EDC Kit For Your Vehicle

Winter is here and that at least gets people thinking about an EDC Kit (every day carry). Truth is, you should have this in your vehicle 12 months a year, not just in winter months. Nor just for those who live near the mountains. It isn’t a weird prepper thing to be prepared. It isn’t about planning for some event that will probably not happen. On the other hand, it is more about being prepped for every day events: A car breakdown, a flat tire, getting lost on a backcountry road, encountering a storm and being stuck for hours or days, and in some areas, the reality of planning for events such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, where you may have to leave home quickly. But as well….just knowing you have the things you need for a road trip without having to think is a great thing! And it should be noted I have lived through both a volcanic explosion that required evacuation, and a major earthquake.

A good resource is our local WSDOT website and their Winter Driving section.


The picture above is a good start on what one should carry at all times – not just winter. I try to remember to check the big stuff quarterly, and the usable and perishable items every month.

Recently I overhauled the every day carry kit in the truck. Kirk has asked if I would clean up all the bins, organize it and fill in the missing items. As I was also organizing all our outdoor gear bins, this went hand in hand. Now the garage is tidier, and so is his truck.

Our EDC Kit:

Ham radio (with proper licenses)

Keep your fuel tank(s) filled in winter, but also a good method year round! Make it a habit that if you are slipping below 1/2 a tank, to be mindful and fill up.

Tire chains. Depending on your vehicle you will need 1 pair minimum, though some can take 2 sets. Learn to put chains on BEFORE you need to. It takes more hand strength than most realize. Some states ban chains however, know your state rules. Washington State actually legally requires chains in a vehicle, any vehicle, if you are in the mountains, going over passes, for part of the year. While All Wheel and 4 Wheel Drive vehicles often are not required to put them on, you must still have them with you.

Nitrile gloves for putting them on (keeps your hands dry). My opinion is you should have at least 2 pairs.

Ponchos, disposable. They are multi-purpose, good for staying dry, but also laying out on the ground while doing tire chains or fixing a flat.

Traction devices for shoes, for one person. Big help if you are out pushing! These we bought at Costco cheaply, but fancier ones like Microspikes will also work.

Tow straps and tie downs

Jumper cables

A good quality jack

A full size spare tire you check on often

A tire inflater (air compressor) that is car sized

Ice scraper

LED flashlights. Keep extra batteries separate.

Escape Hammer


Various tools Kirk carries for repairs

Paper Atlas of the US

Chock blocks (scraps of wood to stick under your wheels, to prevent rolling)

Shovel, hand size (military surplus for ours)

Work gloves (leather or similar, allowing one to move trees, or similar)

Blankets. We carry 2, one is waterproof on the back, fleece on the other side. The second turns into a poncho.

Spare clothing for the kids.

Water, in an insulated container. We carry enough for the radiator and for the humans.

Spare snacks (I carry an assortment of ones everyone can eat, single serving packages)

First Aid Kit

Roll of toilet paper

Hand wipes

Hand sanitizer (bonus fire starter)

Sunblock (sitting on snow is a fast way to get burnt)

Cooking pot with mugs

Camping stove




Commercial freeze-dried meals (not my fave, but they do last a long time)

Water treatment

Emergency candles (they will provide a bit of heat as well)

Folding hand saw

Multi purpose tool

Old school glow sticks

*An optional item if you are going in far on unmaintained roads is a small chain saw, with proper knowledge to use. If a tree falls on the road, it is very helpful. However, this isn’t a “needed” item, but we have carried one for hiking in the past and used it.

The one thing that is glaring is the truck doesn’t have a winch. Our old Xterra does. It is something we are discussing. I don’t mention items like hats and jackets, cell phone chargers and so on, we always bring them along. There are a few more items I am sure I have forgotten to the list.

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