If you are regularly venturing off the beaten path with you vehicle there are a few things that you need to have ready in case of emergency. It doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter these are must have items for your car. Although if it is winter there are a few extra suggestions so read the fine print! For a Downloadable checklist click here.

  1. Basic Tool Set – A small bag with common tools is a great idea. You can find these ready made for you car or you can put it together yourself. I keep a hammer, multi-tip screwdriver, crescent wrench, vice grips, pliers, small socket set, flagging tape, duct tape. Keep in mind that you will want to circulate a new roll of duct tape in once a year to avoid it loosing its stickiness.
  2. Booster Cables- Booster cables are an important tool that you will need especially if you are out camping where it is easy to have a light left on inadvertently. Make sure you have at least a 6′ long set, longer if you drive a large vehicle. It it also important to know how to use them, its not hard, but I keep a cheat sheet with them to help me remember!Cheat Sheet to Boost Car
  3. Reflective Vest – Another essential for roadside repairs!
  4. Shovel – A simple folding shovel if very important if you live in a snow filled environment. It can also come in handy when you need it camping! I have even got out of a pinch using the handle to extend a tire iron for more leverage!
  5. Tarp – A small tarp can not only be used as a shelter but is also useful to place on the ground if you need to perform vehicle maintenance or change a tire. This will keep you clean and dry and back on the road in no time.
  6. Hitch Pin, Come Along, and/or Tow Strap – I keep all three in my vehicle for the off change I hit the ditch or I come across someone who has hit the ditch. A lot of newer/city focused vehicles lack a good tow spot. By keeping the hitch pin in your car you can easily create a good tow point. The Come Along is a hand operated winch that you can utilize in a sticky situation!
  7. Road Flares – Transport Canada recommends keeping a set of road flares in your vehicle for breakdowns in adverse situations. These will make you highly visible in an emergency and better yet you get to play with them ever few years when they need replacing!
  8. Fire Extinguisher – This one also comes to us from Transport Canada and I think it is particularly relevant. While all RV’s and Motorhomes come equipped with them most tent/car campers neglect to pack one.
  9. Fire Starting Kit – You likely already have this in your camping kit but chances are it isn’t in your car year round. You want to be able to put those wilderness skills to use when you break down in a remote location on a cold night.
  10. First Aid Kit – As you will see below I keep a few items in my glove compartment for easy access but I also keep a full kit in emergency compartment of my car. I use the checklist for a Standard  First Aid Kit which you can find here.
  11. Work Gloves – Enough said.
  12. Warm Clothing and Footwear – This is critical in the winter, especially if you commute in not-so-practical work clothing. You always want to have a warm change of clothes and decent footwear at your disposal.
  13. Warm Blanket – Luckily my car has a bed built into it but if your doesn’t you will want to make sure that should your engine not be running you can stay warm for a few hours, if not the entire night.
  14. Emergency Food – Non-perishable, easy access calories are another essential to keep tucked away.
  15. Water – Bottled water is the easiest to store and will tolerate being frozen. These should be changed out ever 6 months.

Glove Box Essentials
This list is a few other emergency essentials that I like to keep handy in my glove compartment.

  1. CPR & Trauma Essentials – I keep a few first aid items handy in my car in case I come across an accident or I myself am in an accident. These include a CPR barrier device, gloves, shears, trauma pads, burn dressings, and triangular bandages.
  2. Hand Warmers – Stuck on the side of the road trying to fix something, cold hand wont make it any easier! I stash a few hand warmers here just in case.
  3. Flash Light or Head Lamp – With spare batteries!
  4. Cell phone chargers and a spare USB battery pack –  My cell phone charger always seems to go walking so I keep a back up tucked away just in case. I also keep a USB battery pack but you have to make sure it gets charged regularly so that it is goo to go.

Hopefully this was a thorough and helpful list of emergency items to pack away in your car. Think I’m missing something? Please let me know in the comments section below!