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Survival Items You Should Always Have In Your Car

trying to get home

In my home I have over a dozen firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, shelves and shelves of food, enough water to drink for weeks, and two rucksacks packed to last 72 hours should this all be compromised.

Now how useful is all this if I’m not home when things fall apart? It’s no good to me at all if I’m 30 miles away and traffic is halted… or if a hurricane hits and I’m stranded. In addition, if a bridge washes out or I crash in the middle of nowhere, I might need a survival kit. I almost always have either a shotgun or my concealed handgun on me or in my car or truck, but what about other supplies? A lot of things can happen, and my survival gear may not be at hand.

So is the easiest answer to simply throw one of those 72-hour bug-out bags in my car or truck? Well that’s a good idea, but not very practical for riding around with every day. These rucks are pretty big, and they won’t work well with strollers, car seats, work stuff, and trying to fit myself and others in my vehicles, and I can’t toss it in the bed of my truck without worrying someone will swipe it.

So that’s where the “get home” bag comes into play. Some people may see it as a smaller bug-out bag, but I much prefer calling it the get-home bag. The main difference between the get-home bag and my bug-out bag is size. My two bug-out bags will last my family 3 days comfortably and can be stretched to five days if we have a good water source. My get-home bag is more customizable in terms of food and water, and how long they need to last.

I’ll address those two first. Food and water are critical, and the situation will vary on how much you need. So first I put a 24 count case of 20-ounce bottled water in my trunk. It fits perfectly on the floor, under my son’s car seat. That room is wasted anyway since he is rear facing. It doesn’t leave room for the mentioned stroller or tools, but there is enough for the case of water.

I also have a Camelbak hydration system, and a Nalgene bottle. I can fill both up and carry as many additional water bottles as I believe I’ll need for the trip home. I have loved these hydration packs ever since the first time I was issued one in the military. It’s an excellent way to carry water, easy to carry, and leaves your pockets and pack free for other things.

For the food portion, I keep six civilian versions of the military MREs. I have plenty of access to military MREs, but the civilian MREs are much better tasting, last longer, and I know the date of production. They also pack more stomach-friendly foods than the military versions. I field strip the MREs and tape them tightly together with duct tape for compact packages. I also have quite a few bags of sealed beef jerky and high fat protein bars. This all fits in easily with the spare tire in the trunk of the car.

So now that my food and water are in place, I can take or leave whatever I need. Remember, this isn’t to last you forever, just enough to get you home. I feel I’ve over-packed, but it fits well so there is no point in taking anything out.

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Now, as I write this, I’m building the actual get home bag portion of this. I didn’t buy anything special to build this; I used what I had laying around. I will honestly probably buy a few things for this kit in the future (and drive my wife a little crazier). Most of the items are extras I hang on to, but quality items none the least.

First off, my personal number one rule of survival is to always have a knife, and a good knife at that. I packed a Spyderco Enuff Sheepfoot. The Enuff Sheepfoot is a small fixed blade with a sturdy Kydex holster. I like Spyderco knives, and this little one wasn’t much use in my tool box, so into the bag it went. Next I tossed an extra small, folding knife in the bag (it’s a small, cheap Smith and Wesson folding knife).

Next was 20 feet of paracord, braided to make it more compact. Also known as 550 cord  (for its resistance), 550 could also be the number of uses it has. A good strong cord can do anything from make snares to fashioning a lean-to.

Next up was a good strong, metal framed, LED flashlight, and a Gerber headlamp. Neither of these are expensive Surefires, but they’re dependable and water resistant. Along with these are, of course, extra batteries to keep them lasting a few days. I may add a cheap crank flashlight to this mix as well.

One of the most important series of items is the medical supplies. This is a basic individual first aid kit. I packed a compression bandage, two triangle bandages, a cinch tight, some band aids, Betadine solution, gauze, and a burn dressing. I also included a flask of liquor (high proof), for cleaning wounds and if necessary, for starting fires.

Speaking of fires, I packed a good outdoor lighter, water resistant matches, and a cheap fire starter. Three different ways to start a fire is a good place to start. Fire can cook and purify water, as well as act as a signaling device.  It’s just as important as water because it will purify water too. On this note I’m also packing a military metal canteen cup in which to boil water. I’m also packing a packet of a dozen Micropur tablets, each capable of purifying a liter of water.

I have a few miscellaneous items to toss in there as well. First are two rolls of tape, one electrical and one duct tape. Tape is another item that has a million uses. I also threw in a D ring, just because you never know. I also tossed in three glow sticks—blue, yellow, and red—that will each last 8 hours. These can be used for signaling as well as lights.

Now the last piece of gear I’m bringing is probably the most important—the gun. I had a hard time choosing a weapon; I decided that the weapon needed to be concealable, adaptable, and powerful. I ended up choosing the Taurus Judge. I chose the Judge for a few reasons. First off, it is powerful enough to deal with any man or critter I will encounter. I can also load a variety of different shots for close range snake dispatching and small game hunting. I packed a box of Federal .410 handgun No. 4, a box of number 7, and 15 Winchester .45 colt Winchester PDX, and ten double-aught buck. I have a total of 75 rounds for this weapon. This weapon will complement my everyday concealed handgun, a .45 acp 1911 Commander, with two eight-round magazines.

Of course I packed my favorite holster, a Blackhawk Serpa, with a paddle attachment. I love the Serpa for the Judge. It holds the weapon high, is easy to conceal, and it also holds the heavy weapon really well.

The actual pack I use is a military surplus “butt” pack. The butt pack was used on 782 gear as a patrol pack to carry food, tarp, or whatever a soldier needed on patrol that day. I rigged mine up with an old two-point sling to act as a messenger bag (aka “man purse”). The butt pack is tough and lightweight, just big enough to fit everything, and still stays small and convenient.

The small get-home bag is a pretty handy little bag to keep in any vehicle. The bag is perfect for a short survival situation and cost me nearly nothing to build. It takes up only a small amount of room in my trunk, or behind the seat in my truck. Like my bug-out bags, I’ll be changing and upgrading it constantly, and it will become a permanent addition in my vehicle.

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