Best Car Escape Tool for Cutting Seatbelts

by Tommy Grant

Cars are dangerous. You’re in a tin can filled with flammable gas right behind a chunk of metal trying to control thousands of explosions per minute. It’s safe to say when something goes wrong, you need to get clear of the vehicle. Sometimes doors and seatbelts get stuck but you don’t want that trapping you inside. There are many types of car escape tools out there, but some models are much more effective than others.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best car escape tools, tested them, and now the results are in: the overall best, an everyday carry option, and an upgrade option. If you need a seatbelt cutter that you can trust, one of our suggestions will break through.


Contents (Jump to a Section)


The Best Car Escape Tool

Amazon Basics Emergency Tools

Two-pack, Simple, and Effective

No need to drop big money when one of the cheapest car escape tool options fits the bill and gets the job done.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

For less than $5 each there is very little reason to not have these in your car. This emergency tool is effective and will get the job done- there is no need for anything fancy unless you are looking for something with a smaller profile, that you don’t have to swing to break glass, or that you will carry with you every day.

We’re highlighting the 2-pack here, and you can get these lifesaving hammers even cheaper if you buy in larger quantities.

Here is everything you get with these escape tools:

  • 2-pack
  • High-vis orange
  • Tungsten hammer, razor belt cutter
  • Secure mounting bracket
  • 7″ L x 2″ W x 1.3″ H
  • 4.8 ounces

With good reliability and a price that is impossible to beat, it’s easy to see why the Amazon Basics Emergency Tool 2-Pack tops the rest.


EDC Seatbelt Cutter

Gerber Gear Strap Cutter

Portable, Effective, and Durable

A high-quality strap cutter that will easily get through seatbelts and windows when you are on the go.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Carrying a strap cutter with you every day isn’t something just firefighters do. Plenty of people commute or ride in others’ vehicles making it impossible to pre-place standard car escape tools.

The Gerber cutter was the highest quality cutter we tested with the sole exception of the discontinued Benchmade that cost twice as much when it was available.

Here is how this everyday strap cutter measures up:

  • Stainless steel rescue hook
  • Glass breaker tip
  • Rubberized grip
  • Lanyard hole
  • 4.25″ long
  • 1.7 ounces

If you are looking for a fast-working seatbelt cutter that conveniently goes where you go, this Gerber Gear Strap Cutter is the best option.


Upgrade Car Escape Tool

Resqme Escape Tool

Lightweight, Easy to Use, and Compact

The versatile car escape tool slices through seatbelts with ease and punches glass with minimal effort.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

The Resqme tool is well-known at this point, being a convenient compact escape tool that everyone should have in their vehicles. Remove the safety cap and you can slice through seatbelts easily, or use the spring-loaded punch end to quickly shatter windows.

Here are the specs:

  • Wide range of colors, including high-vis options
  • ABS plastic, stainless steel
  • Seatbelt cutter
  • Tempered glass punch
  • 3″ x 1.25″ x 0.6″
  • 0.7 ounces

If you need a car escape tool, the Resqme Escape Tool is a great choice that is the easiest to use.


Everything We Recommend

Resqme Escape Tool

The versatile car escape tool slices through seatbelts with ease and punches glass with minimal effort.

Where to Buy

$8* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing


Our research narrowed the field down to a few brands and types of escape tools that we compared: Resqme, Lifehammer, Gerber, CRKT, Amazon Basics, Benchmade, OKC, Safehammer, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We considered a wide range of strap cutters with plenty of different models across many different manufacturers. We previously reviewed window breakers, focusing on glass breaking alone. So this time around we evaluated the effectiveness of seatbelt cutting with tests in this review for a better look at an entire vehicle escape tool solution.

We’re always looking for new and better gear, so if you have an escape tool that’s versatile and effective, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually so we can try to get it in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.


What to Look For

The best car escape tools have a few features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Breaking Power
  3. Durability
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find the perfect tool to escape being trapped in your car. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the escape tools that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a strap cutter shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Most of them are inexpensive, and you can often find improvised tools to do a similar job (like a knife) if you have a tough time justifying it with a tight budget.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, even when it comes to safety supplies. It’s better to diversify your spending to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.

Cutting Effectiveness

The main consideration in our testing was whether the strap cutter cut seatbelts effectively. The entire point of a strap cutter is to safely and easily cut straps.

To test this, I bought actual seat belts and webbing straps to test the tools on to see how well they performed. Many of the tools I tested had accumulated over the years, so

Breaking Power

We reviewed window breakers separately, but when combined with a seatbelt cutter into a car escape tool they can make a life-or-death difference. The same criteria applies with the force required affecting how many times you may need to use a glass breaker and its effectiveness.

Storage Options

Having smart and accessible storage options for car escape tools is a priority. You don’t need to rummage through your center console or glovebox to find it. It should be in a predictable spot close to the seatbelt you would need to cut.

Weight and size matter less than the ability to position it where it won’t jostle free during a wreck and where you can reliably find it in a stressful situation.

Versatility

Some escape tools do more than just cut seatbelts and break glass. While versatility is always nice, it’s not especially necessary with such a niche tool.

The exception is when you carry it as part of your everyday carry loadout; where size, weight, and versatility all matter much more.


How to Use a Seatbelt Cutter

Many seatbelt cutters have a safety measure on them to prevent accidental cutting- whether it’s your seatbelt or your fingers. The design of the holster, a safety cap, or just a sheath will cover the cutter.

Because of that the steps are simple:

  1. Check your positioning- will cutting the belt cause you to fall? Adjust accordingly.
  2. Remove the safety cap.
  3. Hook the belt with the cutter and pull.
  4. Assist other passengers.
  5. Exit through a door or window.

If you can’t get through a door, you may need to use the glass-breaker tip by either hammering or using the spring-loaded punch.

The Urban Prepper ( from our top prepper YouTube channels) put together a great video on our upgrade pick a while ago:


A car escape tool is an essential item for any kit involving a car. Whenever you get a new car, you should position an escape tool in a known and predictable spot:

The versatility of a strap cutter is useful on the go as well. Some people consider one for their daily loadout:

If you find yourself with extras, they are useful as gifts for new car owners.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best car escape tools are useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical survival experience:

Goudey, C., et al. (1982). A quick-release hook for lifeboats and offshore rigging. IEEE. OCEANS 82 Conference. (Source)

Moffat, C., et al. (1984). Diagnosis of Seat Belt Usage in Accidents. SAE Transactions. Volume 93. Section 2. Pages 1065 – 1079. (Source)

Jaggi, S., et al. (2020). Crash Sensing Seat Belt Release System. Recent Advances in Mechanical Engineering. Pages 607 – 613. (Source)


The Final Word

A well-placed strap cutter can make a difference if you have one at the right place at the right time. When life closes a door and keeps you from opening, go through a window. If you can’t get it open, use a glass breaker.

Here are a few other gear reviews and guides our subscribers have found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our testing found the Amazon Basics Emergency Seatbelt Cutter to be the best total solution given its value, cutting effectiveness, breaking power, storage options, and versatility.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.


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