Car Emergency Kit Survival

25 Car Emergency Kit “Must Haves” to Rule Any Road [Updated for 2022]

While the weatherman is already promising inclement weather and record snow and ice storms, we at Bug Out Bag Academy have been reviewing our car emergency kit for whatever is still to come…

Now you may be thinking, “isn’t that what bug out bags are for – in case of emergencies?” And you would be absolutely right! But roadside emergency preparedness is special in that it goes far beyond your basic bug out bag needed for survival. (If you have yet to do so, you can download your free bug out bag list here.)

A car emergency kit can mean the difference between getting back on the road quickly, and being stranded for hours.

I’ll never forget my latest run-in with a broken down vehicle. It was evening time and I’d just driven home from working downtown in one of the worst snowstorms in recent memory. I’d just finished thawing out and was sitting down to dinner with my wife when I got a call.

It was a good buddy of mine…

He was stranded on the side of the highway with a flat after he’d spun out on some ice and popped a tire on the curb. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his spare was flat too! Fortunately I was able to come to his rescue that night, and I’m sure you have similar stories you could share as well.

But… if he’d had a few of these items listed below, that night could have turned out quite differently for him – and me. 🙂

If you or someone you know travels a lengthy distance or commutes on a daily basis, like our friend here, an emergency car kit can mean the difference between getting back on the road quickly, and being stranded for hours while you wait for help, oftentimes in dangerous conditions.

So keep reading, because today, we’re going to be covering how to build the Ultimate Car Emergency Kit to help get you out of all sorts of jams.

Keep in mind, if you take the time and attention to gather these items, they’ll be a great supplement to any bug out bag in your vehicle. Perfect for those instances when you’re out and about and you or someone you happen upon needs some roadside assistance.

So without further ado, here it is:

Car Emergency Kit “Must Haves”

(Edit: Some of these are pretty self explanatory, but after fielding a number of great questions about specific recommendations, we’ve included links below so you can easily look through them on Amazon to get a better idea of what we specifically look for. Of course, quite a few are dependent on the type of vehicle you own and the climate you are in etc., so always use discretion.)

Additional Items:

  • Hand-held GPS unit
  • Towing strap or chain
  • Sanitation (hand sanitizer, towelettes, small trash bags)
  • Emergency car battery charger
  • Solar battery charger
  • Extra pair of shoes, gloves etc.
  • Toiletries, soap, etc.
  • Cell phone charger (left in car at all times)
  • Battery powered and/or Hand crank radio
  • Sleeping bag(s)

Now, sure there are a few companies that provide pre-assembled roadside emergency kits, and chances are they’ll help in a pinch. They’re certainly better than nothing at all… but like a bug out bag, nothing beats a custom-built kit, personalized for your specific needs.

Winter Car Emergency Kit Video Walkthrough

If you want to take a closer look at a custom-built kit, which I highly recommend you do. Be sure to check out my good friend, and well-respected Wilderness Survival Instructor, Craig Caudill as he walks you through his personal Winter Car Emergency Kit below.

Also, to help you get started, below we’ve compiled these items mentioned into a free Car Emergency Kit Checklist for you to use and share with those close to you. With a little bit of time and preparation, we can all be safer this winter. So grab your list and start creating your own today! Don’t be like my friend and get caught unprepared. Be safe out there!


Click here to get your FREE Emergency Car Kit PDF

Did we forget anything? Do you already have a car emergency kit? Let us know what you include in yours!

If you liked this post, please let us know by leaving a comment below and clicking those share buttons to tell your friends. As always, we appreciate you taking a minute of your time to spread the word about emergency preparedness.


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  • […] such as bottles of water, a flashlight, a phone charger for the car, and perhaps a small tool kit. This emergency preparedness writer explains, “you can never be over prepared. Some supplies that people don’t usually think to add, but […]

  • […] worse when you’re completely unprepared for it. To avoid this, you should stock your car with an emergency kit full of essentials you might need to stay full, warm, and safe. This should include water and […]

  • […] make sure that, if it does happen, that you’re ready to handle the incident. Make sure you have a car emergency kit in your vehicle, which contains water, blankets, and a high viz jacket in case you need to stand […]

  • […] 25 Car Emergency Kit “Must Haves” to Rule Any Road […]

  • […] 25 Car Emergency Kit “Must Haves” to Rule Any Road […]

  • […] 25 Car Emergency Kit “Must Haves” to Rule Any Road […]

  • […] Here’s what you should know if you plan to be one of those people. […]

  • Laura says:

    Love the information here. Speaking of bugs,skeeter repellent & high SPF lotion or spray is a must for the Southern climes. Also, lady preppers, add a change of clothes & comfy walking shoes. Nothing like being stuck & wearing a dress & heels. Also a flashlight tazer & can of mace are good to on hand.

  • […] kits can be rather fun to assemble and use. Be sure every bug out bag has one and consider making extra kits for each vehicle as well. Above all, though, practice using the components in your fire kits. Learn about different […]

  • I really like your article. It’s evident that you have a lot knowledge on this topic. Your points are well made and relatable. Thanks for writing engaging and interesting material.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks, Cynthia!

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  • Adam Mollette says:

    A small bottle of bleach and flower food. Like the powder king that you might get with a bouquet of flowers. Its an easy way to start a fire.

  • […]  Free Car Emergency Kit List […]

  • Wayne Pearson says:

    I’ve discovered a great item for emergencies to include in a vehicle. It’s a hand-held STROBE LIGHT powered by only one “D” size battery. This strobe light can be seen two miles away. It is well worth the price of $20.00 and it can be purchased from the internet. This item can save a car battery from going dead when the emergency vehicle flashers are left on for an extended period of time. There are lower priced strobes on the market, but the quality is not the same. This strobe is also good for joggers, campers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, and boaters to name a few.

    • Helena Reid says:

      Can you share the link or a source?

  • Angelica says:

    Great post–thanks for putting this out there so that others don’t find themselves in a bad situation! I also keep some paracord in my car since it can double as tow rope, amongst other things.

  • Gene Aiken says:

    Any Prescription Medicines you need. To be updated regularly. Extra prescription glasses/sunglasses. Deck of cards.

  • Mel says:

    I know having water is always a great idea and that it should be left in your car an rotate every couple of months but leaving plastics bottles is bad. either in the cold or hot. Also lets say I was to need my water out of my car today it’s about -22F / -30C so can’t really drink it and melting it would use precious heat that you actually need. so what do you suggest to “fix” this?

    • Andrew says:

      Great question, Mel. Our friend Lisa over at The Survival Mom has some recommendations you might find helpful! IF none of these work for you, there’s always vodka… (just kidding, I think) -Andrew

    • Sam Umek says:

      You can get bags of water made for storage. I think Datrex makes them and there is another company that I used, but I can’t remember the name. They are in my BOB in the car. They are also available in pre-prepared BOBs.

    • Upstate NY says:

      We keep freezer pops in our kits. Extra calories and easy to eat frozen.

  • Tracy M Perez says:

    Not only does having bug out bag give a person the tools to survive, it also provides piece of mind. Get/make a bug out bag and familiarize yourself with everything that’s in it and you you don’t know how to use something or what the something is for, ASK. A bug out bag will be of much better use if you know how to use it correctly.

  • Sarah says:

    Excellent list, thank you. Cash is a good thing to add to the list.

    • Andrew says:

      Good add! Thanks, Sarah. 🙂

  • […] 25 Car Emergency Kit “Must Haves” to Rule Any Road […]