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Trail Head: What Is Your Favorite Trail Tool?

Posted in Features on April 23, 2018
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Photographers: Rick Péwé

Tools are cool. It’s when you don’t have the right one that the world can come crashing down, and then you need to improvise. And as any of us have found out, improvisation is the key to vehicular survival. Unless you are in a swamp, you can probably pick up a rock and bash that offending sheetmetal part that is trying to gouge your tire to shreds. And a swamp is a good place to find vines to tie your axle in place for an emergency trip back to pavement. But having the right tool for the job is the best ever. Remember your shop teacher telling you that a screwdriver is not a prybar or for opening paint cans? Of course we use screwdrivers for prybars all the time, but those words still ring true. In fact, I have a selection of cheap screwdrivers that I use just for prybars, and many of them are bent in a variety of configurations. When they don’t work, then I go get my real prybars with names like Snap-on and Matco on them.

The reason I brought up the “tools are cool” idea is because the new Jeep JL Wrangler comes with an assortment of factory tools to take off the doors, as well as to fold down the windshield. Of course you can’t rebuild the engine with these, as there are only a couple of Torx bits, a 14mm socket, and the ratchet. But taking off the doors and folding down the windshield are hallmarks of Jeep ownership since the beginning of jeep time. Even the standardized WWII jeeps came with their own toolkit in a canvas bag, for a variety of quick field-fix situations. Of course those fabric half-doors came right off without tools, and the windshield only needed the latches popped to fold the windshield down, but the original jeep designers also didn’t have the far-reaching oversight of the Federal Government dictating safety regulations either.

But what if you are a fullsize Jeep owner who finds it pretty difficult to fold down the windshield? You can always just modify it to the M-715 cab, which does, but taking off the full doors would be the next best thing. Either way you will need a bigger toolkit for a bigger Jeep, since as far as I’m aware, no FSJ came with a factory toolkit. Personally, I always carry enough tools to rebuild an entire Jeep out in the brush, which is why I probably drag so many derelict jeeps home with me. Other than weight, it’s pretty hard to pack along too many tools. Let us know your favorite trail tool, and see how it compares to ours!

—Rick Péwé

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