The 10 Best Emergency Road Kits
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Be prepared for any roadside trouble by keeping one of these emergency car kits in your trunk at all times. Offering a host of equipment, such as multitools, jumper cables, first aid kits, flashlights, hazard signs, and survival gear, they can help you get back on the road quickly after a flat tire or keep you and your passengers safe until professional assistance arrives. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 06, 2020:
Anytime I get behind the wheel, I realize that I'm taking a risk. Not stupid ones, of course, but rather a risk of being in control of a large machine that, if handled improperly, could get me seriously injured or worse. The reality is that everyone who drives a car takes some degree of risk. While responsible drivers do what they can to avoid accidents or breaking down, those types of events are bound to happen at some point, even when you're careful about where you go. The benefit to these road kits is that they include tools to help you get yourself out of a precarious situation as quickly and safely as possible.
We removed the Stalwart, Bridgestone, and Auto Club Hero models due to availability concerns.
While the Hokena FL-1907 doesn't contain the extensive arsenal of physical survival tools that some of its counterparts do, the magnetic LED flares and thermal blankets are practical items that come in handy, especially when considering the possibility of getting stranded in the dark during winter in an unfamiliar place.
We've also included the Lifeline Excursion for its 250-PSI air compressor, so you can attempt to repair a flat tire on your own if professional roadside service can't reach you for a certain period of time.
The Top Gear Premium comes with a reflective safety vest and road triangle to ensure approaching motorists can see you from a distance and render assistance appropriately.
We've added the Blikzone Classic due to its heavy-duty tow strap and digital tire gauge with LCD backlighting. This one also comes with a seatbelt cutter, which comes in handy if (god forbid) you are involved in a serious car accident that requires an additional tool to free yourself and other passengers from the vehicle's restraints. One of the most important values any of these kits can provide is efficiency, so they should have the necessary tools to get you out of a dangerous situation quickly, while minimizing risk to you, your passengers, and other drivers.
The Victor Covered has Velcro on the back of its storage pouch, so you can attach it easily to the floor of your trunk. This kit also includes a 12-ounce can of tire sealant that obviously can't restore a tire to perfect working condition, but it can, at the very least, slow the rate of a leak and give you some extra time to get the vehicle to a professional auto shop for a repair or replacement.
We thought the Picnic Time NFL was a nifty little solution, since its case can double as a warning sign for other motorists and it can be customized with a printed logo of your favorite football team.
The Mayday Urban Road Warrior is one of the few kits on our list that comes with a fire extinguisher, but I can definitely see the benefit of having one in the event of a car accident that involves leaking fuel and oil or malfunctioning electrical equipment.
June 09, 2019:
While every car owner should keep a collection of emergency road gear on hand, the size and scope of that collection will necessarily depend on your own particular purposes. In putting this list together, we made a point to include a wide variety of kits -- from the bare-necessities set of jumper cables and windshield scrapers designed for daily commutes to the comprehensive assemblage of flares, tire repair tools and first aid equipment that can help get you out of a bind on long-distance road trips. Options like the Performance Tool W1555 Deluxe, for example, will come in handy in the former situations, while models like the AAA Excursion are suitable for the latter. Overall, we thought the Thrive Roadside Assistance best for most drivers, since it includes a number of essential tools -- such as screw drivers, electrical tape, and a flashlight -- in an ergonomic package.
Homestead Ultimate While not strictly designed for automotive purposes, the Homestead Ultimate provides many of the same types of supplies on a larger scale to sustain several people for up to three days in the event of a major earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster. It includes emergency food rations and nearly eight liters of drinking water with a five-year shelf life, a 107-piece first aid kit, hand-crank radio with LED flashlight, heavy-duty work gloves, mobile phone charger, fire extinguisher, N95 mask, biodegradable toilet paper, Swiss army knife, and much more. emergencykits.com
Uncharted Seventy2 Pro If you find yourself in a situation where you have to leave your vehicle and travel through parts unknown, you might consider adding the Uncharted Seventy2 Pro to your arsenal of survival and roadside assistance gear. Housed in a convenient backpack constructed from durable, dual-coated tarpaulin, this system includes a variety of professional-grade tools that are ideal for use in unfamiliar and/or harsh environments. It has reflective logos and waterproof hip pockets. Its supplies include an emergency tent, survival blankets, a multitool, duct tape, and glow sticks. unchartedsupplyco.com
The Properly Prepared Motorist
But driving also means confronting the circumstances of a blown out tire, torn timing belt, cracked windshield, or an empty gas tank.
According to United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration reports, as of 2009, the last year for which comprehensive data is currently available, there were approximately 210 million licensed drivers in the United States. While the experienced and cautious driver can generally expect to get home safely each day through defensive and attentive driving, even the best driver in the world can't hope to avoid all vehicular issues.
Driving a car means accepting a certain level of risk, and at the extremes, this includes accidents, which can be serious matters. But driving also means confronting the circumstances of a blown out tire, torn timing belt, cracked windshield, or an empty gas tank. It's important to be ready to deal with a car that is suddenly not working as it should.
If your vehicle experiences a sudden failure that necessitates you stop driving, you should get your car off the road and out of the way of traffic as soon as possible. Doing so helps to ensure your safety and the safety of other motorists with whom you share the road. It also reduces the chance for damage to your vehicle.
One of the most important steps to staying safe once your vehicle is off the road (or once you determine that you cannot move it safely) is to decide whether or not you need assistance and whether such help should come from the authorities or a service vehicle. If you prefer to deal with your vehicle personally, a proper diagnosis of the issues must occur along with an assessment of the gear and supplies you have on hand to remedy the situation. If you planned ahead properly, that means pulling out your roadside emergency kit.
Choosing A Kit For Common Vehicular Issues
The most important items in a good roadside emergency kit will help you get spotted quickly (by other motorists or service professionals) from the greatest possible distance. Bright reflectors are a must when your car is stopped on or near a roadway; in fact, reflectors are even more important than flares, as even slow-burning flares can burn out eventually.
While few roadside service kits lack jumper cables, it's important to make sure the cables you do get are of decent length.
While a vehicle's flashers are a good way to make your car easy to see in the dark or rain, you don't want to drain the battery unnecessarily. Make sure to carefully position reflectors to catch the lights of approaching cars and set them well back from your location so that motorists have plenty of time to slow down and/or steer around you.
While few roadside service kits lack jumper cables, it's important to make sure the cables you do get are of decent length. Cables under eight feet in length may not span the distance across the front of your vehicle and another, thereby rendering them pointless.
Keep in mind that your phone will be an important lifeline during a roadside emergency, so consider bringing along an external battery pack to keep your device charged and ready to make calls as needed.
Be realistic in your expectations of the kit you choose and the objects in contains. There may be tools that your kit simply doesn't include. Therefore, it's up to you to make sure that your vehicle's spare tire is intact and inflated and that you have a working jack that you know how to use. Your car's manual should also be readily accessible, as you'll likely need to do some reading before you work on the issue at hand.
Choosing A Kit For Emergency Preparedness
If most of your driving takes place in the city (or populated suburban environment), then a basic roadside preparedness kit is likely all you'll need to keep yourself safe and ready to deal with car problems ranging from a flat tire or dead battery to creating a safe space for yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle as you wait for assistance.
Don't consider any roadside emergency kit complete just because it includes numerous items.
However, if you find yourself driving through more remote stretches of country (or in any area where help might not be readily forthcoming), then you need to keep a more robust emergency kit in your car. On any average day, basic needs like warmth and hydration can be happily taken for granted; if you find yourself stranded on a desolate highway at night in the middle of winter, then your vehicle's problems have just led you into a survival situation.
A well prepared traveler should choose a kit that comes stocked with items such as space blankets, water, food with a long shelf life, and a good first aid kit. The comprehensive vehicle emergency kit should have at least two lights (in case one fails) and plenty of backup batteries.
Don't consider any roadside emergency kit complete just because it includes numerous items. You should always be ready to add items you think you might need to a store bought kit, and don't be afraid to replace items in the kit with similar options you would feel more comfortable using.