In Preparedness 101: Storage, I discussed some locking storage options that I utilize in my Jeep, and the next step is to fill the space as efficiently as possible. What you carry in your off-road vehicle will be highly personalized to your lifestyle, and with each trip into the wilderness you can re-assess what to carry.
Before any wheeling trip, think about what challenges you may encounter. There's always a chance you'll get stuck, especially if you're adventurous! Are you carrying the necessary supplies to get yourself unstuck? What about vehicle trouble? If your ride dies at 10,000 feet what will you do? Ideally, you'll head to the trails with friends who can help you out of a tough situation, but if you decide to go by yourself at the very least have your own recovery items (just in case) and make sure you tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back (and let them know when you've returned).
After a few seasons of camping and wheeling, here’s a list of items that I feel would help my husband, son, dog, and I survive at least a few days in case we have a wheeling mishap, get stuck in the mountains, or have to bug out from the Zombie Apocalypse. (Note: this is not a full camping list, nor is it a "bug-out bag" inventory. The items listed here are what I keep in my Jeep storage for vehicle recovery and “just in case” situations and should not be depended upon in and of themselves to survive for any length of time).
Jet Boil plus fuel
If you can, strap a bear-proof cooler on a back hitch rack and fill it with food – I don’t carry a cooler around all the time of course, but if you are heading to mountain trails extra food is a good idea, and a bear-proof cooler is worth considering
Extra clothes, including wool socks
Blankets or sleeping bags
Flint plus tinder
(Have several different fire starting options because some won’t work at high altitudes and/or in wet weather)
First aid kit
Plus garbage bags and Ziplocs
Sun and bug care
Tire pressure gauge
Air compressor hose
4-way tire iron
Tire repair kit
General vehicle tools and supplies
Other tools and supplies
Wrenches, etc. specific to your vehicle
Solar charger for phone and GPS
Weapons as needed – for hunting or protection
Vehicle fluids as needed
Rags or towel
Winch controller and/or remote
Collapsible water dish
I like to be organized, so in my storage box I try as much as possible to group similar items together for ease of use (recovery items together, tire inflation in one spot, tools in one area, etc.). Of equal importance, here are other items not in my Jeep storage, but always on my Jeep:
Jack and spare tire
Recovery points (front and rear)
Air compressor (or other air option)
Extra gasoline (and syphon, if needed; I only carry extra gas if on a long wheeling trip)
What I've listed may seem over-the-top and unncessary, but it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it! With efficient packing, I fit the items listed above either on my Jeep, or in my secure and dry storage areas, so not only is my vehicle trail-ready, everything is also neat and contained for my daily drive.
Am I forgetting anything? If you’re an experienced off-roader, survivalist, or outdoors enthusiast, feel free to share your knowledge and post additional items that you keep in your vehicle in the Comments section below! Happy Trails!