Bug Out Vehicle Kit Essentials

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Jason O’Donnell

Essential Items for Any Bug Out Vehicle

An emergency can happen at any time, so it’s important (and smart) to be prepared. Especially if you only have moments to evacuate, you should know what items you absolutely need to have accessible in order to survive.

Picture this hypothetical scenario. Let’s say a big weather event or catastrophe were to take place. You have 10 minutes to get out of your house and head to an undetermined location for an unknown amount of time. What would you take?

In such an event, you might not have time to think about what to bring and what to leave behind. That’s why you should always have a kit or duffel bag full of essential items ready to go in your bug out vehicle.

Bug out Vehicles

Whether it’s a truck, sedan, or even a motorcycle, having any sort of vehicle already gives you an advantage during a crisis. For motorbikes, the main benefit is mobility. You can get around even if traffic’s backed up. RVs, campers, and cars have the benefit of doubling as temporary shelters. They also offer more space for essential supplies. A vehicle can also be stripped down for parts you might need later if you have to hoof it on foot.

Here are some essential items to bug out your vehicle, no matter the size. You’ll be able to outfit anything from a motorbike, where you just have enough space to stash important supplies in the seat, to 30-ft. motorhomes with plenty of room to store bigger items.

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Top 4 Essential Items You Should Have Packed and Ready to Go in Case of an Emergency

  1. Important documents. Any banking information, car titles, insurance, medical records, passports, important photographs, and a USB drive with backups should all be in one place that’s easy to grab when needed. A fireproof lockbox is best to store these kinds of items, but a laptop bag works just as well.
  2. Batteries and chargers. This kit should have AA and AAA batteries, in addition to charging cords/adapters for your digital devices, so that you can stay connected with the rest of the world as long as possible.
  3. Provisions. It’s unnecessary to keep food pre-packed, but it is a good idea to keep emergency rations all in one accessible location (like in the pantry). A few MREs or easy-to-open canned foods, snacks, and a gallon of water is a good start. Additionally, consider keeping a portable water purification device in your vehicle.
  4. Medical equipment. Any prescription medication along with thermometers, essential medical devices, extra Band-Aids, pain relievers, and the like should be readily available to grab and go.

Top 5 Essential Items That Should Be in All Types of Vehicles

  1. A good flashlight (or two). If you need to drive at night, leave your vehicle, or make repairs, you don’t want to be left in the dark. Flashlights come in all shapes and sizes and are easy to stash in your car, scooter, and getaway kit. They even come as keychains, so there’s no excuse to be without.
  2. First Aid kit. How much room you have will determine what you can carry in your kit, but the more the better. The basics you can fit into a small zip-top travel bag include Band-Aids, pain reliever medication (like aspirin or Tylenol), Q-tips, alcohol wipes, a small tube of sunscreen, Tiger Balm, and insect repellant.
  3. Water treatment tablets. If you must evacuate in a hurry and you’re in an area that has unclean water, you can use iodine tablets to help purify the water that you do have access to. Untreated water can carry water-borne pathogens and parasites that will make your situation worse in times of distress. Fortunately, potable water purification tablets come fairly cheap. You only need a small quantity to treat large amounts of water.
  4. Swiss Army knife. These knives are small, compact, and super handy for anything from cutting food to opening a bottle of wine. The classic model has an integrated pair of scissors, tweezers, toothpick, nail file, and a knife. For the car, you probably want the full-featured Swiss Army with a screwdriver, wire cutters, wood saw, fish scaler, ballpoint pen, ruler, and more.
  5. Thermal Mylar blanket. For less than $2, Mylar thermal blankets can keep you warm by helping to reflect back and retain 90 percent of your body heat. Especially if you’re in a cold weather environment, this is one of the best space/cost investments you can make. They come in packets no bigger than a donut and are waterproof, windproof, and often reusable.

Top 3 Essential Items to Bug Out an RV or Camper

bug out vehicleImage credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Virginia State Parks

If your home is destroyed in a hurricane or fire, your RV can serve as a backup shelter. It should have the above items already inside but, since you do have more room in your mobile vacation home, consider adding the following elements:

  1. Matches/fire-starting kit. In case you do find yourself “camping” for a while, matches or a lighter will help you to cook food and stay warm.
  2. Gas stove or a Jetboil with a small fuel canister. Jetboils and/or a gas stove is a dream when camping. It’s also worth keeping one in a BOV in case you aren’t near a naturally wooded area where you can build a fire to cook food.
  3. Fire extinguisher. Just in case something goes wrong when you’re trying to cook your food (or if there’s any faulty wiring in your motorhome system), a fire extinguisher is always good to have on deck. Make sure any fire extinguisher in your car is rated A-B or A-B-C, and give it a turn now and then to prevent the chemicals from caking.

You should also consider packing spare clothing suitable for the climate (read about how to prevent frostbite here), extra food and water, and a few entertainment items to keep you or your children occupied. If you have the space, there’s no reason not to make the trip a little more comfortable.

Additional Items

It’s important to note that the above items are intended to extend your emergency car kit. A well-stocked car kit is a subject all its own, but at a minimum should include a shovel, ice scraper and cat litter (for snowy climates), vehicle repair/service items, road flares/reflective triangles, first aid supplies, navigation aids, duct tape, and the ever-useful paracord.

Final Thoughts

Ample preparation is critical so that you and your family have the best chance of survival should an emergency occur. Be aware of the kinds of threats that are most likely to strike your area. Keep your vehicle well-maintained and have your bug out route (and alternative routes) memorized. Regardless of where you are and where you’re going, bugging out your vehicle with these items helps ensure you’re suitably equipped to get through a crisis.

By Angelica Garcia

Bugging Out: Staying Ready for Evacuation


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