10 Essential Tools You Need for Off-Roading
If you are the kind of person who spends every weekend, holiday, and vacation going off-roading, you are probably familiar with what gear is needed for a successful trip. However, if you are new to off-roading or have been prone to unfortunate mishaps, you may be curious about what essentials to take when you head out. Fortunately, there are quite a few tools and accessories that you can bring along that will increase your off-roading enjoyment and minimize the amount of time you spend stuck in the mud or snow.
Before acquiring any of the things listed below, you should make sure your vehicle is equipped with some essential features. Most importantly, vehicles should always have a good winch and plenty of storage space, whether from a roof rack or other customization. Beyond that, there are several key accessories that you will need to keep yourself from getting stranded, including the following:
A recovery kit is an absolute must-have for anyone planning to go off-roading, especially if the vehicle is not equipped with a winch. Recovery kits have a few handy items for off-road enthusiasts, including a recovery strap, a couple of shackles, gloves, and a recovery bag to store the items in the kit. Using a strap and shackles is the easiest way to free a stuck vehicle without a winch, so the recovery kit must always be securely stored where the driver can reach it easily.
Good recovery kits come with straps with a webbed construction that are far less likely to break than chains.
You should be sure the strap or winch line you are using has a breaking strength at least three times higher than the weight of your off-roading vehicle, but it is better if it is four times higher.
Shackles will be used to connect the strap to both the vehicle that is stuck and the one responsible for freeing it.
Off-roading is thrilling, but it is not without its trials. Problems can be unpredictable, so it is best to be as prepared as possible for any outcome. This includes having to be out after the sun goes down. Having a high-quality work light ready to go will make any recovery or repair go a lot smoother in the dark.
In fact, it is probably better to have a few offroad emergency lighting options on-hand. Headlamps are excellent for a hands-free way to light up an area or get a better look at what your hand are doing. Traditional flashlights are a reliable standby item and even more useful if they have features like rechargeable batteries or hooks to hang them up. If you are planning to go camping during your off-roading adventure, then lanterns will provide light for the entire campsite.
Offroad Recovery Device
A recovery device is a must-have tool when going off-roading. When a vehicle gets stuck somewhere, using a winch or recovery straps to move it involves excessive force and a failed rescue attempt could result in vehicle damage or serious injury. Instead of pulling a stuck vehicle out, off-road enthusiasts can use a recovery device to make the job a lot easier.
Recovery devices are nylon boards with a dual purpose. They can be used as shovels to dig out around the stuck vehicle's tires, or they can be placed under the tires so the vehicle can drive out easily. If nothing else, these handy tools can be used to dig out a place for a fire or a pit latrine.
Recovery devices are useful rescue tools no matter what season it is. Though it is easy to think of them when a vehicle is stuck in the mud, they are just as useful in the snow or sand.
We love the MaxTrax Recovery Boards here at Offroad Power Products, they're a key offroad recovery device in the snow, mud and sand, our preferred playground.
Yep, good old boards are still useful in many situations especially if you're on a budget! Though they are often overlooked, solid wood boards can be a huge help and generally valuable accessory for any off-roading adventure. Out in the wilderness, there is rarely a place where the earth is completely flat and free of obstructions. This makes it much more difficult to jack up a vehicle for repairs or to change a tire.
A good-sized wooden board can be placed on the ground to make a flat surface suitable for a jack. A few thick boards can be used in a pinch to chock a tire, keeping the vehicle from rolling downhill. Wood boards are a simple, low-cost tool that anyone going off-roading should always keep on hand.
Offroad Tire Repair Kit
Tires take more damage than any other part of a vehicle, which is especially true for off-roading vehicles. No matter where you are driving, always have a tire repair kit nearby in case of emergencies. These kits can be the difference between a quick fix and spending hours being stuck while waiting for someone to rescue you.
A complete tire kit comes with a high-quality tire gauge, preferably one with dual chuck and dual pressure range. The kit includes insertion and reamer tools, lubricant, needle-nose pliers, valve accessories, and several self-vulcanizing repair cords. A tire kit typically comes in a neat, compact case that can be stored easily inside the vehicle.
These kits can repair the most common types of tires without having to remove them from the vehicle, including tubeless radial and cross-ply tires. It may also be a good idea to bring along some cans of Fix-a-Flat.
Onboard Air Compressor
Off-roading without getting stuck involves getting the best traction possible from the vehicle's tires. Most off-roading enthusiasts do this by lowering the air pressure in their tires to somewhere between eight and twenty PSI before hitting the trails. However, the drivers will need to increase the tire pressure again before driving the vehicle on the road.
The need to adjust tire pressure is why it is vital for anyone going on an off-roading trip to bring an air compressor with them. A good-quality air compressor will be able to restore road-worthy tire pressure quickly without overheating. Drivers must get an air compressor that hooks up to the vehicle's battery, as the ones that plug into its auxiliary power outlets could blow a fuse.
Along with an air compressor, drivers should remember to bring a generous length of air hose. There should be enough hose to reach from the vehicle's battery to each wheel without pulling on it much.
Here's an example above of a high end Offroad On-board Air Compressor from ARB.
A handy tool for all drivers, whether on the road or off, is a jump starter. Having a jump starter ready to go when the vehicle's battery dies prevents the driver from ever needing another person's car to get it started again. In the past, jump starters could cost a fair amount of money. However, there are now several affordable options with bonus features like USB ports, flashlights, and the ability to charge off the auxiliary power outlet.
Any person planning to go out on the trails with their vehicle should always have a good set of offroading hand tools at their disposal. Having a mechanic's tool set handy gives drivers the ability to fix a myriad of problems that may come up while off-roading and prevents them from getting stuck out in the wilderness waiting for a mechanic to show up. Off-roading hand tool sets typically include socket wrenches, drivers, Allen wrenches, pliers, and a set of sockets.
Work gloves are an often-overlooked accessory that makes off-roading repairs a lot easier. Fixing a vehicle out on the trail can be rough on a person’s hands, especially if the driver has to dig out a bunch of mud, sticks, and other debris before getting into the repairs. For the best protection, work gloves should be made of sturdy material with leather palms for gripping and water resistance. Make sure to bring low temp durable work gloves if you'll be offroading in the snow during the winter months.
GPS Navigation System
Being out on the trails is a great experience, but the fun quickly subsides if you end up lost. While traditional paper maps are useful, they are easily ruined when exposed to the wet and dirty conditions found on most off-roading trails. Furthermore, a folded paper map is not the safest way to track where you are or where you are going while driving.
Having a navigation system that can track where you have been is the easiest way to prevent getting lost in the wilderness. There are standalone GPS systems that can do this, but it is better to use convenient and user-friendly apps such as Hema Maps Explorer. Apps like these are available on most smartphones or GPS-enabled tablets.
The Bottom Line
Off-roading is one of the most exhilarating hobbies out there. It allows you to enjoy the great outdoors, indulge your sense of adventure, and ignite your passion for vehicles all at the same time. Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned off-roading enthusiast, having the right tools on-hand when you are out on the trail is the difference between a successful trip and a complete disaster.