A Complete Car Emergency Kit List For Roadside Safety

By "Just In Case" Jack | Updated: 04/24/2024

Today I’ve got something really important to share…

A Complete Car Emergency Kit List For Roadside Safety

Because when it comes to our cars, trucks, and vehicles…

Too many folks act as if nothing bad can happen between point A and B.

But the good news is:

You’re here NOW, ready to do something about it.

To prepare for those road trips, adventures, and daily commutes…

TOPICS IN THIS GUIDE…    ↓(click to jump)
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101: How To Change A Tire

Before you build your own car kit, double-check you have the tools to change a tire.

You’ll need a car jack, a tire iron, and a full spare tire (or a donut).

If you don’t have those items, get them immediately.


Flats happen all the time, and without tools, you’re 100% dependent on others.

Never assume roadside assistance will be readily be available.

If you don’t know how to change a tire, it’s time to learn:

↓ How To Change A Tire

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Want a free 54 item survival gear checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Emergency Kit Organization

The first step in building a car emergency kit is staying organized.

Never allow your supplies and gear to roll around in the trunk.

Not only will this cause an annoying racket.

But it could damage the items.

Get a bag, duffel, or toolbox.

Something large enough to keep all your supplies safe.

For example:

Evatac Hybrid Duffel Bag

Car Emergency Kit Duffle BagThis duffel bag is perfect for keeping all your car’s emergency kit gear organized and safe.

It’s got tons of storage (48 liters).

And several internal dividers to keep your gear compartmentalized.

But what I like most about this duffel is it converts into a backpack.

Duffle Bag For Emergency Car KitWhat happens if you need to abandon your car or truck?

Well, you’d be silly to leave your emergency gear behind.

Some supplies in that bag are your lifeline.

And while carrying a duffel is fine for short trips, they’re no good for longer hikes.

But with two straps over your shoulders…now that’s ideal.

You can comfortably walk much further with a backpack.

↓ Grab This Free Duffle Bag Today!

Emergency Water (H2O)

Water is one of the most critical emergency/survival supplies.

The instant you’re in an emergency without water, your survival countdown clock begins.

So add some fresh drinking water to your car emergency kit.

Do this by filling up a stainless steel, single-walled water bottle.

Don’t rely on thin plastic water bottles.

Why? Because thin plastic water bottles are weak and prone to rupture.

They won’t hold up in a vehicle that’s always on the move.

Plus, they’ll burst when exposed to extreme heat and cold conditions.

Protect your precious emergency water by investing in a strong water bottle.

Water Filtration

The second part of your car’s water plan is adding tools to turn natural water into drinking water.

You may quickly deplete your freshwater stash if stranded in the middle of nowhere.

But your body will still crave more.

You’ll be forced to scavenge for a natural water source nearby.

Perhaps you find a small creek, a pond, a lake, or even a puddle.

But drinking water from a natural source without proper treatment is a gamble.

Water might “look” fresh, clean, and delicious, but the naked eye can’t detect hidden microscopic bacteria.

So pack some water filtration and purification tools.

That way, you can process and drink that natural water with confidence.

Knowing you won’t get sick.

Because the last thing you need in an emergency is to fall severely ill.

Drinking contaminated water can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting.

It can turn a serious situation into a deadly one in an instant.

So let’s start with filtration first; you should stash at least one personal water filter in your car’s emergency kit.

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Sawyer Mini Inline Water Filter 1

Sawyer Mini Added Inline To A Pack

I highly recommend you get a couple of Sawyer mini water filters.

Not only is it small to pack and lightweight, but it can also filter 100,000 gallons of water!

This little water filter is ideal for both travel and car emergency kits.

What makes the Sawyer Mini so powerful is its inline design capabilities.

Use it like a straw or an inline filter to remove 99.999% of harmful bacteria.

Here’s my full video review of the incredible Sawyer Mini.

↓ Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review – Can This Filter 100,000 Gallons?

Water Purification

Water filtration is a good first step, but ideally, you’ll also want to purify.

Sure, filtration alone is better than nothing, but why gamble if you don’t have to?

There are several ways to purify water.


The first option is to boil it for a few minutes.

The heat will kill any remaining hidden viruses or bacteria.

You can boil water over a fire IF you have the right type of water container.

You need a stainless steel SINGLE-walled water bottle.

The key here is:

  1. Metal
  2. Single-walled

You want it to be metal so you can put the water bottle on fire without fear of melting.

If your container is plastic, it will melt way before it boils.

klean kanteen stainless steel water bottleYou also want your bottle to be a single wall.

Why? Because boiling water in a double-wall insulated bottle can be dangerous.

Double-wall bottles are designed to keep liquids cool longer by having two walls (inner and outer walls).

But if you try to boil water in one, it will take a long time because you have to transfer the heat through 2 walls.

And the trapped air between the two walls will slowly build pressure.

If you build enough pressure, the water bottle can explode.

So only use single-wall water bottles for your car emergency kits.


Another way to purify the water is by using water purification tablets.

What’s nice about these is they’re cheap, small, and lightweight.

So there’s no excuse not to add these to your car emergency kit.

UV Light Pen

Lastly, you could add a UV light water purification pen to your kit.

However, tablets are better because these pens are expensive and require batteries.

So your best bet is to get a small personal water filter, a single-wall stainless steel water bottle, and some water purification tablets.

Your emergency hydration needs are all set.

Emergency Shelter

Some folks are surprised that shelter is our second topic (most think food would be next).

But a shelter can quickly become the first survival priority in extreme weather.

Food is one of the least important short-term emergency supplies.

You can survive weeks without calories.

Sure, severe hunger is no fun.

But as I tell my “starving children,” you’ll survive.

Ok, so for survival shelters, there are two extremes of concern:

  1. Freezing to death
  2. Heatstroke and dehydration

The good news is that a lightweight bivy sack will buy you precious time and save your life in either situation.

TACT Bivvy Main Image

The TACT Bivvy

This emergency sleeping bag is ideal for cold and extreme heat emergencies.

It’s made from a material originally designed by NASA for astronauts called Mylar.

Mylar is a very thin, flexible material that doesn’t allow air (or heat) to transfer through it.

So it traps or reflects heat.

Once inside a Tact Bivvy, the heat your body naturally produces becomes trapped.

This helps to prevent hypothermia and frostbite in extremely cold.

It locks in your body heat, keeping your core and limbs protected.

And the TACT Bivvy is more than an emergency blanket; it’s a sleeping bag.

This may seem inconsequential, but a BAG traps heat much better than a blanket.

Also, the TACT Bivvy comes in a small portable pouch.

This keeps your Mylar sleeping bag organized and protects it from accidental punctures.

So for me, it’s worth the few extra dollars to get the TACT Bivvy.

But what about extreme heat?

I did mention it can be helpful in these dire situations as well!

TACT Bivvy In HandYou see, Mylar’s superpower is reflecting heat.

So when Mylar is facing toward you, it reflects your heat to you.

However, what happens if you point the Mylar material away from you and toward the sun instead?

Mylar will stop the sun’s energy from traveling through it.

So turn the TACT Bivvy inside out (so the Mylar is now on the outside).

Then find a way to create a makeshift canopy (using more emergency tools discussed below).

And get underneath it.

The TACT Bivvy is now creating life-saving shade.

And if you happen to be stranded near loose soil, you can dig a shallow pit (with a survival shovel) to expose cooler soil layers.

Then you can lay in the cool dirt to help keep your core body temperature down.

With the right tools and knowledge, you don’t have to become a victim.

You can act, save yourself, and buy time for escape or rescue.

Note: If you dig a pit, don’t lay under Mylar with the blanket against the top of the hole.

This setup becomes an oven, the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.

The tarp or Mylar blanket must be off the ground.

You want it to create shade and allow air to flow through and out instead of trapping it.

Here’s my full video review of the TACT Bivvy.

↓ Bug Out Bag Shelter – TACT Bivvy Review

Vehicle Recovery Tools

Now it’s time to talk about tools and devices to prevent you from getting stranded in the first place.

It’s called Self Rescue.

The three leading causes of becoming stranded in the middle of nowhere are:

  1. Flat Tire
  2. Dead Battery
  3. Running Out Of Fuel

We already covered tire-changing equipment – most vehicles have these tools by default.

So let’s focus on the remaining two issues; dead battery and running out of fuel.

The best way to survive an emergency due to a dead battery or running out of fuel is to avoid it in the first place.

So it’s important to invest in simple tools that can quickly fix these problems.

Pocket Jumper

In the past, the only way to fix a dead battery was to carry a bulky set of jumper cables.

However, with technological advances, intense crank power is now available in a device the size of a smartphone.

This device is powerful and compact.

It even fits in a shirt pocket.

Plus, the problem with jumper cables is they rely on another vehicle to work.

So that alone makes them less than ideal.

A jumper pack can easily handle the occasional dead battery.

↓ NOCO Genius Boost GB40 Real World Test & Review

Spare Fuel

But what if you run out of gas?

Yes, we already know we SHOULD follow our Grandfather’s advice of

“Fill it up when it gets below half.”

But life’s busy, and most of us wait until E (and sometimes on fumes) before filling up.

This is a recipe for disaster.

But we normally get lucky and find a gas station around the next corner…

But occasionally, we lose that game.

So the next best thing is to keep some fuel in your emergency car kit.

And while that may seem dangerous, it’s possible with the right tools and precautions.

This specially designed-fuel bottle can hold fuel/gasoline for up to three months.

↓ Laken Aluminum Fuel Bottle

Fuel (especially gasoline) has a limited shelf life.

So you’ll need to rotate it several times a year.

However, caution is required.

  • Avoid extreme heat
  • Keep it away from children.
  • Make sure it is well sealed.
  • Do not store it where the bottle can get damaged
  • Check the bottle frequently to make sure there’s no leakage

It contains flammable fluid and should be treated as a dangerous material.

You should also pack a siphon kit as well.

That way, you can siphon some fuel from a passerby in a pinch.

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Want a free 54 item survival gear checklist?

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Escape, and Rescue Tools

We need to remember in most vehicle emergencies; the goal is to survive.

And sometimes that means rescue.

  • Maybe the check engine light comes on in the remote desert, and your car immediately stops.
  • Or maybe your SUV rolls on its side on a snowy mountain trail.
  • Or perhaps you’re stuck on a mountain pass in a blizzard and get stuck in the drifting snow.

These are all vehicle emergencies that happen too often.

Sometimes the stories have happy endings, but occasionally they end in tragedy.

So any tool that can help contact the rest of the world for help is worth adding to your car’s emergency kit.

6-1 Emergency Car Tool and Charger

This smart car emergency tool is one you should keep in your car and not in the kit you keep in your truck.

This is one tool you’ll want to keep front and center at all times.

This looks like one of those basic car chargers that plug into those old-school push-button cigarette lighters.

But that’s just 1 of the 6 tools behind this life-saving device!

It’s also a portable battery pack.

It keeps a small portable battery pack topped off with energy to keep your phone charged even with a dead car battery.

It also has a glass breaker built into the tip of the charger.

This is huge for vehicle emergencies.

If you accidentally drive into a large body of water and your car starts sinking, you must get out fast.

The water pressure won’t let you open and door, and what happens if your window won’t go down?

6-1 Tool Glass Shatter

Glass Shatter

You need to break it.

With this device, you can immediately pull it from the charger port and slam it against the glass.

Instant shatter and a fast escape!

But what about your seatbelt? What if it’s jammed, and you’re struggling to unlatch it?

1-6 Belt Cutter

Belt Cutter

Well, this tool also includes a belt cutter.

So between the glass breaker and the belt cutter, you’ve got a tool ready to escape from a car fast – no matter what.

Whether it’s a fire, water disaster, or your vehicle’s flipped over, you have a tool to escape when time is of the essence.

Ok, that’s 4 tools; 2 more to go…

6-1 Tool Flashlight


The next tool in this 6-1 survival device is a built-in flashlight.

Flashlights are like EDC knives; you can never have too many.

I like to keep flashlights everywhere, especially in my:

So I welcome having an extra flashlight as a part of this survival tool.

Plus, the flashlight has a strobe mode which will get attention at night.

The strobe function helps rescuers find you or get attention from another traveler.

So the 6-in-1 Emergency Car Tool and Charger are a:

  1. Car Charger
  2. Backup Battery Power Bank
  3. Instant Shatter Glass Breaker
  4. Seat Belt Cutter
  5. Regular Flashlight
  6. Emergency Strobe Light

And all these tools are within easy reach for the driver.

It’s truly the smartest and perfect tool for vehicle emergencies.

↓ Rescue A6 – Emergency 6-In-1 Car Safety Device

Rescue Mirror

A rescue mirror is a small device that’s easy to add to your car’s emergency kit.

It’s small, lightweight, and powerful.

It reflects the sun to alert rescuers in the air.

Point the bright reflected light towards your target and move it back.

This will create a flashing signal that can travel miles.

This is a great tool to help you get help fast in a dire emergency.

↓ How To Use Coghlan’s Signal Mirrors

Survival Lighter or Ferro Rod

One of the best ways to get noticed is to produce thick black smoke.

And fortunately, all vehicles have one excellent source of black smoke – tires.

When the rubber is on fire, it lets off an obnoxious thick black smoke.

The sort of smoke can be seen for miles.

It’s a perfect SOS signal for a rescue helicopter looking for someone.

Tough Tesla Electric LighterThe search goes from a needle in a haystack to shooting fish in a barrel.

But this rescue signal won’t work if you can’t get a fire going in the first place.

So make sure you pack a good survival lighter or Ferro rod.

A BIC, a Zippo, or a Tesla lighter will work fine for this.

↓ Tesla Survival Lighter Review: Hands On

Rescue Whistle

I like packing a survival whistle for 2 reasons.

First, the good ones scream.

They are so loud the sound will travel several miles.

And if you can blast it frantically, anyone within earshot can’t help but investigate.

Second, it’s affordable.

They are small pieces of plastic, so you can add one for just a few dollars.

Now that’s what I call a fantastic return on investment.

It’s a “no-brainer” survival tool to add to your car’s emergency vehicle kit.

Hazard Triangles / Safety Vests / Roadside Safety Disks

If your car ever breaks down on the side of the road, you need a way to notify other drivers.

Bad things happen if a clueless driver comes around a blind bend only to find a broken-down car in the middle of the road.

People get hurt if they hit your vehicle at nearly full speed.

Hopefully, you’re smart enough to get out of the vehicle and not stay in it or stand in front of it.

You’re dead if it gets hit, and you’re in or near it.

It’s sad, but it happens all the time all across America, especially on multi-lane highways in major cities.

Nothing good happens when vehicles are broken down on or near busy roadways.

Roadside Safety DisksBut if you have roadside safety disks, hazard triangles, road flares, and safety vests, you can alert those upcoming vehicles of a hazard.

Get them to slow down and move over.

It’s the right thing to do, and it’s an important emergency car kit tool I wish more people took seriously.

↓ 1 TAC Roadside Safety Disc Product Review

Medical Supplies

Every car emergency kit should include basic medical supplies (like the MyFAK Pro from MyMedic

It includes all the core basics, such as:

  • Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Painkillers
  • Antibacterial ointments
  • Etc.
↓ My Medic MyFAK – Walkthrough & Review

But you might also want to add a few specialty medical tools (depending on your skill level and comfort).

Here are two kits you might consider adding to the basic medical supplies:

Bleeding Control Kit (which includes a tourniquet)

Stopping blood loss is critical in medical survival emergencies.

Because uncontrolled hemorrhage is one of the most preventable causes of death in the United States.

↓ Anatomy Of The Bleed Stopper Medpack

Suture Kit (for stitching up nasty cuts)

The suture kit is a specialty medical kit that’s rarely needed until it’s freaking needed ASAP.

If you are serious about preparing for medical emergencies, check out our comprehensive guide to building your survival medical kit.

Must-Have Survival Supplies

Survival MultiTool

I think a survival multitool is underrated.

Sure, you could add a survival knife, a set of pliers, and a screwdriver set.

Or you can get a smart survival multitool that has all these tools and more in one.

Communication Device

You must add a small radio to your car’s emergency kit.

If your emergency is due to adverse weather, you need a way to tune into the weather reports.

Is the blizzard you accidentally drove into ending soon, or is it just starting?

The answer to those questions is intelligence—the information you need to make better decisions during a dire emergency.

Here are a couple more ways a survival radio can save your life:

  • In a widespread emergency, you’ll want to know which roads have been knocked out so you can take the right ones.
  • If a major disease outbreak occurs, you’ll want to know where it’s headed to avoid those dangerous areas.
  • Maybe a nuclear attack (or EMP blast) has sent the nation into turmoil – you’ll want to know which direction is safe and which is not.

The bottom line is:

You can never have too much intelligence, especially in survival.

A good hand crank radio is also a great backup source of information (and the last resort charge for your cell phone).

With these radios, you’ll get the necessary intel without taking up precious emergency kit space.

Survival Shovel /Sand

KONNEX Survival ShovelGetting stuck in snow or mud is a major cause of becoming stranded.

But if you can get your vehicle out, you avoid getting stranded.

So add a survival shovel to your vehicle.

Digg around your tires and work your way out.

We recommend the EVATAC Tactical Survival Shovel.

It breaks into a compact size but is tough enough to complete the job.

It also includes a few extra survival tools that will be useful during an emergency.

Also, add a sack of sand or kitty litter as well.

I was skeptical of using this stuff until I tried it, and it worked like magic.

If you’re stuck because you can’t get traction, sprinkle some sand in front of the slipping tire.

You’ll be amazed how quickly the tires grab and get you out of an icy rut.

↓ Konnex ET15 Survival Shovel By EVATAC Review

Light Weight Rugged Solar Charger

From flashlights to GPS units to cell phones, your car will have a decent amount of technology.

All worthless devices without electricity!

So add a solar charger and battery pack.

Make sure to include the cords for each device!

You should also grab an Anytime Charge Solar Power Bank.

Why? Because it’s one of the most durable, compact, and cost-effective portable solar chargers on the market today.

But don’t let its compact size fool you; it’s also got a massive 10,000 mAh battery capacity!

The massive battery storage is enough to charge any device multiple times.

Plus, with dual charging outputs, you can power multiple devices simultaneously!

Plug in your devices via the supplied USB cable (you can use any USB cable) and press the power button.

Your device will begin to take power from the Anytime Charge right away.

Recharging the Anytime Solar Bank couldn’t be easier – leave it in the sun, and it will automatically fill the battery bank back up.

Plus, it’s splash resistant and comes with an emergency flashlight with a strobe function.

Fire Blanket

I’ll keep this simple.

Everyone knows you should pack a warm blanket for vehicle breakdowns in frigid weather.

But you should also pack a fire blanket.

If you’re ever in a wreck with fire, you want something to throw on it and snuff it out.

A fire blanket is perfect for such dangerous flames.

Or you can wrap up in it to protect yourself from flames.


Paracord is amazing.

There are hundreds of survival uses for paracord, and those are just the most obvious ones.

There are thousands of possible uses.

Now, adding some paracord to your emergency car kit is easy.

Just buy some paracord and toss it in, or even better, get a paracord survival bracelet.

Either way, find a way to get some paracord in your car for emergencies.


Ever tried to change a tire in the pitch-black dark?

Not only does it make this task more challenging, but for some, it might make it impossible.

Breakdowns and accidents are not exclusive to daylight hours.

Heck, they’re often more dangerous and more frequent during the night.

You must have at least one superbright EDC flashlight to see what you’re doing.

Want a free FireHawk Tactical Flashlight?

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Food (a.k.a. calories)

Finally, it’s worth stashing some calories in your car emergency kit.

And while this is a lower priority than the other items we’ve covered so far, it’s still worth adding.

But remember, good taste is not the goal.

The goal is to stash food that lasts even after many hot and cold temperature swings.

So you should focus on adding something with low moisture content and high-calorie density.

These energy bars meet these requirements and are calorie-dense.

They’ll also “keep” well even under intense temperature swings.

↓ ER Bar 3600 Calories Emergency Food Rations Test

The worst is rooting around in your kit, only to pull out a moldy orange or a melted candy bar.

Self Defense Options

Being stranded on a remote road in the middle of the night can be a scary proposition.

It can be a helpless feeling.

Especially if a creepy person decides they want to lend you a hand?

Now, if you’re into firearms, you’re all set.

But other self-defense options exist if firearms intimidate you.

Pepper Spray, Stun Gun & Personal Alarm

Self Defense Kit to Keep in CarThis self-defense kit is one of my favorite self-defense options (besides a firearm).

It includes pepper spray, a stun gun, and a personal alarm.

There are two important aspects to a good self-defense pepper spray.

  1. The actual pepper spray effectiveness (or heat level)
  2. The spray pattern and distance.

Some people try to make their own pepper spray.

But I don’t recommend that for self-defense.

Instead, we recommend getting something like this Survival Frog Pepper Spray included in their LifeShieldSelf Defense Kit.

It’s extremely hot and has a long spray distance.

Optional Survival Tools

This section will cover a few pieces of optional survival gear.

Survival Playing Cards

In a frightening situation, a set of survival-playing cards will be the last thing on your mind.

But after the fright wears off, it may be followed by boredom.

If you’re stranded but know help is coming, you might need something to do.

If you’ve got friends or kids with you, a deck of survival cards can help pass the time as you wait for the tow truck to arrive.

And you might as well get a deck of cards with some solid survival tips.

Maybe you’ll learn a new survival skill to save your life while playing some solitaire…

Electric Hand Warmer

Hand warmers are nice to have in a pinch.

A good pair of gloves and some hot hand warmer packs will do just fine for most situations.

But if you want to prevent frostbite at all costs, you might consider this electric hand warmer.

This rechargeable device will warm up your hands or feet within minutes.

DIY Car Emergency Kit – Final Thoughts

This article aims to get more people to build vehicle emergency kits.

With some unique tools and devices, you’d never considered.

But my last request is you DON’T WAIT.

Build that car emergency kit right now.

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