Road trips have been an American tradition since the completion of the first major highway systems — such as Route 66 — in the mid-1920s. And while there’s no shortage of obvious upsides to touring by car, the method of travel isn’t without its problems, and many of the issues that plagued drivers nearly a century ago are still pestering road-goers today such as flat tires, dead batteries, and getting stuck. Because drivers have been contending with these roadside challenges for just about as long as cars have existed, quite a few individuals have created tools and products specifically to remedy these situations.
Unfortunately, hazards out on the open road can be incredibly unpredictable, which is why it’s important to be prepared with the right gear should you have to address a flat tire or other roadside issues. And while you could individually select each necessary element and piece together your own roadside emergency kit, there are plenty of seasoned experts that have already gone through the trouble of doing the legwork for you and delivering pre-assembled kits containing everything needed to get you out of a jam. Because these kits can so widely vary in terms of both overall quality and the number of items and amenities they contain, we’ve scoured the available offerings to deliver this guide on the best emergency roadside kits.
The Importance Of Emergency Roadside Kits
Roadside kits can be an absolute blessing, whether off-roading in the backcountry, traveling cross country, or simply when getting a flat during rush hour on your daily commute to work. These kits not only contain pretty much everything needed to remedy the vast majority of basic roadside jams but also often contain additional, potentially life-saving equipment such as rations and MREs, lighting and power banks, medical supplies, and other survival gear. These bundled packages also typically come with an included carry bag or case that houses the array of tools and gear that constitute each kit.
Like motorcycle helmets, prophylactics, or home defense weapons, emergency roadside kits are very much items that are exponentially better to have and not need than they are to need and not have. The reality is that in today’s age of smartphones and GPS systems, we’re seldom without the ability to reach out to AAA or a tow truck for help, though there are nonetheless still plenty of occasions in which a roadside kit can be a literal lifesaver. This can mean being in a remote era, where help is hours away, or being somewhere without phone reception at all where self-reliance is the only option.
Planning For Problems
What To Look For When Buying An Emergency Roadside Kit
Though they’re all created to serve the same basic function, emergency roadside kits can vary in a number of key areas. Below, we’ll be delving into five of the most crucial areas to consider when shopping for an emergency roadside kit for your car or truck.
Included Items: Roadside kits can contain a myriad of different elements, though some of the most commonly found items include jumper cables, tire patch kits, and headlamps, though some companies also supplement these staples with items such as windshield ice scrapers, air compressors, spare fuses, road flares, shovels, tow ropes, survival gear, medical supplies, knives, hand-tools, multi-tools, gloves, flashlights, power banks, emergency beacons, and other gadgets and electronics.
Quality: Alongside the items that comprise each kit, the other main element that distinguishes some kits from others is quality. Because your life can literally depend on your kit properly functioning when you need it to, we’d argue that it’s worth opting to spend a bit more for the added peace of mind that comes with buying a more high-end kit.
Case Or Vessel: Rather than bouncing around in your trunk or making a mess of your glove compartment, the items that constitute emergency roadside kits almost always come sold in some type of carrying bag or a hard case that can accommodate the entire kit and be neatly stowed away when not being used. Just like with the tools and other items that make up the kits themselves, the bags or cases they come in can wildly vary in quality, with the more high-end offerings typically employing markedly more premium materials and construction techniques.
Value: Because many of the items included in them are often crafted from steel — which is a fairly inexpensive construction to use — basic emergency roadside kits can be purchased for relatively little money. With that said, this is a space in which spending more will undeniably get you more, as the pricier kits tend to boast far more additional bells and whistles than their more affordable alternatives.
Optional Add-Ons: Most emergency roadside kits are created by individuals that have thought long and hard about the types of hazards that can occur on the road and which items to include to help overcome these open road obstacles. However, in an effort to allow for a more customized kit, some companies offer optional upgrades and add-ons to supplement existing kits. These obviously come at a premium, though they undeniably add utility to each kit.
The Best Emergency Roadside Kits Currently On The Market
Now that you’re all caught up on why emergency roadside kits are so important and what to look for when shopping for one, let’s dive into our picks for the best kits currently available.
HAIPHAIK Emergency Roadside Toolkit
HAIPHAIK’s emergency roadside kit is a pretty incredible value at just $40. Sold in a carrying case, this 124-piece kit includes a tow rope with gated steel hooks at both ends, a wallet multi-tool, a hand-crank flashlight, a tire patch kit, a set of spare fuses, a keychain flashlight, a pair of gloves, a folding shovel, an 11-piece tool set housed in a crush-resistant PE case, and an 11.8’ set of jumper cables.
Swiss Safe 2-in-1 Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit
For just $10 more than the HAIPHAIK kit, we have this offering from Swiss Safe that bundles a fairly robust emergency roadside tool kit — which includes an ice scraper, a plethora of sockets and screwdriver bits, gloves, several drivers, a rain poncho, PVC electrical tape, a pair of glow-sticks, a tire pressure gauge, 12’ jumper cables — with a 348-piece first aid kit that comes housed in a weatherproof heavy-duty plastic case.
First Secure Car Emergency Kit
This kit appeared on several competitor’s guides (including being Motor1’s pick for best all-around First Secure’s emergency roadside kit offers very similar amenities to the first two kits, including a hook-equipped tow rope rated at up to 10,000lbs, a headlamp, gloves, a tire plug kit, 10’ jumper cables, and a 48-piece first aid kit, though it more than justifies its $10 bump over the previous item via the addition of a 12V 250PSI portable air compressor. Comprised of some 90 pieces, First Secure’s kit also boasts a multi-tool, a seat-belt-cutter and window-breaker tool, and a variety of other odds and ends.
Lifeline AAA Excursion Road Kit
Alongside a 45-piece first aid kit, this 76-item ensemble from the American Automobile Association packs a digital air compressor with an integrated gauge, 10’ eight-gauge jumper cables, a collapsible emergency warning triangle, an LED flashlight with an aluminum housing (with batteries), a utility knife, cable ties, a poncho, a pair of shop clothes, pliers, gloves, duct tape, and both flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers.
MyMedic Auto Medic Stormproof FAK
Unlike the lion’s share of kits on this list, which are designed to get you out of a roadside jam, MyMedic’s Auto Medic kit was the result of the FAK specialist setting out to deliver the ultimate automotive first aid kit. Unveiled in December of 2020, this kit is backed by a lifetime warranty, made in America, and features a vast array of medical supplies that all come housed in a waterproof pouch with welded seams and water-resistant zippers.
Griot’s Garage Roadside Safety Kit
While best-known for its array of leading car cleaning products, Griot’s Garage also produces an equally top-notch range of automotive accessories and peripherals such as its minimalistic Roadside Safety Kit. Sold in a water-resistant bag, the kit includes a premium air compressor, an LED headlamp, and a roadside flare, though this kit can also be supplemented with one of Griot’s Garage’s 2,000A 12V Lithium-ion jump starters.
DMOS Roadside Expansion Kit
When it comes to roadside kits, nobody does it better than DMOS. Housed in an ultra-rugged DMOS roadside carrying bag, this top-shelf and thoroughly hardwearing kit contains a NOCO GB40 battery charger, a Princeton Tec Snap headlamp, a rechargeable electric “PowerFlare,” a PackTowl, and a pair of DMOS’ elk skin leather work gloves. Unfortunately, due to the ridiculously high demand for DMOS’ goods, the brand’s offerings are often sold out on both its website and through third-party retailers.
Overland Vehicle Systems Air Compressor & Tire Repair Kit
Overland Vehicle Systems make rugged gear that can be trusted and depended on when far off the beaten path, and the overlanding outfit’s tire repair combo kit is far from an exception. Compatible with any vehicle with a 12V battery, the kit includes a 0.33HP, 120V, 120PSI compressor making 5.6CFM and the brand’s hardwearing tire patch/plug kit.
Uncharted Supply Co. The Seventy2 Survival System (W/ Athena Power Bank)
Uncharted Supply Co’s signature SEVENTY2 Survival System is a curated selection of items needed to get through a three-day emergency — the length of time in which 95% of survival situations are resolved. Containing amenities such as a magnesium alloy fire-starter, a fixed-blade knife, a water filtration system, and stormproof matches, this kit is aimed at overcoming general emergencies, though items like an Uncharted first aid kit, a foldable shovel, an LED flashlight, a three-in-one radio, and the optional Athena power bank also make it an ideal piece of kit to keep in the car.
Preppi The Prepster Ultra Advanced
Whether kept in the trunk of your car or the closet of your home, Preppi’s “The Prepster Ultra Advanced” kit is unequivocally one of, if not the very finest emergency survival kit that money can currently buy. Sold in a bag crafted from a combination of aluminum canvas and natural bridle leather, this made-in-America kit contains a robust first aid kit, sleeping bags, a water purifier, a 5W Biolite solar panel, a Garmin Satellite Messenger and SOS Locator Beacon, Datrex Food rations and water supply, a Leatherman Black Carbon Steel Multitool, a tactical flashlight, and four premium air respirator masks, a night vision scope, and a high-capacity power bank battery, amongst a slew of other items.
How To Fix A Flat Tire
Having the right gear on hand for roadside emergencies is great and all, but this kit is pretty much worthless if you don’t know how to use it. So, if you aren’t yet familiar with how to change or repair a flat then be sure to check out our guide on how to fix a flat tire how a compressive look at the process of safely fixing a flat, as well as a buyer’s guide on the essential items needed to swap out punctured or otherwise compromised rubber.