DIY: Roadside Emergency Kit

There are more than a few ready-made roadside emergency kits available, but the quality of these kits has always been lacking. I also find that they often include lots of unnecessary items or might be missing one or two critical pieces. I set out to build my own and pieced it together taking ideas from other kits.

I began by figuring out where and how to store my kit. The ideal setup would be a custom-built cargo organizer, as seen in J.A.’s 4Runner.

J.A.’s custom-built cargo organizer

Being short on time (and skill), I improvised by using an old pharmaceutical briefcase I had lying around.

I removed the wheels and handle from the briefcase so that it would fit more snugly in my cargo area.

First Aid Kit

I bought an inexpensive first aid kit with 125 items from Johnson & Johnson and used my own storage bag.

Jumper Cables

Jumper cables are a staple of any kit. I went with the Cartman heavy duty cables (2o feet) because they offered a nice balance of quality and price. They also came with a pair of gloves, a wire brush, and a bag.

2-gauge jumper cables
actual bag, brush, and gloves

LED Flares

Rather than the traditional, disposable flare, I opted for two of Smittybilt’s LED version. There are more affordable alternatives, but they don’t use lithium batteries and are a nightmare to change. This is a helpful video review.

Tire Repair Kit

Safety Seal has you covered if you need to plug a tire on the side of the road with its tire repair kit. It has everything you need in a nice durable plastic carrying case. I chose not to use the carrying case in an effort to save space.

Tow Strap

This is the Smittybilt 2" x 20' strap with a 20,000 pound capacity.

Portable Air Compressor

There are lots of good options, but I liked the power and size of the Smittybilt 2780. It attaches directly onto your battery. This video review was helpful.

LED Headlamp

This will come in handy on a solo tire changing mission in the dark. Under $10 and bright enough.

Misc. Items

  • Leatherman Multi-Tool
  • 50' Paracord Rope
  • Zip Ties
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Matches
  • Whistle
  • Gloves
  • Pen/Paper

Related: My 2007 Toyota 4Runner Build