind the passenger seat. 

Regularly check up on the contents of your vehicle emergency bug out bag and adjust accordingly. Things like food, portable chargers, and seasonal clothing need to be checked and rotated to fit the conditions of your travels. 

Consider the environmental conditions your vehicle may face, whether it be temperature, water, or extreme weather, and choose a durable, weather resistant storage container to guarantee the quality of your vehicle go bag. Doing these things can ensure an unparalleled and invaluable sense of emergency preparedness.

In times of uncertainty, a well-prepared vehicle bug out bag can make all the difference. From essential supplies to strategic planning, nothing beats readiness in an emergency situation. Regularly update and maintain your car equipment to ensure it is reliable in times of need. Be sure to stay vigilant, stay prepared, and navigate emergencies with confidence.


Written by: Aidan Shelton

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