9 Must-Haves for your Glove Box

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glove box must haves

If you were in a bind, would you have the most necessary equipment in your vehicle to survive? Whether you have a car, truck, or even a motorcycle, you’ll have a glove box, or something comparable. Although I highly recommend having a well-equipped vehicle emergency kit, glove box must-haves are next on the list. And, with them being within quick and easy reach, this is one storage space you want to maximize when it comes to survival.

Quality gear, especially gear that is within arm’s reach, can be a force multiplier (a force multiplier is defined as “capability that, when added to and employed by a force, significantly increases the potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.”) That said, these glove box must-haves are all affordable and easy to attain. Why not equip your own glove box with these items this week?

The following  items can easily fit in the glove box of any automobile.

1) Road Atlas/Printed Maps


Smartphones, tablets, and GPS devices are effective and should be carried, along with their chargers and charging cords, but paper maps and atlases should be carried as well. Phone cell networks can go down for any number of reasons, and batteries can die. Why not have an atlas or map of the area you are living in or traveling through handy? If you have kids and/or grandkids, they need to learn how to read paper maps, so having these in the car can double as a handy school lesson as well as an important means to locate routes.

2) Wrist Compass


This tiny item (by Suunto) can be a confidence-builder and a life-saver! While the ability to read and navigate a terrain map is recommended, the addition of a wrist compass like the one pictured can enable a person to at least lead, follow, or embark on an emergency heading. Compass-reading is a skill that is not as simple as one might think. My family and I took a free navigation class at an REI store, and I was surprised at the complexity. It’s not just a matter of “finding north”. Along with a wrist compass like this one, take time for a class as well.

3) Headlamp


A small headlamp takes up very little space and can be worn while working or walking. Imagine the benefit of having both hands available to work, rather than needing a “flash light holder.” Kids love these and having more than one on hand will provide even more light when needed.

4) Water Purification Straw

A number of portable water filters are available on the market, but the one I recommend the most is the Sawyer Mini Filter. This filter outperforms every other similar product available and is easy on the budget. You can attach this filter to the water pouch provided as well as to any water bottle. Learn all about this filter on this page. Check out these 9 must-haves for your glove box! Click To Tweet

5) Folding Knife and Fire-Starter


Tool-Logic designed this multi-use survival tool that can clip to a belt or fit in a pocket. We also like the Swedish Fire Knife, which, because of it’s bright colors, shows up very well in a dark glove box.

6) Alcohol Swabs


Alcohol swabs can be used to clean cuts and scrapes, of course, and they also make excellent fire-starters. Use the Tool-Logic knife mentioned above to spark an alcohol swab as tinder. This is a small but highly useful glove box must-have.

7) Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is sometimes controversial as a weapon for use in defense against human assailants, though I recommend it.  It works great against animals as well, as I have seen it stop a dog from approaching a stroller! If you choose to add a handgun with extra magazines to the mix, that is good as well, but pepper spray provides a non-lethal option for personal protection.

8) Face Mask


This addition may seem odd, but what if you were in an area with wildfires burning or a huge dust storm? There are numerous scenarios in which air becomes difficult and even dangerous to breathe. Something like the Readi-Mask, highly recommended by Survival Mom, could save a life.

9) Ziploc Bag


Lastly, a Ziploc bag can be added to the glove box, as an impromptu means of carrying the other items, or even as a water collection device (for water to be purified with a life straw.)

Bonus items! Blackhawk makes a Stash Pack and a Stash-Away Duffel. Both can be stored as a small bundle about the size of a can of soup, then unpacked in a hurry if necessary. While perhaps a little big to place in the glove box with the other items, these can be hidden in a car then deployed for a quick exit. Some type of carryall bag with straps is a glove box must-have.


glove box must haves

Updated on January 30, 2018.

50 thoughts on “9 Must-Haves for your Glove Box”

  1. John A. Heatherly

    Ty – thank you for writing. Have you ever tried a survival straw or wrist compass or any of the others?

  2. Jennifer Osuch

    Great ideas! I love the pink pepper spray!! The ready mask is a great idea too. The only things I would add is maybe a protein bar and a disposable urinal. I know most people think of going in the bushes, but if you’re caught in a situation like the traffic jams around Atlanta this past winter, it might come in handy. Girls can use them too with a little practice.

    1. Good News they make portable urinals for women,and mine came in a little pouch. You can find them on Amazon. I have one in every car. 🙂 Last January in east TX we were caught in a traffic jam around 9 pm on I-10, caused by a semi that had flipped. We were stopped and almost crawling for hours. We didn’t know where we were so couldn’t get off the hwy. I thought I was going to die. 🙁 I’m a believer this is an important item.

  3. Be aware that alcohol swabs even when kept with their packaging intact WILL dry out in a very short time. ROTATE this supply or keep them in an airtight container like an altoid tin.

  4. Great list! Even though I have a Mombies bag in my car, a few times my husband removed it ( like when the car was to be serviced) and failed to put it back right away. It would be my luck, that THAT would be the time I could’ve used it! So I love this glove box list.
    While I know this item isn’ t for the glove box, I just wanted to add that I keep a 5 gallon ( empty) gas can in the car with $50 taped to the bottom of it ( because that would be the day I would also forget my purse! LOL). Also, each car has a first aid kit in the trunk, a case of water and a pair of good walking shoes 😉

  5. Why Recommend Pepper spray as a self defense tool, you might aswell be throwing your shoes at your assailant, everyone should have a .380 or better in there glove box as a just in case.

  6. Nice. Maybe you can pepperspray some animal for food instead of keep a gun and mag in there as well lol it least the pepper will preseason it without any lead

  7. I mean seriously a 10mm pistol will drop a bear or other animal threat faster than pepper spray. Glock 29? Even a snub nose 357mag revolver. No survival kit is complete without a gun for self defense AND food.

  8. thesurvivalmom/com
    I’d add a big swiss army knife or a leatherman plier-tool or other knife company device.

  9. John A. Heatherly

    Jennifer – yes, awesome idea. Your suggestion reminds me that I carry those small, rectangular packs of kleenex for my little boy. Multi-use items! Great comment.

  10. Pepper-spray haters: My teenager who borrows the car should not have to go to jail for me during a routine traffic stop–but at least pepper spray in the glove box is better than nothing. When I have to put the gun in glove box to enter a location that doesn’t allow them–like my kids’ school–I keep the pepper spray in my purse. Different tools for different circumstances, survival dads! Teach your daughters to use both. And please choose your words carefully in case you have to eat them later. 🙂

  11. I keep most of these things in a EDC pouch, but a few I haven’t gotten yet. Never thought about keeping them in the glove box. Thanks for the idea.

  12. T. Mactamairam

    good ideas I would add a basic first aid kit, one or two small flairs and along with the foldable bag 511 Tactical has a packable coat for those emergency and also stash a Mylar blanket too ya never know how long you’ll be stranded

  13. Thanks for the information. Already keep most of these in the cars. It’s always a good idea to listen to others and compare notes. I keep a small tarp and emergency blankets.

  14. I’d suggest adding a couple of mylar emergency blankets for winter conditions. Core temperature control is a must. Also I’d try to have some type of cordage. Paracord can be bought in most Walmart or Target stores. In warmer/hot conditions, the blankets and paracord can be used to set up an emergency shelter to ward off the Summer sun. A stainless steel water bottle is also a good idea. the metal bottle can be used to purify water by boiling it if needed.

  15. Of all the ideas here, some of which I agree with and some I don’t, the one that is most missing is the storage location and its effects on the products you use. Depending on where you live your glove box can range from -20F to +160F. Some pressurized cans can take the cold with reduced effect but become explosive in the hot. Likewise water will change it’s state (physical condition) with temperature, a steel bottle may be good for boiling but not freezing. Read the label and act accordingly.

  16. It would be wonderful if we could all legally carry firearms as part of an emergency gear bag, but that’s simply not the case. Please be sure that any firearms in your car comply with the laws where you intend to drive your car (not just your local area) and with the drivers of your car, as another comment mentioned about a daughter. I travel by car through different states periodically, therefore I cannot carry a firearm as I cannot be sure of not having a problem with police on a routine traffic stop where “routine traffic stop” means cops aggressively trawling for drugs, money, illegal weapons, border infractions, etc. etc. This is becoming an ever growing road hazard that everyone who drives, especially across state borders, should become aware of.

  17. I would also add some Aspirin, Caffeine pills, Ibuprofen, etc. Not full bottles mind you. Just a few each. AND some band-aids.

  18. Bit of a to-do over the pepper spray, I see. I’m not against it and your reasons make good sense, but I feel naked without a hand gun & taser. Pepper spray is ok, but if you are going to go for a defense along that line, another idea is wasp spray. Less chance of it getting in YOUR face (ever actually practice with the pepper spray and see what can go wrong?) and it shoots further with accurate aim and you can SEE where it’s going. Very effective, but it does take up more room in the glove. Just a thought. Good article!

    1. Great Reply! We had a Police officer tell us to keep Wasp spray in our home and car. In fact a school secretary kept it in her desk and saved the office staff’s life. The great thing about wasp spray is that it temporarily blinds the perp. They have to go to the hospital to have it removed so they can see. Then they catch him. I make my daughter in law carry it in her car for protection.

  19. Read many of your articles and posted this to you but dont know if you got it. smaller lighter (30% of a 5 gal water jug) easier to stack and move water and or anything containers especially for those who live in small places, etc.

  20. PassantGardant

    I have a get-home-bag (GHB) containing almost all of these plus many other important items. I don’t have mace and will seriously consider adding that, although I may add a pistol instead. I also don’t have paper maps, but I think asking directions will suffice if my GPS goes out and I’m far from home. If I’m within a few counties of home, I can find my way without.

  21. if you live where it’s near impossible to get a CC permit a gun may not be an option. Pepper spray is better than thing but I’d keep it in the pocket beside your seat on the door for quick access. Reaching into your glove box to get it when someone is already reaching through your window or has you pinned from behind with the door open isnt going to be useful.

    If you keep meds of any sort in your car keep them in the original bottles, even if you refill the travel size bottles. Last thing you need is to wait at the station while they confirm the little bag of pill in your glovebox is indeed Tylenol and benedryl. I got lucky on a traffic stop once (Amber alert and my vehicle matched the description so it was searched) that I knew the officer and he took my word for it when I said it was Advil and benedryl in the little Baggie in my console. Now I keep them in travel size bottles. Btw i consented to the search rather then hold up the process of finding the real vehicle the alert was for, otherwise they will detain you and your vehicle matching an amber alert description is considered probable cause.

    Multi tool along with a tool that has a seatbelt cutter and window breaker (again in the side door pocket for easy access in case you can’t reach your glovebox). Alcohol pages should be kept in a ziploc freezer bag (more airtight then regular or an altoid a tin) so they don’t dry out.

    I have a pouch organizer that attaches to the visor above the passenger seat where I keep my insurance and registration papers, this way I don’t have to open my glove box that has knives and such in it while a LEO is at my window (they will draw their gun if they see a weapon of any kind) I also try to have those papers out and ready in the event I am stopped.

    If your asked if you have a weapon in the car it’s better to say you keep a pocket knife in the glove box for emergencies than it is to say no and they see it later, again that gives them probable cause because you lied. It’s a pain and not a fun day for the kids to stand by and wait while your vehicle is searched.

  22. Lots of advice about pepper spray. I am thinking if you use it against an assailant who is already at your car window that most of the pepper spray is going to come into the car and blind you as much as the assailant. Can I suggest something as simple as keeping your car door locked, rolling up the windows, honking the horn and calling 911? Also pick where you are going to hang out in your car. A crowded mall parking lot in the middle of the day vs. the street opposite a bar in a seedy section of town at 2 am. As a female, I am aware of how isolated my location is at all times. I am over 50 now, have lived in multiple large urban areas and rural areas and have rarely had any problems. And this is without ever carrying a gun , taser or pepper spray. Maybe things are a lot worse in the USA, I don’t know, haven’t spent much time there.

  23. Great tips for a glove box! I love all the ideas you have to help us think ahead what we may need in a traffic jam/standstill or unforeseen emergency. Linda

  24. In reference to the suggestion to carry wasp spray as an alternative to pepper spray.
    Please concidering the legal and health risks with this. Using wasp spray as a premeditated defense tool will wind you up in court. Wasp spray can blind your attacker permanently and can also blind YOU if it does blow back in your face. Pepper spray use in defense is safe for you legally and doesn’t run the risk of blinding yourself. If you happen to be attacked while working in the shed and the nearest defense tool is wasp spray then you can justify it’s use..putting it in your glove box and using it in January? Good luck in court.

    1. The police officer that recommended that we use wasp spray said to use the wasp spray that shoots a 20 ft stream of foam. It won’t blow back in your face unless you’re in a gale force wind. It shoots directly where you point it. It will only temporarily blind the person. They have to go to the hospital for treatment. According to the Police.

  25. Wayne had a good point regarding wasp spray. I’m wondering about Bear Spray, which is essentially pepper spray on steroids. Instead of ziplocs for holding alcohol wipes and other things that may dry out, consider sealing them into small mylar bags. Also, instead of keeping a volatile like gasoline in the trunk of your car, where it could ignite if you were in an accident, look into Magic Tank (just google it). It purports to be a non-explosive emergency fuel. The Chicobag is a market bag that stuffs into a little integrated bag this fits in the palm of your hand and should fit in your glove compartment, unlike bigger duffels

  26. These are great suggestions, now I can add a few things to my car! An item I keep in my glovebox is an unopened disposable camera in case I get in an accident and either don’t have my phone or the battery is dead, I can snap a few pictures of the accident, tire marks etc..

  27. Rachel Brighton

    You can also keep a copy of your car registration on your glove box, as well as wet tissues and a pair of gloves.

  28. I just recently heard about a portable battery that can do everything, including jump start you car! It’s small and comes with every kind of adaptor you can think of, able to charge any phone or device. I haven’t purchased it yet, but I’m thinking this piece of equipment is a emergency must have for you car. My mechanic told me you can buy cheap versions of it at Home Depot.

    1. The Survival Mom

      I’ve seen that product, too. The only reason I haven’t purchased one is that the reviews are very mixed and I’m not sure if I want to put the money out on something that doesn’t get consistently good reviews.

  29. Use of pepper spray on a dog approaching a stroller? I hope you mean an aggressive dog that was showing signs of attacking-not just curiously approaching a stroller :/

  30. I was an assistant instructor for improvised weaponry classes, and so was asked to do a couple classes teaching travel safety & self defense at some conventions one year. I always recommend a small fire extinguisher with the attached nozzle, not a hose in your vehicle. Keep it where you can grab it while seatbelted. It’s handy for the obvious, but in an attack, carjacking or other situation you can spray the attacker, then throw it at them, hit them with it, or just get out of there and call the police. It’s a common item in vehicles, and not classed as a weapon, especially if – “My dad, (or Mom, sibling, boyfriend…) told me to carry it, and I was scared and they told me it was for emergency, and I thought if I sprayed him he’d go away, and they said for emergency…” scared, shaken babble, do NOT mention it’s other use is protection. They were interesting classes. The following year I saw a petite young woman who was in one of my safety classes running toward me yelling “It saved me! It saved me…” and a hug that almost broke ribs. She got an extinguisher right after the convention & installed it next to the driver’s seat. She was driving out of state 7 months later, stopped at a light, no other cars around, a guy ran up, broke the driver’s side window and tried to grab her. She grabbed the extinguisher, pulled the tab, and sprayed him, then whacked him upside the head with it. She took off fast and called the police, who found him and the used extinguisher there. She was told she was lucky, 3 other women were grabbed at other lights, pulled out of their cars and raped. No problems or charges, just a compliment on her fast thinking.

    With all the areas, cities and states that do not allow a gun, you need to come up with other protections that will not get you arrested for using a weapon. Some things that are not what you would find in a car normally, can get you in trouble. Mace is also illegal in a lot of places. Also, apparently the license plate scanners many State & local PD are using are hooked up with the gun registry and CC databases. We were stopped and asked about our guns while traveling thru MO. We explained we did not have a gun with us, and would be stupid to, as we were driving thru states that didn’t reciprocate on permits. He luckily believed us, and just took a glance in the car.

  31. The alcohol wipe fire-starter thingie is a major FAIL. Isopropyl alcohol wipes have zero ignition potential. Chuck the fire starter tool, too, and get a disposable lighter. It works and you won’t freeze to death while playing Boy Scout games. I carry both a .45ACP and a can of super-strength pepper spray. If you are being charged by a bear, dog, or enraged thug the pepper spray stops the attack NOW. Good luck trying to do the same with your gun. You’ll be dead before your attacker (maybe) bleeds to death. Oh, and use wasp spray for defense if you want to go to jail or get sued.

    1. The Survival Mom

      I fully appreciate lighters, but they can leak (mine have!), run out of fuel, and break. A handy firestarter set in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing is a no-fail. Not sure why you commented about the wasp spray, because that has never been recommended on this site.

  32. Venetia Kelley

    The leaving the Pepper Spray in the car suggestion, I found a chink in doing that…the weather was hot…the car was hotter…it had exploded in there. When I opened the door…it was as if, I got Sprayed with it!!! Won’t do that again.
    Thought you should know.

    1. The Survival Mom

      That’s a good point. I guess it all depends on where you live. When I lived in Phoenix, that could have happened in those 120 days!

  33. Catherine Williams

    I live between Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland. Just this past weekend, (kids/gang members?), streamed thru the neighborhood, two on one side of the street, two on the other and they systematically went from house to house trying all the doors on every ones cars. All glove boxes were dumped on the seat and they grabbed what they could. Change that was left in the car wasn’t touched. All valuables were taken. All the houses that were robbed had porch lights on that are kept on all night. Our house is dark until you trip the motion lights. They did not try our house. The houses all up and down the street have Ring doorbells. These thieves are so bold they are literally walking up to the cameras and shrugging their shoulders. They are making no attempt to cover their identity. The cameras showed how organized they are about trying all of your doors.
    What shhok me up was I had been messing around in my yard a few mintes earler before this had happened> most of the time I carry mace because we do have fox and other wildlife around us possibly a bobcat? has been seen so I usually am cautious . This night nothing. I was in a hurry and just went out not even a flashlight but my auto lights turn on. After I came inside and sat down to watch the news I started hearing lots of car doors opening and closing which is unusual at 10 PM on a workday but I was kind of tired and I didn’t want to be a nosey neighbor so I didn’t look outside.
    How scary when I found out what happened. We are a no carry state so having weapons in your your glove box is a real bad idea and think how many weapons would now be on the street if everyone of those cars had one. I got a news alert that said 45 cars had been broken into in this sweep of the neighborhood. I took my bucket of preparedness articles out of my car now. Im going to leave the bucket with the toilet paper and poop bags in my car so the thieves know what I think of them. The content s of the bucket will be put in a go bag of some sort. They also are apparently hitting cars parked at the Home centers and hardware type stores. For now I will park further up the mall at the office supply store instead. Makes me mad because I want to have my car supplied but unless I can think of good hiding places Im not making it easy for these guys.

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