Solo Vehicle Dependent Exploration, Travel & Adventure

4×4 Overland ‘bug out’ / survival / grab bag

I wanted to post up some info on the above which I have been researching recently. Whilst It may initially seem a little bit extreme in this country, I would think it is worth considering for trips further afield, especially outside of the EU.

What am I banging on about? 

A bag that contains a collection of gear that you could use in an emergency situation. I have had a long think and many a discussion and the only 2 likely senario’s I can see are: a) the vehicle catches fire and it cannot be put out. b) submerged vehicles, occupants have to escape (ie. fording rivers).

In either case, the vehicle is lost. Otherwise you would just gather your kit from the back of your vehicle. The bag would be situated where all passengers could reach it in a hurry and should know where it is, whats in it and how to use it.

What do you put in it?

It is down to personal choice. If your a survival expert probably just a big knife. Your kit list will also be climate dependent. Would you really need a storm shelter in the desert? you also have to consider how many persons the kit would provide for along with knowing them individually and how they would cope. Having women and children onboard may also make you consider other items.

Below a 5 key areas to consider:

1. Shelter/Warmth
2. Food/Water
3. Emergency Care/Documentation
4. Navigation/Survival Equipment
5. Signaling/Communication

For my example I am going to use a temperate climate like we have here in the UK for 2 people and list the things I have put together.

1. Shelter/warmth

I have gone for a traditional ‘bothy bag’ also known as a storm shelter as it packs small, is light, is wind/water proof and warms up quickly. coupled with a pair of personel emergency bags I think this should suffice. For warmth, I have just put in a pair of fresh socks, a wooly hat and a micro-fleece. A pair of hand warmers have also been added as they pack heat and are small. I would also like to suggest that occupants dress according to the outside conditions whilst driving the vehicle (im sure series drivers all ready do this). If its raining hard and you have the heaters on and are only wearing a T-shirt what happens when you have to make a quick exit?… its raining and your only wearing a T-shirt!

2. Food/Water

Small backpacking stove (MSR) with small pan. 2 ration packs and 4 energy bars packed with a Spork. For water I will carry 1L with a purification system consisting of a milbank bag and iodine. If you use a drybag (explained below) it will double up as a water carrier if required.

3. Emergency Care/Documentation

Lifesystems trek 1st aid kit with additional wound closure strips and 2 sachets of suncream. Documentation would vary, but some form of ID (Passport copy) and medical information, emergency contacts etc etc.

4. Navigation/Survival Equipment

For navigation a good quality compass is a must. As you should know roughly where you are, you should not need a map to find the nearest inhabited place. Other equipment should consist of a good quality knife, light and some basics. I have included a fire striker, waterproof matches and fuel cells.

5. Signalling/Comms.

Signalling, I have a mountain whistle (6 loud bursts followed by 1min silence and repeat), glow sticks (3) and a mirror. All have thier advantages. I am also considering adding 2 flares (parachute and hand) as they are small. For communication I am going to add a new pay as you go phone with country SIM. You may not always have your phone on you when you make your escape, so this may be all you need. International emergency number is 112. I will be putting a satellite phone in here for destinations outside the EU.


Sounds like a lot of kit, but It actually packs down small and I am confident we could survive for sometime (3-4 days comfortably) on these basics. you can trim this down or add to it, its your choice. For drier climates things like the storm shelter could be ommited for something like a lightweight tarp, take more water/less food etc etc. Its worth thinking about.

So what does it all go in? There is no point having all this stuff if it gets ripped/wet/sinks so you need something tough and durable with no fancy bits to get caught up when exiting the vehicle. For this reason I have bought a 22L Ortlieb drybag, but there are loads of suitable bags out there. The beauty of these are that they are simple and tough. they float, they can be rolled down so if I only need 15L of kit I can make it smaller. I plan on taking an old shoulder strap from another bag and putting it inside the Ortlieb for storage. If the time comes to use it, I can clip it onto the D rings and throw it over my shoulder should I need to walk out. Drybags also allow you to store and transport water.

For storage and easy access I plan to mount it onto the dog guard between the 2 seats of our Land Rover Defender 90  using 50mm luggage straps with quick release buckles. I originally thought velcro, but think the QR buckles will be easier and quicker in an emergency.

Food for thought…

My kit (some items ommited).

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