You can create a USB stick or HDD with more than one partition -- so why not create a two partition USB drive - partition one will have a bootable recovery program like acronis or Free macrium and on the 2nd partition simply store your image. You'd probably want a 32 GB stick though - around 600 MB - 1 GB for the recovery program (Create say a 1GB partition) and on the other partition have your image.
Simple and can be used even if your ENTIRE system gets hosed up.
(Of course always keep OS+pgms on its own partition - data etc on othewr partitions or HDD's).
This method will also work for UEFI systems too.
Don't forget though when creating your image to include the small system boot partition if it exists as well as the "C" partition.
I prefer though using a bootable Linux system - I've got things like partition managers etc on it but that's your choice -- the easiest is simply to use a two portioned USB stick like I've outlined.