The following is a guest article written by Bill Loftus.- Jack
For those of you truck/SUV fanatics, I’m sure you’ll already have half of this stuff covered. In fact, if you think of anything I missed, please post it in the comments! For those who own a truck but aren’t crazy about taking it to the next level, take away from this what you’d care to.
I had a pickup truck back in college, and to be honest I couldn’t have asked for a better vehicle at that time in my life. Tailgating, driving to the ski mountain, filling it up with water for a Redneck HotTub. It was great. But once I got my utility box, that’s when my truck became truly useful. I had my camping gear, fishing gear, shovel and pickaxe…anything I could ever need right there with me.
After a few years of driving a sedan (Caddy ATS so I can’t exactly complain) I realized how terribly useless my car was. 3” of ground clearance and a trunk that could barely fit my golf clubs wasn’t exactly trustworthy should SHTF. So after four years of driving a car that could calmly cruise at triple digits, I got myself another truck. Terrible gas mileage, but I finally feel at home.
Granted, it’s a fully loaded Avalanche LTZ so it’s not exactly the ‘work truck’ I had back at school, but I’ve gotten myself back into the mindset of having a minimum amount of gear with me at all times. Actually, the Crate Club has given me about half the shit I have in it. The other half I got after hours of research. And that’s what this article is about… how to up fit your truck into something you’d feel comfortable with in any situation.
First and foremost, what you need to take into consideration is where you live geographically. What makes sense in Vermont (where I lived for six years) would be just shy of useless in the Arizona desert, and visa versa. Next step would be your list of typical activities/uses of your beloved rig. Camping/off-roading would require certain tools that a regular road warrior might not. So how do you know if you have what you might need, and what do you leave out in order to make room for more logical options?
One other thing to keep in mind, is the company you keep. Who would potentially be with you? Does it make sense to have more than one tent? Food/water supplies? Would a two person tent suffice, or should you have a five person tent for the whole family?
I’d say that no matter where you live, and no matter what you do with your truck/SUV, you should have the following:
-first aid kit
-basic tool kit
-water/water treatment tools
-fire starting gear
The first aid kit will come in handy, whether your child gets stung by a bee, your buddy cuts his foot on broken glass, or you show up to a car accident. Just be sure to know the contents and your skill at treating various injuries.
Tool kits can be as basic or intricate as you’d like, and again like the first aid kit, make sure you know how to use the tools. Ratchet set, a few pairs of pliers, screwdrivers, etc. If you think about simple things that could go wrong on your adventures, try to proactively come up with tools that can be used to fix them. A knife sharpener is relatively inexpensive and lasts almost forever. If this isn’t in your tool kit, it should be.
The blanket is definitely going to vary upon region, however I’d say it’s a vital asset no matter where you live. Whether you substitute this for a sleeping bag, it still makes a lot of sense to have something should you need to spend the night waiting for help. Living in Vermont I had a pretty heavy-duty blanket, I’d say anything north of the Mason Dixon line would require a substantial blanket/sleeping bag. To follow-up on the blanket, I keep a hoodie and a rain jacket tucked underneath the backseat. Those who live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains 3/4 of the time, you might want to keep a rain jacket/umbrella handy.
550 paracord has almost unlimited uses, most are aimed towards survival. However, if you truly are doing some crazy adventuring in your rig, maybe crank it up a notch and get full-fledged rope. Quick assembly of a tarp for shelter, hoisting food in bear country, or just a makeshift repair of a bag, this is definitely something you’re going to want.
Water will also depend on season and geographical location. Living in Vermont, Montana, or Alaska during the wintertime, any water you keep in your truck will automatically freeze. Likewise, having a gallon of water baking in the Texas sun wouldn’t exactly quench your thirst. If you believe you’ll have access to a water source, maybe just keep something that could help you treat it.
I love camping, and as any experienced camper will tell you, it makes sense to have some form of fire starters. Be it flint, sawdust in a waterproof pill bottle, or anything else to help you get it started. A few months ago I got a package from the Crate Club with a variety of Exotac products. Candles, tinder, and these zipper tabs are scattered amongst my truck and hunting backpack and will absolutely come in handy whenever needed.
Other than these essentials, your next step should be identifying your most logical scenarios you’d find yourself in. Do you go offloading 50 miles out in the desert? Do you go camping a few times a year? You should take this into consideration when prepping your truck.
As I mentioned, I had a shovel & pickaxe in my truck back in college. No shit, I had a full-sized spade shovel and pickaxe, they took up a decent amount of room. Now, I’ve got the SOG Folding E-Tool in my truck as it takes up a lot less room. Pair this with my machete, I can pretty much handle anything necessary to build a camp or fire.
Furthermore, I had all my camping gear. Tent, sleeping bag, cooking supplies. The whole shebang. Back then I didn’t have a stove kit, but now I do and it really makes sense. A lot of the places I went camping in were protected and wouldn’t allow a full fire to cook, so my JetBoil really comes in handy. I picked up a few folding bowls & silverware at REI a year or two ago and have used them a few times since.
As with your bugout bag, flashlights, headlamps & batteries should without a doubt be included. You never know when you’ll have to change a tire at night, that headlamp might come in handy. If you can/need to choose, headlamps allow you to work with both hands, and most LED lamps are very conservative when it comes to batteries.
Fishing gear (and granted, I suck at fishing) is absolutely up to you and your activities. I had mine simply because I was some young punk with a truck and wanted to look badass. But if you are into fishing and have the budget for a simple, compact fishing pole I’d say put it in there. Worst comes to worst you can always kill some time sitting on a bridge. A pole isn’t even necessary, 50′ of fishing line and hook/lures would do the trick should you need a food source in a hurry.
I keep 100 rounds of 9mm in my truck at all times, even when my handgun isn’t with me. Although I’ve thought about it, I don’t have any .308 simply because it’s 10x more expensive. That being said, if you traditionally carry while driving, I’d say designate a spot in your truck where you keep an extra stockpile of ammo. Whether you want to keep a firearm there at all times is up to you, just remember that trucks get broken into all the time.
As crazy as it sounds, MRE’s wouldn’t be a terrible idea. They’re available online, and I’m sure plenty of you readers already have some stockpiled or in your bugout bag. One thing to consider is that the hotter they’re stored, the shorter the shelf life is. For those who are slightly skeptical of military ‘food’ (or veterans who vowed to never touch the stuff again), almost every camping store will have something similar. Keeping budget in mind, these are for survival, not preferential eating, so maybe don’t go too crazy on $10+ meals at REI. That being said, protein bars are always a good choice.
Other than temperature and weather, think about any other outdoor elements you might encounter. Sun screen, bug spray, poison ivy ointment, bear spray! If an Epi-pen isn’t in your med kit, this would be a logical thing to have packed, especially if you or someone else is allergic to something they may encounter.
If you think about it, you can use your truck as a much larger EDC/bugout bag. So whatever you have in a bugout bag, you can have an exponentially larger collection of toys in your truck. That being said, if we all had an endless budget we’d be driving around in jacked up diesels with a quad in the back and any toy you could imagine. So it comes to a balance of budget and necessity.
Spend some time online, actually the LoadOut Room has some solid reviews in terms of quality, but poke around on sites for better pricing. Dick’s usually has great deals throughout the year, however their selection isn’t the best. Amazon is always good for reading reviews, but it’s always nice to actually put your hands on a piece of gear to make sure you like it.
One of the last tips I’d recommend is organization. Your gear is going to be useless if you can’t find it when you need it. This all depends on your truck itself, as well as how much you have. I’ve seen MOLLE seat covers that really can lend a hand with this, utility boxes can carry a lot of gear in the bed of a truck, although a simple tackle box that fits under your back seat can do this as well. It all depends on budget, vehicle capacity, and amount of equipment you have.