One day a big box arrived on my doorstep. “Ah, this must be that FLARED (all caps, if you please) auto emergency kit management wants me to review,” I muse. Out of the cardboard shipping box comes an off-white suitcase-esque deal styled like an Anvil road case. It’s about the size of five or six laptops stacked up.
I pop open the latches . . . “Oh, no,” I say with a heavy sigh. Sitting right on top there’s a card that reads: “CONGRATULATIONS! You have now joined the ranks of confident and empowered women that can take on whatever comes their way.”
Everything is color coordinated purple & white; even the jumper cables are purple.
The really sad thing is, this is a totally unnecessary bit of gender-skewed marketing. The FLARED auto emergency kit is actually stocked with useful goodies that everyone should have in their car. Apart from the size and heft of the case, which would be hard to keep in trunks of smaller cars, most of the stuff in there would come in handy.
The kits come in two basic styles: A Classic kit and a Deluxe kit. What’s in the box breaks down as follows:
1. 6-inch jumper cables.
2. Duct tape and twine for DIY auto body repair.
3. A first aid kit for minor injuries.
4. Poncho for overhead protection.
5. Pepper spray for self-defense.
6. Hand sanitizer and tissue packet to keep things clean.
7. A mini squeegee to remove dirt and ice.
8. A waterproof and shock resistant LED flashlight to see, and a reflective belt to be seen.
9. A plastic pouch contains additional assorted tools such as a tire pressure gauge, and a double-headed screwdriver, glow sticks(6-8 hours of light), stainless-steel box-cutter blade, and a pen.
To which I say:
1. Jumper Cables: I think they mean 6 feet or 60 inches as the cables are certinately longer than 6 inches. Otherwise, they’re actually high quality jumper cables, akin to what you’d get at the local auto parts store. Only purple.
2. Duct Tape and Twine: Good and necessary stuff (both are color coordinated purple of course) although the mention of “DIY auto body repair” does give one some painful mental images.
3. First Aid Kit: Very minor, by the looks of it. About the size of a wallet. But hey, better to have something than nothing at all.
4. Poncho: Ahhh, someone had a British car, perhaps? Was someone on the FLARED team caught one too many times in the rain, cursing Lucas, Lord of Darkness? Good call on the poncho!
5. Pepper Spray: Sure, why not have some pepper spray handy.
6. Hand Sanitizer and Tissue Packet: The FLARED kit says this is to “keep things clean.” I can appreciate this, but I am so tempted to hand a single tissue to any given mechanic friend of mine, next time they’re elbow deep in some grungy job and say, “Here. Keep things clean. Have some hand sanitizer?” And then run before I get beaned with a torque wrench. However, we sense the ladies own this kit will see the value in it.
7. Mini Squeegee: This is actually a really nice piece and looks like the type that auto body shops use for working with bondo. And as anyone in the Northeast will tell you, much better than a credit card!
8. Flashlight and Reflective Belt: This is a really good flashlight. It’s bright as a sunrise, and rather nicely encased in rubber. Only downside is that it’s white, so it might show dirt and grime easier.
9. Assorted Tools: All nice and handy in the right situation. Except for the glow sticks, which are the proportions of a drinking straw and cracked (i.e. activated) when I pulled the pouch out of hard case. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the color of the glow sticks is purple.
Includes all the essentials featured in the Classic Kit, with the additional supplies listed below:
1. A waterproof, floating, crush-proof, and magnetic LED emergency flare.
2. Bottled water and snacks.
3. Signature FLARED umbrella.
4. A portable power bank so you can recharge your phone in a pinch.
My take is:
1. LED Emergency Flare: These things are cool, and this is a really useful bit. It’s about the size of a hockey puck and actually has two functions; one is a very (and I mean very) bright flashlight and the other is a near seizure-inducing strobe light that can probably be seen from two counties over. No fuss, no muss, no chance of igniting some spilled fluids and starting a range fire the size of Rhode Island. Oh, and it’s a got a magnet on it, which is a handy little nicety.
2. Bottled Water and Snacks: Okay, good idea. Always want to have water and . . . food? What on Earth is this? Uh, those would be Jelly Belly Sport Beans Energizing Jelly Beans in natural berry flavor. Color of the packet? Go ahead, guess, guess! You’re right, it’s purple! Research conducted by the Jelly Belly Candy Company yielded positive results, although other sources suggests they are marginal at best. We would much rather see a healthier, non-perishable alternative, like almonds or cashews.
4. FLARED Umbrella: Have I mentioned the whole British sports car/Pacific Northwest weather continuum that I grew up in? Good, I thought I had. Umbrellas are always a good thing to have handy, just in case. This is one of those super small ones that folds up even more for easier stowing.
5. Power Bank: This! This is a really nice thing to have, given the wondrous modern technical age we live in. It’s about the size of a guitar slide or a large lipstick and can be charged up and saved for later to re-juice your cell phone. Why is this such an important thing to have, out of all these other practical pieces in the kit? Because you can use it to power up your phone and call for a tow truck or other emergency services.
Oh, and there’s one other thing included in the FLARED auto emergency kit. A bumper sticker that reads: “Cuz Women Drive Now Too.”
So, the capsule review of the FLARED auto emergency kit is this: Good, useful stuff that everyone one should have in their car (in one form or another) that suffers from condescending packaging. However, don’t let that stop you, especially if your wife or girlfriend is in need of something like this. Visit the FLARED website and use the promo code automoblog to save 15 percent.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.