One day you might find yourself on the side of the road with a dead cell phone and a blown gasket and think “If only I had a spare phone charger”. Or maybe you’ll hit a patch of black ice and get stuck in a snowbank on a lonely, dark road.

Situations like this are impossible to predict and happen to everyone at some point or another.

But if you have a well-stocked car survival kit, you can keep yourself and your passengers safe and back on the road quicker than you can say “shotgun”.

Items to Add to Any Car Survival Kit

You can purchase a pre-made roadside survival kit, but making one on your own means you can tailor it to fit your specific needs, and be sure you’ve got every scenario covered.

Here are the most effective items you can have in your car survival kit.

Drinking Water

It’s super easy to keep a case of water bottles on hand in your car. Not only is having water on hand good for long car rides but it can be a literal life saver in an emergency.

Non-perishable Snacks

When a car full of people get hungry, everyone’s moods will turn sour really quick. If you keep some non-perishable snacks on hand such as granola bars, then you can avoid a hunger-related meltdown.

And for more serious situations, it’s best to have food in case you become stranded. Power bars or MREs are a good choice because they’re compact and light weight, but still get the job done.

First Aid Kit

A good first aid kit is essential for any car survival kit. They will come in handy whether you’re dealing with a small scrape or serious wound.

First aid kits will also have medication, such as aspirin for aches or antihistamines.

You can buy a pre-made first aid kit with all of the essentials, or build your own!

Flashlight or Headlamp

No one wants to be stuck trying to change a tire in the dark, right? Add a flashlight to your car survival kit to avoid this headache. Try looking for a flashlight that is waterproof, or a multi-use one that flashes.


If there’s one thing worse than being stuck trying to change a tire in the dark, it’s having a flashlight but the batteries are dead. Keep plenty of spare batteries on hand to avoid this situation.

And make sure you pack multiple types of batteries, not just ones for the flashlight. Think about anything that might need a battery in a tight situation, like your car key fob.

Flares or Reflective Triangles

Being stuck on the side of the road with an empty gas tank or a blown out tire can become very dangerous if you don’t have flares or reflective triangles. Make sure other drivers see you and steer clear of the road hazard by placing them next to your vehicle. For optimal visibility, put out three that are 50ft apart.

Cell Phone Charger

Your phone has an annoying habit of dying when you need it most, right? Avoid being stranded with no way of getting help by keeping an extra charger in your car survival kit at all times.

You can even take it a step further and get a portable power bank, that way you can charge your phone even if the car is dead. You can also help avoid this situation by making sure your phone is fully charged before leaving the house.

Paper Map

Yea, a paper map might sound way too retro or even redundant. Why bother with a paper map when your cell phone can do it for you?

Well, maybe you’re in a situation where your phone is dead and you don’t have the extra charger. Or you could be stranded in an area that has no service. Then a paper map is going to be your way home if you have to hoof it.

Consider keeping a compass with your map, so that you don’t get too turned around.

Jumper Cables

Finding yourself stuck with a dead battery is the worst. Especially if was because you did something silly, like leave an interior light on all night. We’ve all been there.

By having jumper cables in your car survival kit, you can be back on the road in no time with the help of a fellow driver. Or you could be the fellow driver helping someone. A good way to avoid being stuck somewhere with a dead battery is by doing a regular battery test, especially before a road trip.

Portable Jump Starter

Say you’re taking a road trip across the United States on the “Loneliest Road in America” and you wind up with a dead battery. Well, jumper cables are great, right up until you don’t have anyone around to jump you off.

This is where a portable jump starter would come in. Having one of these nifty tools in your car survival kit means you’ll be on the road again in no time.

Portable Car Jump Starter

Extra Car Fluids

Having extra car fluids on hand can keep you going, at least until you get somewhere that will give you a more permanent fix. This means extra motor oil, coolant, and even windshield wiper fluid.

Tire Sealant or Portable Air Compressor

Having one of these tools in your car survival kit can help you avoid having to change a tire on the side of the road. Both will give you a quick fix that will get you to the closest repair shop.

Tire Gauge

You can help avoid needing the sealant or compressor by making sure you have a tire gauge in your car survival kit, and regularly checking your tires. Make sure you check you’re spare too!

Fire Extinguisher

A car accident can go from bad to worse if a fire breaks out. By having a fire extinguisher, you can deescalate a bad situation, whether you were involved in an accident or witness one that requires it.

Look for an extinguisher that is equipped for Class B and Class C fires. This means it is tailored for fires that are common with cars. This includes flammable and combustible liquids and electrical equipment.

Tow Strap

Invest in a sturdy tow strap to help you get out of sticky situations. If you find yourself stuck in a hole or some mud, with the help of your tow strap and another car you can get yourself out in no time.

Keeping a tow strap in your car means you can help someone else in need if the situation arises.

Multi-purpose Tool

Who doesn’t love a tool that does everything? Carrying a multi-tool means you have pliers, a knife, scissors, a screwdriver, and even a bottle opener at all times.

Try looking for a multi-purpose tool that has car specific features as well. This could mean a seat belt cutter or a window punch that can save your life if you ever find yourself trapped in your car after an accident.

Duct Tape

Honestly, does this one even need an explanation? It’s amazing how much you can fix with a roll of duct tape. Keep a 10-foot roll in your kit to ensure you’ll have plenty when you need it.


Like duct tape, paracord is another one of those simple products that have a seemingly endless list of possibilities. This lightweight utility rope can serve you in a number of ways if you find yourself in an emergency situation.


A spare blanket or two is good to keep in your car for a variety of reasons. Say one of you on the road trip likes a frosty car, then a blanket is going to make it more bearable.

On the other hand, if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road in the cold, or worse, have to leave the car to seek help or shelter, a blanket can be a life saver.

You can choose a space-saving emergency fold-up blanket, or opt for an inexpensive fleece throw blanket.

Rain Poncho

Rain ponchos are cheap, compact, and sold everywhere (not just Disney World). A rain poncho can help keep you dry if you find yourself changing a tire in the rain. It can also help protect you from exposure if you have to leave your broken down vehicle to seek help or shelter.

Sanitation Products

It’s a good idea to keep a variety of sanitation products stocked up in your car survival kit. This can include disinfecting wipes, heavy duty trash bags, a roll of toilet paper, or even a spare tooth brush. Keep some extra rags on hand too.

Winter and Snow Related Items

If you live in area where freezing temperatures are a concern or are traveling somewhere with snowfall, you should add a few extra items to your car survival kit

  • Shovel: Invest in a small, folding shovel to help dig your car out of heavy snow
  • Kitty Litter: Kitty litter is another great tool for getting your car moving in snow and ice. By sprinkling kitty litter in front of your tires, you make it possible for them to get some traction on the slick roads.
  • Ice Scraper: Dealing with ice on your windshield can be such a pain, but it is easily avoidable by keeping an ice scraper in your car at all times.
  • Extra Hats and Gloves: Just like with the blanket, having spare hats and gloves can protect you from the weather if you find yourself stranded.
  • Hand and Foot Warmers: Hand and foot warmers are inexpensive and pack a punch when it comes to providing extra heat.

A Car Survival Kit Means Safe and Happy Travels

If you find yourself in an inconvenient or dangerous roadside situation, a car survival kit stocked with all of the essentials will be there to help.

And while you may think a survival kit is overly cautious, roadside incidents are one of those things you don’t really worry about until they happen to you. So avoid the headache of being stuck without proper tools and build a kit to fit your needs.

Did we leave anything off our list? Let us know in the comments below. Or if you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us today.