Off-Roading Basics Part 2: The Essentials May 02, 2014

Off-roading can be a fun, exciting way to not only enjoy your truck, but to enjoy nature, too. Getting started with off-roading can be somewhat daunting however, which is why many people don’t fully enjoy it. If you’re looking to get started with off-roading, or you just want to make sure you’re ready for whatever the trail can throw at you, a good list of basics is exactly what you need. Check out the list of off-roading essentials below to make sure you’re ready to go out and have fun safely.   RELATED: Off-Roading Basics Part 1: Off-Roading Vocabulary  

Full Tank of Fuel

off-road-basics-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.


A 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 Tire

This 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 Tools

Having 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, GPS

It 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. off-road-basics-map   (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 Kit

Everyone 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.

Mobile Phone

Finally, make sure you always have your mobile phone with you. With off-roading being a great way to experience nature, many people think it best to leave their phones at home to enjoy the ride. While this seems like a good idea, your phone can get you out of quite a few jams pretty easily. If you’re stuck it can be the lifeline that gets help to you, and if you get lost, it may be the only way for help to find you. You don’t need to be texting and sending selfies of you on the trail, but a cell phone is definitely important to keep with you when you’re off-roading.


Obviously there are quite a few more items you should keep in your truck when off-roading to ensure you have a fund, safe time than the ones listed above, but these are a great starting point to get you going. In the next post in this series, we’ll look at a few items that are one step beyond the basics but anyone going out on a regular basis should really have. Half of having a good time is being prepared to not only have fun, but to act in case of an emergency.  Check out part 3.

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