How to Build a Car Emergency Kit - Free Checklist

How to Build a Car Emergency Kit - Free Checklist

Several years ago my family went on a trip to Lake Powell in southern Utah. It was a six-hour drive and most of that was along rural two-lane highways. We took my family car to get there - an old 1996 white Chevrolet Suburban that had been experiencing problems. We were able to make it to Lake Powell uneventfully and enjoyed a wonderful week on the lake but the problems started as soon as we got back to the marina. Our car had been sitting there for a week and simply refused to start. Family members offered to jump our car so we all started looking for jumper cables and couldn't find them anywhere. Half an hour later, my uncle (who had already headed home) came driving back into the parking lot and was able to jump our car with his portable jump-starter. Now, years later, I am a believer in the importance of being prepared when it comes to your car. There is absolutely nothing worse than being somewhere and not being prepared for situations that arise.

How to build an emergency car bag
If you're like us, you have your bug out bag, your get home bag, and your EDC bag. You feel like you're prepared and ready for anything! Another preparation kit we'd like to suggest that you make, is a car emergency kit. This kit is composed of items that are specific to your car, rather than specific to your person. You can buy pre-made kits online but we recommend putting your own together so you can prepare for the challenges that are present in your area. This article goes over tools that are good to have anywhere and also provides a downloadable checklist with essential tools to have.

How to build an emergency car bag - smuggler duffel bag

Firstly, we suggest having a high quality and durable bag that easily fits in the trunk of your car. My personal favorite is our Smuggler Adventure Duffel Bag. It's nice and big but also good quality so you know it will be with you for years to come. It is durable, water resistant, and is very easy to clean if it gets dirty. We recommend that you add a seat belt cutter and a glass breaker. This tool is really handy because it includes both. Now we don't recommend keeping this in your bag as you may need it yourself. I recommend keeping this tool in your glove box or center console so you can access it easily. Another important tool set is a tire jack and tire iron, assuming that you have a spare tire (It's important to note that some newer cars don't come with a spare tire, so ensure that you have one). It can be dangerous to try to do repairs on a busy road, so if you have to pull over to fix something, consider adding safety equipment to your emergency kit. Little reflective triangles help other drivers to know they're approaching you and wearing a reflective vest helps them see you while driving by.

Snow covered car - emergency car kit

We all know that dangerous driving conditions are abound in the winter, so if you regularly travel in conditions like this, you should have at least one ice scraper in your car. You can also include a small shovel to help dig you out of snow and some cat litter or sand to give your tires traction on top of snow and ice.

Other good tools to include are as follows:

  • Multitool
  • Crank Lantern/Radio
  • Cash (small denominations for purchasing equipment or supplies)
  • Small Air Compressor
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tow Rope
  • Screwdriver
  • Duct Tape
  • Warm and thick Blanket
  • Heavy Duty Garbage Bags
  • Portable USB Charger
  • Headlamp
  • Wrench
  • Pry Bar
  • Bungee Cords
  • Car Fire Extinguisher (Make sure it's for a vehicle)
  • Portable Jump Starter

There are also some other items you should always carry with you. Having a small supply of food in your car helps to keep your spirits up should you be stuck for several hours. Also make sure to have a good supply of bottled water. If you are in a cold area and the water is prone to freezing, you'll have to bring it in with you when you go home at night, but it will be worth it to have water with you in case of an emergency. A good jacket/sweatshirt is always a good idea in case you get cold and a rain coat is necessary if you have to walk anywhere while it's raining. Another good thing to include would be a comfortable and sturdy pair of walking shoes. These are lifesavers if you have to walk home from your car and you were initially wearing uncomfortable or impractical shoes. Be sure to include physical road maps of the areas you'll be travelling in as well as a compass. Sometimes your phone just doesn't work and you'll be able to get where you need to if you have a way to navigate.

Finally, you should always carry a first-aid kit in your car. You may decide to include items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer so you can stay clean. In April of 2020, the CDC recommended people add cloth face masks or face coverings to their emergency kits in light of the global pandemic. If you're looking for one that is ultra comfortable and breathable, check out our Rogue Neck Gaiter Face Masks. They're very compact, incredibly simple to use, and can even help keep you warm in an emergency. Pain relievers are also a good idea as well as backup prescription medications. My husband, for example, is a Type 1 Diabetic and we always make sure we have backup insulin as well as sugary drinks, snacks, and rescue medication if his blood sugar runs low.

Now more than ever, it's incredibly important to be prepared. This year alone we've experienced a global pandemic, fires, earthquakes, and more. When you're prepared, you are able to help not only yourself and your own family but you can also help those around you who may not be prepared! Let us know what you think of our list and what things we forgot in the comments, and always be prepared to conquer your current situation. VENI VIDI VICI.




anne marketing coordinatorAnne is the Marketing Outreach Coordinator at 3V Gear and ardently loves dogs of all kinds (except Chihuahua's). If she isn't at work you can find her at school or reading the latest political thriller. She loves traveling and experiencing new adventures with her husband and has a goal to visit all seven continents. Anne is currently studying International Affairs and Global Studies at Brigham Young University.



  • JC Miller

    Great article, I recommend everyone to have a vehicle bag, I’ve used mine many times when I’ve forgotten my primary supplies and/BOB. This list is a great start to any vehicle. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kim

    I am guessing that after you got back, you traded in your old 1996 white Chevrolet Suburban for a newer black Subaru Outback shown in the pictures. As for the list, it is something to think about.
    Thank you.

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