Stocking the car with supplies

Car-SuppliesI may be a minimalist, but I a firm believer in being prepared. “Being prepared” often means having supplies that we might not use on a regular basis. But instead, having things we might only use occasionally according to certain patterns in our life, and even some emergency supplies. These things may still hold value even though we don’t use them often; just so long as they don’t take up much space or require any maintenance.


With that being said, there is no better place to keep these supplies than our automobile. Why? Because with minor exception, wherever we go, our vehicle is always with us. Most of us should be more familiar with our vehicles than we are with our own homes.


In the past I have often found myself in situations away from home, when I needed a specific tool or item, but it was not accessible to me. So one day I decided make a list of these items (and added in some emergency items),  and add them as permanent cargo in my car. Fortunately “being prepared” doesn’t require that we carry a lot of cargo. I can fit everything I need in a 12″ x 12″ x 18″ milk crate. So I did, and I am sure we all can too.

My supplies are as follows:

  1. Tiny first aid kit
  2. Jumper cables (everybody needs them sooner or later)
  3. Large towel
  4. Small tarp
  5. Duck tape
  6. Pocket knife
  7. Rope
  8. Tire Iron
  9. Sanitary wipes
  10. Small mirror
  11. Sling Bag
  12. Afghan
  13. 12″ x 12″ x 18″ milk crate



I am going to assume that everyone knows the value of most of the items on my list, but there are a few that may require some explanation.


Giant Towel – I once read a sci-fi comedy novel called “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” that made a very accurate statement. “A towel is the best multi-purpose tool in the galaxy.” Wellll, in the world anyway. Here are just some of the uses I can think of off the top of my head:

  • to dry (duh)
  • shelter/warmth
  • A flag (or more specifically “TO flag”)
  • blanket
  • weapon/flail (insert rock)
  • short rope
  • pillow
  • wound dressing
  • tourniquet

A simple online search will reveal more than 120 specific uses for a towel, but most of those uses are for the same function and therefore fall into one of the above categories.

Small Tarp – A towel is porous , a tarp is not. So in many ways a tarp is by far a better tool for shelter.

Small mirror – Besides the typical use (which is valuable too), its good for seeing in unreachable areas. Also valuable for long distance signaling (reflect the sunlight at someone far away to get their attention).

Afghan – My family and I often find ourselves in a situation where we desire a lawn blanket to sit on to enjoy a concert, festival, or any outdoor show. This may not be valuable to everybody, but we use ours constantly.

Sling bag – One never knows when they will have to lug around some supplies while keeping their hands free. When not in use a sling bag is easy to store. We find we use this as often as the afghan. Often at the same time.

Trunk crate

As we can see, the milk crate stores everything nicely in the trunk taking up very little space. My bicycle rack on the other hand  is a very different story. But everything fits nicely in my tiny Hyundai Accent.


Just as a general principle, it is wise to store any supplies that we might need when we are away from home, in our vehicles. Besides the milk crate in the trunk, I also keep my car registration, insurance card, sunglasses, glasses cleaning cloth, and work badge in my overhead visor pouch. There is no reason any of these things should be in the home. Keeping them in the home just increases the chance of not having them when I need them. In the glove-box I just keep a tiny umbrella, gloves, the car manual, and a window scraper (for the winter).