This was an interesting question from a member that I thought would make a good blog post for the members-only side of things, but I also wanted to share it with our meal list customers. The question was how to deal with space issues in a shared vehicle that already had little room, let alone enough room for a full BOB. The answer could really be applied to any smaller vehicle that is crowded for space.
The first question to ask is: what does the bag need to provide for to supplement things that the vehicle already provides?
The needs are the same: Core Temperature Control (through proper clothing, Fire, and Shelter); Hydration, Calorie Consumption, First Aid, Navigation, Signal, and Tools to help facilitate that. In many situations Personal Protection is another need.
Think of this as a layered approach and not that everything you need must fit in a backpack and be squeezed in with you and the other passengers. Let’s assume that you dressed appropriately for the conditions before you set off to work. You are already carrying a jacket for rain or cold weather, most likely, if that is applicable for the season. The vehicle itself is a Shelter, and so long as it has fuel it also has a heater. Carrying a lighter in your pocket solves most of the fire problem if you don’t have or are attempting to conserve fuel. Core Temperature Control is handled pretty well, and a bag isn’t even necessary yet.
As the member said, he is already carrying water and lunch for the day so that is already factored into the space available before adding a bag. Many will already be carrying a full water bottle and a lunchbox for work to begin with. You can go without food for a while, but you will need to address resupplying your water. That can be as easy as carrying Sawyer Squeeze or a Sawyer Mini which is also pocket sized if you chose to carry it that way.
First Aid is a big one for me when I think about the type of trauma, we could be dealing with in a vehicle accident, carjacking, or the like. I have been recommending folks have a GB2 IFAK in the glove compartment of the vehicle and a tourniquet in their pocket at a minimum. Remember that the tourniquet in your pocket is the primary, and the tourniquet that is inside the GB2 IFAK is meant to be the secondary. These do now have a custom carrying case that allows you to pack it along with the additional items I recommend to really round out the kit. Those include Trauma Shears, that primary CAT Tourniquet, and an Emergency Mylar Blanket. It’s a small package that won’t take up much room, especially if you have it in the glove box or side door cubby.
Nav and signal can be fairly well served with a compass with a mirror like the Suunto MC2 and a Headlamp. Both are fairly small and won’t take up much room in a bag, either.
For tools, just having a pocketknife multi-tool like a Swiss Army knife will go a long way as far as providing for basic needs.
If you are one that carries concealed, that also doesn’t really go in a bag, it’s probably on your belt already.
Assuming that there is nothing that forces me to leave the vehicle, I am still pretty well covered and everything I need that is extra compared to what I am already carrying would fit in a small kit bag.
The second question is what is it going to take, realistically, to force you to abandon that vehicle and the potential rescue that could come via the highway?
If you do have to leave the vehicle, you are really abandoning your shelter and mobility more than anything, and the assumption would have to be that it was too dangerous to stay with it and that forces you to leave it to find help or get away from a dangerous situation. In that case, everything that I have mentioned in your normal items, plus the small kit bag, will cover your needs if you have the skill to access and use natural resources to supplement your kit. This is why training to consistently reduce your reliance on a big bag of gear is so important. Really all you are doing in this instance is replacing the shelter that the vehicle gave you with a shelter you made. Pine bough bedding, emergency blanket tarp, fire out front. All very doable in most environments.
Third, if something is so dangerous that you would leave your vehicle, where are you going to go from there?
This goes back to: where were you going when this happened? The assumption is between your work and home. For a long-distance truck driver, that can be a pretty long walk. For everyone else, do you have preplanned routes to get home? If not, you should.
With all of that said, the solution is not necessarily a large bag. If you have the room, carrying more resources, especially since the vehicle is doing the heavy lifting, is a great idea. You can use those until they are depleted, or you have to abandon the vehicle for whatever reason. However, if space is limited, you can get away with layering most of your kit in your pockets and incorporating the things you are already carrying anyway into the bigger plan for contingencies.
I personally like and use the TacSac 13, which is a really cool bag that I found from a company called NutSac bags. Funny name, awesome bag. On the outside, it is waxed canvas and leather and has a nice traditional look. On the inside, it is basically a tactical MOLLE panel that you can mount things like holsters, ammo pouches, and IFAKs on.
Here is how I approach the space issue personally and provide for my needs. All of it fits within my pockets, the glove box in the vehicle, and the TacSac bag in case I need to grab and go.
Core Temperature Control:
I am wearing proper clothing for the conditions including the rain or cold weather contingent. I have a lighter in my pocket and a ferro rod with emergency tinder in the TacSac. I carry an Emergency Space Blanket to be used either for First Aid or for enhancing a natural Shelter. I also carry a Rapid Ridgeline and some added #36 Bank Line which all fits easily into my TacSac.
I use a 32 ounce Stainless Steel Water Bottle even in my vehicle. I keep a Sawyer Micro Squeeze in the TacSac. You could supplement that with a Grayl if you wanted, but I would consider maintaining the ability to boil by keeping the stainless steel bottle in the mix also.
I usually have my lunch or dinner with me plus a bag of road snacks so that is pretty well covered in the short term. There is room in my TacSac for some jerky or bars as well.
I have a GB2 IFAK in the glove box, and another mounted to the inside of the TacSac. Those, of course, have the Trauma Shears, Tourniquets, and Emergency Blankets with them.
Navigation and Signal:
There is plenty of room for a full sized compass, maps, protractor, pencils, waterproof paper, and pace beads in the TacSac along with everything else. In addition, I carry a headlamp with extra batteries inside.
I always have my Victorinox Ranger Wood in my pocket along with a small flashlight or pen and can throw a full sized belt knife in the TacSac if I wanted, although I usually just have a Mora Carbon Garberg in there.
(I am obligated to mention that the Amazon links are affiliate links and if you do choose to use them Amazon pays me a small fee.)
Of course, it will fit a Glock 19 with extra mags in it, for those that haven’t lost all of theirs in tragic boating accidents.
Of course, this isn’t as comfortable or redundant as the full-blown BOB, but it is a reduced version that meets the needs when space is tight. Hopefully, that helps answer the question.