If you are a type of person who loves adventure and going to places that are far from the city lights, then off-roading is something you’re probably interested in. This activity means driving on unsurfaced roads or tracks, such as snow, sand, gravel, mud, riverbeds and so on.
There are different types of off-roading, starting from leisure driving up to competitions with professional drivers and customized vehicles. If you are just starting this adventure, or if you are pretty new at this, there are some basic tools that you always need to have with you to keep yourself and passengers safe.
Remember that your on-board toolbox must be properly stocked, you need to have the appropriate spare parts and the right tools. Basic survival gear and first aid supplies are a must for every off-roading adventure.
Depending on the weather and season when you decide to do this, you may need extra clothes, and enough food and water supplies are a must. The things you need to bring with you also depend on where you will be traveling. If you are traveling alone, you should take as much extra gear and survival supplies as you can.
Even if you have a lot of experience in these trips, it’s always good to travel with a group. When traveling with more vehicles, you can put different supplies and gear in different vehicles, but remember to have your personal items with you at all times.
Here is what you need to do and a list of the tools you must bring with you when going off-road.
Inspect your Vehicle
Before you go off-road make sure your vehicle is in a good mechanical condition. For these types of trips and adventures, it’s recommended to use a four-wheel drive (4DW). If you are unsure what to check and how, it’s best to go to your mechanic and tell them to check your 4DW.
In case you know a bit more about cars and how to check things, first you need to inspect your vehicle inside and out. Make sure you check these parts out, that they are in a good working condition and you don’t hear any strange noises coming from them:
- Axles and differentials – check seals, hubs, vent lines, and shift motors;
- Brakes – check the rotors, pads, fluids, drums and brake lights;
- Engine – check the wires, spark plugs, fuel injectors, carburetor, and belts;
- Fluids – inspect the gear oil, wipers, power steeling fluids, oil, transmission and brake oil;
- Tires – check the tire pressure, tighten the lug nuts, check for cuts or missing chunks.
You’d also need to check the battery, belts, the cooling/heating system, driveline, exhaust, lights, steering, suspension and wipers. Basically, you will need to check every single part of your vehicle so you know you can rely on it in every type of terrain.
Tools you need
There are a lot of tools you can and should take with you when going off-road. Put some thought into what you would need depending on the terrain, weather and driving conditions. At bare minimum you will need these tools:
- Air pressure gauge
- Crescent wrench
- Electrical tape and spare connectors
- Socket set (3/8″) with extensions
- Pocket or utility knife
- Super glue
- Wire and wire cutters
It would be wise to bring more tools with you just in case something happens to the vehicle. Toolsdoctor.com recommend to always have a high lift jack and you can learn more how to buy this lift at their site. Other tools you might need are Allen wrenches, bailing wire, grease, hammer, nuts and bolts, open end/box wrenches, screwdrivers, and vise grips.
If you plan on going off-road with a group, these items are something everyone could use. Make sure at least one vehicle carries these items. If needed, spread these safety and recovery items in all the vehicles.
- Air pump
- Fire extinguisher
- Zip ties
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables
- GPS unit/compass
- Waterproof matches
- Rubber gloves
Other safety gear you might need include: extra gas, duct tape, can opener, ax, cigarette lighter, ID cards with emergency contact information, gloves, paper towels, rags, tire pressure gauge and pump, waterless hand cleaner, WD-40/lubricant, and whistle.
There are a lot of products on the market that are made to simplify the vehicle repair process. Some of the most popular products include tire plugs/patch kit, carburetor cleaner, radiator leak-stop, plastic steel and plastic aluminum. When going off-road you don’t need to have a spare of every single part of the vehicle, you just need to bring spares of the parts that are most likely to break. These include the following:
- Oil/oil filter
- Fuel filter
- Spark plugs
- Vacuum line
Other spare parts you might need are: wiper blades, tire valve stems with cores, brake line, hoses/hose clamps and air filter.
To stay safe, the basic things you need to remember are:
- Always travel in groups of 2 or more vehicles;
- Make sure to alert someone back home about where you are going and where should you return;
- Take at least a basic supply of gear and tools.
These items are good to have with you at all times, but if you are going off-road this is the basic, minimal list of things you must carry with you:
- Basic personal essentials (food and water)
- First aid kit
- Tree saver
- Basic tool kit
- Spare key for the vehicle
- Spare tire (full size)
- Jack and tire iron
- Tow strap
When moving out on rugged, unmarked trails far from cell phone reception, a Car GPS tracker on your car is a blessing. Unlike navigating in your car on paved highways, off-road exploration often involves remote terrain with no signs, easy landmarks, or populated exits. It’s frighteningly easy to become dangerously turned around or lost and a car protected by a tracker can help you find ways to reach your destination safely.
Depending on the season you may need seasonal specific personal essentials like spare clothes, sunblock, headgear, insect repellant, emergency blanket and so on. Driving off-road can be an amazing adventure and chances are, you will do this as often as you can.
However, it’s important to stay safe. Always do the necessary vehicle checks before leaving, take your time and if needed, postpone the trip. Don’t try to save space by leaving behind the basic tools and a survival kit. Enjoy!