Packing a car full of gear can be overwhelming, so it's always wise to have a list of a few essentials.
Packing a car full of gear can be overwhelming, so it's always wise to have a list of a few essentials.

The Road-Tripper’s Toolkit

Hitting the road for more than a few days? Here's what should go in your trunk.

Packing a car full of gear can be overwhelming, so it's always wise to have a list of a few essentials.
Alex Aciman

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On shorter road trips, you almost always know where you’re going and where you’re staying every night. But it’s hard to scale that level of preparation throughout a truly ambitious road trip. To help you navigate those longer journeys, we came up with seven items that should be in every trunk.

The North Face Dolomite 20 Sleeping Bag ($99)

(Courtesy of The North Face)

Suppose you’re stuck in your car for the night. It’s cold, but keeping the heat on will run down battery. As temperatures drop, you’ll want something that fully unzips so you and your passengers can use it as a blanket. Though it has the look of your old-school sleepaway-camp bag, the Dolomite is among the most durable on the market and is made of all-synthetic, 30 percent recycled materials.

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Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser ($23)

(Courtesy of Tecnu)

If you plan to walk through any wooded area while on a road trip, there’s a decent chance you’ll run into some mildly poisonous plant. That’s why Tecnu deserves a spot in the trunk. When applied shortly after contact with an itchy leaf, Tecnu significantly reduces the risk of an allergic reaction. It can also be used to clean gear or clothing that came into contact with the offending weed.

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UST BlastMatch Fire Starter ($15)

(Courtesy of UST)

When your scout skills fail, the best tool in your trunk may very well be the BlastMatch fire starter. This one-handed instrument works in the rain and starts a fire with the push of a button—a welcome alternative to spending 20 minutes flicking a gas-station lighter.

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Slime 40033 Rechargeable 12V Tire Inflator ($62)

(Courtesy of Slime)

Tire inflators offer a quick and easy solution to one of the greatest car troubles any road-tripper can have. But they can be cumbersome, and one of the greatest risks of roadside auto maintenance is getting hit by another car. Unlike many inflators, the Slime inflator is small, packable, and cordless, which means you can pump up tires from any angle or position.

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AAA Atlas Book ($12.50)

(Courtesy AAA)

The best road-trip routes have limited cell service. When smartphone options fail, you’ll need a proper physical map to stay on course. The AAA Road Atlas is the gold standard for roadside paper navigation.

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Petzl Reactik+ Headlamp ($110)

(Courtesy of Petzl)

It’s never fun trying to secure a flashlight under your chin when you need both hands to change a tire. This headlamp can be charged via micro-USB and adjusts its own brightness with a built-in light sensor. It also has a red bulb to preserve your night vision when you power it on in the dark.

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