5 Bug Out Vehicle Essentials That Are Must Haves!

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Bug Out Vehicle

When it comes to bugging out, having the right gear is essential. You may not be able to carry everything with you in your bug out bag, so how you pack your bug out vehicle becomes crucial to your survival. While there will be some overlap, the essential items you’ll want to have in your bug out vehicle are going to differ from those in your bug out bag. But which items top this list of bug out vehicle essentials?

In this article, we are going to list the top five items we deem absolutely essential in any bug out vehicle, regardless of where you currently live, your planned bug out location, or what kind of vehicle you have. Keep in mind that this is in no way a comprehensive list of items you should have, just those we deem critical for the vehicle itself.

Vehicle Tool Kit

CRAFTSMAN Home Tool Kit / Mechanics Tools Kit, 57-Piece (CMMT99446)

This mixed tool set includes various tools that are comfortable, corrosion resistant, and easily stored in the included blow-molded case.

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Whether your bug-out vehicle is a car, a motorcycle, or even a boat, the one thing you’ll undoubtedly want to pack is a decent tool kit with tools and attachments that are compatible with your vehicle.

When SHTF, the last thing you want to do is leave your bug-out vehicle behind because you didn’t have the simple tools necessary to repair it. Even if you’re not mechanically inclined, a basic understanding of how to use these tools can mean the difference between getting where you need to go and being stranded.

Of course, you don’t need a vast selection of specialized tools on-hand, just the ones that will be most helpful in your survival situation.

Options most commonly found in bug-out vehicles include:

  • Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers
  • Combination wrench
  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • Socket wrench with attachments of varying size
  • Allen keys

It’s highly recommended that you purchase a tool kit specifically tailored to your bug out vehicle, as they will contain more specialized tools you’ll likely need. For example, some car tool kits come with jumper cables that will come in handy, whereas a bike tool kit would swap this irrelevant tool for something more useful, like extra chain.

If you really don’t have the space in your bug out vehicle for a tool box of tools, at least pack a multitool equipped with screwdriver heads, pliers, and other practical attachments.

Spare Parts

Another common reason why people are forced to leave their bug out vehicle behind is because of a damaged component. To avoid this, it’s wise to pack a series of spare parts your vehicle will likely need throughout your travels.

Again, this doesn’t mean you should bring every part your vehicle could need, as this would take up crucial space you need for other essentials. Instead, analyze which components on your vehicle are most likely to break and impede your survival most.

The goal here is to have the spare parts and knowledge that allow you to be as self-sufficient as possible, limiting the odds of you needing to find a mechanic or hardware store when SHTF.

Options most commonly found in bug out vehicles include:

  • Tire(s)
  • Lights
  • Spark plugs
  • Windshield wipers

Once you’ve acquired these spare parts, make sure you’ve trained yourself on how to install them under various conditions (ex. at night, within a set amount of time, in poor weather conditions, etc.).

Portable Air Compressor

VIAIR 78P Portable Compressor

The 78P has a press-on chuck instead of a twist-on chuck. It is capable of inflating up to 225/60/R18 tires by simply plugging into your cigarette lighter power port (15-amp max), connecting the press-on chuck, and turning the unit on.

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Unless your bug out vehicle is a boat, this is an item you’ll undoubtedly need, especially if you’re traveling long distances on your tires.

A portable air compressor, or even better, an air compressor kit, is a must-have in any bug-out vehicle. This tool will prevent you from getting stranded in the middle of nowhere from a popped or flat tire.

It will also ensure you don’t need to use your spare tire for something that could have been easily fixed if you’d had an air source such as this.

If you have the space for an air compressor kit, we highly recommend it over the stand-alone tool. The right kit will come with other essentials, like a duo power pack and jump starter, so you don’t need another vehicle to jump your own.


Bully Tools 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel

The Bully Tools 82515 Round Point Shovel features all the elements of a well-built and affordable American tool and more. With a closed back design to eliminate debris build-up, this true 14-gauge steel shovel is built to last. 

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It might not have been the first tool to come to mind when packing your bug-out vehicle, but we promise you’ll be glad you have one when the need arises.

If your bug-out vehicle is a car, truck, SUV, or another large vehicle, you will definitely need a shovel on-hand in case you find your tires stuck in mud or snow.

Even if you have a smaller vehicle, a shovel can still come in handy around a campsite, as a self-defense weapon, or various other purposes.

When it comes to your bug-out vehicle’s limited space, the best shovel option would a compact, foldable version you can easily store under a seat or in a pack.

First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series, Backpacker Medical Kit - 96 Pieces

The AMK Mountain Series Backpacker Medical Kit is designed for a pair of outdoor explorers on a four-day foray into the wilderness.

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You’ll most likely have some sort of first aid kit in your bug-out bag that will certainly come in handy, but for your bug-out vehicle, we recommend packing something a little more extensive.

Most bug-out bag first aid kits contain the bare essentials, like band aids, sanitation wipes, and common medications. They’re limited because they have to fit in the bag’s limited space along with countless other essentials. Since your bug-out vehicle has more space, you can pack a first aid kit that more resembles a trauma or first responder kit.

Here, you would have additional tools, such as:

  • Trauma sheers
  • Scalpel
  • Gauze and wraps
  • Splints
  • Ammonia inhalants
  • CPR shield

These are all items that will bolster those found in your bug out bag first aid kit and give you more options when a medical emergency occurs where immediate and/or professional help isn’t an option.

Final Thought

Now that you have these five bug out vehicle essentials, you can start to build around this foundation and add other items you deem crucial to your survival. Remember to consider categories such as lighting, food and water, shelter, and more as you go. Consulting with other people’s bug out vehicle checklists can also be useful to ensure you have everything you need when the time comes.