Winter isn’t the ideal season for a road trip, but many of us nonetheless hit the road to spend the holidays with friends and family. Long road trips can get mind-numbingly boring, and driving through blizzards is tedious at best, so we recommend packing accessories to make the most of your time on the road. We’ve selected items that can help you during an emergency, devices that will keep you and yours entertained, and fun gadgets you’ll never want to drive without again.
Schumacher Jump Starter ($60)
Jumper cables are great if you have another vehicle to give you a friendly jolt. However, if you’re in a more isolated area, jumper cables are essentially useless. The portable self-powered Schumacher jump starter is ideal for this exact scenario, and it also lets you test your battery and your alternator so you’ll know exactly where your problem is coming from.
Ztylus Stinger ($30)
No one wants to think that they will get in a car accident, but being prepared for it will give you a sense of security. The Stinger is a handy device to have at your disposal after an accident. If your car windows or doors are jammed, the Stinger is designed to shatter the dashboard or car window, thus allowing you to quickly exit your vehicle. The device also incorporates a slim blade on the backside, which allows you to slice through a jammed seat belt.
Fobo Tire Plus ($168)
Properly inflated tires wear more evenly, thus increasing the lifespan of your rubber as well as fuel efficiency. Rather than using a handheld pressure gauge to ensure your tires are properly inflated, however, the Fobo Tire Plus system uses a series of Bluetooth gauges that relay this information directly to your smartphone. Fobo will alert you when your tire pressure is getting too low directly on your phone. The app even provides a straightforward tutorial, making installation a breeze.
Scosche USB Charger ($10)
As you begin to accumulate car gadgets, you’ll also need more space to charge many of these devices. Thankfully, Scosche’s charger allows you to charge two devices at once. While there are USB hubs with more ports, this unit is one of the best given its low profile and budget-friendly price tag. There are plenty of excellent chargers if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, too.
Tile Mate ($25)
Our forgetfulness costs us thousands of dollars over the course of our lifetimes. Unsurprisingly, one of the most commonly misplaced items is our car keys. Thankfully, the Bluetooth-equipped Tile Mate easily slides onto a key chain, allowing you to track the whereabouts of your keys using an accompanying mobile app — even if they’re locked inside your car. Tile is one of the best Bluetooth trackers on the market, and it’s even compatible with several infotainment systems.
Garmin Dash Cam 56 ($200)
A dash cam is an exceptional tool for determining fault after a car accident, and the Garmin Dash Cam 56 is our top pick. The device captures images in crystal-clear 1080p video, saves video on impact, and will record your GPS location to show when and where accidents occurred. It keeps you safe, it’s compact, and it even responds to voice commands.
Escort Max 360 ($550)
When it’s just you and the open road, no cars in sight, it’s nice to go a little bit over the speed limit. Unfortunately, this unlawful (albeit ubiquitous behavior) will eventually lead to hefty fines. Thankfully, there are an array of radar detectors on the market to notify us when law enforcement is using radar in the vicinity, including the lauded Escort Max 360. The device is one of the most accurate on the market, loaded with dual antennas and robust smartphone compatibility that allows you to network with other nearby speedsters.
Most of us simply shudder at the thought of starting our workday without a cup of coffee. It’s easy to forget to set our favorite coffee maker, or, if we’re running behind, we may simply lack the time to swing by our preferential coffee shop on the way to work. Designed for the flibbertigibbet — or those with a soft spot for unnecessary gadgets — the Nanopresso is a coffee maker tailor-made for those of us who are constantly on the move. It doesn’t need power to work, and it’s compatible with Nespresso capsules.
Automatic Car Adapter ($70)
The Automatic Car Adapter plugs into the standard diagnostic (OBD-II) port on most cars from as from as far back as 1996, so it pulls data directly from the on-board computer. The paired mobile app also has many convenient features, including a vehicle locator, mileage log, and the ability to notify emergency services after an accident. The car adapter works with third-party apps, but you’ll need to pay a monthly fee if you want that functionality.
Ion Audio Cassette Bluetooth Adapter ($20)
If your car is living in the past, a Bluetooth cassette adapter is a great way to stream all of your favorite playlists directly from your smartphone (without any unsightly cord clutter). Ion Audio’s offering is one of our favorites, too. It offers roughly four hours of playback on a single charge, which is more than enough juice to play all of your favorite — or embarrassing — tunes, much to the dismay of your friends. It even allows for hands-free calling via a built-in microphone.
Backseat Car Organizer ($9)
Once you’ve amassed an arsenal of useful gadgets, you’ll need a place to stow them. Thankfully, Ride Beauty’s apt-titled Backseat Car Organizer is a solid storage option for families and hoarders alike. The unit is made of durable mesh and polyester, and comes with an array of compartments and flexible pockets. The adjustable headrest strap also easily fastens to virtually any seat back, allowing you to keep all of your belongings within arm’s reach.
Akaso Mirror Dash Cam ($120)
The Akaso Mirror Dash Cam is one of the best cameras for your rear-view mirror. Instead of sending footage either to an external screen or your smartphone, the Auto Vox beams footage from a camera positioned above your rear license plate to a small screen integrated into your rear-view mirror. The camera itself features a durable, water-resistant design, too, while the LCD monitor offers auto-adjusting brightness and anti-glare properties, among other incentives. It doubles as a dash cam equipped with a Sony IMX307 sensor that provides surprisingly good night vision.
Hudway Drive ($190)
Hudway’s portable head-up display sits on your dash and wirelessly mirrors your smartphone’s screen in front of your eyes. It remains one of our favorite HUDs because you can still control basic phone functions on your device while using it — meaning you can quickly manage calls, switch tracks, or share your location while seeing directions on the HUD. The transparent lens focuses the virtual image about nine feet in front of you, and it’s perfectly visible at night or during the day.
Vanmass Wireless Car Charger ($46)
The Vanmass Car Charger is part phone mount, part wireless charger. The device supports phones ranging between 4 and 6.5 inches in size, meaning it’s compatible with most smartphones currently on the market. The flexible arm and gravity-sensing splint also allow for the utmost adjustability, ensuring you can properly position and mount your phone from your dashboard, an air vent, or your windshield. The two-year warranty doesn’t hurt, either.
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