From military service members to child scouts, there is one great lesson they all learn: Always be prepared for the worst.
When on the road, our minds are usually on so many other things than driving or safety. Sure, we watch the lanes and navigate traffic safely, but we just don’t think about the unexpected problems that can arise. Whether you suffer a flat tire or see someone who needs help, any good, prepared driver has something on hand that can help. Having one of the best roadside emergency kits is a must-have for any driver who wants to be prepared if they break down, get stuck, or even find another motorist in need.
These kits are designed to have the little things you need but never think of in a crisis. From chemical lights to warning triangles to bungee cords to gloves, a roadside emergency kit has the essentials for getting through something that could ruin your day.
For example, let’s say that in some wintery weather a person accidentally rear-ends your car. Their car is totaled, but your damage is just to one side of the bumper. With the right road-side emergency kit, you could zip-tie and bungee cord your bumper to the car and take it to the garage yourself. Not only would you be freeing up the attention of first-responders and the tow truck for the other party, but you’ll save yourself a towing fee.
There are myriad reasons you could dig into your roadside emergency kit, and often what they offer are things you don’t realize you need until the time comes. Using our guide below, see what the best ones have to offer and find the one that best suits your needs.
A Bit About the Best Roadside Emergency Kits
You may think that since you have a roadside assistance service or live in cities that you don’t need the best roadside emergency kit. In fact, you may think you don’t need on at all. This could not be more incorrect. Let's explore why you need one and what it should include.
Why Do You Need a Roadside Emergency Kit?
Emergencies happen unexpectedly, and one of these kits makes sure that when one does happen, you are prepared. Yet, these kits have things that are useful even when not in an emergency. For example, many include a tire pressure gauge, something you can’t check too often. Sure, they also include a safety hammer so you can break the window if your car careens into a lake or something equally horrible. But the best roadside emergency kit is as active a part of your driving experience as the center console or the radio. At least, it will be if you fill it with the right things.
What Can You Find in a Great Roadside Emergency Kit?
Roadside emergencies take many forms, from the aftermath of an accident to mechanical failure. So, the best roadside emergency kit will have necessary items for all sorts of problems. Maybe you have to change a tire in the dark and the rain? You can find chem-lights and reflective gear in your kit. Maybe something has come loose on your vehicle, dragging on the road as you drive.
You can use the zip ties or bungee cords from your kit to secure it until you get to a garage. From first aid items to some kind of tool set, these kits should have versatile items that will help you or other motorists in need. If your roadside emergency kit doesn’t have everything, you can always add items a la carte to round out the inventory.
Is Everything Useful in a Roadside Emergency Kit?
Because space is always a concern, it’s important that the best roadside emergency kit only have items in there that are essential. Things like reflective vests for safety or tool sets for tiny repairs are things that you will need to have. Yet, not everything is immediately useful, nor would you want it to be.
Some kits come with a sign that reads “Help” or “I’m in Danger,” which is something you hope to never have to use. Other things can appear useless but actually are helpful. Some kits have a “police report” in them for use during accidents. Naturally, only police can file police reports.
Yet, these documents can be helpful for getting all the info you need in the aftermath of an accident when people are rattled or, even worse, injured. Don’t clutter up the kit, but certain non-essential seeming items are there for a reason.
The Best Roadside Emergency Kits for the Prepared Driver
Remember, anytime an article (including this one!) claims that something is the “best,” know that such terms are subjective. This is why we find a number of choices for our readers to look at, because everyone has different needs. So, while these roadside emergency kits all offer different assortments of tools, chances are at least one will have all that you need. Also, the products below are listed in no particular order. Consider it an eight-way tie for first place.
1. Kolo Sports Premium Auto Emergency Kit
One reason you don’t just travel with your toolbox and other necessary items for fixing your car yourself is because there isn’t the space for all that in your car. So, when people want a roadside emergency kit, they want one that doesn’t take up too much real estate in the trunk. The Kolo Sports Premium Auto Emergency Kit is one that packs a lot of great items into a package the size of a lunchbox.
This kit comes with a 90-piece first-aid kit, a poncho for the rain and a mylar blanket for the cold. There are chem-lights, gloves, a safety hammer, and even a small toolkit for finer mechanical work. There are warning triangles, a reflective vest, and even a tire repair tool. This is a great starter kit, but because there is so much the bag will be very stuffed and tough to dig through without removing everything.
2. Thrive Roadside Assistance Auto Emergency Kit
This is a sizable kit in a somewhat large bag, emblazoned with a reflective warning triangle that is both stylish and functional. Inside the bag, you will find a multi-tool, safety hammer, screwdriver set, and safety hammer. There are small bungee cords, an ice-scraper, and gloves. There is another, proper, warning triangle and a reflective vest you should set up when making roadside repairs.
This kit comes with a length of heavy-duty rope, but it doesn’t have any zipties. It also doesn’t have a mylar cold-weather blanket. The first aid kit is pretty basic, but full of essentials like burn gel and instructions on how to treat certain types of injuries. This is a good kit, but best for larger vehicles like SUVs that have a lot of trunk space to go around.
3. Auto Club Hero Premium Car Emergency Kit
If you live in a rural area where breaking down means a long wait, this is the best roadside emergency kit. This kit doesn’t have much in the way of a tool set, save for a small pen-knife multi-tool. It doesn’t come with jumper cables or a warning triangle for being stuck on the side of the road. However, it does come with things like a fire-starter, hand warmers, and emergency food and water rations.
This kit is designed to help you survive being stranded far from civilization overnight. The kit has a great hand-powered flashlight and a combination compass, whistle, and waterproof container for medicine or matches. The reflective mylar blanket is good for retaining body heat and can be used to signal for help. If you spend time on rural roads, it couldn’t hurt to store this small case in your car. It just might save your life.
4. Top Gear Premium Roadside Assistance Kit
This kit comes with a case branded for the popular car show Top Gear, but their involvement in this goes no further than the logo. Nonetheless, this kit is a worthy addition to our list. This is an ideal kit for smaller cars, because it doesn’t take up much space. The tool set is just a multi-tool, which leaves a little to be desired. The first aid kit is also pretty sparse.
Still, it comes with a set of jumper cables, a whistle, and gear for both wet and cold weather. There is only a single bungee cord, but this kit also comes with zip ties to help secure whatever you need. You will also find a good-sized reflective vest and a smallish warning triangle. There are also a pair of chem-lights for use in low light conditions. If you want a kit with only the bare essentials, this one is a great choice.
5. No One 24 Piece Auto Emergency Kit
This is a kit designed especially for tire repair, so it doesn’t have jumper cables or a first aid kit. However, because of its focus on tire repair, this comes with some extra items that any driver will find useful. The most versatile piece of equipment is the LED headlamp. Fit the stretchable elastic bands around your head, and you will have light anywhere you look.
The tire repair kit is extensive, because along with a patching repair kit there is also an air compressor. You have to run the car to power it, but it can help reinflate a tire. There is also a pressure gauge, so you can be sure that you don’t over- or underfill it with air. There are heavy duty gloves and a rain poncho, in case the weather is bad. However, there is no mylar warming blanket. Also missing is a reflective vest or belt, but the kit includes a warning triangle.
6. Blikzone Premium Auto Roadside Assistance Emergency Car Kit
One of the larger kits on this list, the 81-piece kit form Blikzone is filled to the brim with useful and handy items for your car. This doesn’t come with a reflective vest, but that’s about the only item missing. The tool set consists of a multi-tool, tire repair kit, and a safety hammer. It also comes with tape, zip ties, tow cable, and bungee cords. Along with jumper cables, this kit also features a portable air compressor.
Unique to this kit are a collection of standard replacement auto fuses. The warning triangle is fairly small, but it does come with two single-use chem-lights. This kit comes with two ponchos and a mylar cold-weather blanket. This kit comes with a lot of items, which is why it is the priciest one on our list. Still, it’s one of the most comprehensive kits on the list as well.
7. Lifeline AAA Excursion Kit
This kit is the officially-endorsed roadside emergency kit by the American Automobile Association, or as they are more commonly known “triple-A.” The AAA kit is hit-or-miss when it comes to the 42-items inside of it. There is a very basic first aid kit, and the bag itself is flimsy and not waterproof. The warning triangle is very small, and there are no chem-lights to offset that.
However, what makes this one of the best roadside emergency kits are the rest of the contents. The tool set of screwdrivers and pliers are a better size for tackling these kinds of repairs than small multi-tools. The kit also comes with a portable air compressor and a set of jumper cables. There is a compact flashlight, a rain poncho, and sturdy gloves.
8. STDY Auto Emergency Kit
Similar in size and assortment as the Kolo kit, the STDY Auto Emergency Kit is best for smaller cars and drivers who won’t be attempting serious on-the-fly repairs. The first aid kit has a lot of great tools, but not many disposable items like bandages and gauze pads. You might want to pick up some extras of these at the drug store to stick in there, just in case.
You can find a tire-repair kit, but no portable air compressor. The rest of the tool kit is limited to a screwdriver, a razor knife, tire pressure gauge, and a safety hammer. There are jumper cables and a tow cable, along with a warning triangle. While there are small zip ties, this kit doesn’t have larger ones or bungee cords.
If you want to have the best roadside emergency kit possible, consider using these to assemble your own super-kit.
One of the best ways to ensure that truly do have the best roadside emergency kit is to purchase more than one kind. First, there is nothing wrong with having extras available. Let’s say you stumble on some kids who need a jump for their car. They don’t have jumper cables, so you give them yours knowing full well you have an extra set. If your favorite kit doesn’t have a waterproof bag or a tire gauge, but your second-favorite does, get them both.
Even if you assemble your own roadside emergency kit with your own tools and supplies, one of these kits should be in there as well. These are versatile and helpful items. Even though you hope to never use them, if you need them you’ll be glad you invested in a roadside emergency kit.
What do you think? Can you think of another best roadside emergency kit that we didn’t list? If so, tell us, along with your thoughts, reactions, and experiences, in the comments below. Don’t forget to share the article on social media if you liked it!
Related Article: How to Prepare An Emergency Car Kit to Keep You Safe On the Road