Each fall, journalists and car geeks from around the world convene in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) auto trade show. Participants come to check out the latest tires, engines, and other car accessories. We headed there to find car essentials that won’t break the bank. Here are five things under $100 that you should consider keeping in your trunk at all times.
Rigid Ignite Surface Mount LED Light ($70)
Rigid designed these small, powerful 1,000-lumen lights (pictured above) to work with GoPro mounts. That means you can put one on a GoPro suction cup, slap it on the side of your car, and light up a campsite or use it to change a tire on the side of the road. Mount one on your helmet and use it for a 24-hour mountain bike race. The light runs off your car battery or an external battery pack and comes in three varieties: spot, flood, or diffused.
PowerAll Deluxe Emergency Jump-Starter ($80)
You should always carry jumper cables, but what if you’re all alone in the backcountry? The PowerAll Deluxe lithium-ion battery comes with its own cables and has enough juice on a full charge to jump most cars up to 20 times. It also doubles as an 86-lumen flashlight and comes with USB ports to charge your phone, camera, and GPS.
ARB Large-Dial Tire Gauge ($31)
Airing down your tires is one of the best ways to get better traction in the snow or rough terrain. Instead of trying to use a cheap gas station gauge, invest in this one from ARB: the large dial allows for precise measurements. Then use it to reinflate your tires to the proper pavement pressure when you’re done driving in the muck.
Rugged Radios RH-5R 5-Watt Dual-Band Handheld Radio ($85)
Your cellphone won’t work way down that backcountry road, so you and your buddies should each carry one of these radios. By adding the long-range antenna (an extra $40), you should be able to stay in touch even if you’re a few miles apart.
Bubba Rope Gator-Jaw Synthetic Shackle ($43)
If you slide off the side of the road on the way down from the ski hill and someone offers to pull you out with a rope, you’ll need one of these. It loops through the recovery hooks under your car or around your frame, creating a place to attach the tow rope. Don’t be skeptical of the thin design. It’s made from a synthetic rope that, pound for pound, is stronger than steel.