Updated Road Trip Checklist

Updated Road Trip Checklist
Updated Road Trip Checklist
Updated Road Trip Checklist
Updated Road Trip Checklist

Today, I head to Las Vegas to teach a survival course. Las Vegas is only 2.5 hours away so I’m driving instead of flying. Before I make any road trip, whether it’s a short one like this, or a seven-hour drive to Los Angeles, I always go through a quick checklist to make sure I’m prepared and have the gear I need.

Since the gear I use is always changing and I’m always searching for new gear, I want to share with you the current checklist of the items I have in my vehicle.

Before I get to that list, let me share with you one of the most important things I do before going on any road trip. It’s not the sexiest and most exciting thing in the world, but I make sure and check my tire pressure. Most people don’t realize that underinflated tires cause the majority of car crashes.

The reason for this is because a lot of folks have no idea what the correct tire pressure is for their car. You see, if you open your driver’s side door and look on the inside panel you’ll see a listing for your tire pressure. It might be something like 32 PSI (pounds per square inch.)

However, if you look on the tire itself it might say something like 44 PSI.

So if one says 32 and the other says 44, how much air should you put in your tires? Well, I have many friends who are experts when it comes to tire pressure and vehicle safety. And their recommendation is to put 10% less air in than what it says on the tire. In other words, if your tire says 44 PSI, you would put 40 PSI in your tire, which is exactly what I do.

So before you head off on your next road trip or even to work, check your tire pressure. You’ll save money on gas by properly inflating the tires, plus it may save your life if you ever have to make evasive maneuvers in your car.

Once I check my tire pressure and put gas in the vehicle, I quickly make sure I have the items below in the back of my vehicle. Since I live in Southern Utah and go through some pretty remote places, I want to ensure I’m prepared if my car ever breaks down.

  • Two 72-hour kits that contain three days of food and water (Why two kits? Because they don’t take up much space and because as I just mentioned, I often travel in the middle of nowhere.)
  • One quart of motor oil (Always have extra oil in your car, it’s a small investment that’s well worth it.)
  • Full toolbox (I’ve got screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, and a variety of tools if I have to do repairs.)
  • Tow Rope (In case someone has to tow you to a gas station or you need the rope to tie down cargo. This rope goes inside my toolbox.)
  • Guns (For this particular trip to Las Vegas I will have my Ruger LCP and my Glock 19.)
  • Collapsible shovel (You can buy one of these folding shovels at any Army surplus store.)
  • Ammunition (I have 100 rounds for every caliber of gun in the vehicle. So I’ll have 100 rounds of 9mm and 100 rounds of .380.)
  • Knives (In the toolbox I have a Gerber LMF II. In my 72-hour kits I put a Swedish survival knife.)
  • Flashlights (I have four flashlights in my car. Each of the 72-hour kits contains one of the LED flashlights that doesn’t require batteries. You simply squeeze it to generate light. I also have a light in my glove compartment and another in my door compartment.)
  • Crowbar (These only cost about $10-15 from Amazon or Walmart and have a variety of uses, from self-defense to opening doors to knocking debris out of the way.)
  • Bolt cutters (For extreme emergency situations.)
  • Toilet paper (Can be used for making fires and for that other important reason.)
  • Dryer lint (Excellent for starting fires, just save the lint from your dryer for a few weeks and you’ll have a Ziploc bag full.)
  • Zip ties (They can be used for making shelter by tying sticks together and securing other items.)
  • Paracord (I often have a 1,000 foot spool in my trunk, but at the very least have 20 feet.)
  • Map (A paper map in case GPS fails me, which happens far too often.)
  • First aid kit (Both of the 72-hour kits have a small first aid kit but I add another kit to my car. Right now, I’m carrying the Voodoo Tactical Trauma Kit.)

I realize some people may think the above list of items I have in my vehicle is overkill. That’s why I recommend you pick and choose from the above list and put together a vehicle survival kit that works for you.

Even if you live in the city, snowstorms and earthquakes can happen at anytime and you never know what item in the vehicle will be crucial to your survival.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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And, of course, we all know, duct tape — lots of duct tape! 🙂


At least 7 rolls.


All good except the full toolsets, crowbar, and bolt cutter. Why not bring an acetylene welding outfit? I mean who has room or need for all that crap? But: how about a cellphone charger, extra cash, and QuikClot?


With a bolt cutter you can break into a storage locker and just steal all the shit you need.


Bubba I sure hope you’re just kiddin’ cause if not . . . you’re the reason we’re all armed! LOL!


If you have a good “bug-out” bag in the first place you really shouldn’t need two. If you had to go on foot, the carrying of two bags will not be ideal in the least. Get a single good size one. The list of items you can have can be exhaustive. Some good items were mentioned in the article but there’s a ton of stuff that could just as easily be included as we all know. It all depends on how detailed one wants to get.

I would be careful in giving out any kind of one-size fits all policy for tire inflation on vehicles. The formula given in this article may not be appropriate in all situations. It is true that you should back off a bit from the max pressure of a tire but there are a lot of variables at play such as type of vehicle, road conditions, load being carried, etc. So I wouldn’t personally say backing off an exact 10% is correct for all vehicles and situations..

Doug Knaus

Former tire company test driver here: The “Max Press, Max Load” on the sidewall of the tire means: “If you inflate the tire beyond the Max Press number, the tire will not carry more weight.” It is air pressure that allows the tire to carry the load. (A flat tire can carry no weight.) For almost all applications, the auto manufacturer recommended numbers—found on a plate on the driver’s side door jamb—should be used. Since a 10F-degree change causes a one-psi change in tire pressure (and higher pressure is better at resisting hydroplaning), it’s better to be three (or even five) high than one low. (If we are going racing or participating in high-speed police response driving, I’d recommend different pressures…)


A small 14″ long toolbox should be able to contain all of the commonly needed tools for emergency repairs; you’re not performing routine maintenance or overhauls with it. At least one 2.5 lb ABC dry chem fire extinguisher should be in there. A 5 lb would be even better. A pair of sturdy all-leather gloves should also be in your car. On the fire starting material: I carry at least three 15 min road flares in each vehicle, and those can be used for initiating an emergency fire. For a smaller fire kit, I prefer a film canister stuffed with Vaseline-saturated cotton balls. I am a career firefighter/paramedic, so I tend to carry more emergency items (and a much larger medical kit) than most people.

Adam Chalmers

I think a thick (think decorative) non-scented candle, a can or mason jar to put the candle in, and a lighter or waterproof matches would be a good idea for cold weather places. I read an article that lighting a candle in your car can increase the temperature by 5-7 degrees. You can also purchase multiple wick candle cans from survival stores too. Little Hotties Body Warmers (found at any sports store or Amazon) would be great too. If your car runs out of gas or you don’t want to run the car in order to conserve gas, this is a good idea.

The only reason I thought of this is because where I live, we’ve had the worst winter in about 50 years.


If you are using the 10% rule on tires, then you are definitely overinflating your tires. The proper/recommended air pressure in any cars tires is printed on a label inside the driver’s door. Do not exceed these recommendations. Doing so may cause blowouts, poor tire wear, bad gas mileage, and your life could be in jeopardy as well. I take my car to a dealership and have them replace the air in my tires with nitrogen. Why nitrogen? It helps the tires run cooler for one thing and due to the nitrogen being very dense, it helps to maintain the air pressure that is initially set at. This also creates better tire life and performance. Don’t believe me? Nascar has been using nitrogen in their tires for over 15 years. It costs me $5 per tire to put nitrogen in my tires. Although I check my tire pressure monthly, I rarely ever have to add any air. My tire pressures remain constant throughout the heat of the summer and the cold air of the winter.


I can fully attest to what Rick said. I use nothing but Nitrogen in my vehicles. I get it for free at my local “Big O Tires & Brakes” store. Tires don’t fluctuate as much with temperature, they run cooler and the risk of blow out goes way down. I do a lot of cross country driving and have never had a tire issue since using this superior air substitute. Nitrogen is the only thing I’ll put in tires now and there are tons of places that have it as an option. Check into it folks!


As for tires I use the door post reading + 2PSI for maintaining pressure. Have worn out a lot of tires & this rule has seen a lot of good tire life! The one thing I do not see in your list is extra clothing for current weather conditions. Expec in winter. Also a good set of jumpercables as most batteries are only good for 5-6 yrs before you get the dead cell syndrome. Good Luck & stay safe…


A portable fully charged jump starter, and air pump are not bad ideas either… i always keep these in my car.


Also remember, if you are like me, you may not have the recommended manufacturer tire size. If in doubt. look on the tire itself. It will tell you everything you need to know about that tire, including max inflation psi.


Uco Candle Lantern w/extra candle, water activated emergency strobe, carabiner clips, gerber e-tool w/pick, 4 to 5 pieces firewood & starter sticks, shotgun (unloaded) of any caliber w/25 rounds ammo min., water purification tablets & filtration device, water proof hat, lightweight rain jacket, safety orange hoody, gloves warm & also work type, pillow that folds out into a lightweight goose down blanket, hiking poles w/spike (also good for self defense), sun block, bug repel. As for tire pressure, overinflated tires are less of a hazard than underinflated. Go check out Tire Rack or do a Web Search on the topic.