Monday, November 5, 2012

Survival – A Car Survival Kit


Phone rings: Dad??

Me: Hey Sweetie – what’s cookin’?? (It’s our daughter, Ms. C.)

Ms. C: You still going to Pennsylvania???????

Me: Sure kiddo – why wouldn’t I??

Ms. C: Hurricane Sandy – rain – wind – could be dangerous!! Duh!!

It seems I am slipping into that age where my kids feel compelled to “care for” me. Never mind I have done fairly well in that department for any number of years – there is concern in her voice.

Me: Oh kiddo, not to worry. I’ll pull off if it get’s bad. (I actually did – in Sandusky, Ohio – about 2 hours earlier than I wanted.)

Ms. C: OK, be careful – make sure your “kit” is in the car!!!

Me: Always is sweetie, I’ll be careful.

Usual father/daughter conversation followed once she had expressed her concern and made sure I was prepared for bad weather. I had my “kit” in the car.

I find it funny that she is grilling me about this considering all the crap she gave me when I checked her car prior to winter trips back to school or out east when they lived there. Sleeping bags, boots, extra clothing, flashlights . . . .

In addition to this, I have a “food box” . . . . and that’s what I want to work on in this post. A simple ammo can filled with 3-days of rations that’s fairly inexpensive, long lasting, stores easily and will take the edge off what could easily be a life-threatening situation.

Most folks get into trouble when things go sideways because they have not thought ahead, have not planned – they assume all will be well.  Sometimes, life takes a detour.  And, when that happens – being unprepared leads to fear, leads to panic and finally leads to stupid choices.  Every year folks freeze to death by leaving their car during a blizzard only to be found days later by a search party.  Or they head into the dessert assume the car they are driving will actually make it to the next point of civilization.  Or a simple fishing trip turns into an ordeal through an unfortunate turn of weather or engine failure.  Having a “kit” takes the edge off and allows you to “take a breath”, review your plan and increases your chances of seeing your family one more time.

I have plastic ammo boxes up the whazzo (highly technical engineering term that – whazzo!!). The amount of ammunition I buy from Cabela’s annually has assured me of enough ammo boxes to pack up a small homestead! I use them for many things – range boxes, actually storing ammo, a large first aid kit, timing box for the steel shoots, storage box for my training weapons . . . . . there is an endless host of opportunities to use these little puppies. So, let’s look at a kit for your car that would hold a 3-day supply of food for one to two people. It would look something like this:

Ammo Box Car Kit 


On the left is buttoned up and secured with a carabineer. On the right, a glimpse into what is tucked away in the box.

General supplies include a couple rolled up contractor (3mil) cleanup bags, 50 ft of 1/8 inch nylon rope, a pocket survival kit with everything from matches to a small compass to a fishing kit, two survival candles for heat/cooking/light and a fire starting kit. Note the use of “Altoid” cans – these are the perfect sized boxes for a host of projects.

Fuel and Pot Bag 1

Stove Kit 1

A small cook kit consisting of denatured alcohol for fuel, a coke can stove, aluminum foil windscreen and a small titanium pot with lid and bag to hold the kit. 16 oz of fuel can easily provide 3-days of cooking.


Every since my SEA “vacation” I honestly do not like the taste of water. So, I include packets of hot chocolate mix and some Crystal Lite flavoring for the water. No weight, nice comfort food and not bad tasting.


Breakfast, lunch and snack are covered by instant oatmeal (two packets per day), instant cup-of-soup and some chewy bars. BTW, this is traditional fare on my backpack and canoe trips, this is what I eat for breakfast, snacks and what I drink.


   Water Bottels

Supper is dehydrated meals. You can feed two folks in a pinch but after a day on the trail a single person can scarf down an entire pack pretty darn easy. And, for water, throw a couple of Nalgenes in the car – filled. And, put a number of wraps of duct tape around the bottles – it really comes in handy.

All of this fits (with the exception of the Nalgenes) within the ammo can with room to spare. It is such cheap insurance, I encourage you to consider this addition to your vehicles.

And – use the darn thing! Just as it is worthless to simply buy a gun and then not train with it, it is useless to build a kit such as this and not practice with it. Practice builds confidence so when things go to shit, you have an out. Dress appropriately (warm clothing, rain gear, sturdy shoes), go to a near by park/campground, take your “kit” and spend the weekend. Build fires, prepare meals, build your own stove (“Heat” for your car’s gas tank makes great fuel – NOTE: DO NOT USE FRICKING GASOLINE FOR FUEL IN THE STOVE!!!!!!!!!), build a shelter with the contractor bags. Once you have mastered a full kit, cut it in half and do the process again.

If you never take the time to use the gear you will simply not be prepared when “the time” comes.  And, if you never pack the box . . . .

well . . . . . sometimes . . . .

too late . . . .

is actually . . . .

too late . . . . . .


  1. Again, excellent writeup with obvious thought put into the contents, which were all well explained! Been looking at doing something like this for our B.O.B's and/or daily vehicle carry (love the idea of hot chocolate, tea, and Crystal Lite...I can't stand the taste of plain water, either, unless I'm seriously dehydrated), one thing I read on another blog was going with metal water bottles instead of the plastic/nalgenes. It adds a slight bit of weight, but brings with it the built-in ability to boil any suspect water right in the bottles. Toss in some bullion cubes, and you've got an instant-soup-on-the-hoof meal that you can eat (well...drink) while you travel. Food for thought!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. What you see here is a basic building block of my pack trips. My lovely wife would confirm I have spent way too many weekends/weeks in the boonies with this stuff. I can get her out once a year for a week, but our campsite is a bit like a backpacker Hilton on those trips! :)

    My choice of Nalgene is that the mouth fits my MSR water filters. Just screw the bottles on and pump away. They work well to separate clean water from contaminated water. And, actually, I have seen Nalgenes laid near coals to melt frozen water in them.

    Regardless, the idea is to have something rather than nothing in your car!

    Thanks for dropping by, I appreciate it!

  3. Excellent ideas. It's time to put the winter kit back in the truck. If the farmer's tale about the amount of nuts on the ground being indicative of a harsh winter, we're in for some serious cold and snow.

  4. No prob! Good food for thought. My water filtration system is an older pump-style that utilizes an input and output can be used by one person (done it!), but requires some creative use of feet and knees to keep everything where it is supposed to go. Gonna have to add your MSR filter to my list (long list!) of items to look in to. Thanks for the blog, keep it comin!

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  6. I love to be outdoors but I don't know how to survive so really working on a crash course.

    1. Take a look through my posts on Survival. For skills I would work on fire building, basic knots, navigation, water purification, shelter construction (start with tarps). If you go to my bookshelf there are some good links to wilderness survival as well. Real key . . . . need to spend time in the boonies learning and gaining confidence. Drop a note or give a call if you ever want to chat about a specific thing . . . .