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Bullet Points: Ten Onboard Fourwheel Fundamentals

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Your driving habits may developed in a city, rural, or on the long-haul. You may drive a car, truck, or SUV. Whatever your mode of transport, there’s probably space for a few items that fall into the ‘better to have and not want, than want and not have‘ category. This isn’t a list of which grenades to pack into your rooftop carrier in anticipation of urban collapse, nor a tally Mylar blankets for that time nuclear winter surprises you on I-80: it's just stuff normal people might actually utilize sometime in a lifetime of non-apocalyptic driving.

We're not here to help you with TEOTWAKI driving — that's another list entirely.


Bullet Points: Ten Onboard Fourwheel Fundamentals

1. Lithium Jump Starter/Powerpack.

The bulky scramble of old-school jumper cables filling your trunk is a thing of the past: Visit the local Costco. It will have high output 8000mAh powerbanks complete built-in low-profile cables, an LED flashlight, and USB charging ports for under$60 – cheaper than a service call from a tow truck, less creepy than stalking and flagging down strangers in a mall parking lot asking for a jump. No longer will you need to count on someone else to bail you out when lights were left on or a door was left ajar. As added benefit, this may one day help you meet the stranded damsel-or-dude in distress you’ve always dreamed of, you always-prepared nerd-knight, you.

Photo 1 Powerpack

2. Multitool.

A jack-of-all-trades Leatherman, SOG Switchplier, Gerber Crucial or suchlike in the glovebox can be used for everything from roadtrip-chip-bag-opener to discreet self-defense tool, along with the ability to meet most expected needs with the ensemble of screwdrivers, pliers, and whatnot it provides. Get one with scissors for cutting coupons if you roll in a grocery-getter SUV, or perhaps one with a blasting cap crimper if your Walter Mitty lifestyle leans thataway. We don’t know your business, and who are we to judge? Personally, we’d lean away from the fallacy of having too many gimmicky blades and tools. You generally wind up using the main four or five things, and if the tool itself becomes too clumsy or heavy to get a good grip on, you haven’t done yourself any favors having extra useless stuff that gets in the way.

The Skeletool RX is an interesting choice because it’s most everything you need, with the addition of a some items envisioned for the first responder/EMT client, such as a more heavily serrated 154CM sheepsfoot blade for cutting clothing or seatbelts, a high-vis Cerakote finish, as well as a carbide glass breaker just in case you have that nagging concern of being trapped underwater in your Mini Cooper.

MSRP of $102.

Photo 2 Leatherman

3. Zip-seal Bags.

Ziploc, Hefty, whatever, but a selection of heavy-duty, small to large moisture proof, sealable and disposable bags that fold down to nothing might come in handy in the most mundane ways. Muddy boots? Wet beach towels and swimsuits? Toss them in and don’t worry about your leather seats getting polluted. Picking up brass at the range? Waterproofing your pocket contents for that impromptu hot springs dip you’ve offroaded up to? Yep, bag that stuff up. Isolating that exploding tube of whatever your copilot used for skincare? Ziploc crap-catcher to the rescue. If it’s really horrible, like someone crapped their pants (Non-parents all laugh. People with children just nod sagely here) and you need to stash the offending odored garment, you’re gonna appreciate the inherent value of a .30 cent disposable plastic bag with a vapor seal. On that note, whether you’ve got toddlers or drunk friends, you never know when a field-expedient barf bag is going to be needed. You might also consider a couple of trashbags for unanticipated larger needs. Be the hero of your hatchback.


Trash Bags

4. Tire Inflator/Sealer.

From a security-minded perspective, being able to get off the X isn’t just for combat: getting mobile quickly means moving past the need to depend on strangers/be the wounded prey of others. The ubiquitous can of Fix-A-Flat lives in your trunk until needed. It's able to inflate your tire and plug a leak long enough to get you to an autoshop to patch things up for real This is also potentially a good option for kids and inexperienced drivers to have as an option to mounting a spare tire. Watching amateurs try to figure out a jack for the first time as traffic whizzes by, feet away, on the high side of 80 mph, is cringeworthy. (“So… What’s this “chock” thing they say you should use anyway?”)

Photo 3 Fix a Flat

5. Med Kit

Even if you don’t require actual prescription medicines, a small pouch (may we suggest the Magpul DAKA?) containing rudimentary roadtrip rescue pills is going to come in handy at *some* time in your car career. Tablets may be a better choice than liquids and gels, because they’re less heat and time sensitive (and watch those expiration dates!) Basics like small bottles or packs of: Pain/Headache meds; Allergy/flu meds if the cruds get you when you’re out of town without access to a pharmacy (have you seen what the local gas-n-sip charges for a small handful of Tums?); Stomach meds like Pepto or Mylanta, Band-Aids for blisters and cuts, Imodium, mosquito wipes, and a proper tourniquet and the knowhow to use it (it’s not all tummyaches: car accidents happen too, you know). If you're rolling in a 1980s Econoline with airbrushed van art and folding back seat, you might consider your favorite form of birth control too.

Camillus-Medical-KitFirst Responder Medical Kit

6. Paperwork.

The car’s registration and title, manual to your car (with the important repair info pages pre-earmarked), medical and car insurance cards, any AAA membership or roadside assistance memberships and phone numbers should all be organized in one place (Hey! How about in one of those aforementioned pouches or bags!). Beats hunting for it when you need it most.

Cluttered vehicle - no bueno

7. Defensive Tool

It goes without saying that you should carry a gun, and be trained in its use. However, not all of us can carry in all jurisdictions. Being stranded on a roadside in the dark or blocked in during a street riot is not the place to begin considering your field-expedient alternatives and plans of action. Think tire jack handles, bats, hatchets, and other discreet multipurpose items that don’t scream “weapon”, but can be used as one if necessary. Check local laws, use common sense, and know that leaving a fight is often far better than getting into one. Remember too, your car itself is a heck of a high-grain-weight projectile.

Spiked Baseball Bat - LA Times

8. Bottled Water

From roadside washing off of the many, many things you probably don’t want to smear on your upholstery (again, those muddy boots), to cleaning cuts or burns, to just plain drinking, that “hydrate-or-die” mantra holds true. Secure a couple liters in the back so they don’t roll around and fly under your pedals: you’ll never wish you didn’t bring them along for the ride. If you need a little long-haul or hiking pick-me-up, throw in some pouches of flavored electrolyte powder such as MATBOCK’s Strike Force caffeinated energy drink to the trunk supply.


9. Phone Charger(s)

USB and iPhone cables are reasonably cheap: Our smartphones are our lifelines. They act as everything from backcountry GPS, city map directions, flashlights, emergency communication tool, and even give us the ability to watch BBC British period dramas while stuck in hours-long traffic jams. If you run out of power while literally driving around a generator with a battery – guess who the real tool is? Buy and stash an extra cable if you haven’t already. If your car doesn’t have built-in USBs, then a double-port USB lighter jack wouldn’t hurt either, so your co-pilot can charge their phone at the same time. has good quality, generic cables in many lengths if you don’t feel like paying brand name prices.


10. Duct Tape

If more needs to be said here, you should have your keys taken away.

Duct Tape

The decision to bring bugspray along is, of course, entirely up to you.

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