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The Best Gear for a Roadside Emergency

Updated Dec 10, 2022
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A breakdown or flat tire can happen to anyone at any time. And what you have in your car can make the difference between getting back on the road quickly and enduring a long, trying, even dangerous ordeal by the side of the road. We spent more than 60 hours researching emergency gear and common roadside problems, and we talked with safety experts and mechanics to get their advice. Whether the challenge is a flat tire, a dead battery, or traveling safely during a pandemic, here are the things you shouldn’t leave home without.

Accu-Gage 60 PSI with Shock Protector, our pick

Accu-Gage 60 PSI with Shock Protector

Our pick
The favorite gauge of all the tire professionals we interviewed.
Accutire MS-4021B, our digital gauge pick

Accutire MS-4021B

Our digital gauge pick
A digital display is more precise than analog, but the pros we interviewed all use analog gauges.
Torin T10152 Scissor Jack, our pick

Torin T10152 Scissor Jack

Our pick
A sturdy and stable alternative to the jack that came with your car.
Gorilla Automotive 1721 Telescoping Power Wrench, our pick

Gorilla Automotive 1721 Telescoping Power Wrench

Our pick
A substantial wrench with an extending handle for leverage.
Fix-A-Flat , our pick


Our pick
This is an emergency quick fix for flat tires.
Viair 84P, the best tire inflator for all tire sizes

Viair 84P

The best tire inflator for all tire sizes
This portable air compressor is quick, accurate, and well built.
Lifeline AAA Heavy Duty 16-foot 6 Gauge Booster Cables, our pick

Lifeline AAA Heavy Duty 16-foot 6 Gauge Booster Cables

Our pick
These are long and durable enough for any situation, with a current rating that can handle SUVs.
PowerAll Deluxe PBJS12000-R, great for all engine sizes

PowerAll Deluxe PBJS12000-R

Great for all engine sizes
This model can start larger V8 engines, and it has effective safety features and sturdy clamps.
We recommend
Duck Brand MAX Strength Duct Tape, our pick

Duck Brand MAX Strength Duct Tape

Our pick
Super-strong and sticky, flexible enough to wrap around corners, and easy to tear in a clean, straight line.
Petzl Actik Core, a rechargeable headlamp

Petzl Actik Core

A rechargeable headlamp
A bright light with the highest beam quality that stays charged for days—whether you charge it with a USB or AAA batteries—makes this perfect for backpacking trips.
StonePoint LED Emergency Beacon, our pick

StonePoint LED Emergency Beacon

Our pick
Crushproof and water resistant, and much safer than traditional flares.
Ammex GWON Gloveworks Orange Nitrile Glove, our pick

Ammex GWON Gloveworks Orange Nitrile Glove

Our pick
Strong, disposable protection for your hands.
Emergency Zone Emergency Poncho, our pick

Emergency Zone Emergency Poncho

Our pick
Foul-weather protection that fits in your pocket.
First Alert PRO5, our pick

First Alert PRO5

Our pick
Easy to handle and effective against all types of common fires, this First Alert model exceeds the minimum recommendations for the home and is easy to find.
Quickie Microfiber Towels, our pick

Quickie Microfiber Towels

Our pick
Fast and easy cleanup on the go.
Goop Multi Purpose Hand Cleaner - Orange Power, our pick

Goop Multi Purpose Hand Cleaner - Orange Power

Our pick
A quick grease-buster.
Black+Decker MATRIX Wide-Mouth Storage Bag, our pick

Black+Decker MATRIX Wide-Mouth Storage Bag

Our pick
Keep your emergency gear organized and ready.
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, the best disinfecting wipes

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

The best disinfecting wipes
Effective, EPA-approved, and (usually) easy to find, these pre-soaked wipes need only four minutes of contact time to neutralize the coronavirus.
Lysol Disinfectant Spray, the best disinfectant spray

Lysol Disinfectant Spray

The best disinfectant spray
This aerosol works in 10 minutes and is fabric-safe, but it’s guaranteed to eliminate the coronavirus only on hard surfaces.
First Aid Only 299 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit (FAO-442), our pick

First Aid Only 299 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit (FAO-442)

Our pick
This kit is chock-full of bandages and cleaning supplies suitable for minor incidents.
Leatherman Skeletool CX,

Leatherman Skeletool CX

All of the essentials you need in a pocket tool, in a well-built body that’s easy to carry and use.
Resqme Quick Car Escape Tool, our pick

Resqme Quick Car Escape Tool

Our pick
A simple and inexpensive way to escape a sinking car.
Garmin DriveSmart 55 , the best car gps

Garmin DriveSmart 55

The best car GPS
Best-in-class directions, driver alerts, points of interest, and free map updates—combined with the best screen we’ve seen on any GPS unit—set the DriveSmart 55 apart from the pack.
Reliance Aqua-Tainer 7-Gallon, our pick

Reliance Aqua-Tainer 7-Gallon

Our pick
A spill-proof water jug for any emergency.
Clif Bar , our pick

Clif Bar

Our pick
Widely available, these bars taste good, last a year, and cost about a dollar each.
Emergency Mylar Blankets, our pick

Emergency Mylar Blankets

Our pick
Cheap insurance against hypothermia.

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