Learn how to build your car emergency kit on our website. First of all, you will need a first aid kit, an emergency kit, and a tool bag. Such things as a rope, a torch or a flashlight, a hammer, an extra type, jumper cables, and a hazard triangle in your vehicle can be absolutely essential. Have your emergency roadside assistance kit close to you in your car or your truck. With our guidance, you’ll be prepared for anything.
When it comes to survival preparedness, there is no such thing as doing too much, right? Some people work on fortifying their homes whether to resist natural disasters or hostile intruders. Some people built massive end-of-days storage plans. People do a lot of things to get prepared for an unseen future. Because anything can happen. And your best bet is to be prepared to meet possible hardships and get through them.
For instance, many people choose to build a survival food storage plan to make sure they will have enough food to go around should the outside world collapse. Many people stock on medical supplies from band-aids to antibiotics and suture kits. Experienced preppers also recommend having packs of rechargeable batteries, LED tactical flashlights, portable charges, power generators, and hand-crank electrical devices to weather possible power shutdowns.
Communication devices are what many people choose to keep just in case, as well: a set of walkie-talkies for those who are only getting started with the survivalist thing, or a full-blown ham radio setup for those deeply into emergency self-reliance.
Another important thing every experienced prepper will recommend is a reliable water storage system. You just can’t imagine a shelter without a proper drinking water supply plan, can you? The same goes for food storage, as well. And there are countless variants for non-perishable foods these days. So you only need to pick the ones you like the most and build yourself an emergency food stockpile.
But what if you will have to leave your home or shelter as soon as possible? Preppers have an idea for that type of emergencies, too. Why don’t you make yourself a bug-out bag? It’s a set of go-to emergency items that will help you last while heading towards a safer location.
And as for getting somewhere safe... How do you think you will do it? We guess that most likely, you will be using a sort of vehicle: a car or a truck. Or maybe be even a van. And that leads us to a question:
Do you think your vehicle can pass as an emergency moving shelter? Meaning, do you have any kind of emergency items and equipment in your car that would help you should you get caught by any sort of emergency?
If your answer is no, then we highly recommend reading through this article, print a copy of it, or put down the tips below to learn how to build a reliable car emergency kit.
In this article, you will learn about the best emergency items used in emergency car kits worldwide. The list below includes all the top items, tools, and equipment used and recommended by experienced preppers. So if you are a driver and want to know how to make your vehicle safer and more reliable in terms of survival, read for more information on the topic below!
Top Best Kit Organizing
What separates emergency car kits from just piles of tools laying around in a car? That’s right: proper organizing.
There is just no way to build an emergency kit without organizing tools and items in proper order. Should any sort of emergency happen, you will have next to no time to fool around. Your tools and equipment must be waiting on you in their proper places and ready for action.
For that matter, you will have to get yourself a gear bag or a box. You should keep most of the emergency kit tools inside this bag so pick the one that’s large enough for the purpose. The bag should also have enough pockets and sections for easier and safer organizing.
As an example, take a look at the Traveler Bag by Red Rock Outdoor Gear.
The bag has lots of compartments that make for amazing organizing options. Your tools and items will be safely kept inside and won’t get mixed, thanks to a zipped pocket system. Another cool feature of this bag is that it turns into a convenient backpack in no time.
This option turns the emergency duffle bag into a full-blown bug-out bag if you have to leave your vehicle for good. Should you experience a breakdown, you are unable to fix it. It would be unwise to leave your emergency kit in a vehicle. The tools and supplies in this kit are survival!
But it does not take a genius to understand how difficult it is to carry a heavy storage bag in your hands. After all, who knows how long your trip might be. That is when additional backpack straps in this Red Rock Traveler Bag come in handy. Backpacks are perfect for long walking trips. And the possibility to have everything you need to survive on you is priceless.
That is why we recommend this duffel bag/backpack model as a reference when choosing the car emergency kit organizing option that will work best for you.
The Basic Supplies That Your Kit Must Have
Before we go on with the more elaborate car emergency kit tool options, let’s take a look at the must-have emergency supplies that should make for the basis of your future roadside emergency kit.
A high-quality, heavy-duty multi-tool is something any prepper would recommend having. Such multi-tools are perfect for lots of emergencies. But unfortunately, multitools get often overlooked by many. Perhaps, many people just can’t see the potential in these tiny things. And that’s wrong.
Because with multitools, you get the collection of the basics tools you might need for survival: you have screwdrivers, pliers, a survival knife, etc. Besides, multitools are compact and lightweight. So it should be no problem to keep one even in your glove compartment, just in case.
If you’ve ever heard something about survival, you should know by now how tactical shovels are important. And they get even more important when it comes to roadside emergencies. Imagine being stuck in a car during a blizzard. Or maybe you will find your vehicle stuck in thick mud in the middle of nowhere. What is the first thing that you will think of in such situations? Right, a shovel!
A tactical shovel is one of those emergency tools you must have in your vehicle. It is more than just a digging tool. You can use a folding shovel to cut or saw things, not to mention that shovels also work fine as self-defense weapons. Quite often, folding shovels come with extra tools like flashlights, compasses, knives, and such. So when you get a tactical folding shovel for your emergency car kit, you basically get a whole bunch of other useful tools.
As a recommendation, we would advise the EVATAC Folding Shovel. It’s an amazing piece of equipment you will not regret getting. It is compact, lightweight, and durable. EVATAC’s folding shovel also comes with a set of additional gear. But apart from that, a folding shovel by EVATAC is just great for digging.
As for digging, here’s a piece of advice for you:
- Take a bag of sand or a cat litter pack to go with the tactical shovel in your car kit. Any of these will come in handy during a roadside emergency when you need to add some traction for your tires. Sand or cat litter will help tires to get a grasp on the slippery surface and roll out of a rut.
Should your car’s battery die, you will be unable to stay in touch with the rest of the world. And during emergencies, it is imperative to know what is going on around you. So we advise you to have a portable transistor in your car.
The first thing that comes to mind is weather reports. You might want to know if there is going to snow or if there is another blizzard coming. You might also want to stay up-to-date with the latest emergency broadcasts on the entire situation. Be it roadblocks updates, information of new emergency shelters, disease spreading reports, etc.
Should a nuclear attack happen that will leave an entire region without power after an EMP surge, you will want to know how bad the situation is and where are the safest spots to go.
So a portable radio in your car kit will not be a waste of money or space. As a reference, we would recommend considering a tiny radio set by Katio.
It is a high-quality portable transistor that is so small it can fit into your pocket.
Portable Solar Charger
The modern world is driven by electricity. So we can’t stress enough how important it is to have an alternative and independent power source, especially if you hit the road. Your emergency car kit will not be complete without a set of portable solar chargers to power your smartphone, GPS tracker, flashlights, portable radio set, or walkie-talkies.
We recommend checking out this solar power bank by EVATAC. This lightweight, compact and affordable charger packs a 10,000 mAh battery, which makes it an amazing portable power source option. And even more, this charger has two outputs to let you charge two devices at a time. Just don’t forget to pack USB-cables to connect your devices to the charger.
To recharge the EVATAC’s solar power bank, you just need to put it to sunlight, and that’s it!
As a bottom line, a portable solar power bank is a perfect emergency item that will let you travel together with extra batteries. Rest assured that you will have your portable devices fully charged at all times.
Roadside Emergency Tool Set
In the previous section, we ran through the basic must-have items for a vehicle emergency kit. Something must always be there, just in case. However, those are not the tools that will help you recover your vehicle should a breakdown occur while you’re out on the road. And while you might not have a multitool knife or a snow shovel in your safety kit, the tools listed below are something we would strongly recommend getting.
Car Battery Jump Starter
What is the worst thing that can happen to your car while you travel? Right, dead battery. Car batteries die from time to time. Of course, your best bet is not to let this happen to your car battery. But what can you do if it does? The answer is you will have to find a way to jump-start the battery. The portable jump starter by NOCO is the perfect way to do it.
Back in the day, it would be considered science-fiction to be able to jump-start a car battery with a device that fits a pocket. But today, we have tools like the NOCO’s jump starter. This device comes with a set of jumper cables and operates as a power source to get the car battery running again in the older days. Drivers used to jump-start car batteries using the aforementioned jumper cables. But there was one nuance – the technique required those jumper cables to be attached to a “healthy” car battery.
You’re lucky if you happen to get roadside assistance from a passing car, but what if there is none? You will have to rely on yourself and a portable jump starter if you have one. Devices like the NOCO’s jump-starter with booster cables will get you out of such an emergency situation.
The second thing you will have to keep in mind while you’re out on the road is running out of gas. Life is a busy thing, so it’s no surprise that quite often, we forget to fuel up and wait until the gas dial drops to E. Such carelessness can cost you too much during an emergency event.
That is why it is a good idea to have some amount of fuel in your car. While it may seem dangerous, if you do it right and use the proper equipment, you will be fine.
We recommend considering things like this fuel bottle by Laken. Such bottles a designed to be capable of safely keeping gasoline for up to twelve weeks. Since gasoline has a limited shelf-life, your best bet is to keep track of time and use the gasoline you keep in the fuel bottle before it hits the expiration date.
Of course, such a piece of emergency gear comes with certain precautions since it contains combustible liquid:
- You must keep fuel bottles away from heat sources of any sort;
- You must not let anyone other than you obtain them;
- You must keep fuel bottles away from children;
- You must keep fuel bottles safe and secure, so they would not get damaged.
Another thing you might want to get in your car kit is a siphon system. You can use it to siphon some gas from other vehicles.
Tire Changing Tool Set
The third category of must-have vehicle tools includes the previously mentioned tire changing equipment like a tire iron and a car jack. We put these last because they are traditional vehicle repair tools every car owner should have and know how to use. We can only add that you may also want to get a tire pressure gauge for your emergency car kit.
Roadside Shelter Kit
A lot of things can happen on the road. So you should best be prepared for everything. And saying “anything,” we mean something like having no option but staying put for a sleepover right under the stars.
There are various road conditions. During some of them, you just can’t keep on going. If you have no other choice but to make a stay while on the road, you will be glad to have a solid roadside shelter option like a heavy-duty sleeping bag or a bivy sack. And one of the most popular and acclaimed options is the TACT Bivvy by Survival Frog.
What separates this sack from a regular sleeping bag is that it’s made of a “space” material originally used by NASA. The material’s name is Mylar. And it may sound familiar if you’re an old friend with ready-to-make meals that come pack inside Mylar bags.
Mylar works great, trapping heat. So when you get inside a Mylar bivy sack, it will not let your body heat out. Instead, the heat that your body produces will stay inside, keeping you warm.
Mylar is also very flexible, and that is why it is a perfect choice for bivy sacks. In fact, the Mylar material’s flexibility makes it possible to create the most compact package size you can only imagine. When packed, the TACT bivvy fits in the palm of your hand and does not take up too much space in a storage bag.
But there’s more to the TACT bivvy than just keeping you warm as you sleep. This sack is good for different weather conditions: it works great as part of a winter kit and does an excellent job during hot days.
Since the Mylar material reflects heat, you can use your TACT bivvy sack to escape severe sunlight. Just turn the bivvy inside out, and you’re fine. The Mylar side of the bivvy will reflect sunlight protecting you from its heat.
Watch the video below for more ideas on the Mylar TACT bivvy:
As an alternative to a bivvy, you can choose an emergency blanket. There are many Mylar blanket options out there. And they also work fine if you need to lock heat inside or reflect severe sunlight. The main difference, though, is that Mylar blankets are not as convenient to use as bivvy sacks. Since you can only over yourself with a blanket or wrap it around yourself, whereas a bivvy sack works like a full-blown sleeping shelter.
Water & Food
Here’s the situation: you’re stuck on the road in the middle of nowhere, and there is no chance you will leave your vehicle. You have your portable solar chargers at hand, you have your radio tuned to a weather station, you put safety roadside flares to make yourself visible for passers-by, you deployed your super cozy bivvy sack, and life is just about to get better. What else do you need? The answer is food and water.
Our strong belief is that drinking water must be part of all car emergency kits. Because you never know for how long you’re stuck on the roadside. And even apart from that, that good old H2O is just something that we need to keep going at all times. Especially during intense situations. And a roadside emergency can easily be one.
So how do you prepare water for your kit? We would recommend using stainless steel bottles and jugs. Just by no means don’t keep water inside plastic bottles. They are not damage-proof. And since we’re talking about safety and all, you want to be sure that your water container does not rapture or even burst because of heat or extreme cold, having all your water supplies go to waste.
But what if you will end up looking for water elsewhere, say, from natural sources? In that case, you will need to filter it so you could drink it safely. So having a water filter is something that could make your life easier.
Even if you have drinking water in your emergency kit, it’s not forever. Eventually, you will run out of it. So we recommend getting a small water filter so finding drinking water could not be too much of a problem.
Why filtering water? Well, chances are you may get lucky finding a clear water source. But you never know if the water you’ve just collected from a pond or a stream is fit for drinking. While water may look fresh and nice it still can be dirty enough. Drinking it may get you sick, and it’s a no-brainer. So to get yourself peace of mind, it is best to filter any water you collect from natural sources.
A mini water filter by Sawyer is one of the most popular water filtering options on the market. It’s compact and easy-to-use. Our recommendation is to get a couple of these.
This tiny filter is capable of filtering up to one hundred thousand gallons of water, which is just fantastic for a device of this size! Watch the video below to learn more about the Sawyer mini water filter:
However, filtering water is not the only thing you must do before you get to drink it. The second step is to purify it in order to minimize all the possible risks. The two ways of water purification include:
- Using purification tablets.
1) To boil water properly, you will have to stick with the two main conditions. The bottle you will be boiling water in must be stainless steel and single-wall. Firstly, metal is the best material because, surprise-surprise, it won’t melt like plastic will. And single-wall metal bottles make for faster boiling. Besides, sometimes it may get dangerous boiling water in a double-wall bottle. The air between two walls will expand due to high temperature, which eventually may make the bottle explode.
So please be careful and boil water only in metal single-wall bottles or jugs.
2) Water purification tablets are quite self-explanatory. We strongly recommend getting them on your car emergency kit checklist since they don’t cost much and are very effective.
As an addition, we will mention another water purification option – UV pens. But they are hardly must-have items since they are not cheap and require batteries. So, at the end of the day, nothing beats a good old metal single-wall bottle, fire, or some water purification tablets to go with it. And of course, don’t forget to filter water before purifying it.
Feeling hungry? We think now it’s high time to have a bite of something nutritious. Do you have something in your car kit?
The good news is when you’re building an emergency car kit, you don’t have to think too much about food. Since it’s not about building a massive food stockpile as you would do with your long-term shelter plan, car emergency kits usually include regular food bars: non-perishables with lots of calories in them and having a wild shelf-life.
While those food bars may not be too tasty or exquisite, this is not what their purpose is. What they do is give you enough energy when you get stranded in the middle of nowhere. So get a couple of packs of those.
Rescue Tool Set
In this section, we will cover the rescue side of the topic. Since fixing a flat tire is not the only kind of road situations you may wind up in. Sometimes they get earnest and life-threatening.
Just imagine having your car turned on its side or getting stuck in the middle of a raging blizzard. Or maybe your car stops suddenly, and you have no idea of where you’re at. The list could go on, but we’re sure that you got the idea. Like we said at the very beginning of this article: anything can happen on the road.
Below is the list of tools that would get you through most of the road situations.
When it comes down to trying to tell the world that you’re out there somewhere stuck and in need of help is starting a fire that will produce smoke. So having some sort of firestarter in your life-saving car kit is a no-brainer.
There are two main tools you can start a fire with:
Of course, you don’t have to go for something extravagant such as a Tesla lighter. You can set things on fire using regular Bic or Zippo lighters as well.
Another way of making yourself notices is sound. And nothing suits the job more than a high-pitched whistling signal. Survival whistles are used all over the world and are great for two main reasons:
- They are loud as hell;
- They are insanely affordable.
Just imagine that such a tiny piece of plastic can make a huge difference. And there are stories when such a small money investment saved lives.
With a signal mirror, you draw attention to yourself using sunlight. The idea is simple – you just turn its bright side towards the sun, and you’re all set. The flash of light will let the rescue team know just where you are exactly.
Roadside Warning Items
When you’re stuck and have no possibility to move your car off the road, you will have to take the necessary precautions to avoid car accidents. You will have to let other drivers be aware that the road is not clear by putting warning signs around your vehicle, such as roadside triangles or road flares.
Another important thing is getting yourself visible by wearing a safety vest. Poor weather conditions often make it quite hard to look through rain, snow, or fog. So if you’re out there in the middle of the road trying to fix your car, the last thing you want is getting hit by another vehicle just because no one noticed you. So take it seriously and have a safety vest in your car emergency kit.
Emergency Car Multitool
Last but not least is the 6-in-1 car tool that is a full-blown rescue multitool.
First off, it’s a regular car charger. That’s right. You can use it just like a straightforward push-button lighter with two USB outputs to charge whatever mobile devices you have. But that is the least impressive feature of this item when in reality, it has six (!) cool features to get you out of trouble.
This tool also features a window breaker, a belt cutter, a flashlight & a strobe light. This tiny tool must always be in front of you. Should you get stuck in a car trapped by a seat belt, you can use the tool to cut it. If your car rolls off the road and dives into the water, you can use a glass breaker to smash the window. A strobe light will let the rescue team spot your location. And a flashlight… Well, let’s put it his way, you just can’t go over the top with flashlights.
Flashlights are just like EDC knives, prepper’s best friends. You can and should have them anywhere you want: in your bug-out bag and in your survival pack, in a glove compartment, in a carry bag, put a couple of them in a get-home bag, and have a quality flashlight in your bedroom as well.
So to wrap up, we’ll just say that this six-in-one car tool is one of the most amazing rescue solutions on the market.
Emergency Kit Illumination Devices
There’s just not a single chance you can do anything in pitch-dark. And breakdowns don’t happen only during daylight. So having some high-quality illumination in your kit is a great idea. We would recommend going for an EDC tactical flashlight. They are reliable, durable, and compact.
A first aid kit is something every car owner should have. It is hard to imagine a car with not at least a minimal set of medical equipment. But as far as prepping goes, a regular first aid kit may not be enough. Depending on your knowledge and skills, you may choose to have something more than just a basic set of bandages, scissors, painkillers, ointments, sanitizers, and gloves.
For instance, many emergency car kits include bleeding control setups. Severe wounds often cause massive bleeding. And you know that uncontrolled bleeding may result in extreme blood loss, which in its turn means, you know, death.
Another set of medical gear that could go with a regular first aid kit is a suture pack. To be honest, such kits are not something that is often used but should the time come. A suture kit can make a huge difference. Of course, it takes practice to develop the necessary skills, but it is definitely worth it.
Honestly, it was quite difficult to figure out what certain category suited the best for this item. So we decided to single it out. Because it seems that a paracord really is a separate piece of gear which gets useful to solve numerous tasks.
Paracord does not take up too much space, so it will not be a problem to add it to your car emergency pack. As an alternative option, you may get a paracord bracelet.
The world is a scary place. And it gets even scarier when you’re alone in the middle of nowhere. No surprise that at times like these, we feel that we could use a bit more safety. So as much as you need a first aid kit or a tow strap for your car kit, you may as well need some kind of self-protection items.
In that matter, nothing beats guns. But if packing heat is not your thing, here’s another idea – pepper spray.
What should you know when choosing a pepper spray? First, pepper sprays vary in heat level: the hotter, the more effective. Second, pepper sprays have different spray patterns and hitting ranges.
Some people insist on making DIY pepper sprays, but this will lead you nowhere since home-made pepper sprays are no match to those you can buy. So our advice is to go with something like the Devil Juice pepper spray. It’s painfully hot and makes for a great non-lethal self-defense weapon.
So if you think there’s still some space left in your emergency kit bag somewhere between a first aid kit, booster cables, duct tape, a pack of AAA batteries, and other supplies, here’s a couple of optional items you may want to add.
A Hand Warmer
It can get cold on the road. You know that. And if gloves didn’t make it on your list, well, maybe an electrical hand warmer will.
We want to be completely honest with you. So our point is that such an item is just a waste of money. It’s hard to consider it a reasonable investment. But if you can’t fight it, the choice is yours. After all. However luxurious a hand warmer may look, it still does what it’s said to – it warms your hands. Plus, it’s rechargeable, so there would be no problem messing with AAA batteries and such. But if you ask for our opinion, we would go for gloves or hot hand warmers.
Playing cards is not something that comes to mind first in regards to a roadside emergency. But sometimes you just have no other choice but to wait and do nothing. Boredom is not the best company. And that is when a deck of survival playing cards will come in handy. Good thing, such cards usually go with a collection of survivalist tips so that playing could get educational.
Why Do You Need a Car Emergency Kit?
So what’s the story with all those emergency car kits? Why does anybody even need one?
Well, because many people out there drive different sorts of vehicles. A modern-day driver spends a lot of time behind the wheel. And while many of us are deeply concerned about home safety, it comes as a surprise to realize how rarely we get to think about how safe or unsafe our cars are. Like nothing can ever happen to us while we’re driving. Guess what? It’s the wrong way of thinking. Because anything can happen no matter where you are, and you should put as much thought into your car emergency plan as you do with your home emergency preparedness.
After all, if you are a responsible car owner, you already must have basic tools to start with. Such tools like a car jack and tire iron are a minimal set of equipment every driver has. If you don’t, then it is our strong recommendation for you to get them and learn how to use them as soon as possible.
Remember, being prepared (with all the proper tools at hand) means you will not have to rely on someone else’s help. “A good samaritan” accidentally coming your way may be a gift of heaven, but as far as survival goes, your best bet is to count on yourself and yourself ONLY. Besides, in a worst-case scenario world, the number of people willing to help strangers will most likely drop to zero, and there will be no help coming.
So first things first, make sure you have the set of tools for changing tires, and you know how to use them. If you’re all set, let’s get down to business and get you through the top ideas on how to build a proper car emergency kit.
Best Car Emergency Kit Summary
We hope that this car emergency kit guide will help you get started with building a car kit of your own. We’ve done serious research on different ideas for emergency supplies you can have in your car to be sure that it will become a legit moving shelter.
For the record, we did not mention such obvious choices as fire extinguishers or an ice scraper since we believe that you, as responsible drivers, have all these already. Just as most car owners would have jumper cables, first aid kits, or duct tape.
However, sometimes even such basic things get overlooked. So why don’t you check on what you already have in your car right now? Take care!
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
What Should Be in a Car Emergency Kit?
Every emergency car kit should at least have the basic minimum of items, including:
- Tire changing tools;
- First Aid Kit;
- Jumper cables;
- A sleeping bag or a bivvy sack. Or at least, a rain poncho;
- A tow rope;
- A shovel;
- Safety flares and vests.
What is the Best Car Emergency Kit?
As a car owner, you don’t have to build your own car kit from scratch. You may as well purchase a ready-to-use emergency pack from brands like AutoClub Hero, Victor, Top Gear at different price points. Among these three, for instance, Top Gear’s kit is considered to be the best in terms of quality. AutoClub Hero’s kit is the best wintertime option. Victor’s emergency kit is the best in terms of price and quality balance.
What are 10 Items in an Emergency Kit?
The ten essential items for a car kit vary and depend on the driver’s preferences, but still, it is possible to make up an average car emergency kit checklist that will look like this:
1) First Aid Kit;
2) Water & Food;
5) Tactical knife or a multitool;
6) Sleeping bag or a blanket;
7) Portable radio;
8) Tow rope;
9) Safety vest;
10) Signal whistle.
What Supplies Should You Keep in Your Car?
Usually, emergency kits contain things like shovels, sets of car repairing tools, knives, water bottles, safety vests, medical kits (including specialized ones like bleeding control kits and suture kits), sleeping bags, lighters, flashlights, fuel canisters, jumper cables, radio sets, and portable chargers.