Expert-tested, editor-approved

Gear Guy

What's in My Car Safety Kit

It's best to have everything you might need, even if you never have to use any of it

Here’s the kit that I put together and keep in my car. (Sarah Jackson)
Photo: Sarah Jackson gear guy

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn an affiliate commission that helps pay for our work. Read more about Outside’s affiliate policy.

It's best to have everything you might need, even if you never have to use any of it

The West has gotten plenty of snow this year, which is good for skiers, snowboarders, and the coming summer’s water supply. But it can also lead to some sketchy driving, with snow and ice coating roads and even avalanches sliding across highways. Here’s the kit that I put together and keep in my car to prevent it from getting stuck, help me get it unstuck if I end up in a snowbank, and aid me while I hunker down and call for help if I’m really in trouble.

BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 Tires ($145–$402 per tire)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

The KO2s are without a doubt the most important item on this list. The best all-wheel-drive technology in the world wont’t do you any good in the snow if your tires can’t get any traction. (My wife and I learned that the hard way three years ago, after sending our all-wheel-drive Honda Element into a snowbank while heading down an access road with bald tires.) The aggressive tread and lugs actively bite into snow and dirt, while its siping draws moisture away from the rubber’s surface. I’ve had the KO2s since January and haven’t fishtailed in the slightest.

Buy Now


Rumpl Jeremy Collins Puffy Down Blanket ($199)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

I used to throw a zero-degree sleeping bag in the back of my car. But, while not as warm, the 600-fill down Rumpl is big enough for my wife, daughter, and me to huddle under should we have to wait for help after a crash or breakdown. It packs to the size of a cantaloupe.

Buy Now


SureCall N-Range Signal Booster ($200)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

Even if road conditions are stellar, I get the heebie-jeebies driving through areas without any cell service. That AAA membership isn’t any good if you can’t actually reach anyone for a tow. The SureCall’s antenna affixes to the roof, while the phone mount attaches to the vents on the dash inside. The device is good for boosting cell service and data, and now I almost always have enough bars to guarantee a call for help in the most remote parts of my road trips through southern and central Oregon.

Buy Now


Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Explorer Kit ($59)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

It’s one of those things I hope I never have to use, but the robust Mountain Series Explorer kit has tools for bigger emergencies, like EMT shears, gauze, bandages, and a proper wound-irrigation syringe. And even if I don’t end up needing it, the $59 is worth the peace of mind.

Buy Now


Uncharted Supply Co. The Zeus Portable Jump Starter and Charger ($150)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

With enough juice to start even big trucks, included jumper cables, the ability to power my phone ten times, and a built-in flashlight, the Zeus has all of my potential power needs covered in a package no bigger than a lunch box.

Buy Now


Goal Zero Crush Light Chroma Collapsible Solar Lantern ($25)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

This solar- and USB-chargeable lantern has six different color options, which can be strobed to make your vehicle more visible to rescuers (as well as distract and calm down freaked-out kiddos). It couldn’t be less obtrusive, about the size of a tea saucer, and runs for three hours on the high setting.

Buy Now


Kinco 1927KW Pigskin Gloves ($18)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

Digging yourself out of a snowbank or ditch sucks no matter what, but frozen, achy fingers will only make it suck more. These pigskin gloves have proved plenty warm for skiing and, at $17, are an affordable option for everyday use in the yard, too.

Buy Now


Mammut Alugator Pro Light Shovel ($75)

gear guy
(Sarah Jackson)

It makes sense that if an avalanche shovel is good for moving snow after a slide, it works perfectly well digging out stuck cars. I once used one to help extricate two 16-wheelers in a wild storm. The Alugator Pro Light, with a hardened anodized blade and an ergonomic handle, does an excellent job chipping away at snowbanks on the highway. Is an ultralight $75 scoop the only option for an emergency kit? Of course not. But it’s already my backcountry shovel of choice, so I’m not going to spend the money on a separate one just for the car.

Buy Now

Filed To: Gloves / Gear / Cars / Recovery