Must-Have Camper Van Emergency Essentials

If you love to explore in your adventure van, you’ve probably run into some situations that were less than ideal. Maybe you got a flat tire, or perhaps you got stuck in the sand and spent hours trying to dig out. Whatever circumstances you have run into, hopefully, you had the gear you needed on hand to fix the problem. 

It’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected, especially while traveling in remote areas. To help avoid learning this lesson the hard way, we are here to give you a list of things you should have in your van before setting off on your next road trip.

Adventure Van Emergency Essentials

Jumper Cables / Portable Jump Starter

One of the worst feelings is turning your key in the ignition to hear your engine fail to start up. Dead batteries are a common problem when driving long distances, so come prepared with jumper cables. If you are going on a highly remote trip and you’re worried you wouldn’t be able to find another car to jump your battery, a portable jump starter is best for you to pack. 

Traction Boards and a Shovel

Unfortunately, sometimes your rig gets stuck in mud, sand, or snow. Sometimes digging your way out won’t do enough, so you must be prepared with traction boards like MAXTRAX and a shovel.

There are many options for traction boards, but they can take up valuable storage space. Thankfully, traction boards are a durable product you can easily mount on your roof rack, clearing space inside your van - they also add a more aggressive touch to the outside of your rig. 

Adventure Van Roof Rack with Shovel

Tow Straps

Speaking of extreme elements, some conditions might cause your van (or your buddy’s van) to break down entirely or become immobile; it’s best to have tow straps in your van just in case. 

No matter what kind of adventure van you have, you want to be sure to pack extra wide tow straps so it can handle the weight of your van and all of the gear inside. 

Spare Tire and a Pressure Gauge

This is probably the most obvious safety essential to have, and for a good reason. Especially if you’re driving offroad, a spare tire is going to be critical if something should happen to a tire, and it’s no longer repairable. 

Along with the spare tire, a good pressure gauge and an air compressor will come in handy if you get a flat or simply want to adjust the pressure for the terrain. ARB and others have some tire repair and gauge kits that are worth investing in if you plan to spend time overlanding. 

On a similar note, make sure you are comfortable changing a tire before leaving on your trip.  


Although you probably know if there will be snow or ice on the ground during your trip, it’s always best to have chains in your car just in case. Especially if you are driving in high altitudes, you never know when you will encounter a flurry or unexpected ice. Chains can make your drive on ice or snow feel much more comfortable and safe. 


This may seem irrelevant to some, but we can almost guarantee it will come in handy more than you think. Especially if you are going off-road, you will likely run into overgrown bushes or down trees that you want to clear out of the way.

The second benefit is that you can easily cut up kindling for starting a campfire.

Emergency Flashlight and Headlamp 

You never know when those headlamp batteries will die. It’s always wise to have extra batteries on hand, but when you don’t, an emergency flashlight/lantern can come in handy.

Additionally, these are essential if you are backpacking or staying overnight at a campsite — you don’t want to be left walking to the bathroom in the dark. 

Your cell phone can also provide a light source, but bring a charger. Not every campground will have electrical access, so add a battery bank to your survival kit. 

First-Aid Kit

This is another crucial addition to your packing list. We’re guessing that a vital part of any trip you take is outdoor adventure, and first aid supplies are one of those campervan essentials you can't travel without. Minor injuries are bound to happen whether rock climbing, surfing, biking, hiking, or skiing.

You might be out of luck finding a drugstore within a few miles of where you are, so it’s best to have first aid supplies on hand. Be sure to include bandages, instant cold packs, antibiotic ointment, thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, aloe vera, emergency blanket, and any medications specific to you. 

While many emergency kits have a long shelf life, check the expiration dates regularly so your survival gear can do everything it’s supposed to.

VSSL First Aid Kit

Emergency Food Supplies

Speaking of shelf life, always keep some emergency food on hand. Long-term food and water storage are essential parts of any emergency essentials kit. If your adventure van is mainly used on weekend trips, you might not need as much survival food as van lifers. 

A few reliable long-term entrees can be neatly stowed in your van galley. If you can safely use a fire starter, this can be a helpful addition to your worst-case scenario menu.

Spill-Proof Gas Can

Although you can do your best to plan your weekend trips around stops at a gas station, it’s best to have some gas on hand when driving long distances. When buying a gas can to pack in your van, make sure it’s spill-proof!

We like the Rotopax fuel containers, and most of them can easily be attached to your roof rack. 

Tool Kit

A small, high-quality tool kit can go a long way. If you have a minor issue, it’s nice to be able to fix it yourself quickly rather than hunt for a mechanic. 

When putting your tool kit together, be sure to include:

  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Breaker bar
  • Rubber mallet
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stand
  • Duct tape

Road Flares

If your car breaks down on the side of the road and you need to get the attention of people passing by, you will need road flares. These will be especially helpful when traveling in snowy or rainy areas because they make you much more visible than you usually would be. 

Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is another vital safety essential that you don’t want to skip out on packing. It will be handy if a fire starts in the hood or inside your van. However, it can also come in handy for campfires that refuse to be put out or any other unexpected small fire.

If traveling with family members, review how to use a fire extinguisher, so everyone has some emergency preparedness know-how.

Van conversion with Fire Extinguisher

Paid Roadside Assistance

Lastly, it would be best to set up a plan with AAA or a similar service. This emergency roadside assistance program can be highly beneficial and provide peace of mind. If your car ever has an issue and you don’t have the proper tools to fix it, you can call AAA, and they will send someone to help. 

Don’t forget to read the details on off-road situations. Even if you don’t plan on going off-roading or overlanding, it’s good to know your policy just in case you’re even 50 feet off main roads.

Emergency Supplies on the Road

We want you to be able to enjoy the entirety of your weekend trip rather than cutting it short because of a minor emergency. You would be surprised how many things you can take care of yourself with the right tools. That’s why we recommend packing the important safety essentials so you can be prepared for anything. 

While this may seem like a lot to pack, we promise you will be grateful for it at the end of the day. Stay safe and happy trails!


How to Change a Flat Tire |

What First-Aid Items Do You Need When You Travel? | Cleveland Clinic

USE OF HIGHWAY FLARES | Office of Justice Programs

Preparing an Emergency Food Supply, Long Term Food Storage | UGA FACS

1 comment

  • Aidan Blum

    What type of Shovel & Shovel Holder do you suggest?

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.