Our editors carefully select every product we recommend. We may earn a commission from these links. Learn more

The Best Emergency Roadside Kits To Keep In Your Car

The Best Emergency Roadside Kits 00 Hero
Photo: Popular Mechanics x MyMedic Auto Medic Stormproof FAK

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 car kits.

The Best Emergency Roadside Kits

Literal Lifesavers

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.

What Comprises A Quality Car Kit

The Main Elements That Should Be Included In An Emergency Roadside Kit

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, and flashlights. Keeping some non-perishable food on hand is also highly recommended, with a good rule of thumb being to carry at least 72-hours worth of rations for each passenger. When traveling deep into remote territories with limited cell service and help that’s at best hours if not days away, it’s also advised to purchase an emergency beacon or satellite phone — whether these items are included in a kit or purchased supplementary to an existing kit. 

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.

Kit Type: Emergency roadside kits come in many different forms, all aimed to address different roadside scenarios, from breakdowns to flat tires to dead batteries to collisions and wrecks. You’ll want to consider the locale in which you’ll be using the kit, and what potential hazards and emergencies are most common in that region. There are also more robust, generalized kits made to take on a wide variety of different scenarios. There are also particularly specialized kits that focus on specific areas, such as off-road tire change and repair kits. What’s more, there are also some kits that better lend themselves to situations in which drivers wait for a tow truck or AAA, while others are more conducive to having the user turn a wrench and fix the roadside problem or problems themselves. 

Quality: Alongside the items that comprise each car 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 car 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 Price Of Preparedness

Are Roadside Emergency Car Kits Worth It?

One of the most common questions asked about modern roadside emergency kits is whether or not they’re worth the investment and price. While the reality is that one could in theory buy all the individual components needed to make it kit, chances are you’ll not only spend more money, but you’ll also lose out on the convenience and time saved by purchasing a preassembled emergency kit.

It can also be tempting to opt for the cheaper kits on the market, however, it’s worth noting that these kits are intended to be used in emergency situations — I.e. the last time you want a piece of emergency gear to break or fail. For this reason, we recommend spending a little extra to get a better quality kit, as this will ensure better performance when it comes time to use the kit, plus will afford better peace of mind. This is especially true when it comes to items like battery jump boxes or mobile air compressors that often sit for extended periods without being used. 

Roadside Saviors

The Best Emergency Roadside Car 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

Photo: Amazon
  • Features host of basic roadside essentials in affordable bundle
  • Comprised of more than 100 items
  • Includes flashlight, jumper cables, tow ropes, tire patch kit, zip-ties, toolset, & gloves
  • Low-quality tools
  • Contains myriad of miscellaneous items unlikely to be helpful/used

Best Budget Kit: HAIPHAIK’s emergency roadside kit is a pretty incredible value at just under $50. 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.

Photo: MyMedic
  • Made in America
  • Easily fits in most glove compartments
  • Backed by lifetime warranty/guarantee
  • FAK housed in stormproof pouch
  • Excellent quality items
  • Expensive for a small first aid kit
  • Only includes first aid kit elements & contains no automotive repair items

Best Car First Aid Kit: Unlike the lion’s share of kits on this list, which are designed to get you out of a roadside jam, the Popular Mechanics x MyMedic 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.

First Secure Car Emergency Kit

Photo: Amazon
  • Offers great value
  • Robust 90-piece emergency kit
  • Includes tire patch kit & portable air compressor
  • Also features first aid kit & multi-tool
  • Air compressor is fairly low quality & low-power

Best Value 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

Photo: Amazon
  • Roadside kit w/ included mobile air compressor
  • Includes aluminum flashlight & full first aid kit
  • Has zip-ties, duct tape, & bungee cords to MacGyver roadside problems
  • Air compressor is fairly low quality & low-power
  • Actual hand tools limited to only pliers & flathead and Phillips drivers

Best Wait-For-Help 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.

Swiss Safe 2-In-1 Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit

Photo: Amazon
  • Comprised of approximately 350 items
  • Includes robust roadside repair kit & first aid kit
  • Both roadside kit & FAK come housed in carrying cases
  • Also has high-visibility reflective safety vest & glow sticks
  • Would benefit from a few additional hand tools

Best Fix-It-Yourself 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.

Overland Vehicle Systems Air Compressor & Tire Repair Kit

Photo: Overland Vehicle Systems
  • High-quality off-road-specific tire repair & air compressor kit
  • Includes digital tire deflator & robust 53-piece tire repair kit
  • Also useful for regular flat tires when on-the-road
  • Entire kit comprised of high-quality components & parts
  • Expensive price

Best Overland/Off-Road 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.

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 for a compressive look at swapping out a flat.