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Truck Bug Out Bag (11 Vehicle Bug Out Bag Item Categories)

A car / vehicle / truck bug out bag is the go-bag with a complete set of survival items and gear that you keep in your vehicle always so that you can grab it and go should you need to abandon your car when SHTF.

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Where will you be when SHTF? That sounds like a lame question. But the fact that none of us can give a definite answer to the question makes it extremely valid. You could be home, at work, or even in your vehicle. And that means that a truck bug out bag is a must-have.

A truck bug out bag is a survival or emergency kit you carry in your truck. It contains the essential items and gear that will help you survive the extremes of a disaster situation for at least 72 hours should SHTF and you are forced to abandon your truck.

While most people prepping for disaster readily consider having a survival bag in their home or at the workplace, not as many consider having a bug out bag in their vehicle. We, however, consider a car bug out bag to be just as important, which is why we’ll not only be giving you a car bug out bag list in this article, but we’ll also tell you why it is important.

What is a Car Bug Out Bag and why should you have one?

All bug out bags, whether they are kept at home, in the workplace, or in your vehicle are a complete set of provisions that will sustain your survival during a disaster situation for at least 72 hours.

Also called a ‘go bag’ or ‘bug out kit’, a bug out bag should be at the same time complete with survival gear and items and be light enough to allow you to move fast to evade danger and reach a safe destination.

In this light, a car/vehicle/truck bug out bag is the go-bag with a complete set of survival items and gear that you keep in your vehicle always so that you can grab it and go should you need to abandon your car when SHTF.

Car Bug out Bag vs Other Bug Out Bags

The survival items in a car bug out bag may be the same as those in other bug out bags. But as a difference with other BOBs such as the home and workplace bug out bag, a truck bug out bag should sit hidden somewhere in your car’s trunk and go with you everywhere you go with your car.

So, even if you are running away from danger in a bug out vehicle which has plenty of survival gear and items, you should still have a survival bag that you can grab and go should your vehicle stall or if escaping to safety in a car becomes dangerous.

Even if you were heading home and disaster strikes, you may not get there to grab your bug out bag and get running to safety, which is why a forever-with-you car bug out bag is extremely important.

A car bug out bag is also a standby survival kit when your workplace or home bug out bag is rendered inaccessible. For example, if your office or home were destroyed during a disaster and you were unable to access the home bug out bag, you could still salvage a car bug out bag and get on the road to safety.

So, what should you have in a car bug out bag? Read about the comprehensive vehicle bug out bag list in the next section.

Vehicle Bug Out Bag List

Whether you grab your survival bag from home, office, or vehicle, the purpose of a survival kit is the same: help you survive when SHTF for a minimum of 72 hours.

The point here is that the essentials for survival that you prep in any bug out bag should take care of your needs in these 11 categories:

  • Personal Protection Gear.
  • Food and Water Provisions.
  • Sanitation and Personal Hygiene.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Self-defense.
  • Shelter and Sleeping Gear.
  • Clothing.
  • Communication and Navigation.
  • Other Survival Needs.
  • Family/Personal Document and Cash.

We’ll list for you the essentials that you should include in your truck bug out bag for each of these categories.

Because these essentials are carried along as you walk to safety, bug out bags usually take the nature of backpacks. That’s why we’ll begin our car bug out bag list with the best car bug out backpack.

Best Truck Bug Out Backpack

If there’s a quality that any backpack should have, it’s that of being sturdy enough to resist the weight of its contents. For a car bug out backpack, sturdiness should be coupled with strong material that will resist all the trips it will take inside your car.

We recommend the REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack. This best-seller military backpack has features that make it the best truck bug out backpack for any survivalist.

  • It’s 13x20x11 inches and has the average 40L capacity that would fit all the survival items you need to bring along.
  • It’s made of high-density durable fabric that would resist being packed in your car for the longest, and is also water-resistant.
  • It is double-stitched, meaning it will resist the weight of your prepper gear without a chance to break.
  • It has a front and side load-compression strap system, ventilation mesh, and padded shoulder straps and back area for comfortable carrying.
  • It’s a MOLLE tactical backpack with MOLLE webbing throughout, making it great for attaching gear that would not stay inside the backpack.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This backpack will comfortably contain and carry the rest of the gear that we present in our truck bug out bag checklist.

Truck Bug Out Bag Personal Protective Gear

If there’s something that the persistent coronavirus has permanently inscribed in our brains, it is the need to be always ready with personal protective gear. Keep these personal protection items in your vehicle bug out bag so you can pull them out to protect yourself from viral infections and contamination should you need to abandon your car.

Facial protective mask

A set of disposable surgical masks for ordinary protection or a few N95 masks for greater efficiency as they filter 95% germs.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


These are important for keeping your hands from contamination, especially in natural disaster situations. Opt for a disposable but high-quality option like the Vinyl Synthetic Gloves that are made of thick material and heavy-duty resilience.

Safety goggles / glasses

Consider that viral infections can be sent to the respiratory system with tears. Also, extreme weather can cause discomfort to your eyes. Anti-fog wrap-round safety glasses will keep out viruses, and protect you from dust and UV rays.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Car Bug Out Bag Food and Water Provisions

The rule of thumb when prepping for emergency food and water is to pack enough for at least 72 hours: a gallon of water per day and food that will keep your energy and nutrition levels sustained for that period.

Food provisions

When preparing your car bug out bag, think of food in terms of what you need while you walk to a safe destination (in transit) and while you are camped at the safe location.

The best in transit foods are those you can pull out of your bag and eat without needing to warm or cook. These include:

  • Energy/protein bars.
  • Vacuum sealed ready-to-eat nuts, crackers, and other snacks (vacuum sealing extends shelf life by 3 to 5 times).
  • Dried fruit (plums, dates, cherries, raisins, mangoes, figs, etc.).

When prepping for on-location foods, go for those that have a longer shelf life and are easy to prepare:

  • Canned soups, meats, beans, fish, fruits, vegetables, juices, etc.
  • Freeze-dried vegetables (seaweed, beets, asparagus, potatoes, spinach, etc.).
  • Powdered dried foods (instant mashed potatoes, powdered eggs, powdered milk, instant soup, powdered cheese, etc.).
  • MREs: these military meals are packed with calories to supplement your nutritional needs during an emergency. Those packed in pouches are easier and lighter to carry. 

You can opt for the chewable Survival Tabs or go for the non-cooking complete meal options like the Wise Company Emergency Food Supply.

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MREs have a long shelf life of up to 25 years which means you can store them in your car bug out bag without worrying that they’ll go bad quickly

Water provisions

1 gallon of water per day will mean at least 4x1liter bottles. Multiply that by at least 3 days and you have plenty of water to bring along.

To reduce at least the amount of space you need for water in your vehicle bug out bag, consider carrying the water in collapsible water bottles.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Emergency water pouches are also an easier packing and carrying option. For example, if you go for the Datrex Emergency Survival Water Pouch, it will take less space to pack 24 pouches of 125mls each than 4 one-liter water bottles.

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Food preparation tools

Depending on the extent of the disaster, the period you will bug out can be short or extended. Since no one knows how the disaster they are prepping for will present, it is better to include some food preparation tools. Consider the following:

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Water filtering/purification gear

Water will sustain your life longer than food during a disaster. So you need to be sure that you can still get a supply of potable water should your stock run out.

In case you cannot access clean water, ensure you have these two items:

Car Bug Out Bag Sanitation and Hygiene items

Keeping hygienic standards in an emergency is just as important as protecting yourself from infections and contamination. Consider including these sanitation and hygiene items in your truck bug out bag:

Truck Bug Out Bag First Aid Kit

The helter-skelter of an emergency situation can easily cause injuries and infections. Being ready to attend to these is crucial and depends on a good first aid kit.

You can opt for a ready-made mini first aid kit for your car bug out bag. However, we recommend creating your own first aid kit as this will let you complete the basic medical supplies with those that meet your personal medical needs.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Here’s a complete list of what you should include in your bug out bag medical kit for the car:

  • Pain and fever relieving drugs (Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Acetaminophen, etc).
  • Antihistamine (to counter allergic reactions).
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections (get your doctor to prescribe a broad-spectrum option).
  • Any chronic disease meds, doctor-advised supplements, or health equipment that you use regularly (inhalers, blood pressure meds, etc).
  • Anti-diarrhea drugs (food poisoning or disaster stress can trigger a running stomach).
  • Antibiotic cream to preempt infection on cuts.
  • Burn cream.
  • Elastic bandages.
  • Wound bandages.
  • Gauze.
  • Surgical gloves.
  • Sticky tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Safety pins.
  • Non-digital thermometer.
  • Suture kit.
  • Tourniquet (to stop bleeding).
  • Alcohol prep pads.

Truck Bug Out Bag Self-defense Tools

If you are bugging out following civic unrest, then a self-defense tool is extremely necessary. But any disaster situation comes with uncertainties and a couple of self-defense tools in your car bug out bag are a good investment.

Since you need to be ready for any eventualities, your self-defense gear could range from a self-defense pistol to a self-defense knife, to a non-lethal self-defense tool.

Going by the middle way, we recommend you prep for self-defense with at least a good pepper spray. The SABRE RED Pepper Spray Keychain is an excellent choice. You can carry it as a key chain and access it easily when you need to use it.

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Taser / Stun guns are also a good option for quick deployment and to temporarily immobilize your assailant while you get to safety. Plus, they often come with additional features like a LED light.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Car Bug Out Bag Shelter and Sleeping Gear

Bugging out during disaster times can be hectic and fatiguing, which is why being able to put your head down at some point is something you should prep for.

You’ll need to be protected from direct exposure to the elements or the wrath of insects and crawling creatures. For your shelter and sleeping gear, you can choose from a range of options depending on your carrying capacity and personal preferences:


Compared to other options, tents provide the best protection from the elements. But they can make you bug out bag bulky.

Ensure your tent choice has great weatherproof features and ventilation. The Coleman Sundome Tent is a good option in that regard.

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A tarp can surpass a tent when it comes to a lighter weight. Besides, when not used for shelter, tarps can serve as hammocks, water collecting tools, or banners for sending rescue signals.

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As a sleeping gear, a hammock comes in handy when you don’t have any reliable sleeping gear to use on the ground. It will keep you safe off the ground, maybe not from climbing animals but crawling creatures.

Hammocks may not provide the best insulation, but they are a light option. Opt for those that can be tied to trees with a paracord rather than those that work with a stand.

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Sleeping bag

 A sleeping bag is optimal for insulation. You’ll stay warm inside a good-quality sleeping bag in cold weather and cool in hot weather.

Consider a high-quality light-weight option like the Oaskys Camping Sleeping Bag.

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Bivy sack

Just like a sleeping bag, a Bivy sack is a single-person protection bag that shields from extreme weather even while under a tarp or tent. They work like sleeping bags.

For more details on how to organize your sleeping gear in a bug out bag, check out or dedicated article on bug out bag sleeping systems.

Vehicle Bug Out Bag Clothing

It’s impossible to predict what the weather will be like when SHTF. So, when prepping for disaster, include a change of clothes for each of the seasons.

Cold weather clothing

Ensure you include appropriate clothing to allow you to do proper layering: 

  • Thermal pants/leggings.
  • Thermal vests/tops.
  • Thermal underwear.
  • Wool sweaters for insulation.
  • Goose down jackets.
  • Weather-protective coats/jackets (consider Polyurethane-coated or laminated options).
  • Headwear – Beanies are a warm option.
  • Gloves.
  • Thermal socks.
  • Boots.

Hot weather clothing

These are key for insulation from UV rays and offer some cool consolation in extreme heat:

Rainy weather clothing

Prepping for rainy weather will require you to go for waterproof options:

Car Bug Out Bag Communication and Navigation Tools

Sometimes being in a car makes us pass through places we do not know. This is why navigation tools are a must-have in your survival bag.

In addition, being able to get in touch with family, be up to the minute with news and updates about the disaster, and be able to deliver signals to call for help are all crucial for survival. You, therefore, need reliable communication gadgets and signaling tools.

Navigation and communication gear in your truck bug out bag could include some or all these:

  • Local maps.
  • Compass.
  • Smartphone.
  • Satellite phone (Having one will put you in a better position to communicate from anywhere).
  • Whistle.
  • Signaling mirror.
  • Glow sticks.

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more prepper communication suggestions, check out our full guide on 15 off grid communication methods for survival.

Other Vehicle Bug Out Bag Survival Tools

Other survival tools you will need to include in your truck bug out bag:

Car Bug Out Bag Family / Personal Document and Cash

Considering that you will already be away from your home where originals of important documents may be stored in a home bug out bag, it’s important to include copies of these documents in your vehicle bug out bag.

  • Personal documents – Birth certificate, ID card, passport, marriage certificate, driver’s license, social security card, insurance policies, education certificates, etc.
  • Medical documents (COVID-19 health log, current or continuing treatments, medical history, drug allergies, etc.).
  • List of phone numbers (for family, friends, and disaster & emergency agencies.
  • Legal documents (Will, business documents, trusts, etc.).
  • Ownership documents (land deeds, house deeds, car logbook, etc.).
  • Financial documents (bank accounts, passwords, etc.).
  • Cheat sheets.
  • Cash (consider smaller denominations).

If you're looking to put together a comprehensive vehicle kit to tackle any emergency, check out our car survival kit list.

Truck Bug Out Bag Tips and Tricks

To get the best from your car bug out bag prepping, a few tips and tricks can come in handy.

1. Rotate Your Car Bug out Bag Food and Water Provisions Regularly

Putting together a truck bug out bag is a necessary disaster preparedness move. But you do not know when you’ll need it.

As such, it is important that you regularly check your truck bug out bag to ensure you do not have food or water provisions that are expired or are about to expire. Change those that have approaching expiry dates with fresher ones with a longer shelf life.

2. Update Your Car Bug out Bag every Season

Though we suggested earlier that you include a change of clothes for every season in your truck bug out bag, you can reduce the weight of your survival kit by changing the clothes every season.

For example, remove winter the winter clothing from your car bug out bag at the end of the cold season and replace them with hot weather clothing.

3. Recharge devices and replace batteries now and then

If you have a rechargeable stun gun for self-defense but find it without charge when you need it, you would have wasted time and resources purchasing, packaging, and carrying it in your survival backpack.

Consider setting a reminder on your phone calendar to recharge devices in your vehicle bug out bag that use power. That could be once every month or so. Remember that rechargeable devices lose charge even when stored and not in use.

As for tools such as flashlights that use dry AA or AAA cells, ensure you leave them in their packaging to avoid consuming power unnecessarily.

If you must keep them in the gadget, place them in opposite charge points (put the negative point where the positive should be) to prevent them from consuming. Note though that this can corrode if left too long in the device, with the risk of spoiling the device.

4. Know about State Firearm Laws

If you are considering keeping a firearm in your truck bug out bag, learn first about related laws and regulations.

Some states allow you to carry a firearm in your car as long as it’s concealed, others will require you to declare that you are carrying one, while others may not allow it at all.

5. Improvise Car Bug out Bag Storage and Camouflage

When it comes to survival kits, it’s always advisable to be a gray man even in the choice of backpack colors and how you carry it.

In a car bug out bag context, you’ll need to keep your survival bag off the curiosity of the public and provide conditions that keep your supplies from going bad because of extreme weather.

One way to do that is to find a large cooling box, line it with sheet insulation foam, and keep your backpack inside the cooler in your car trunk.

This will protect your food supplies from extreme heat while preventing anyone who sees the cooler from guessing that you have survival supplies.

Looking for a truck to store your newly-build bug out bag? Look no further than our guide on the best truck bug out vehicles!

Vehicle Bug Out Bag Final Words

Everyone hopes they won’t be caught unawares in their car when SHTF. But, because no one knows when that will be, having a survival bag in your car is a wise precaution.

The survival function of your truck bug out bag will depend on how complete it is in providing survival gear and items related to personal protection, food and water, hygiene and sanitation, self-defense, and medical needs among others.

Unlike other bug out bags, your vehicle bug out bag goes with you everywhere you go with your car and that means you have greater chances for survival should SHTF while you driving.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
Telson Survival

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