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Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit review

Small and inexpensive, this kit still does without many essentials

Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit
(Image: © Always Prepared)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Basic in the extreme, the Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit might be small, light and easy to hide, but it promises more than it delivers with minimalist safety gear.

Pros

  • +

    Small, light and fits under front seat

  • +

    7.5-foot jumper cables

  • +

    11 items

  • +

    Self-powered flashlight

  • +

    Extra room for additional items

Cons

  • -

    Lacks many basics

  • -

    No roadside assistance

Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit: Contents

Size: 12.3 x 11.0 x 3.0 inches
Weight: 3.0 pounds
Number of items: 11
Jumper cables/length: Yes/7.5-feet
First aid kit: No
Air pump: No
Shovel: No
Flashlight: Yes
Fire extinguisher: No
Roadside assistance: No

At $40, The Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit is among the cheapest ways to be ready for a disaster. It's small, lightweight and inexpensive, but does without many of the things we consider essential to road warriors. 

While it skimps on what it contains, the biggest thing that the Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit has going for it is that it’s among the smallest products of its kind. The heavy-duty nylon bag measures in at 12.3 x 11 x 3.0 inches, and weighs less than three pounds. The design also includes a small handle and reflective strip for night work.

Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit in trunk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Unlike many of its competitors, this kit can easily be stuffed under a car seat — ensuring it's at arm’s reach for your next emergency. On the other hand, it lacks room for anything else. Honestly I feel as though adding a pull out pocket, like the one included with the Justin Case bag, would have made the Always Prepared kit much more useful.

Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit under seat

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the company says the kit has 62 items, my count turned up 11, meaning it has the absolute bare minimum for dealing with a roadside disaster. Happily, it all appeared to be well made. Inside the kit includes a poncho, reflective vest, whistle and pair of glow sticks. The pair of warning triangles snap together easily and sturdily, so you can place it on the road to warn oncoming traffic. 

Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit contents

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 7.5-foot jumper cables are essential should you need to jumpstart a dead battery, and are just long enough to be useful. But unfortunately, despite what many competitors do, the red and black clips are not marked for “+” and “-” polarity. This can make it easy to confuse the two if you're working at night.

The included first aid kit is a little better than the cotton swabs that the Lianxin kit came with, but is still pretty rudimentary. Packaged in a small Ziploc bag, the first aid kit included several sterile gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape and–you guessed–cotton swabs. There’s also a mylar blanket for any cold nights out on the road.

The kit has the same rechargeable flashlight as the Lianxin Roadside Emergency kit. It features three LED elements for some impressive brightness, and ran for more than five hours after 20 compressions of its battery charging mechanism. 

Always Prepared Roadside Emergency Kit flashlight

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sadly the Always Prepared kit does without a proper toolkit, although there is a small spade screwdriver and roll of electrical tape. The lack of a tow strap also could mean you end up stranded or have to leave the vehicle behind should the worst ever happen. 

Signifying its minimalist approach to the emergencies it contemplates, the Always Prepared kit does without a tire inflator, fire extinguisher, shovel windows breaker or any roadside assistance coverage. Your manicure might suffer in the event of having to change a tire as well, because there are no work gloves to be found.

Interestingly there is a full page form for recording the details of an accident, along with a carbon copy page in pink — presumably for the other person involved. 

If the idea of an automotive emergency kit is to be ready for anything, the Always Prepared Emergency Kit doesn’t live up to its name. It’s easy to stash away but seems to ignore as many problems as it solves. 

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.