Paul worked as an advocate for consumer rights for many years, giving him a passion for safety issues. UK born, he now lives in Florida.
My interest in window breakers began when I had to commute across a prairie that had a history of serious flooding. I witnessed some terrible accidents during that period and knew from local media reports that a large proportion of fatalities had happened because people had been trapped in their vehicle by floodwater.
Each of these deaths could have been saved if the victims had a window breaker close at hand.
Investigating further, I discovered that floodwater is not the only threat to life that can be countered with a window breaker. There are all sorts of environments where you really don't want to get trapped in your vehicle. Mountainous areas, or cliffs can be dangerous, as can long stretches of wilderness. Severe weather can also pose a threat to your safety: heat, rain, snow, and wind are all potentially deadly in certain situations.
As well as a built-in a hammer, many glass breakers also incorporate other survival tools. A seat-belt cutter, for example, will enable you free yourself and others quickly. A flashlight will help you find your way around in the dark, and provide you with the means to signal for help.
After years of research and experimenting with different window breakers, I've put together a list of tools that I believe to be the best currently available.
The Top 3 Window Hammers Currently Available
Here are my suggestions:
- The VicTsing Emergency Escape Tool: Classic Design for an Affordable Price
- The Resqme: Keychain makes it always within reach
- The 3-in-1 USB Charger/ Car Emergency Escape Device: A Well Designed Multipurpose Tool
I explain in more detail the reasoning for my choices below.
The VT Emergency Escape Tool: Classic Design for an Affordable Price
The VT Safety Hammer follows on from some of the classic early designs for window hammers, such as the LifeHammer. I have one of these in my car, mounted above the driver seat.
Despite its lightweight design, it does the job admirably, thanks to the two hardened steel points. Luckily, I've not had to use it in an emergency, but I did get to try it out on old car that was headed for scrap.
VT Hammer Pros
- The hammer end has two hardened sharp and heavy carbon steel points, which are effective at breaking a car window.
- Very affordable, it typically comes in two-packs.
- At the opposite end of the tool from the hammer is the seat belt cutter, useful for cutting yourself free in an emergency.
- Usually comes with a mounting bracket, so you can position it in a convenient place (you don't want to be trying to access the glove box, if you're stuck in the driver seat!)
- Makes a great gift for family or friends.
VT Hammer Cons
- Some people tell me that they don't like the lightweight feel VT. It does the job nevertheless though, I know because I've tried it out.
The 3-in-1 USB Charger/ Car Emergency Escape Device: A Well Designed Multipurpose Tool
Another clever design that works to give you easy access to a window breaker in the event of an emergency is this 3-in-1 USB Charger/ Car Emergency Escape Device. I was bought one of these as a gift from a friend, who appreciates my interest in safety devices.
The charger has two USB ports for charging your phone or other compatible devices. The metal tip of the charger is made from tungsten and designed to be an effective glass breaker. The placement of the seat belt cutter prevents your fingers from getting sliced, even when cutting.
3-in-1 USB Pros
- The USB charging function is awesome. It charges my phone in no time.
- It's easy to reach over and pull the tool out should you need to so quickly.
- The window breaker function is well designed. The tungsten tip breaks through glass surprisingly easily.
- Because it sits in your car's 12V outlet, you don't have any issues with mounting the emergency hammer in your car. Nor do you have to carry it around with you all the time on a keychain.
3-in-1 USB Cons
- The only problem I can think of is that the device is so well disguised that somebody who is unfamiliar with the car, say a front seat passenger, wouldn't know that there was a glass breaking tool right there in front of them in an emergency.
The Resqme: Keychain Makes It Always Within Reach
As I've already said, it is crucial that you always have your emergency window breaker close at hand in the event of an accident. It's no use if you are pinned into the driver's seat and get to it. The resqme car escape tool deals with this issue by combining the escape tool with a keychain.
I have given them to friends and relatives in the past as gifts and they are always popular. My wife loves hers.
Resqme Keychain Pros
- The keychain is lightweight and easy to carry.
- There is a built-in seat belt cutter in case you have to cut yourself, or a passenger free.
- This breaker has been around for a some years now and follows a tried and tested design.
- The Resqme comes in a variety of colors. My wife, for instance, has a pink one.
Resqme Keychain Cons
- The mechanism that you click can break eventually. My wife did have to replace hers.
- Works fine, but does require a little more effort to break a car window than with the VicTsing. I know this because I've tried it.
How to Install a Car Window Breaker
Once you've purchased your emergency window breaker, you will need to install it, of course. Many models come with a bracket for easy installation.
It needs to be somewhere handy, where you can put your hands on it quickly, should you be unlucky enough to need it in the aftermath of a car crash and need to make an emergency escape.
I would highly recommend putting your emergency window breaker tool either in the middle console or above the driver's seat, the two easiest places to access quickly in a confused or frightening situation.
Carrying your emergency window breaker in your bag, or on your person, risks the possibility that you won't have access to it, should the unthinkable happen and you are involved in a crash.
That said, many people keep their breaker on their key ring, and some punches are specifically designed for that. If you always keep your keys in your pocket, or close at hand, this may be a suitable solution for you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Which is the best window breaker for women?
Answer: It's difficult to improve upon a Lifehammer-style breaker mounted inside the vehicle, in my experience, whatever your gender. Some products do advertise themselves for women, but aside from the color, they are normally not much different from any other model. These hammers don't require much physical strength to use.
© 2011 Paul Goodman
Ella on August 01, 2019:
OWL escape tool card window breaker is the ONLY window breaker with a recessed seat belt cutter that works without springs and takes NO strength to use. That's because it works on physics, it works by inserting the credit card into the window channel (top or side) pulling and releasing. The shatters the window within a split second. Used by US National Guard, Tested & Certified by an international testing organization and fits in your pocket or can be kept flat on your visor in case of emergency. VERY Different that Hammers or punches. It's the escape tool card for 2019!
Sue on November 12, 2018:
Thank you. Great review and most helpful.
Charli on December 27, 2017:
Seems you just updated the year. These products listed are published many years ago. Any new recommendation in 2017?
Nayeem Akand from Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 29, 2017:
LaDooby on January 24, 2017:
Not good if you are inside the car and filling with water. Who wants to walk around with spark plug pieces in their pants.
phoophan on January 17, 2017:
I know something a lot cheaper and much more reliable. About 20 years ago the CHP was giving a safety talk to our company in downtown Los Angeles. They said for 6-9 months the LAPD was finding a lot of criminals had pieces of broken Ceramic from old Spark Plugs in their pant pockets and couldn't understand why. These guys take the pieces of Ceramic and throw them gently against a car window and shatter it the first time and every time. Cheap, easy and safe!