Last Updated on July 24, 2021 by Chris and Lindsay
Having an RV emergency roadside kit is vital to staying safe during your travels. While you should plan on having all of the RV essentials packed before you hit the road, your emergency roadside kit should take the top priority as your safety should always come first.
Whether you are headed out for a long weekend here or there or plan to live on the road full-time knowing that you are safe and can handle breakdowns, accidents and minor repairs on your own will bring you invaluable peace of mind.
We’ve lived in our RV since 2018 and have all sorts of breakdowns and roadside emergencies. Fortunately, we always put our roadside kit as a top priority and there have been very few incidents that we were not able to handle on our own.
The Must-Have Emergency Roadside Kit
First and foremost we want you to consider the fact that when you RV for any amount of time you are carrying the most important people with you in your life.
This is especially true if you are a full-time RVer because you’re carrying not only the most important people in your RV but also the most important things..
That being said, we have learned that your tires and tire care should be the most important safety consideration.
So before we get into the emergency roadside gear you should consider the following recommendations about your tires:
- Have them professionally inspected (particularly if you recently purchased your RV)
- Consider an initial rotation and balance. Definitely be sure to rotate and balance your tires every 5,000 – 6,000 miles.
- Check and maintain proper air pressure at all times. In most circumstances, you’ll want to remain at maximum air pressure for your RV tires.
- Ensure you have a full-sized spare, not a donut, for your RV. Be sure to check it regularly so it is safe if installed.
- Carry all essential roadside emergency gear with you at all times and know how to use each item
Because of the importance of your tires to the rest of your RV, these first few items are related to tire care and maintenance.
1) Tire Pressure Gauge
The most basic, affordable and easy-to-use roadside safety gear is also the one that can prevent most of the issues you may face on the road.
While you can invest in tire gauges with all sorts of bells and whistles, the most important thing to ensure is just that you have one that you know is accurate.
Sometimes you get what you pay for when you pick up a cheap tire pressure gauge at the counter of the auto parts store.
Pro Tip: While checking your tire air pressure take the time to manually inspect the tires. Look at the tread depth, any unusual wear and particularly for nails, screws or other items that may be stuck in the tire. If you notice any issues, head to the closest tire repair shop. We’re fans of Discount Tire because they are in 38 states and their customer service is top-notch.
2) Air Compressor
Once you know your tire pressure levels having an air compressor is the next most important item to carry with you.
We used to lug around a huge pancake air compressor that was quite effective but took up a lot of space.
Once we discovered that this Viair portable air compressor could handle the same heavy lifting as the pancake air compressor and take up a fraction of the storage space we quickly purchased it and haven’t looked back since.
READ MORE: Check out our Expert Buyers Guide for Air Compressors if you want to look at other great options!
3) Dually Valve Stem Extension
If you own an RV with dual rear wheels (“dually”) then you’ll want to invest in dually valve stem extensions. Reaching the valve stem inner tire of your dually is virtually impossible.
So even if you could visually inspect the tire to see that it needed air, filling the tire would be a nightmare.
Dually valve stem extensions make it easy to check and fill the inner tires and are well worth the investment.
4) Tire Repair Kit
Tire repair kits are affordable and relatively easy to use. So if you happen to take a nail or screw that causes a leak you can patch the leak yourself in most situations.
Once you remove the nail or screw you use half of the tool to sand the rubber tire and the other half to insert the patch.
These are trustworthy repairs – but you should always get to the nearest tire repair shop to professionally and more permanently repair or replace the tire.
Pro Tip: Being able to use a tire repair kit can save you plenty of time over changing the flat with your spare tire. However, either way, you should be sure to stop at the nearest tire repair shop.
5) Hydraulic Bottle Jack (20-ton)
In order to change a flat tire you’ll have to lift your RV safely off the ground. And while some vehicles include standard jacks, we’d recommend that you consider carrying a hydraulic bottle jack.
Our RV does not weigh anywhere near 20 tons. But for a few extra dollars having a jack that you can rely on to do the job is worth it. Of course, if your RV is 20 tons or close to it you may want to look at the next larger size.
Even with a smaller RV, we found that carrying this 20-ton jack gave us the peace of mind we needed so we could focus on the other aspects of changing a flat tire.
6) Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS)
While not required in your RV emergency roadside kit, a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is a great way to keep track of your tire pressure without having to get out and manually check all of the time.
The TPMS will report the tire pressure of each of your tires on a monitor that will indicate if any tire drops below the required pressure. They are definitely more pricey than a simple tire gauge.
But if you have the money to spend and don’t want to bother with manually checking your tires then adding a TPMS is a great idea.
7) Lug Wrench
Nothing beats having all of the tools and time to change your tire only to realize that you don’t have the tool you need to take off the rims and/or tire itself.
For this you need a properly-sized lug wrench.
Note that sometimes the outer rim lug nuts are a different size than the lug nuts that hold the tires in place so be sure to check that you have the right size lug wrench.
8) Jumper Cables
Jumper cables likely won’t get you out of a bind if you break down on the side of the road. Most of the time what brings a moving vehicle to a stop can’t be fixed with a jump.
But they will help get you moving if you find your RV won’t start. They’re also great to have on hand to help other stranded drivers.
In fact, we have used our jumper cables to help others more than helping ourselves.
Pro Tip: Be sure you know how to use your jumper cables. Connect the two positive cables first (red). Then connect the negative (black) to the donor vehicle battery and connect the negative (black) to the unpainted metal on the dead vehicle.
9) Portable Jump Starter
If you’re worried about having to ask someone else for a jump or think you may travel to places where you are unlikely to come across someone to help you jump your RV if needed, having a portable jump starter is a great solution.
These are lightweight and compact and very modestly priced considering the power they pack.
We’d definitely recommend a high-powered portable jump starter if you have a heavy-duty truck because often it is difficult to find another vehicle with the ability to jump your truck.
A bonus is that most of these also have USB plugs and flashlight components that consolidate other RV emergency roadside gear on this list.
10) Flashlight / Headlamp
We own both a reliable flashlight and a couple of headlamps that both come in handy during repairs and breakdowns. We’ve found a flashlight is a general way to light up an area you need to inspect – such as beneath the RV at night or deep within the engine.
But when it comes to actually doing the work you need to do, having an extra hand free makes a headlamp an invaluable piece of your emergency roadside kit.
11) GoodSam Roadside Assistance
Having all of the RV emergency roadside gear and the best tools to fix anything you come across is nice. But so is knowing that if you have an issue you can’t fix you have someone who can help you fix it on demand.
We would not consider driving a mile in our RV without GoodSam Roadside Assistance.
Although we have great RV insurance, we found that towing – in particular – is difficult for standard auto insurance companies to understand. GoodSam will assist in locating and changing tires, fluids and fuel.
They’ll also help with minor repairs on site. And if they can’t get you back moving they’ll tow you to the next RV repair shop that can get you on the move.
For the affordable cost, we don’t blink at maintaining our GoodSam Roadside Assistance plan.
12) Emergency Roadside Kit
If you don’t want to piecemeal an emergency roadside kit you can buy most of the following items in a bundled kit. While there are several different types of kits will all sorts of bells and whistles, these are a few we’d consider purchasing ourselves if we were starting from scratch.
If you don’t go with one of these kits, be sure you do add the following items to your own roadside kit.
13) Safety Lights (LED not flare)
Safety lights are important to let approaching vehicles know that you are broken down on the side of the road. In the past emergency roadside kits would include roadside flares.
But these are dangerous in and of themselves, let alone to the increasing risks of wildfire. Instead, opt for an LED roadside light that will provide ample warning to oncoming drivers and keep them from crashing into you.
14) Roadside triangles
Roadside triangles do essentially the same thing as LED safety lights but are clearly more functional during the day.
You will want to have both on hand because nobody is ever able to predict whether they will have an emergency during the day or night.
15) Reflective Vests
Including a reflective vest in your RV emergency roadside kit will allow you to safely maneuver around your broke-down vehicle in a way that clearly identifies you to passing drivers.
While you should always use roadside triangles and lights to announce your breakdown, a reflective vest comes in handy if you intend to try and work on the vehicle on the side of the road.
16) Mechanic Gloves
Mechanic gloves are not necessary. But they are incredibly helpful when it comes to changing a tire or reaching deep beneath the hood of your RV.
We prefer the kind that are tight-fitting so it feels almost like you aren’t wearing gloves at all.
17) Heat Blanket
A heat blanket in your emergency roadside kit will likely be the last thing you need.
But in the event you or one of your passengers experience severe trauma and shock or in the event you break down in extremely cold conditions, having one of these could mean the difference between life and death.
Having a whistle in your RV roadside kit is a simple and affordable way to be able to contact help in the event of emergency.
While you likely won’t find yourself in such a situation, there are places in Alaska and Baja, Mexico where we could imagine a whistle would definitely come in handy.
In Alaska, in particular, the whistle can also double as a bear-repellant in the event you find yourself stuck in the wilderness.
19) Vehicle fluids (oil, brake, transmission)
Since every RV is different, you won’t find a vehicle fluid kit that includes all the fluids you need to carry. But you should definitely carry the fluids specific to your RV with you at all times. At the minimum we’d advise you to have the following:
- Brake Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Transmission Fluid
20) Tow Rope
Tow ropes are more practical for smaller RVs. But if you find yourself stuck in soft sand or mud and need just a nudge to get out, having a tow rope that you can attach to another vehicle just might do the trick.
If you do significant off-roading you may want to consider a full-fledged winch.
When we traveled in our truck camper the last thing we did before we hit the road was to install this winch (which we thankfully never used).
Having a shovel handy is a great way to help dig yourself out of soft sand and mud. While you don’t necessarily want to get dirty digging yourself out.
Combining this with a set of traction pads means you may not have to rely on anyone else to help you.
22) Portable USB Power Bank
Being able to keep your cell phone charged during a roadside emergency is critical. Having a portable USB power bank alleviates this need.
It also comes in handy when you hike or do other outdoor activities where it is important to keep your cell phone or other mobile device charged at all times.
23) Empty Fuel Jerry Can
If you’ve ever found yourself on the side of the road out of fuel you’ll remember how difficult it is to humble yourself to ask for help. But standing on the side of the road looking for a lift is easier when you are standing there with an empty fuel can.
While we often travel with a full jerry can for times like these, you want to at least be sure to have an empty fuel can in your RV emergency roadside kit.
When you know you’ll be traveling long distances, such as in Alaska, you can always fill up the jerry can in advance.
24) Spare Water Container
While most roadside emergencies can be solved in a quick fashion, you still want to make sure that you have enough freshwater to keep you and your loved ones hydrated in the meantime.
We always travel with a spare water container just because we know water is that important.
25) RV Tool Kit
While we’ve focused on a lot of gear specific to emergency roadside safety we need to point out the importance of having a comprehensive RV tool kit to help fix the things that go wrong when RVing.
Sometimes having a few zip ties can prevent further damage to a flap of plastic you’ve been dragging. Or having a handful of tools makes switching out the bulbs in your headlights for night safety quick and easy.
READ MORE: Check out our post on everything you need to include in your RV tool kit.
Did we miss something? Or have something to say about any of these RV emergency roadside gear that we failed to mention? Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know!