Best Roadside Emergency Kit (21 Life Saving Items)

Today I want to show the items you need for the best roadside emergency kit. Since a breakdown can happen at any time it is good to be prepared. You do have an emergency kit in your car right?

In this guide you can find out what you may be missing in your roadside kit.

The Items You Need for the Best Roadside Emergency Kit

A Well-Stocked First Aid Kit is a Must

The Surviveware compact first aid kit for your car
This compact first aid kit by Surviveware is well-stocked for the car.

A first aid kit is one of the most important items to have in your vehicle. The last thing you want is to have an injury without a way to treat it. When looking for a first aid kit for the car it had to be both compact and well-stocked.

This first aid kit by Surviveware is a perfect example of such a kit. It has 100 life-saving items and is packaged in a compact and tough pack. The bag is made of water resistant polyester so you don’t have to worry about your bandages getting wet.

The bag is compact and measures 5.5 x 7.5 x 3.5 inches- not too big to fit in a glove box or trunk. The inside of the pack has pockets to keep things neat and organised. This makes it easy to find the items you need quickly in an emergency.

The Surviveware kit includes an emergency blanket, shears, antiseptic wipes, bandages, gauze and other important life-saving items. The Red Cross suggests you also have aspirin and your medication on hand.

Have an Emergency Poncho to Stay Dry

Emergency rain ponchos should be in your roadside emergency kit
A poncho will keep you dry in an emergency

You don’t want to be stuck in the rain if you need to change a flat. An emergency rain poncho will keep you dry and the small package can fit in your glove box. In a pinch you can also use a large garbage bag.

Have Water on Hand

Staying hydrated is a must if you are stranded on the side of the road. It is suggested that you get at least 2 liters of water per day to prevent dehydration. More if you are doing hard physical activities.

It is a good idea to keep a few bottles of water in your roadside emergency kit. Reusable water bottles are the best choice as the plastic won’t degrade over time.

A reusable water bottle for your car emergency kit
Keep a few water bottles in your car for an emergency

If you have the room in your vehicle I suggest a larger water container for longer road trips.

A large water container for longer road trips
A 7 gallon water container good for long road trips

This 7 gallon water container will keep you and your family hydrated in an emergency.

Include Protein Bars in Your Car Emergency Kit

Having a supply of protein bars in your emergency car kit is suggested. Why protein bars? They give you the much needed nutrition to survive and are in a small package.

CLIF Bars are the highest rated protein bars and you can get a 12 pack for a good deal.

Get a Car Escape Tool

A car escape tool which can cut a seat belt and break the window
The resqme car escape tool

Car escape tools are designed to help you escape from your vehicle if you are trapped.

There are two features of the resqme:

  1. It has a seat belt cutter to free you if the seat belt has jammed. The sharp blade will easily cut through seat belts but is recessed to prevent cutting skin.
  2. The spring loaded metal point will shatter the side window with little effort. Useful if you can’t open your car doors.

The resqme car escape tool can be hung from your rear view mirror or clipped onto the sun visor for easy access. It is easy to use if you happen to be in a bad situation and can save your life. I highly recommend you put one in your car or truck.

Hand Warmers Will Keep Your Hands Warm

Hot Hands hand warmers
Hand warmers are useful if you need to fix your car in the cold

So you need to change a tire or check under the hood but its cold outside. Hand warmers can keep your hands from freezing and they are small enough to fit inside gloves.

The Hot Hands hand warmers will last up to 10 hours and are small enough to keep in the glove box.

Include a Work Light in Your Roadside Kit

A headband style work light
A headband light can keep your hands free while you work

Doing roadside repairs to your vehicle in the dark can be a challenge without a light. Flashlights are nice to have but a headband light is better and will keep your hands free to work.

This Aennon headband light has bright LED lights and operates on 3 AAA batteries. The light swivels and has 4 light modes for varied light levels.

Roadside Warning Beacons Prevent Accidents

Roadside emergency beacons
Emergency beacons keep you safe

Emergency beacons are designed to prevent accidents and injury. These beacons by Omegaware have bright LED lights to warn other drivers of the situation. There are a few features that make these a good choice to include in your emergency kit:

  • Bright LED lights can be seen from a mile away
  • Hooks and Magnets to hang off your car
  • Waterproof
  • Crush proof

Wear a Reflective Vest to Stay Visible

A reflective work vest
Stay visible to other drivers with a reflective vest

You don’t want to get run over when you are at the side of the highway. A reflective vest is a cheap way to stay visible. This one by Neiko has a high rating and is affordable.

Work Gloves Protect Your Hands

Leather work gloves for protecting your hands
These leather work gloves conform to your hands

Changing a flat tire or doing car repairs can be tough on your hands. Including a pair of work gloves in your car is a good idea for hand protection.

Don’t Forget a Tire Pressure Gauge

A tire pressure gauge in a glove box
Keep a tire pressure gauge in your glovebox

You should have a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times. Relying on tire pressure sensors alone is a bad idea as they can malfunction. This 3 pack of tire gauges is cheap enough that you can have one in your car and two spares in the garage.

Tire pressure gauge with LED light
The LED light allows you to check the pressure in low light

A Portable Air Compressor for Roadside Tire Inflation

A portable 12 volt air compressor
Portable air compressors are great for roadside emergencies

If you need to pump up a tire at the side of the road you will need a 12 volt air compressor. When choosing a portable compressor you want one that clamps directly to the battery. Why? Most power plugs can’t handle the power of an air compressor. It will either blow a fuse or worse damage the wiring.

This unit has battery clamps and a built-in work light for roadside use.

If you are unsure what your tire pressure should be you can read this guide.

A Portable Battery Booster for Your Charging Needs

A portable jump starter
The Genius Boost portable jump starter

I had covered these portable battery boosters in a previous post here if you want a full review. The Genius Boost can give your car a boost or charge your phone. It also has a built-in LED light for use in low light situations.

Have Jumper Cables on Hand

Jumper cables are a good back-up just in case the portable jump starter battery is dead. The downside is waiting for a passing motorist to stop and lend a hand!

Include a Few Tools for Small Repairs

A portable zippered automotive tool kit
You may need tools for roadside repair work

I would include at least a wrench to remove the battery and from your vehicle. Why? Dead batteries are the most common failures in my experience. Don’t forget the correct size socket and extension to remove the battery clamp.

Duct Tape (The Handyman’s Secret Weapon)

Duct tape
The handyman’s secret weapon

Good old duct tape. The temporary fixer of many things. A roll of duct tape in your automotive emergency kit can do many things. Just take a look at what the MythBusters tried with duct tape.

Rags and Hand Cleaner

It’s a given that you will get your hands dirty while working on your car. Put a tube of hand cleaner and a few rags into your trunk to clean yourself off.

Put a Fire Extinguisher in Your Vehicle

In the event that a fire happens you need to be prepared with a fire extinguisher. It is safer to get away from the vehicle if it catches fire so use your judgement if it does happen.

Storage Bag

You will need a bag to hold all of your car emergency gear and this one is compact enough and durable.

This list can be adjusted based on your needs but for a long road trip it is recommended. It is the best roadside emergency kit list for most situations.



Author: Chris

I find any excuse to spend time in the garage. Whether it be to work on my car or start a new project. Using my tools to create things is one of my favourite hobbies.

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