Car Survival Kit Guide, Gear, and Checklist
This is a dynamic car survival kit guide curated by all of our authors for preppers both new and experienced. It is constantly being updated with up-to-date and accurate information, so please check back frequently for updates.
Car Survival Kits or Vehicle Kits are preparedness kits you keep in your vehicle. There should be items and tools to repair your vehicle if needed, and other considerations based on threats in your area. For instance, if it is a possibility you may become stranded in your car from severe winter weather, you may need to keep a blanket, water, and food in your car kit. Sometimes these kits are combined with a Get Home Bag, but kit duplication is never a bad idea.
Contents (Jump to a Section)
Car Survival Kit Essentials
Here are the essentials you should pack in your car to tackle emergencies. Building your kit with most of these will help you with
- Tool Kit: Road Assistance Tool Kit – While cheap, this kit is comprehensive. Upgrade the components as soon as possible.
- Basic First Aid Kit: Swiss Safe First Aid Kit – You can opt to go with a bigger first aid kit that you develop yourself, but this small kit can still get it done.
- Escape Tool: LifeHammer Emergency Escape Tool – Keep in your car where you can reach it in an emergency
- Jack: Cars usually come with jacks these days, but make sure it works and you know how to use it.
- Spare Tire: Keep your spare tire inflated properly and check the pressure often.
- Tow Strap: Rhino Recovery Strap
- Garbage Bags: ToughBag Contractor Bags – Heavy 55-gallon duty blackout bags can hold a lot, and it doesn’t have to be trash.
- Lighter: Ronson Jetlite (See why this is our favorite lighter)
- Knife: Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Knife (See why this is the best bushcraft knife)
- Siphon: Koehler Transfer Pump and Siphon – Transfer fuel or water (but not both!)
- Gas Can: Gas Can
- Spare Cell Phone Charger: Nothing in the modern era will make you panic like a dead cell phone during an emergency.
- Compressor: Portable Air Compressor
- Local Maps: Print copies of local maps. Here’s how you download them for free.
- Mylar Blanket: Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets – You can find a mylar blanket in almost every survival kit. They are versatile and lightweight: an auto-include!
- Water: Fill water containers or bring bagged water. Keep in mind the temperatures your vehicle endures.
- Food: Millennium Bars (See why this is the best survival food bar) Make sure your choice can hold up to hot temperatures like this one!
Suggested Additions for Your Car Survival Kit
This gear may not be essential by definition, but adding any of these to your car’s survival kit will improve your loadout’s versatility for even more situations.
- Fire Extinguisher: First Alert Auto5 Extinguisher (See why this is the best vehicle fire extinguisher)
- Power Inverter: Power Inverter
- Paracord: TOUGH-GRID Paracord (See why this is our preferred paracord)
- Duct Tape: Gorilla Tape 35 Yard Roll (See why this is the best duct tape for survival)
- Super Glue: Gorilla Super Glue – For when you want something to stay and never move again.
- Zip Ties: Gardner Bender HD Zip Ties (See how these tested as the best survival zip ties)
- Signal Flares: Orion Safety Flare Gun – Designed for marine emergencies, flare guns are versatile on land as well.
Extra Supplies for your Car Survival Kit
Essentials and suggested additions have been covered, so this is the area will you will find everything else that could be useful to have in your vehicle. These extra supplies will help you in very specific situations, are less versatile, and may take up a lot of space. Even still, they could be the difference makers in an emergency- so it could pay off to consider adding these.
- Clothes: Grab a skivvy roll and stash it in your car. Learn how to make a skivvy roll in seconds.
- Ferro Rod: Bayite 6″ Ferrocerium Rod (see why this is our favorite ferro rod)
- Compass: Brunton TruArc Compass – navigate and plot your maps. (See why this is the best survival compass)
- Shovel – SOG Entrenching Tool – dig yourself out of any situation. (see why this is the best survival shovel)
- Whistle: SOL Slim Rescue Howler – Whistles make getting attention easy (see why this whistle is the best in a close race).
Severe Winter Weather Vehicle Supplies
Being trapped in a car during a severe winter storm can become a deadly situation quickly. Here are several items (in addition to the basic list) that can improve your survival chances if you live in an area prone to severe winter weather:
- Ice Scraper/Snow Brush: Ice Scraper and Snow Brush – a good ice scraper and snow brush can make a huge difference if you are using them every day.
- Tire Chains: Peerless Auto-Trac – Make sure you have the right size and know how to roll them on.
- Hand Warmers: Hand Warmers – These things can make a miserably cold situation a lot more tolerable.
- Spare Winter Clothes: Roll some extra clothes (especially outerwear) to have on hand in your car.
Car Survival Kit Checklist
A perfect vehicle kit doesn’t exist- what is right for you depends on your situation and risk tolerance. That said, we have as close to perfect of a starting point for you: our car survival kit checklist.
Our checklist is available as both a printable pdf download and as a Google Sheet/Excel file where you can check off items yourself, and even add and subtract items from the checklist.
Car Survival Kit Printable PDF Checklist
If you are looking for the simplest way to print and use the checklist above, download our printable PDF version. It is one page long on 8.5″ x 11″ paper if you reduce the margins to 0.5″. This car kit PDF makes gathering and tracking your vehicle gear extremely easy. Once you open the car survival kit PDF checklist in your browser, you can either print it directly or save it through your browser.
Car Survival Kit Excel / Google Sheet Checklist
If you are looking for a comprehensive way to track your car kit, open our Excel / Google Sheet version. The sheet is sharable, and you just need to copy it to your own Google Sheet account or download it to excel to edit it. We also keep links to our reviews for each category linked to simplify shopping for any equipment you may find yourself missing.
The Next Step
An emergency car kit is a common specialized kit that can help you every day or in an emergency. Here are some other common specialized kits:
- Earthquake Kit
- First Aid Kit
- Personal Protection Kit
- Shelter in Place Kit
- Radiation Detection Kit
- Dog Survival Kit
- Cat Survival Kit
You’ve Been Missing OutJoin the 2+ million preppers that rely on our prepping advice by subscribing to TruePrepper.
- Practical guides and tips
- Useful survival giveaways
- Free, forever
- < 0.4% of people unsubscribe