Trail Mix: What To Keep In Your Emergency Car Kit

Because roadside hiccups happen when you least expect them.
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Maybe you’re making a short drive to the mountains or hitting the road for a cross-country trip to places unknown. No matter your final destination, accidents happen. Bring these nine pieces of gear along for every ride so you’re prepared for everything from a minor mechanical mishap to a night on the side of the road.


Coast G20 Pen Light

Coast G20 Pen Light

Pinpoint dropped or lost items between the seats (and the Clif Bar wrappers from last year’s trip) with this 6-inch flashlight from Coast. At less than 2.5 ounces, this little torch stores conveniently in the center console for emergency use or even in a pants pocket as an everyday carry. But don’t let the size fool you—at 36 lumens, it still throws a 72-foot beam, and Coast claims it will run for 10 hours on two AAAs. (Keep spare batteries in your emergency kit, too.) $12.95


Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Vacuum Water Bottle

Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Vacuum Water Bottle

Thanks to a double-wall, vacuum-insulated design, this ultradurable Hydro Flask bottle keeps beverages hot for six hours and cold for 24. Stash one filled with water in your emergency car kit, and rest assured the liquid won’t freeze—even if you find yourself overnighting on the side of the road or bailing out of a snowdrift. $39.95


Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Medical Kit

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Medical Kit

Seems obvious, but no emergency kit is complete without first-aid stuff. Any set will do, but we like this one from Adventure Medical Kits for its two-person, four-day supply: gauze, EMT tools, bandages, basic meds, an irrigation syringe and even a wilderness medicine guide. The whole set stows neatly into a small pouch that fits inside a pack’s brain or a car’s side-door compartment. $39


Black Diamond Evac 9 Snow Shovel

Black Diamond Evac 9 Snow Shovel

Moving serious amounts of snow requires more than your hands. The Evac 9 from Black Diamond has a longer handle and larger blade than most portable shovels, ensuring speedier snow removal during an emergency. A telescoping shaft makes for easy storage, and the D-shaped handle guarantees a confident grip. Flip the blade and convert the shovel into a hoe to excavate compacted snow. $99.95


SOL Mag Striker

SOL Mag Striker

More reliable than a gas station cheapie, the SOL Mag Striker—a flint rod hugged by flammable magnesium—is basically weatherproof. Scrape the magnesium with the attached striker to shed fine flakes, then strike the flint with the scraper to spark them. Quickly move a small pile of tinder onto the flame and voilà! Use the integrated bottle opener to celebrate with a beer. $12


Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool

Fix your rig, cut fishing line and even perform first aid when the moment calls. The Squirt may be small, but with scissors, three screwdrivers, a file, a straight knife, a bottle opener and Leatherman’s signature needle-nose pliers, it’s fierce. The tool is small enough for a pocket or your car’s glove box. $34.95


Amphipod Xinglet

Amphipod Xinglet

Stay visible when performing roadside maintenance with this one-size-fits-all reflective vest from Amphipod. The strap design makes the wearer visible from all angles with 40 percent more reflective area than a typical running vest. A simple, quick-release clasp on the front makes for easy on and off. $29.95


Marmot Trestles 15 Sleeping Bag

Marmot Trestles 15 Sleeping Bag (and Women’s)

Supreme warmth and decent packability at a superb price point make this Marmot sleeping bag a great insurance policy against an unintended night out. It’s rated to 15°F, and the synthetic fill will retain its insulating qualities when wet. The whole thing packs down to about 14 liters, or the size of a curled-up cat. Starting at $109


Rubbermaid Action Packer

Rubbermaid Action Packer

Yes, Rubbermaid manufactures more than containers for leftovers. This 24-gallon tub is big enough to fit and organize everything on this list, ensuring nothing gets lost. (It’s 26 by 18.3 by 17 inches.) The detachable lid secures on both sides via locking handles, and the simple design is durable. $39.95


Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.

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