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The Best Roadside Emergency Kits You Can Buy

AAA is nice, but it's good to have a backup plan just in case.

a couple with car trouble
Jordan SiemensGetty Images

Look, we get it. It's 2022: you carry a smartphone with you at all times, and you have both an AAA membership and the app. In most situations, those will be the most important tools in your arsenal in getting you out of whatever roadside jam you find yourself in.

But it's always a good idea to have a backup plan — especially if you're planning a long highway drive, leaving the pavement, encounter inclement weather frequently or don't want to entrust matters to your not-so-reliable cell service provider. In other words, you should have a roadside emergency kit.

In a perfect world, money wouldn't be an issue, and you'd have ample time to research the best jumper cables, best portable jump starter, best tire repair kit, best portable air compressor, best portable shovel and so forth to build out your own optimal roadside emergency kit. But most of us, well, have other things to do — so an alternative for many car owners is a simple pre-assembled roadside assistance kit that you toss in the trunk and hope you never need.

What do you need in your roadside emergency kit?

What the ideal roadside emergency kit will look like will depend on your circumstances. No pre-assembled kit will have everything you need. But here are some items you should look for.

  • Emergency Blanket: Your first priority in a cold weather emergency — be it in winter or at night — is to stay warm.
  • First Aid Kit: You're not a doctor. But you want to be prepared for as many minor medical issues as you can with gauze, bandages aspirin, antibiotic ointment and other items. If you're going overlanding, you'll want a more robust first aid kit that can transition to the campsite.
  • Flashlight: You'll need light at night. And you don't want to drain your phone battery to provide it. Having a flashlight in your kit is great. Having extra batteries for it is even better.
  • Gloves: You're only as useful in an emergency situation as your hands. Whether you're changing a tire or shoveling snow, gloves keep your hands warm, comfortable and clean.
  • Jumper cables: Every kit should be prepped for restarting a dead battery. Look for UL certification, which ensures the highest safety and reliability standards.
  • Safety Gear: Flares, strobe lights, reflective triangles, vests, anything to make you more visible to first responders and alert other motorists to your presence.
  • Shovel: An essential if you're going overlanding, live in a winter climate or will encounter cold weather.
  • Tools: You don't know what's going to go wrong. But having a basic set of tools can come in handy in a myriad of situations, even if it's just chipping ice and snow off your tires.

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