Octane
By Amos Kwon
on 6.24.13

Like a shoebox filled with letters from your old girlfriend (you don’t still have that, do you?), no one wants to open your car’s glove compartment. What on earth could be in there — a non-functioning drugstore flashlight, insurance cards from 2009, a Spandau Ballet CD, perhaps some ketchup packets? Good god. We don’t even know you.

Rather than an automotive bear trap where your hands don’t want to venture, you should see your glovebox as a compact automotive resource for items that should be immediately accessible; that’s what it’s meant for, after all. Clean it out (yuck) so that your date won’t scream like a cheap horror movie victim when she opens it, and start stocking some essentials. Trust us. Aside from the no-brainer — your car’s Owner’s Manual — here’s our list of 10 that should find their way into your ride.

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Auto Meter Tire Pressure Gauge

So you’ve got a fancy tire pressure monitoring system among your slew of new car gizmos. Good for you. It’s great for when you’re on the move, a bit of a pain to look at when you’re actually inflating your tires and getting your hands dirty. You need an accurate and easy-to-read tire gauge (the bargain stick-type doesn’t count, Ebenezer), especially since the ones connected to gas station air pumps are notoriously unreliable. Look for one with a real gauge that holds the measurement for more than a millisecond. Plus, the more it looks like a speedometer, the better.

Streamlight Pen LED Flashlight

From checking your tires in the dark to looking at the fuse box under the dash (where your dome light does zilch), it’s important to have a small but bright torch available — and the nightlight app on your smartphone shouldn’t be your go-to. Get something that uses standard batteries you can find anywhere (avoid li-ion, since you can’t exactly buy them at an isolated gas station). The cheap flashlights from Wal-Mart are way too large and don’t cast nearly enough light to be useful to anyone. Spend a tiny bit more and get something that will hold up — and one that you can actually hold in your mouth without getting lockjaw.

Adventure Medical Kit

We get that some of you can be accident prone. Hot coffee in the nether regions. The dreaded finger slammed in the door. A white-hot metal seatbelt to the arm. You’ll want to be prepared for these minor medical problems that could occur in transit. Make some space for a small first aid kit and you’ll be happy relieved that you won’t have to resort to the old duct tape on your sagging headliner to bandage that vicious paper cut you just got from the tollbooth receipt.

Autodocument Document Organizer

We can’t even count how many friends we know who don’t keep current info in their car. It could mean the difference between pissing off that motorcycle cop and getting away without a citation for going 15 over the limit. Another piece of advice — take photos of the documents on your phone and keep them there, just in case. It’s helped us on more than one occasion. Also, keep your medical records there. You never know when you’ll need them… or when someone else needs to find them for you. We advise that you keep a small document organizer in the glovebox to keep them all together. And please, no glamor shots of yourself in there. You’ll definitely get cited for that.

Columbia River Knife Multi-tool + Wiha Hex & Torx Bits

If you can’t keep a small toolkit in your car, opt for a decent multi-tool. It certainly can’t fix everything, but it’ll do in a pinch. Plus, if you get one with a good set of pliers along with hex and torx bit capability, you can accomplish quite a bit — from opening a clogged air filter box to cinching and cutting wire to keep hoses in place. Plus, if it’s got a good knife, your gourmet salami and cheese lunches just became car-friendly.

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Belkin Car Charger

It’s happened to all of us: hit the road with a fully charged smartphone and then, after surfing the web while stuck in traffic and talking our friend off the relationship ledge, we’re down to fumes. Always keep the appropriate OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) charger in the glove compartment. OEM chargers shut the flow of juice down when your phone is fully charged so your battery won’t get beaten up. You never know when you might be in a deli-sized pickle and you need to call emergency services, your wife or your buddy who said he’d help you move a body if necessary.

Mechanix Wear Automotive Work Gloves

No, this doesn’t mean you actually have to pull off mechanic-like feats of wonder under the hood, but it will help you protect your fingers (and your clothes) should you need to get greasy. Remember the last time you had to change a flat tire in your work clothes? Tire grime and Brooks Brothers do not good bedfellows make. At least keep your hands away from the automotive chum and keep your skin intact.

Lifehammer Emergency Hammer

We pray you never end up in the drink with your car or trapped and upside down for some horrible reason. In the off chance that ever should occur, your crepe-soled desert boots likely won’t do much to break a window to freedom. This is where a specifically designed glass breaker and seatbelt cutter could mean the difference between sweet life and ignominious death for you (and your loved ones). It looks harmless enough, but the hardened steel tips are strong and dense enough to break auto safety glass, while the small shrouded blade can cut through a standard seat belt without harming the passenger. We know you like to use a ball-peen hammer and a machete whenever you get the chance, but resist the urge.

Fisher Space Pen and Moleskine Notebook

Your dried up Bic disposable pen and wad of Wendy’s napkins won’t do the job when you’ve got to take down the phone number of the cute girl you just rear-ended (plus, you just look cheap). Make sure you have a compact pen with reliable ink (the Fisher Space Pen can write underwater and upside down) and more than a few random sheets of paper on hand.

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Hand Wipes

Try not to remember the times you grabbed a grimy gas pump handle and then wrestled a burrito for lunch. Shudder. You’ll use these more often than you think, and they can keep infection at bay when you’re on the move.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original GP series, OCTANE a premium take on all things motoring.