How To Build A Bug Out Box for Your Vehicle

When out with your family, chances are you’re going to be piled into your family car.  I don’t care if its a minivan (okay I do but I’ll let it go for the sake of knowledge), a sedan, or a pickup truck, having the supplies you need when you’re stranded or even just in a pinch will help you control the situation a little better than the guy who has nothing.  Today, I’ll tell you some things you should keep in your car at all times and some things you may not have considered.

Everything in Its Place

The last thing you want is all the stuff I’m about to tell you to stock up on rolling around the trunk of your vehicle.   The container you use can be anything really.  An old milk crate, a cardboard box (not recommended but better than nothing), or a tote from the store.  Id say you’d at least want one 2x2x2 but obviously this changes from vehicle to vehicle.  I’d say its best to get the stuff first, then find a container for it all after.

Auto-Care Items

If you’ve ever been stranded with car trouble, it sucks. Having essential things at your disposal can turn a ruined afternoon into a slight mishap. Here are some things auto related I keep in my vehicle’s bug out box:

  • Coolant
  • 1 qt. of Oil
  • Extra headlight/taillight bulbs
  • Small gas can
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Jumper cables

These are essentials that everyone should have, but you may want to keep other stuff.  Just remember you still need space for other items.  If your handy enough, I’d say throwing an extra serpentine belt in would be ideal.


You don’t need to bring your entire snap-on tool box with you in the car, but a few things can help you out.

  • Small socket wrench set
  • Small pry/crowbar
  • Flashlight
  • Interchangeable screwdriver
  • Knife

For changing the spare tire, your car comes with everything you need to change a tire.  These tools are not the best in the world, but I’ve made them work on more occasions than not.  If you have the trunk space for a small hydraulic jack, then go ahead, but its not necessary most of the time.  One key item most wont think to have is about a 2′ piece of pipe.  Why you ask?  Have you ever tried removing a rusted on lug nut?  The stock lug wrench is small and flimsy.   Its simple physics, just slip the length of pipe over the handle of the lug wrench and you’ll instantly have more leverage to pry the lug nut free.  Just be patient/careful not to strip the lug nut.

Emergency Items

This is another group of essentials.  While I advocate keeping a small bug out bag (something I’ll write about in a future post), these things should be in your bug out vehicle box.

  • First Aid kit
  • Bottles of water
  • Road flares
  • Space Blanket
  • Extra Food (granola bars/dried fruit/nuts etc)
  • Ammo
  • Extra cell phone

Any old cell phone has the ability to make emergency calls, even if it doesn’t currently have a service contract or prepaid minutes.  Make sure you rotate out the water/food every so often so things are fresh when you need them.

Extras and Non-essentials

All of the things above are pretty necessary for any bug out vehicle box.  The items in this category are not essential, but be useful in a number of situations to make things easier

  • Change of clothes (for you and your kids)
  • Coloring books/box of crayons
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Small blanket
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Umbrella/ponchos

Things for Inside the Car

This final section are things you should have inside the cabin of your car.  They should be within reach should you need them.

  • Paper map
  • Cell charger/external power bricks
  • Sunglasses
  • Window breaker/seatbelt cutter

The last bullet point is pretty serious stuff.  Should you drive your car into a body of water, you NEED to get everyone out and quickly.  These tools are designed to bust car windows and cut the seatbelts quickly as long as you keep your cool and act when you need to.

If you guys have any other suggestions, please leave a comment.


-J. Nyx

Author: Jnyx

Fitness addict, DIY guru, tech nerd, member of Memesters Local 419.

5 thoughts on “How To Build A Bug Out Box for Your Vehicle”

  1. Good article. Never thought about putting together an emergency supply kit for my car.

  2. “You don’t need to bring your entire snap-on tool box with you in the car”

    i would imagine a complete Snap On tool box would be worth alot more than most working/middle class folks cars these days.

    but i agree with the what you said, your ‘auto care items’ basics kit to get the car going again is a must for any man.

  3. Weapons would be an important addition to anyone’s SHTF inventory, but for those outside the US they are a rare and dangerously acquired commodity.

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