Heavy-Duty Jumper Cables
This is one area on which not to skimp. Why? Because a lot of jumper cables on the market today simply aren't up to snuff. In fact, in our humble opinion, most jumper cables stink. They're either too short, too thin or won't stay flexible in the cold - which is when you really need them.
When you're shopping for cables, we'd recommend that you buy ones that are at least 20 feet long, which gives you plenty of length with which to work. They should be at least four-gauge, and thicker if possible. And, finally, they should be made of copper, so there's less resistance.
Tip: Make sure the cables you're getting work with the side posts found on some batteries - many cables don't.
Tire pressure is very important - it affects everything from handling to braking to gas mileage to tire wear. We recommend that you never use one of those cheap, pencil-type tire gauges. They're notoriously inaccurate. And don't trust the gauge on the air hose at Phil's Quikie Gas either. Gauges at gas stations are often completely out of whack as well.
This is the best tire gauge we've ever found, and we've graciously included it in our Shameless Commerce Division. It's easy to read. It goes up to 100 pounds, so you can use it to check high-pressure spare tires - and your bike tires. It holds the reading, so you can remove the gauge from the tire to get a closer look at the number. It's got a flexible hose, so there's no fiddling with the valve stem. And, finally, there's the Tom Magliozzi feature - it's got a tough rubber gasket around the outside. So when you accidentally ride your bike over it, it won't get damaged.
Tip: Don't check tire pressure after you've been driving. The friction of the tires on the road creates heat and will give you the wrong reading. Check the tire pressure *before* you start driving. What is the "correct" tire pressure? It's different for all vehicles. Look in your owner's manual, which will usually refer you to a label on the doorpost.
Triangular Folding Reflector
Breaking down on the side of the road is bad enough without a bread truck plowing into you. We recommend you have a sturdy, heavy triangular folding reflector on hand.
Tip: The best ones have a base that's loaded with sand so it won't blow over when that semi comes barreling down the road.