One of the great things about car camping is that it allows you to bring gear that may not fit in a pack for hiking or backpacking. Still, it’s best to prepare for any eventuality, which is why an emergency kit is essential. 

With some planning and helpful tips, you’ll be able to easily assemble a well-stocked kit that prepares you for unexpected situations. Here are some essential items to include in your car camping emergency kit.


A flashlight is an essential item for any camping trip, but you can bring larger and more powerful flashlights when car camping. Look for a flashlight designed specifically for camping, as they often have useful features like a red light mode that preserves night vision.

Tactical flashlights, such as the Fenix PD36R, are great lighting tools for camping because of their high-lumen output and long runtimes. When the unexpected arises during outdoor adventures, a high-performance light helps you confidently navigate poorly lit environments.

Three-Day Supply of Emergency Food

When car camping, you can bring enough food for several days in case of an emergency. Food that doesn’t require refrigeration or cooking, like granola bars, dried fruit, and nuts, is ideal. If you stash fuel and a backpacking stove in your kit, you can include freeze-dried backpacking meals in your emergency food supply.

Water Jugs & Water Purifiers

Water is essential for survival, so you should always have plenty of it when car camping. Pack at least one gallon of water per person per day, and consider bringing along a water purifier in case you don’t have clean water.


Smartphones may not receive news updates if the power grid goes down during unanticipated mishaps. Therefore, a radio is essential for any camping trip, as you can use it to receive emergency broadcasts.

Look for a radio that includes AM/FM capabilities and receives NOAA weather alerts. You can use a radio with a hand crank or solar panel to preserve emergency batteries.


A multitool is a versatile camping tool that can come in handy for various tasks, from opening cans to cutting bandages for first aid. When car camping, you can bring a larger and more comprehensive multitool for emergencies than you would when backpacking. Look for a multitool that includes pliers, a knife, a saw, and a file to help you during unexpected situations.


While camping, a knife comes in handy for several tasks. For example, it can be used for slicing meat or vegetables for a campfire meal and opening stubborn packaging.

When choosing a knife for your car camping emergency kit, select one with a sturdy blade and comfortable grip. The knife should also withstand the elements, so choose one made from durable materials.

Backup Battery

A backup battery is essential for any camping trip, as it can charge phones and other electronics if electricity’s unavailable. Compact battery packs provide one or two charges while portable generators are ideal for powering small devices. No matter what kind of battery you include in your emergency kit, look for a model with multiple USB ports so you can charge multiple devices simultaneously.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is another essential item for car camping emergency kits. Pack items like bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and pain medication. Also, consider packing a CPR mask, as it can be a lifesaving device in an emergency.

These are just a few fundamental items to add to your car camping emergency kit. Tailor your kit to your specific needs and the area you camp in. With a well-stocked emergency kit, you can rest knowing you’re ready for anything that comes your way.