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What To Carry In Your 4x4 and Equipping Your Vehicle

An informative article by Rick Russle of Sidekick Offroad of what to carry on the trail.

On "Easy" 4WD trips two-wheel drive is usually acceptable with high ground clearance. Four wheel drive (4WD) makes the trip safer and there will be less tire spinning.

"Easy Difficulty" 4WD Trips
What you should carry and how your vehicle should be equipped when you leave the safety of the pavement to venture into the back country will depend on the difficulty of the trip and, of course, how long you intend to stay. Based on many years of experience I have categorized "What to Carry" and "Equipping Your Vehicle" by trail difficulty. There is no need to carry extra axles on a picnic to a frequently visited campground in your local Forest. This is not meant to be a complete list but rather a place for you to start when you develop your own list.

Vehicle Maintenance Check
  • Fan Belts
  • Hoses
  • Engine Oil
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Brake Fluid
  • Radiator Coolant
  • Seat Belts
  • Tire Air Pressure (Also check spare)
  • Tire Wear - Less than 50% worn
  • Basic 4WD Equipment
  • Basic Tool Box
  • First Aid Kit
  • Air Pressure Gauge
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • DC Air Compressor
  • Spare Tire
  • Tire Jack
  • Duct Tape
  • Zip Ties
  • Tow Strap
  • Shovel
  • Tire Plug Kit
  • Rags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • 40 Channel CB (Portable Type Okay)
  • Trash Bags

    Additional Items To Consider Carrying On Easy 4WD Trips
  • Binoculars
  • Bottle Opener
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Pocket Knife
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Extra Keys
  • Compass
  • Sunglasses and/or Goggles
  • Ice & Ice Chest or Cooler
  • Camera with Extra Batteries
  • Maps
  • Snow Tire Chains (Winter Time)
  • Tune Up Items (Spark Plugs, Distributor Cap, Distributor Rotor)

    Basic Tool Box
  • 3/8" Drive Socket Set 3/8" to 3/4"
  • Crescent Wrench - Small & Medium
  • Electrical Tape
  • Allen Wrenches
  • Pliers
  • Standard & Phillips Screwdrivers
  • Open End/Box End Wrenches 3/8" to 3/4"

    "More Difficult" 4WD Trips
    On "More Difficult" 4WD trips, low air pressure, and some experience driving off-road is best. For experienced ATV & motorcycle drivers only.
    Additional Items To Carry On "More Difficult" Trails

  • 40 Channel Walkie Talkie (As A Spare CB)
  • Hydraulic Jack or Hi-Lift Jack
  • Off-road Lighting
  • Tools
  • Extra Flashlight
  • Grease
  • Gloves
  • Hand Cleaner
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tire Lug Wrench
  • Full Size Shovel
  • WD-40 Spray
  • Brake Fluid
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Motor Oil
  • Bungie Cords
  • Extra Fuel & Funnel
  • Tow Strap (With NO Metal Hooks On Either End)

    Expanded Tool Box
  • Spare Parts For Trail Repairs (Especially anything that has broken twice)
  • Electrical Wire
  • Lug Nuts
  • Assorted Nuts & Bolts
  • Valve Stems
  • Fuel Line Hose
  • Radiator Hose
  • Front Hub or Flange
  • Spark Plugs
  • Coil/Electronic Ignition
  • Tire Repair Kit
  • Fan Belt (Water Pump Belt)
  • Electric Fuel Pump
  • Fuses
  • U-Joints (Drive shafts & axles)
  • Radiator Stop Leak
  • Larger Special Application Nuts
  • Extra Spark Plug Wires (2 of the longest)

    Vehicle Upgrades
  • Tires: Upgrade to 31"-33"
  • Adjust Air Pressure For Off-Road Use
  • Small Suspension Lift
  • Front Tow Hooks or Tow Points
  • Rear Tow Hooks or Tow Points
  • Skid Plates for Transmission & Transfer Case
  • Rear Posi-traction Recommended

    "Most Difficult" 4WD Trips
    Four wheel drive vehicles with a rear locker is required. In addition a locker or limited slip in the front differential make the drive safer. Low air pressure, roll bar, off-road experience and a friend in a similarly equipped vehicle are very important. Never go wheeling alone! Also let someone you know that isn't going wheeling with you where you are going and when you're expected back just in case something may happen to both of your vehicles where there is no cell phone reception or any way of seeking help. ATV's and motorcycles, the "Most Difficult" routes are for experienced ATV & motorcycle drivers only.

    Optional Hard Parts You May Consider Carrying For "Most Difficult" Trails:
  • Spare Axle Shafts
  • Alternator
  • Transfer Case Parts
  • Spindle Bearings
  • Drive Shafts (Both Front & Rear)
  • Spider Gears
  • Ring & Pinion
  • Starter & Starter Solenoid
  • Tie Rod & Tie Rod Ends

    Expanded Tool Box
  • Deep Sockets 3/8"-3/4"
  • Loctite
  • Large Crescent Wrench
  • Breaker Bar
  • Spark Plug Wrench
  • Magnet
  • Cotter Pins (Various Sizes)
  • Files (Flat & Round)
  • Large Channel Locks
  • Silicone RTV Sealant
  • Pipe Wrenches (Various Sizes)
  • Valve Stem Remover
  • Volt Meter or Test Light
  • Larger Sockets
  • Battery Terminal Cleaner (Wire Type)
  • Electrical Connectors (Crimp Type)
  • 1/4" Drive Set with Smaller Socket Sizes
  • Metric Sockets (3/8" Drive)
  • 1/2" Drive Ratchet with Larger Socket Sizes
  • Tube Wrenches (Various Sizes)
  • Welding Rod & Hood
  • Winch Kit (Tree Strap, Hi-Lift Jack, Snatch Block, Pickle Fork, Shackle, Gloves

    Extended Maintenance Checklist
  • U-Joints
  • Brakes
  • Loose Bolts or Nuts
  • Shocks
  • Grease All Greasable Points
  • Axle/Differential Gear Oil
  • Transfer Case Fluid

    Additional Vehicle Upgrades for "Most Difficult" Trails:
  • Tire Upgrade to 35"-40"
  • Lift Kit With Possible Body Trimming
  • Rocker Guards
  • CB Radio
  • Full Skid Plate Protection
  • Rear Locker Required
  • Front Locker or Limited Slip Recommended
  • 8,000lb Winch or Stronger
  • Multiple Fire Extinguishers (One Accessible while driver is strapped in and a second or third that is accessible from the outside from a spotter.
  • Larger First Aid Kit
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