Off Road Accessories… What do you Really Need?
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The long checklist of items to include while traveling off road, consist of dozens of items that the majority of us just don’t bother to carry! However there are certain essential off road accessories and spares you shouldn’t be without.
What are the most frequent problems encountered by 4×4 enthusiasts while off road? To answer that question, let’s look at some of those problems in order of frequency…
It seems that flat tires or tire related problems head up the list, so shop for the toughest off road tires you can afford! Obviously, you need a good full-size spare or two, jack and lug wrench. But that’s not always enough!
Must-have tire accessories…
1… Spare tire – Do you have a spare and does it have air in it? When was the last time you checked it? Is the spare the same size (diameter) as your other tires? This could be critical for 4×4’s on a jeep trail where you need 4WD. A different size tire will put deadly strain on your 4WD drive components.
Always carry a matching spare. If not, you can move the spare to the front and continue in 2WD if need be. Don’t forget a ratchet tie-down strap to assist in re-seating tire beads when necessary.
2… Jack – Does your jack fit your vehicle, are all the jack parts with it and does it work? When was the last time you tried it out? I carry a small floor jack behind the seat (as primary) and original jack for backup. I sometimes use my hi-lift jack too! A jack is one of the most important off road accessories! I prefer to carry both hydraulic and handyman jacks.
3… Lug wrench – Do you have a good lug wrench aboard that fits your lugs? Are you sure? I carry the standard lug wrench, and a breaker bar with a socket that fits my lug nuts too! I also carry a small section of pipe for leverage when freeing over-torqued lug nuts.
4… Air source – A good source of air is an absolute necessity for tire repairs and adjusting off road tire pressure. It could be on-board air, a portable air compressor, compressed air/CO2 tank or hand pump.
I carry a small 120-psi DC (12V) compressor that plugs in the cigarette lighter and a hand pump for backup. This DC compressor is very slow and used mostly for tire repair and adjusting tire pressure in the field.
5… Tire repair kit – Tire repair might consist of breaking tools for taking the (bias or radial) tire off the rim to patch, a tire plug kit or Fix-A-Flat tire sealer/inflator. I carry and prefer the (radial tire) plug kit over the other methods, with a can of Fix-A-Flat for backup.
6… Tire pressure gauge – A good tire pressure gauge is handy for tire repairs, airing down, airing up again and maintaining correct pressure for a balanced, safe ride. I carry two, one for backup!
If you do enough four wheeling, you will eventually have some sort of tire problems! So always be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.
Getting stuck ranks right up there with flat tires. Certain off road accessories can make getting unstuck a lot easier!
Must have vehicle recovery accessories…
1… High-lift jack – A Hi-lift jack is an absolute necessity for serious 4×4 off road adventurers! This jack can lift, push, pull, clamp and even winch you out of trouble! Carry a plank of wood or flat object to place under the base to support the jack in mud, snow and sand.
2… Tow hooks – Tow hooks are cheap, easy to install and provide a necessary attachment point for cables, chains, ropes and tow straps. Install them, at least on the front of the vehicle. This can help avoid bumper damage and possible failed recovery!
3… Recovery lines – Recovery straps, rope, cable or tow chains. You should carry one or more of the above items, at least 50 feet in length and strong enough to do the job! I carry a cable, rope and an old glider tow strap.
4… Shovel – Carry at least one full sized shovel if you can, or at least a smaller fold-up model. Sometimes a good shovel is all that’s necessary to get un-stuck. It rates high on the off road accessories list.
5… Axe – A good single blade axe can help when you have to fall a small tree or cut limbs to get out of trouble. Often chopped wood or limbs are needed to fill a hole, rut or to improve traction under the tires.
6… Recovery anchor – Sometimes you need something to attach your winch cable to. This also applies when using the Hi-lift jack or a come-along as a winch. You can bury the spare tire and or carry steel spikes to pound in the ground. Or buy the Pull-Pal winch anchor.
7… Traction aids – You should carry various sized wood planks with carpet attached or similar devices. These make good traction aids, when stuck in mud, sand or snow. You can supplement with rocks and wood onsite.
Getting lost while off road is easy to do with all the similar looking jeep trails in certain areas. Other causes are losing your tracks on hard trail surfaces, snowfall and moving sand. Also poor visibility caused by rain, snow, dust storms, fog, rain, clouds and darkness!
Off road accessories for navigation…
1… GPS – Getting lost can be a pain, especially if you are low on fuel, watching a big storm or darkness move in. This is where an inexpensive handheld GPS comes in handy! This little gadget shows you where you are and how to get where you want to go. One of my favorite off road accessories
2… Map & Compass – Everybody should carry local maps of off road areas they travel. Maps provide helpful information about the area, how to get in and options for getting out. A compass makes it all the easier!
Emergency power source
Finding out you have a dead battery can ruin an otherwise fun off road outing, especially if you have an automatic transmission and are miles from the nearest help. This is one of the most important of the all off road accessories.
Must-have emergency power source accessories…
1… Dual batteries – I’ve always run dual batteries on my primary off road vehicle. The second battery not only provides important electrical backup, it can power your winch, tools and other 12V off road accessories.
2… Emergency power supply – You can buy compact portable power supplies to carry with you off road. These handy devices don’t take up much room and supply adequate power to jump-start most batteries.
3… Jumper cables – Battery jumper cables should be on every rig… what more can I say!
Carrying good communications equipment while off road is a must for obvious reasons, safety being the most important!
Important off road accessories for communication…
1… Satellite phone – Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford or justify the purchase and the minimum monthly bill of such a phone. However, if you want the ultimate off road communication device, this is it!
2… CB radios – CB radios are inexpensive and airtime is free. What I like about CB’s is there are a lot of people to talk to in an emergency, if you are within range!
3… Cell phone – Cell phones are easy to carry, and most of us already have one. You can often climb to the top of a hill or mountain to get reception. I am able to communicate while off road here in Northern Nevada, most of the time.
4… Amateur/Ham Radios – This is the option I’ve been considering for a long time, but hesitated up to now due the required FCC test and licensing requirements. Licensing has gotten a lot easier and with the broad coverage available to off road travelers, I’ve chosen this as the best option for off road communications.
Side note… some pilots, bring along their VHF handheld radio for contacting aircraft/airliners on the emergency frequency 121.5 MHz. Highly effective but not advised except for extreme emergencies. Check FCC rules!
I’ve had to use most of the off road accessories mentioned above, at least once, and some multiple times. Also, I’ve had to use my backup accessory when the primary failed. Try to always carry some sort of backup to each critical off road accessory.
More important off road accessories…
Survival/first aid Kit
Extra fuel & water
Basic vehicle spares
Super glue liquid steel
For a complete listing of recommended items to carry click on off road accessories
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