Is your vehicle prepared for any situation? Whether it is your daily driver, or a bugout rig, here is a basic list of gear you need to consider. The difference between a negative and positive outcome is dependent on the right mindset and a few key pieces of kit. There are numerous scenarios and environmental factors that come into play regarding this topic.
You should be able to operate out of your vehicle for at least 3 days and this article will cover that time frame. You should first start with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Choosing the right vehicle does not have to be complicated. You do not have to spend a ton of money and you do not have to buy something brand new. Even in factory form, a 4x4 vehicle will be able to conquer environmental issues and minor obstacles like curbs. When Californians recently found themselves facing wildfires on the freeway, they discovered the limitations of their vehicles firsthand. Drivers had to run over a chain-link fence, road barriers, and rollover curbs. As they descended into the adjacent terrain, all involved learned the limitations of their vehicles. Cars became stuck in the grass, gravel, and some on the curb itself. Specifically, a popular video distributed by the media depicted a small canal, and drivers unable to drive over it. Drivers had to ditch their cars and retreat on foot. Some were observed laying on the ground after giving up. In an emergency, you may find yourself having to evade others or retreat from a gridlocked freeway. In a worst-case scenario, you may even find yourself where the rule of law is abandoned. You could face roadblocks, off-road situations, or being exposed to the elements and extreme weather. Find a 4 wheel drive platform that suits you in price, size, and style. Style means truck or SUV. I prefer the midsize market variants because of their smaller size, fuel economy, and ease of driving. There are some standout vehicle platforms that I recommend. Jeep and Toyota have some of the best truck and SUV 4x4 platforms on the market. I have personally owned a Tacoma and Wranglers for many years in the past and now run a Jeep Gladiator JT. You may also choose to have a designated non-daily driven vehicle. This is fine however with one caveat, you must be driving it during an emergency, and you may not be able to head home to where it is stored. Once you make your choice, have a working knowledge of your vehicle. Learn its capabilities. Make sure it has front and rear tow points. Know how many gallons of fuel it takes to fill up. Know how many miles you can drive on one tank of gas. Know how many miles per gallon you can drive. Consider the vehicle's payload and towing capacity and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Learn how your vehicle will be affected loaded and unloaded. A truck will typically give you more capabilities in this regard over an SUV. This information will give you the knowledge to make appropriate decisions in a dynamic situation.
The 2 most likely wear part failures you are going to encounter are tires and batteries. Late-model vehicles come equipped with a factory jack and tools to change a tire. However, you should consider adding a HIlift jack. It can be used as a winch tool and a valuable option in recovery scenarios. Just remember to NOT let go of the handle while in use. Make sure you have a full-size spare tire as well as a tire repair kit. A simple plug kit will work. Next, make sure to have a quality air compressor like an ARB or C02 tank or both. They can be hard mounted and installed out of the way to save space and are invaluable. Compressors and C02 tanks can also serve a dual purpose and be used to air up tires and accessories or run air tools. Remember a C02 tank will need to be filled regularly and can be done at your local welding supply store. Next, make sure to have a standard set of tools either in a lockbox or tool roll that can be easily accessible along with any vehicle-specific tools as well. Next, you need to have a way to service a battery in the event of a low voltage situation or a dead battery. You can go with traditional jumper cables. However, an upgrade would be a lithium battery pack like the Noco option I carry. It is a great option because it eliminates the need for another person or vehicle and can charge a device like a cell phone or be used as a light and strobe in an emergency situation as well. Remember to charge it. In extreme weather, hot or cold, batteries must work harder. They typically will last 2 years and need to be replaced. Tire life depends on many factors just remember to balance and rotate and operate only to their recommended tread depth. In terms of off-roading, you will get a better footprint, more traction, and a more comfortable ride if you run at lower pressure. Make sure to not go too low in pressure, to prevent blowing a tire off the bead. When airing down from street tire pressure, look at your tire sidewall and stop as you begin to see tire deflection. Then when it’s time to return to pavement fill tires back to recommended tire pressure.
Next, add a Fire extinguisher to your setup in case of a fire. Make sure it is A, B, and C rated, hard mounted, and easily accessible. You don’t want the fire extinguisher rolling around and breaking the nozzle off evacuating its contents inside the cab. “A” rating is for trash, wood, and paper. The “B” rating is for liquids and grease. The “C” rating is for electrical equipment. Make sure to check the charge level and change/charge when needed.
In terms of communications, you should consider who you need to contact. In the best-case scenario, your cell phone will be charged and the phone network will still be running. In a worst-case scenario, you may need to have comms between you and your family. In which case a uhf or vhf radio will work. You can hard mount a radio or use handhelds to suit your need. If you are Jeeper you will most likely use a CB radio. Not sure why Jeepers like CB radios so much but it will do fine if it's the line of sight. Consider using a GMRS. You can purchase a license for $35, which was lowered in price this month from $75 and will be good for 10 years and for the entire family to use.
As far as Navigation you will find that the factory GPS and Navigation as well as off-road pages offered by the factory for the Rubicon models are very good. I do supplement my iPad as well as my phone with navigation apps like Basecamp. These devices are mounted with 67 design mounts and stay put during off-road driving and have great quality.
The ability to carry extra fuel and extend your vehicle's range can be achieved by adding another auxiliary fuel tank and pump or by simply carrying an extra gas can. I use roto pax tanks and mounts. They also have cans for water and gear.
Your vehicle should contain a basic medkit. Able to clean, treat, and protect against minor incidents and burns. Fieldcraft Survival has a medkit called the MTK, Mobility Trauma Kit. Fieldcraft Survival also has a great mounting solution that I personally use called the Mobility Go Bag. This backpack-type bag easily mounts to the front or rear of your vehicle's seat. It can be left in the vehicle or worn like a backpack. It comes with 3 Velcro pouches that can easily be pulled off for daily use or in the event of an emergency and then easily returned to the panel. I use one of the pouches to store my med kit, the other a survival kit, and the last one for my tire tools and plug kit. If you have a visor panel in your vehicle you can also use a Modular Visor panel from Fieldcraft Survival. It features the same tear-away option via Velcro and can be used for a Fieldcraft Survival Bleeding Control Kit (BCK) as well as for a CAT tourniquet. If you are not comfortable leaving any of these items in the vehicle, they can easily go with you wherever the need be. Next on the list is recovery. Add a quality recovery kit to your vehicle. This can be an in-depth conversation and deserves an article on its own. For the sake of time, look at Factor55. They have many options to suit your needs. All their products have tow rating listed right on them to insure you are not exceeding the limit and aid in you using the right tool for the right job. Consider using synthetic ropes and shackles as well as a synthetic winch line as opposed to steel. It will save you on weight and will not store energy the way steel or metal will during a load. It will mitigate risk in the event of a breakage. Metal will turn into several projectiles when it breaks under a load, a synthetic line will not. Your vehicle should have a winch. Make sure to get a Warn Industries winch. Warn recommends you use one that is 1.5 times your vehicle weight.
Lastly is Security. In the current pandemic, cities like Cincinnati declared they would no longer be responding to low-level crimes due to resources being needed elsewhere. As Covid19 began to cause strain on our infrastructure, criminals begin to see opportunities. In an extreme scenario, you would not have any government support. In every scenario, you are your own first response. A “Go Bag” is a good way to upgrade your situation. Do not leave firearms unattended in your vehicle. I do not recommend storing firearms in your vehicle. There are many bags in today’s market that will be discreet, carry your firearm (EDC), as well as give you added protection with a ballistic liner or body armor. Consider setting up a “truck gun” that will allow you to effectively maintain security. Also, check out Weapon Gear for an easily accessible option for self-defense and hunting.
The items listed are foundational and intended to give you the beginning of your vehicle setup. Add to it according to your needs. The right mindset can be achieved by practicing, and practicing will grow your confidence in your kit and skill level. Take time to set up a practical exercise where you can retrieve the appropriate gear in a scenario. Have your kids and spouse do the same. Practice removing the Velcro pouches or having your kids do the same so they will remember where everything is at and become familiar with your setup. Camping is a great way to see how your setup works as well as get the family together. “Fortune favors the prepared mind” -Louis Pasteur.