Car Survival Kit Guide: Planning, 15 Types of Gear, 51 Item Checklist (2021 Update)

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Having a survival kit in your personal vehicle is something that is often overlooked. Given our technological connectedness, even in our cars, I can understand the lack of desire for a car survival kit.

After all, you are only 15 minutes or a few miles from town. There will always be help, won’t there? Unfortunately, help is always available, and that’s the answer I’ve heard more often than I would have liked. I still hear that answer, because you don’t need to know how to change a flat tire, give first aid, put together a survival kit, etc. However, people still believe that help is always at their fingertips. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

There are too many reasons to list why aid is not available or is not available for a certain period of time. Instead of assuming that help will always be there, I recommend that everyone use the space in their ship for a survival kit. Usually we are limited in what we can put in the survival bags, because of the weight. But this is not a problem for the car, so very stable kits can be made.

Map for your region

While the different survival kits have a few things in common, they are not all the same. It is best to plan your equipment to determine what works best for you and the area you live in.

For example, someone living in Alaska will have different things in their kit than someone living in the suburbs of Chicago. Some elements will overlap, but it is important that you take the time to adapt the elements to your situation.

Here’s a list of things I found useful in my car when things don’t go as planned. I’m going to split the list into two parts. The first half is about things more specific to the vehicle itself, and the second half is about survival equipment. Use the list as the basis for a kit and add or remove items as you see fit.

Types of equipment you must have in your vehicle survival kit


A complete tool kit would be ideal, but at least I have a screwdriver, pliers, wrench, tire gauge, and hammer.

Vehicle repair tool

These tools should include a tape cutter and a glass breaker. I recommend keeping the tools in an easily accessible place.

We appreciate a multi-purpose light that can be used as a flashlight, glass breaker, seat belt cutter, and is compact enough to be accessible from the glove box. The ProCharge survival flashlight has all these features and more.

Stripping tool

A fixator is a small shovel that can come in handy in a variety of situations, for example B. to remove a stuck vehicle from the mud or snow.

We wrote an article about life jackets. If you’re in a hurry, the EVATAC and EST Gear scoop are our favorites.

Connection cable

There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck somewhere because the battery is dead. With a pair of jumper cables or an emergency starter to charge the battery, you’ll be back on the road in no time.

Oil and antifreeze

Maintaining the oil level is one of the simplest and most important tasks when operating your vehicle. Keep at least a couple of gallons on hand. Pour in another jar of antifreeze.

Gas tank replacement

I reluctantly admit that I ran out of gas several times. Fortunately, I was within walking distance of the gas station and was able to use my tank to carry the gas back to the car. It pays to have a small container, because some gas stations don’t sell them.

Wiper blades and washer fluid

If you’ve ever driven in bad weather with a broken windshield wiper or without washer fluid, you know how important these two things are to maintaining good visibility. A quick example.

I live in an area that gets a lot of snow in the winter. This means that the roads are salted regularly. Snow and salt get on my windshield where they dry and leave a white paste. If it’s not clear, visibility is severely reduced and can be blinding when the sun is in front of me. I remember one time I had to stop on the main road because my fluid ran out and I literally couldn’t see more than three feet in front of me. But because I had extra flushing fluid with me, I was able to fix the problem and continue on my way.

Zip fasteners

Zippers are inexpensive and space saving and are used for many purposes, from securing loads to protecting items.

Spare wheel

Fortunately, most cars come with a spare tire, but if you have a used car, make sure you have one. Check the tire pressure of the spare tire and the fasteners for rust a few times a year. Also make sure that the correct tools for changing tires are in the vehicle and in good condition.


Most stores that sell auto parts offer lighting fixtures for sale. They can be used to signal other drivers to slow down, keep their distance, or that you need help. In a survival situation, they can also be used to make fire.


Not just after sunset. It can also be difficult to see under the vehicle or in the engine compartment during the day.

The ProCharge survival flashlight is equipped with the perfect features of a flashlight.

Adhesive tape

Tape is one of those things that has a million and one uses. It can be used to hold a broken bumper, repair a temporary pipe, and hold cracked plastic or glass, just to name a few.


Sometimes a problem with the vehicle can be caused by a blown fuse. Most fuse boxes are easily accessible and replacing a fuse is as simple as removing a blown fuse and installing a new one. Most car dealers sell small, very affordable fuse kits.

Road atlas

Some may think a physical card in their vehicle is outdated, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. The electronics can stop working for several reasons, making the GPS software unusable. With something as simple as a road atlas, you know where you are and how to get where you need to go.

We’ll tell you more about the cards you should have with you.


Believe it or not, paper and pencil can come in handy in your car. In some cases it can be used

  • Exchange of information after an accident
  • registration instructions
  • Follow-up of relevant information
  • Leave a note on your vehicle if you need to leave one.
  • At least you can play a game of tic-tac-toe while waiting for the tow truck.

Flat tyre kit

It’s obvious. You should have one of these ready-made kits in your car so you can repair your tires.


You may be stuck for a while until help comes. In this case iron rods, matches and lighters are used.

Read the instructions for assembling a fire package for your vehicle.

My car survival kit: Example

Below are the items I recommend you have in your car survival kit for those times when you are in danger of getting stuck or going backwards. In general, I would recommend a set similar to the 72-hour bag.

These are the things I always have in my car survival kit:

  • Extra clothes. Socks, underwear, shirts, pants, shorts and extra footwear such as tennis shoes or boots. Add rain gear and cold weather clothing as needed. Don’t forget your hat and sunglasses.
  • Work Gloves. You never know what you’re dealing with. Work gloves to protect the hands are included.
  • Water. Keep at least two bottles of water handy. Also make sure you have a bottle of water and tablets or a cleaning filter.
  • The food. Think travel snacks, pre-packaged items with a long shelf life. Like mix, jerky, nuts and energy bars. Simple things that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated are best.
  • Sanctuary. I recommend a large, sturdy sail. If the vehicle becomes uninhabitable, you can easily camp outside with it. In the case of structural damage, such as broken windows, it can also be used to protect the vehicle from the weather.
  • Fire! Fire! Lighters, matches, a ferrocerium rod, a magnifying glass and a grinder of surfactant. A fire does not have to be lit inside the vehicle, but an outdoor fire can offer many benefits.
  • Flashlight. I recommend a flashlight with a crank so you don’t have to worry about batteries, or possibly a solar powered flashlight.
  • Radio. Besides good music, radios can also give important information, such as B. about the weather. I recommend a solar powered device or crank.
  • Emergency candle. It can provide light and simultaneously power other sources, such as the car battery. I recommend Sterna emergency candles because some can burn up to 100 hours.
  • Small stove and utensils. It is useful when the situation lasts longer than the short term packaged food.
  • A knife with a fixed blade. Knives are extremely versatile tools, so it’s always good to have them. Discover our best knives.
  • Multi-Tool. Like a knife, these handy little tools are incredibly useful and invaluable.
  • Basic first aid kit. If you have no medical knowledge, a basic first aid kit should be sufficient. Most basic kits include bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, anti-inflammatories, diarrhea medications, fever reducers, burn gel, tweezers, antibiotic cream, and gloves.
  • Canteen. I usually choose the Paracord 550 because it is incredibly versatile.
  • Navigation. Having a physical map and compass is helpful if you want to save yourself.

How do you pack all that stuff? Since weight is not an issue, you can actually use any type of backpack that is easy to grab and see. In this article we have tested the best backpacks. We recommend the EVATAC combat bag or the Condor assault bag.

Vehicle survival checklist

We’ve broken down the above article into a checklist with a few additional items to make sure you have everything you need in your car.


  • Screwdriver
  • Clamp
  • Key
  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Hammer
  • Vehicle repair tools, for example B. Tape cutters and glass breakers.
  • Gully cleaning tool


  • Connection cable
  • Battery cleaner
  • Charger for emergency vehicles


  • Oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Spare fuel tank


  • Wiper blades
  • Windscreen fluid
  • Ice scraper



  • Spare wheel
  • Jack
  • Tyre wrench
  • Tyre mobility kit



  • Writing utensils, i.e. pens, pencils, permanent markers, paper.
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Entry handle for chargers
  • Links
  • Adhesive tape
  • Fuses
  • Paper napkins
  • Duvet

Emergency kit

  • Extra clothes and shoes
  • Work gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Water
  • water bottle
  • Water filter
  • Food
  • Sanctuary, that means tarp.
  • Emergency cover or bivouac
  • Lighter and matches
  • Flashlight
  • Emergency radio station
  • Emergency spark plug
  • Small ovens and kitchen utensils
  • fixed blade
  • Multitools
  • First aid kit
  • Rope
  • Map and compass


As you can see, many useful things can be packed into a car. The above list is only a guide, as each vehicle is different in terms of space. But don’t hesitate to use it as a guide to put together a car survival package that’s right for you.

P.S. The advantage of all these things is that you can take them anywhere without getting tired.

frequently asked questions

What should and should not be in a survival kit?

How to make a survival kit: Complete checklist | Montem Outdoor …

What should an auto emergency kit contain?

Emergency vehicle equipment – National Safety Council

What is the purpose of extra clothing in a survival kit?

It is important to choose the right protective clothing from your survival kit, as it will help protect you from the elements and other things that could harm you during a natural disaster or emergency.

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