Car Emergency Backpack Must Haves

Survival kits and emergency bags are not usually top of mind for most of us daily. But if you’ve ever been unexpectedly caught away from home without your essentials or repair tools, an inconvenience can turn into a major problem.

There are several different types of survival kits and emergency bags that you should keep in your car or have ready to go at a moment’s notice. And while it may seem redundant, all have their own useful and in some cases lifesaving purpose. So let’s look at the three most common types of survival kits and emergency bags. 

Image of car emergency button.

What is a Car Emergency Backpack?

Did you know that nearly 70 million cars break down or get stuck on the road every year in the United States. That’s a lot of cars and if you happen to find yourself as part of that statistic, you better be prepared.

Car Emergency Backpacks include tools you may need in the event of a roadside emergency in one convenient carrying case. Often these kits include first aid materials, jumper cables, a tire repair kit, blankets, flares and even non-perishable food items and water. 

Image of necessary items to keep in your car in case of an emergency.

Why Should I Have a Car Emergency Backpack?

You may be asking yourself why this is all necessary. Afterall, between OnStar, AAA and cell phones, help is right around the corner (no pun intended). But this isn’t always the case. Sit back and let me share a personal story.

Anyone who has ever driven I-70 W from Denver knows about the Eisenhower Tunnel, which traverses the continental divide at an elevation of over 11,000 feet. You may be saying to yourself “gee, thanks for the geography lesson,” but bear with me for just a second longer.

Image of Eisenhower tunnel for traveling.

The road up and down is steep to say the least. The only exit ramps you’ll find are of the runaway truck kind. There are no gas stations or restaurants and it’s not uncommon for the transportation department to require chains on your vehicle tires (perhaps something else your Car Emergency Backpack should contain).

The weather can change in an instant. It might be sunny in Denver and blizzard conditions at the tunnel and sometimes as a result the road is shut down for several hours – stranding people at the top.

Image of blizzard traffic in the mountains

No amount of cell phone service (if you have any) can get you out of this type of jam. But let me tell you - having supplies like food, water, and a way to stay warm can go a long way to help keep you safe while you wait for the road to reopen, repairs to be made or help to arrive.

What Should a Car Emergency Backpack Include?

  • First-aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Drinking water and snacks (24-hrs worth). Don’t forget pet food if applicable!
  • LED flashlight with extra batteries 
  • Water bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Basic set of tools including duct tape (the fix for almost everything) and flares or reflectors
  • Jumper cables
  • Car jack and luge wrench
  • Portable tire inflator
  • Tire wedges
  • Spare Tire 
  • Sand, salt, or cat litter as a traction aid (if needed)
  • Raincoat, gloves, hats, extra clothes
  • Ice scraper, snow brush and shovel
  • Cell phone charger with car adaptor

Image of must have gear in your car in case of breakdowns.

What is a Grab and Go Bag?

While a Car Emergency Backpack is meant to help in the event of a roadside emergency, a Grab and Go bag is a small emergency kit that is easy to take with you in the event you need to evacuate quickly. Grab and Go Bags are more centered around short-term evacuation instead of repair.  

Why Should I Keep a Grab and Go Bag in My Car?

No one can predict the future and you never know when you may need to leave quickly. Flash floods, fires, natural disasters and those that are human caused all may require you to leave with very little notice.

Image of flash flooding and emergency evacuation

Therefore, it is important to make sure you always have 24-hrs of supplies and important items you will need away from home packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

What Should a Grab and Go Bag Include?

  • Nonperishable food and drinking water. 
  • Pet supplies, beds, leashes, and pet vaccination records
  • Phone charger and power bank
  • Battery powered or hand-crank radio
  • LED flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit 
  • Medications
  • Toiletries 
  • Contact information for family and friends (written down in case your phone dies)
  • Copy of emergency plan
  • Cash (ATM’s may not be working or accessible)
  • Essential clothing such as a change of clothes, gloves, hat, and extra shoes
  • Emergency blankets
  • Folding maps in case GPS or your phone is not working
  • Copies of important documents such as identification and insurance papers

  • Image of prepared emergency grab and go bag

    What is a Bug Out Bag?

    Wow, how many emergency bags are there, right? A Bug Out Bag is similar to a Grab and Go Bag in that it includes supplies you will need in the event you have to evacuate immediately.

    However, unlike a Grab and Go Bag, a Bug Out Bag is meant for longer term evacuations during events where it may not be safe to return for several days at a time. 

    What Should a Bug Out Bag Include?

    Bug Out Bags should include the same items as your Grab and Go Bag, however since a Bug Out Bag is meant to last for a longer period, you’ll need a greater quantity of items. In addition to those items listed above, your Bug Out Bag should also include:

    • Emergency Shelter or Tarp
    • Rope
    • Wood cutting tools
    • Magnesium fire starter
    • Portable water filtration kit

    Necessary items to include in a bug out bag

    How Should I Pack an Emergency Bag or Kit?

    Whether it is a Car Emergency Backpack, a Grab and Go Bag, or Bug Out Bag, organization is key. It is important to pack efficiently and only take those items which are essential. Do not overpack!

    Make sure you can carry your emergency bag over a long-distance if necessary. Your items should be easy to find in all situations and should be compartmentalized and labeled.

    Packing an organized emergency situation bag

    It is also imperative that you know where your emergency bags are and that they are replenished frequently. There’s nothing that says you can’t stow them in your car – you’ll always know where they are and have them with you. In fact, most survival experts would recommend doing so. 

    The Best Backpacks for a Car Emergency, Grab and Go or Bug Out Bag

    Premier Body Armor sells a variety of Vertx backpacks ideal for emergency bags. Additionally bulletproof inserts can be utilized in conjunction with these bags to add an extra layer of armored protection.

    From the basic to the most advanced, all our bags are made of the highest quality materials, comfortable for all to use and are made entirely in the USA. 

    • Vertx Gamut Backpack An optimized backpack with upgraded fabric, additional storage pockets, and extra room in the CCW compartment so you can make the most of your space – all without calling attention and appearing overtly tactical.
      Vertx Gamut 3.0 Bag and level 3a armor insert

    • Vertx Overlander Backpack – Designed to adapt to life on the road. With ample room for your essentials and even some nice-to-haves, as well as organizational features like admin pockets, multiple compartments, and VELCRO® Brand loop lining, this backpack makes it easy to find and customize the storage of your most important items.
      Image of custom cut armor for the Vertx Overlander backpack

    • Vertx Basecamp Backpack – A discreet, on the go backpack, this pack features ample compartments and a stylish exterior, perfect for carrying all your essentials. The built-in base allows for easy access to your gear.
      Custom level 3a ballistic insert for the Vertx Basecamp bag and armor

    No one expects to be in an emergency, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’re prepared just in case? There is a lot we can’t control, but what we can control is making sure we have what we need should one occur. 


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