Updated! Progress on the RV Emergency Kits

It’s been a while since I’ve provided an update on the RV Emergency Kits, so let me fill you in on how things are progressing. It’s been an interesting experience being involved with Essential Packs as they develop a new product. I’ve learned a thing or two, and I’ve gotten to see some neat new products as well. Here’s what’s transpired.

After collecting input from our Fit RV readers, and some over on the Class B Forum, I had a pretty long list of supplies. When I combined this list with some of the Emergencykits.com standard survival kits, it really was a lot. Then, I took the list to the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for our city, and discussed the contents with him. We ruled some things out, and added some more.

After that, it was still a pretty big list I sent back to Essential Packs – probably more than you’d want to carry in a Class B.  Thinking about it further, we realized that there are a lot of different scenarios that RVers might find themselves in. For example: some RVs will never see a dirt road. Those RVs may spend most of their days with full hookups and good cell service.  And some RVs want nothing to do with pavement. For those RVs, does it make sense to even include jumper cables?  I mean, what good are jumper cables if there’s nobody within 50 miles to give you a jump?  And even the RVers themselves are different: when Stef and I travel, it’s just the two of us. But some RVs have seat belts for 8 or more!

We realized a “one size fits all” approach wasn’t going to work.  So what we decided to do is to break up the RV Emergency kit into 3 modules. We’re not completely set on names yet, but those three modules will be something like:

  • The RV Survivor – this will be a 2-person module that will have basic survival supplies. Travel with 4 people? Buy two.
  • The Urbanite – This is a module that will be geared towards RVs that spend their time in more or less “civilized” places. The jumper cables would go here, for example, along with other supplies geared toward temporary roadside repairs in populated areas.
  • The Nomad – Have a problem 30 miles from the end of nowhere, and this is the module you’ll want. No jumper cables here, but a battery-powered jump kit instead. Think duct tape, bailing wire, that kind of thing.

The main idea here is that you only have to buy what you need, and don’t spend money (and storage space) on things that won’t be useful to you. So that’s the approach we’re taking, and the pieces of the kits are starting to come together. Last week, we received a prototype of the RV Survivor kit. Here it is:

Now remember, this is just a prototype. Some of the items in the kit may change. And this bag didn’t have any appropriate logos on it (like ours!), but the basic idea is there. When I started unpacking the kit, I was actually impressed by the amount they were able to get in there. Let’s take a closer look.

Here we see some of the emergency drinking water – they were able to get 10 4oz pouches into the kit. That’s over a quart. Not bad. Also, there are 2 2400 calorie meal blocks in the kit. That’ll keep two people going for a couple of days.  Or me for one long bike ride.  You can also see an emergency mirror there as well. (I’m thinking signal mirror)

Paper and pencil, antiseptic towelettes, water purification tablets, light stick, waterproof matches…

Check this thing out.  Flashlight, radio. And it doesn’t take any batteries. We tried to stay away from things that actually required more resources (like batteries) in order to use them.

Swiss-army-type-knife, emergency whistle, two ponchos, two emergency blankets, some handwarmers, dust masks, emergency planning cards, and the remainder of the water round out the package.

And all of this packs down into the carrying bag that’s 5 inches by 10 inches by 11 inches high. In our Travato, this fits easily into the over-cab storage. But honestly, that’s not where we’re storing it!  We think this is enough of a full-featured kit that we’re keeping it in the house, ready to grab and go if we ever have a real emergency at home. (heaven forbid)

And products for the other kits are starting to trickle in to test. I’ve also just received a jump starter kit to test out.

Jump Starter

We don’t know if this little lithium guy will be the one or not, but it claims to provide 600 cranking amps for 3 seconds. That’s not bad for something the size of a small radio.  (We needed to keep it small because we want this to actually fit in an emergency kit!)  The ProMaster batteries seem to be 800 CCA or more.  So I don’t know if this will be enough to start the Travato, and I don’t think I want to run our battery dead just to find out.  I’m going to look into borrowing a carbon pile load tester that I can dial up an 800 amp load with and we’ll see how long it lasts.  Will it last 2 seconds?  How long does it take the ProMaster to start?  But if anyone has any other suggestions (or simpler suggestions) let me know in the comments.

But in addition to the jump starting, you can also use this gizmo to charge USB devices, and it even sports an LED flashlight.  So even if you can’t start the RV, I guess you could recharge and play Angry Birds while you wait…  Like I said, we’re not sure if this will be the one or not.  Depends on how the testing goes.

Anyway, that’s where things are with the RV emergency kits.


I just received some samples of production kits.  There have been some changes to the items.

The Swiss-Army type knife is out.  Similar tool-type items will be included in the other RV kits.

Additional items which weren’t in my prototype kit:

  • No-soap hand sanitizer
  • Duct Tape
  • Several pairs of surgical gloves
  • Biohazard disposal bags.
  • A second light stick

Despite an overall addition of items, the kit did not increase in size, which is a good thing for us, since we roll in a Class B.

I’ve already contacted a couple folks who were helpful in coming up with the contents.  I’m hoping to have sample kits on the way to them shortly!


James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he's also an IT consultant.

    10 thoughts on “Updated! Progress on the RV Emergency Kits

    1. Donald P Wolf

      Your blog is keeping me sane while I am waiting on my Unity. Just a few more weeks. I am hoping that the roads are clear when it is finished so they can deliver it to Southern California
      You two are really brave adventures and go far beyond anything I would attempt especially in the winter. The hardest hike I took was about four miles traversing down to a water fall. That was easy but coming back I realized that I needed the hiking poles and the water that was in the R V.

      Tough to Wait
      Thanks Again Don

    2. Mike Stanley

      If your RV can jump itself by flipping a switch to direct house batteries to the chassis, would you be able to exclude the jumper cables? Gets to the question of how “customizable” are the 3 flavors going to be?

      1. James - Post author

        Our RV has such a switch as well. I don’t think there were plans to omit the jumper cables.
        I suppose you could always leave them at home though, to save the room.

    3. BobB

      Kaito radio seems like a nice add. Looked it up – also has 5V usb ports for charging phones, etc. Eton FRX2-RedCross is similar but a bit more $. On Amazon, this model Kaito does say “may not be compatible with all smart phones”. That may be worth checking out. I am checking with Eton on that, too.

      1. James - Post author

        I haven’t actually tried to charge my phone with it yet. Once I get a final version of the kit, I think that would be a good test.

        1. BobB

          Will be interested to hear how that goes.

          From reading Amazon reviews (for both Kaito and Eton), if the unit is fully charged, it will do fine charging your phone. The questions are (1) how much is left to use the radio or light , i.e. how long will they run and (2) how long would it take to fully charge the unit – from “dead” – to full charge with just the (a) hand crank or (b) the built-in solar panel?

          Thoughts: Do you know of anyone who has really tested these out there? Consumer reports? Wirecutter? Red Cross?

      1. James - Post author

        Not exactly that unit, but a similar idea. Took it to a mechanic today and we successfully jumped a car that had been parked for over a year!

        1. Al and Sherryl

          Very cool. Lithium-ion technology sure has come a long ways… There’s even a few people we know who are using it for residential ‘off-grid’ applications and they have been very happy with the performance.

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