One of the things you’ll hear survival experts tout is to not only keep survival supplies at home, but also a bug out bag and even a vehicle kit. Multiply that equipment for each car you own and multiple bug out bags and the costs can add up quickly. I’ve done this myself for years and am now questioning the need.
In fact,I’m beginning to believe that you can save yourself money AND be better prepared for disaster with this simple action.
The other day I was updating several of the supplies that expire in my various kits when I began to wonder why I was spending all of this money when I maybe didn’t have to.
You see, I found myself buying at least three or four of many of the same supplies such as water treatment chemicals, foodstuffs, matches, cyalume light sticks, first aid supplies, sun block and insect repellent, and so on. That’s not even including all of the non-perishable supplies that get duplicated initially such as knives, clothing, flashlights, rope, whistles, and so on.
Duplication is Different from Redundancy
Now, I know I recently posted about redundancy being a key survival tenet and I certainly agree with that, however, I’m not taking about the same thing here. Redundancy, in my opinion, means having multiple ways to do something (different ways to filter water, for instance) or a multitude of sources (water stored in different sized or types of containers), not necessarily many of the same things (such as dozens of cases of water alone).
When I looked at the contents of my bug out bags and vehicles kits (I have two bags and two vehicle kits) I began to realize–obviously so–that much of the supplies are the same. I have clothing, water, food, ways to filter water and cook food, as well as various equipment such as a compass, knives, ropes, and so on in each of my bug out bags and vehicle kits. Granted, there are some differences such as keeping a few quarts of engine oil my car kits, but, for the most part they are the same.
How to Save Money and be Better Prepared
So, I began to wonder if it made more sense to simply create a bug out kit and keep it in my car. That way I would have both bases covered–a bug out kit readily accessible and a vehicle kit for when I’m on the road. So far I haven’t decided to change my ways but I would argue that if you haven’t started your kits yet then you should strongly consider this option, here’s why…
- You will certainly save money by not duplicating many of the supplies, equipment, and perishables mentioned previously (trust me this is a big savings over the long haul)
- Updating and replacing your supplies will be easier with fewer kits to manage (if you do this more than once a year like me then this is a big deal as well)
- If you’re running from your house fast enough to need a bug out bag, then having your bag already stored in your vehicle would provide a safe and reliable place to stash your supplies
Car Kit Supplies
So, what should you keep in your car kit? The list can be long. I certainly feel like I add to mine every year. Boiling it down to the essentials, you kit should include…
Essential items to include:
- flashlight with additional batteries (readily accessible and preferably LED-style)
- water (at least a few gallons stored in an approved water jug–leave at least 10% of the jug empty to avoid cracking the jug since water expands when it freezes)
- some food rations (MRE’s, high-calorie food bars, granola bars, dry-mixed food packets, even hard candy)
- emergency blanket (preferably wool) or sleeping bag (probably the best choice)
- a change of clothing, sturdy shoes, and work gloves
- rain gear such as a hooded poncho or even a few 33-gallon trash bags instead
- a small first aid kit that includes some bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, etc
Unique vehicle-related items to include at all times:
- jumper cables
- fire extinguisher (ABC style)
- functioning jack (an aftermarket jack is often more reliable than the factory) and fully inflated spare tire
- an extra quart or two of engine oil
- 12-volt tire pump and/or tire sealant (most mechanics will tell you that tire sealant is bad for your vehicle’s rim but better to ruin a rim and get back to safety than to be completely stranded)
- road flares
Winter-related items you may include (where freezing temperatures and ice/snow are a concern):
- a good quality ice scraper
- a small folding shovel (for digging your car out)
- additional warm clothing, boots, blankets (or sleeping bag)
- bags of sand or cat litter (for additional traction/weight)
- snow chains, tow chains
A Word of Warning for Earthquake-Vulnerable Areas
I might not recommend this option if you park your vehicles inside a garage and live in earthquake country because of the real possibility of complete and immediate structural collapse, which would then bury all of your supplies inside the house. In this case the better option would be to still have a bug out bag readily available next to your front door. Even better, you could opt to still stash your bag in a vehicle but park then outside and away from any large structures such as buildings or trees that could collapse.
One last item to consider would be a reliable place to stash a spare vehicle key either outside or with a neighbor or friend. Having your supplies in a locked car you cannot access will do you no good. Wherever your stash your spare key please ensure it is well hidden and not under your door mat or a rock hide-a-key.