The only thing worse than being out on the trail with someone who isn’t prepared is when that someone is you! Being the guy borrowing tools to air down tires, the one without a tow-strap attachment point anywhere on his vehicle, or bumming beers off of us when the day of off-roading is done isn’t going to win you any friends. We’ll put one of the core unwritten rules in writing: Bring the stuff you need to be self-sufficient.
How much stuff you need is dependent on what type of four-wheeling you like to do and how frequently you break parts on your rig. But there are a few things that should be in and on every 4x4 all the time. By doing so, it will completely remove unnecessary hassle and inconvenience for the whole group. Don’t get us wrong, working together to overcome big challenges has made some of our off-roading trips the most memorable. There’s always an opportunity for the group to pool tools and supplies together to patch up a broken C-clip axle or rebuild a suspension link. One guy will have a grinder, another a welder, and a third enough scrap to fabricate whatever emergency fix is needed. But someone needing a Band-Aid shouldn’t bring the whole group to a stop.
We put together this list of 15 must-haves to keep in your 4x4 for any off-road foray. Actually, there’s more than 15 items listed, but no one ever complains about getting more than advertised. If you have this stuff with you off-road, everyone will be happier and safer. Feel free to chide us if you catch us on a trail without something on this list.
Stuff To Put Your Stuff In
Now that we’ve convinced you to carry the right stuff to make yours and our off-roading trips more enjoyable, let us show you the value of properly storing all of that stuff in your 4x4. First, you want to be able to quickly and easily find your tools and parts when you need them. Keeping them contained and organized makes this a snap. Second, all of these things will become projectiles during bouncy off-roading or worse, a rollover. You really don’t need a 30-pound bag of tools hitting you in the head as you’re fighting the steering wheel to maintain control over your 4x4. When we first started off-roading, we tossed a towstrap and tire wrench under the seat of the truck and within 30 minutes, both ended up under the pedals. Not good.
If you four-wheel a truck, buy a bed box and bolt it in. Fill it up with your tools and parts and then add a utility blanket or two to keep stuff from rattling. These are also handy to toss on the ground when you need to make a repair. For Jeep owners, you can buy bolt-in boxes of various sizes and shapes. The Tuffy Security Deck shown creates a large lockable storage area in the back of an ’07 or newer Wrangler that you can access via the tailgate. The company also offers a variety of all-steel security boxes in various sizes for SUVs and pickup trucks, including some small bed-size boxes and slide-out drawers.