Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

by Todd Walker

Wouldn’t you hate to spend two nights in 20 below temps with 4 children between the ages of 3 and 10 … in your vehicle!?

This week, a couple did just that when their car overturned in the Nevada mountains. They stayed warm by heating rocks in a fire outside their stranded vehicle and placing them inside to stay warm. The couple used what they had available to keep their family from freezing to death.

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Here’s my junk in my trunk

We spend an awful lot of time in cars and trucks getting to and from work. Then there are those holiday road trips to grandma’s house. Unexpected things can happen on the road leaving you stranded or worse.

In my Everyday Carry post, I showed you what I carry daily and why. Now let’s take a look at the next level of away-from-home survival stuff – the junk in your trunk.

DRG and I don’t own vehicles with trunks. Our daily rides are SUV’s. That’s no excuse for not having basic emergency supplies stored in your ‘trunk.’

Your ride comes minimally equipped to get you home. We’ll cover these basics and add to your standard equipment list today.

Keep in mind that we’re not building a zombie apocalypse vehicle. We just trying to make it to our destination alive. Routine maintenance is more important than adding shiny zombie-slaying objects to your car or truck.

To increase your survival odds, pack this junk in your trunk:

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Some of the junk in my trunk unpacked.

Maintenance and Repair

Spare tire – Sounds obvious, right? Make sure your spare is properly inflated. If you can afford it, switch that donut spare to a standard sized spare tire for your make and model. Check the air pressure regularly on all your tires, including the spare.

Tire changing equipment – You need to know where your jack and tire iron is stored in your vehicle. They put them in crazy hiding places now. I upgraded to a 4-way lug wrench for my vehicle. The standard equipped lug wrenches are too short to apply the needed pressure to break nuts free that have been installed at the tire shop with impact drivers. You don’t want to jump up and down on a 10 inch lug wrench to break a nut free. Manual or electric tire inflator is nice to include. I’ve got a foot powered pump. Throw in a tire pressure gauge in your kit.

Fix-a-Flat – This is a down and dirty way to inflate and seal a dead tire in some cases. It only buys you enough mileage and time to properly repair your tire.

Jumper cables – Buy the best quality and longest booster cables you can afford. 8 and 6 gauge wire cables will set you back. I’m guessing that this item is my most used tool in my vehicle. Pack a cheap set. It’s better than nothing. I’ve got a cheap pair for my kit. DRG gets the good set.

Important phone numbers – Keep a written list in your glove box or wallet of people to help get you home in case your phone dies: towing company, insurance company, repair shop, family/real friends, AAA.

Repair manual – Roadside repairs aren’t always possible. Having a repair manual has helped me in the past. Keep one under your seat or glove box.

Tools – Unless you’ve got major motor-head skills, modern trucks and cars are built with complex systems most have no clue how to fix – including me!

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

My cheap, self-contained tool kit

My tool kit is bare minimum and cheap: ratchet set, screw drivers, flashlight/headlamp, pliers, hose clamps, multi-tool (not real useful on engines but had to add it as a prepper), adjustable wrench, and duct tape.  You’re mechanic’s phone number is more important here.

A seat belt cutter in the middle console might come in handy if your ever upside down, strapped to your seat.

Emergency signaling – Road flares and reflective triangles. Typical road flares burn for 15 minutes and can be employed to build and fire in a pinch.

Tow strap – For pulling a stuck vehicle out of the ditch.

Map – Not on your smart phone either. A hardcopy map of your area or travel route.

Next Level Survival Junk

First aid – Tape, bandages, disinfectant wipes, pain relievers, and birthing equipment to deliver babies in the emergency lane. 😉

Fire –  Lighter and tinder. Don’t forget your emergency flares for wet conditions.

Food – Healthy snacks that will satiate. In hotter climates, the challenge is to prevent spoilage. I handle this problem by carrying food items in my Get Home Bag which doesn’t stay in my vehicle but goes with me in controlled indoor temperatures at work or home.

Shaker Siphon – Ever been stranded with an empty fuel tank? This tool makes emergency refueling easy! Or you can build your own electric fuel transfer pump here.

Running on Empty: Siphoning Gas without Sucking

Just shake and it works!

Water – I pack a stainless steel water container. This allows me to purify water via boiling if ever necessary.

Ice scraper – Get creative with its use other than the original purpose.

Tissue – Small travel packs in the glove box.

Paper and pencil – If you have to abandon your vehicle, jot a quick not to Search and Rescue as to which direction you’re headed. Write a quick, updated last will and testament or note to your loved ones if it got to that point.

Rain gear – A rain coat and paints, USGI poncho, or a contractor grade trash bag works to keep rain and wind off your body.

Car phone charger – This is self-explanatory.

Blanket/Sleeping bag – I pack a military wool blanket with a camp ax rolled inside. The bed roll has a loop of rope folded into the core that doubles as backpack straps.

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Wool bed roll with ax inside

Extra clothes – In a dry bag, pack extra wool socks, polypropylene base layer, gloves, and a wool sweater. I have a pair of hiking boots in the back as well.

Tarp – This could be used for shelter if you have to abandon your vehicle. Also serves as a ground cover if you have to lay on the ground to fix something under your car. Paracord is already attached to all the eyelets on the tarp as tie outs.

Ammo and extra magazines – Self-defense, peace of mind, etc.

Get home bag – This bag accompanies me to work and gives additional resources and food.

Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

Redundant Junk in my get home bag

Flashlight/headlamp – pack fresh batteries. I also have a new pair of LightSpecks reading glasses in the kit.

Knife – I have a spare throw-away fixed blade knife in my vehicle kit.

Since I don’t have an official ‘trunk,’ I house this junk in an old backpack and large ammo can. Small compartments hold the other gear and tools. The fire extinguisher is in the pouch behind the passenger’s seat for easy access.

I’ve seen others use plastic bins and other containers for their junk. I like the backpack. It allows me to grab and go if I need to hoof it.

Without an actual trunk to conceal my kit, I use the pull over cover in the back of my vehicle to hide my junk. If you drive a truck, use a tool box on the bed and cab space to house your junk.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use all this junk in your trunk. Better to have it and not need it.

What kind of junk is in your trunk? Sound off in the comments…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , | 47 Comments

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47 thoughts on “Next Level Travel Kit: Packing Survival Junk in Your Trunk

  1. Reblogged this on sondasmcschatter and commented:
    Maybe ours doesn’t look like this— but i know many who don’t carry anything— in their car or truck– you need to be prepared!!!


  2. I have kept survival stuff in my trunk. There was more than once I was glad I had a blanket, first aid kit, tools, or an extra bottle of water in the trunk. That bottle of water made the difference between driving home or calling for help.


    • Me too, MCS. Though I’ve never needed some of the items in my trunk, it gives me peace of mind know they’re there if I ever need them. Plus, being prepared for personal disasters gives you the ability to help other motorists in need.

      Thanks for the comment!


  3. TexasScout

    The only thing I disagree with is the “Fix-a-Flat”. Some tire shops won’t even attempt a repair after you use that stuff. I think a better solution is a tire “plugging” kit and a small air compressor. It can fix most anything FAF can except a bead leak.



    • I thought about that one, Tex. And forgot to mention the plug kit – it’s pictured, though. I’ve got a mom and pop tire shop in town that will fix a tire no matter what you kind of diy method you fix it with. 😀

      Thanks for the tip!


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  5. This actually makes a lot of sense. I don’t have anything useful in my trunk right now. I should clean it up and put some gear in there that would come in handy in an emergency. Great tips.


    • You never know what circumstance you might run into on the road. Having a minimal kit in your trunk gives you a little piece of mind, Jenny.

      Thanks for you comment.


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  7. Dede

    That wool bedroll can come in handy when you’re stuck on an icy hill like we were this winter. We had it on 4 low too, coulda had a little better tires but the blanket we had we put in front of the front wheel and we climbed out with no problem.


    • Very resourceful, Dede! Thanks for sharing your excellent tip!!


    • Equorial

      Anyone familiar with the “NASA” (mylar) ‘space age blankets’ (very ‘silvery’ and metallic-looking blanket that reflects 93% of your body heat …and yes they DO work, are cheap (like a buck) and reusable (and 100% waterproof but DO CONDUCT ELECTRICITY). But, they are an excellent way of “retaining” warmth, just like wood or fleece or both or even better, ALL THREE! lol… (I hate being cold …yet was born where there never is NOT some snow on the ground). Now …live where it’s far deeper but waaaay less of the cold stuff …you can get lost in the Georgia Mountains!


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  13. Awesome list. Thanks!


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  16. Thomas

    I think I might have gone a bit overboard with this Todd. I keep a EDC bag, a ghb bag, a hop out and go play in the woods bag, a book bag full of edable and medicinal plants books, 6 gallons of water, and 6 days of mre’s. I could live for 3 days on what is in each bag without touching the other MRE’s and water. This does not cover all the other things that I keep in it either. I keep pictures of a list of what is in each bag on my phone in case I am pulled over so I can show the Cops what are in each bag in case they want to search them thinking I’m a drug runner. LOL!!!


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  27. angelofwar

    This is one of the better “inter-webs” kits I’ve seen. The ONLY thing I can see lacking is simple spare replacement parts (fuses/hose clamps/belt) and a shovel. My shovel helped get me unstuck a few weeks ago from a clay road….good stuff. Over-all, I recommend a lot of people take this person lead…every thing you need is here and well thought out.


    • Thanks, bud! Didn’t mention the spare parts. I carry a few spare fuses in the glove box. You’re right though, I need to add belts and hose. Thanks for the comment and suggestion!


  28. Preston/ Katcv's Edge Outdoor

    Shovel, even floor mats can be placed under a tire for added traction. Old fashion tire chain for traction in clay. Hope this helps.


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  35. Mike

    Hi Todd
    My need is for an earthquake and to get home, 5-20 kms depending on where I am in the region. so 1-5 hrs depending on terrain and transport. My plan is to drive as far as I can, then walk.

    We don’t carry firearms here so I’m limited and blades are no more than 6cms (but that’s better than the UK!).

    CQB I’m fine but that’s a risk element I’m happy with in our environment. (though what people will be like in a disaster I’m hoping will be as stoic as they are normally). Kiwis come to others aid, it’s not like LONDON New York or other cities…..

    In the car boot (trunk) I have a rucksack with folding wood saw, blade, multitool, prybar, rope 20m, 550 cord 30′, 1 lit water in plastic bottles, 4X Garbage bags, lighter with duct tape, medical Kit, fire starting Kit, one square meal x 3, plastic bags, whistle, torch both head and tactical, bright vizo vest, beanie, gloves, Tshirt, thick shirt, socks, trainers. sleeping bag, tarp 6×6, small solar charger for electronics and cables.

    I also have a hollow stove with 3 lit water, a newspaper folded up, bic lighter with duct tape, tea, coffee, sugar, soup, 2 steel cups, a small pot and enough sticks & tinder to cook with all in a wine box in the boot.

    I carry with me in my work satchel a small med kit with medicines for 1 day and pain killers imodium, voltaren etc for basic needs. A altoid with lighter and duct tape with pins, needles, foil, stitches, razor blade, tactical torch, teabags, one square meal.

    I wear a leatherman wingman multi, and carry in my pockets a folding knife, small winding torch and small swiss army knife 3″, with blade, scissors, toothpick and tweezers forget it’s name but have had 20yrs.

    I’m going to review it all again with this post and walk through
    going to put bigger tarp 6mx3m in and add an axe in blanket like you.
    Plus an extra sleeping bag (we’ve got a few).

    My wifes car bag is less than mine as she’s a doc and will most likely stay at the hospital and live there for a few days to a week.
    The kids and Grannie are my responsibility 🙂 Mike


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  40. pete

    your prescription meds and a firepiston with tinder.


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