September is national preparedness month and I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over how I prepare kits for my vehicles. When I don’t have a specific trip in mind the EDC (Every Day Carry) type kit I have in my car is dictated by the length of the trip, and possible hazards. For example, if I am just worried about my daily commute to the train station I really don’t add anything, whereas while hunting I will make sure I can handle multi-day situations. Let’s take a look at a real-world kit I just prepared for a specific trip (I am still on).
We were planning on driving from Washington State to Northern British Columbia. Anyone living in the Northwest region knows that British Columbia is currently fighting extremely large forest fires through the Central to Central Western areas. We know because the fires are so large the smoke has traveled from Canada to Western Washington. In short it looks like there was a dense fog, except it smelled of smoke.
Being such a large Province, the highways away from the city centers are more rural in nature (single lanes in each direction), with few alternative routes. Route planning was my first consideration while preparing for this trip. I looked at local resources for road closure warnings, and mandatory detours. Most places you travel will have some kind of resource like this, you need to check it out even if you there is no ongoing disaster. You may learn about construction, or other events you were not considering. For us, we planned our primary route, and a secondary route. This gave us some flexibility in our trip, and allowed us to be prepared if we couldn’t take our primary route. You don’t want to be looking for alternative routes on the side of the road with no cell service, plan ahead.
With our routes planned I decided to put together a kit in case we were trapped in an area, or we couldn’t hit planned stopping points. Keep in mind we had the luxury of traveling with in a Truck, and traveling in a country well equipped to handle evacuation, and emergency situations. Each place you travel should impact your choices when preparing your kit. So our major concerns were medical, food, water, and fuel, or the ability to create fuel (fuel for food/water not the truck).
You need to operation inside your abilities when selecting medical kits for trips. Medical kits can be a simple as a tourniquet and absorbent materials, to large professional kits you might find with a Fire Department. I am an EMT and so I have a good range of treatments I can provide to my family, or others we encounter along our trip. I packed the EMS Rapid Deployment Kit from North American Rescue. This kit gives me a broad range of options from bleed control, to airway management. Again, you will need to find a kit that fits your abilities. There is no point carrying this kit if you don’t know how to use it. I am preparing a stand-alone article on this kit, so if you are interested in learning more about it keep checking back with the Loadout Room.
It has never been easier to prepare for a shortage of food than it is today. Everyone from Costco, to hunting/fishing stores have freeze-dried options. I use a kit prepared by Mountain House called Just in Case. This kit has 12 pouches with three different flavors; rice & chicken, chili mac with beef, and spaghetti. In total this kit has 32 servings meaning a family of four could easily have enough food (without rationing) for a week (this kit comes in a 5 gal pale, which could be used to haul water from a source back to camp). All you need to do to prepare this food is add water. Obviously a hot meal goes a long way, so I packed my Jet Boil Flash and a small fuel source. This jet boil could also boil water if we needed, but the primary reason I brought it was to have hot meals.
Having a truck allowed me to pack clean water, and the ability to clean water. We packed a 2.5 gallon water container which would only be used in the event we were stranded. We also had our normal traveling water (individual containers, and whatever we got a stores along the way). In addition to the 2.5 gallon container I packed the LifeStraw, and the Jet Boil Flash. The Life Straw is good for about 1000 liters, which is plenty of water as long as we found a source (stream, creek, lake, etc.).
Aside from the Jet Boil Flash I brought along the UCO flatpack grill and firepit. This is a compact system used to cook, and create a small safe fire pit. Measuring in at 9.25” x 1” (collapsed), 11” tall, 10” wide, and 13.5” deep (extended for use) this kit give a broad range of options without taking up a ton of space. You can use a small amount of wood, or briquettes if you packed them. What I did need to account for was gathering wood and preparing it for use in this grill. The tools I picked for this was the SOG bone/wood saw, and the Estwing camp axe. With these two tools I could cut down trees and prepare wood.
This trip wasn’t particularly dangerous, or difficult to plan for. However, being prepared can reduce stress and ensure you are ready for the unexpected. The thing to keep in mind is all trips, situations, and reasons for planning are different. As such, you need to create a kit, and plan which will address the needs of your trip, your capabilities, and situations you may encounter.