Full Tank of Fuel(Photo courtesy of flickr) First things first, you need to make sure you always have a full tank of gas/diesel. This one pretty much speaks for itself, but the importance of having a full tank when you go out, even if you only plan on driving a short distance, can’t be overstated. Mistakes happen, people get lost, and things can come up that you won’t even think of. All of these are reasons a full tank of gas is so important.
TowropeA towrope is as important to keep with you all the time as keeping a full tank of fuel is. Even if you think you’ll never get stuck, there’s always the chance you’ll happen across someone who’s not as skilled or lucky as you. Getting stuck on the trail is more than just a pain, though. Tow trucks and rescue vehicles can’t easily get to you on the trail, so you have to rely on other off-roaders to get you out. Many off-roaders starting off can’t afford a full winch setup, so basic towropes can really help when you or someone else get stuck.
Spare TireThis may seem like common knowledge, but you should have at least one and ideally two spare tires with you whenever you off-road. This doesn’t mean the spare that came with your truck, but a spare of whatever upgraded tires you may have. If you’ve upgraded your tires and wheels to a nice large off-road setup, your stock spare tire won’t do you much good at all. In a perfect world you should keep 2 full spares with you when you’re off road. It’s easier than you think to blow 2 tires at once.
Basic ToolsHaving a spare tire is one thing, but having the tools to properly change it is something else entirely. You should always have some basic tools with you including tools to change a tire as well as a small sledgehammer, socket set, a few sizes of screwdrivers, and a few sizes of channel lock pliers.
(Photo courtesy of flickr)Basically you want a small toolkit that’s dedicated to your truck and always stays there. Include some tape, hose clamps, and some automotive nuts and bolts to round the kit out. Now something simple like a blown hose or loose fitting won’t stop you from getting home.
Map, Compass, GPSIt doesn’t matter how well you know the trail you’re on, having basic navigational tools like a map and compass and knowing how to use them are necessities. If your truck were to break down, or if you took a big detour to get around a fallen tree, the chances of you getting lost increase pretty dramatically. (Photo courtesy of flickr) Most people have GPS units as well, and while these are great to have and strongly recommended, there’s no replacement for a good map and compass. Make sure the map is topographical and the compass is one used for finding a bearing and not one that’s attached to the butt of a knife or other gimmicky type. Remember, in an emergency these two items could save your life, so get good ones and leave them in the truck all the time. Add new maps when you go to new areas, too.
First Aid KitEveryone knows how important a good first aid kit is, yet so few people keep one in their vehicles. You should make sure the first aid kit you have is a step or two above the basic one you can pick up in a pharmacy, and that it has enough supplies to help 2-3 people in case of an emergency.
While this could very well save your life, you could help someone else you find wrecked on the side of the trail and easily save his or her life, too. A good first aid kit is definitely a basic necessity when starting to off road.