By now you've likely scanned through our massive nationwide wheeling guide and have picked a new 4x destination that's in your neck of the woods. While we encourage you to go hit the trail, before you do make certain that your rig is equipped with those few essential items no wheeler should be without. Though big tires, lockers, and a winch are all great off-road equipment, sometimes it's the little stuff that can make a big difference on the trail. We're talking about the trail gear that you should never leave home without. It's the stuff that will keep a bad day from getting worse.
Even though snow, rain, sand, mud, and rocks all have unique terra properties, our list of trail necessities is completely universal. Compiled here are some of the core essentials, but remember to use your head when heading into the great outdoors. Just because sun block, shades, and bug spray don't appear on our list doesn't mean they aren't smart items to have onboard.
Lift & Pull
Getting stuck is part of going off road. Though we always suggest wheeling with at least one other rig, sometimes that additional ride can't give you a lift out. This is where a Hi Lift, farm jack, or winch is handy. While a winch might be out of your budget, a Hi-Lift is cheap, easy to transport, and can raise your rig and pull it out. However, when using a Hi Lift as your recovery winch, you'll need chains instead of stretchable straps.
Food & Water
Wheeling takes focus. Though it might not seem like you are burning energy behind the wheel, you are. No matter if it's a quick daytrip to the mud pit or a weekend wheeling excursion, always have enough food and water to last three days. This means lots of water and filling food that's long lasting and easy to transport. Beanie Weenies, trail mix, and water might not sound like the feast of kings, but it will keep you alive in a worst-case scenario.
Camping on the trail sometimes isn't a planned affair. A rain suit, an extra set of clothes, a jacket, a tarp, and a blanket are all easy items to take with and fit great into an old backpack.
Breakage happens, and when it does, be prepared. You don't always have to have every tool and spare part to put the rig back to 100 percent, but you need enough wrenches, sockets, hammers, U-joints, tape, and electrical wire to get off the trail.
iPhones, BlackBerrys, and portable GPS units are all handy devices, but each has the possibility of failing once you hit the road less traveled. To play it safe, get a road atlas and a trail map of the area. Radio communication is often limited on the trail, but many wheelers use CB radios for quick messaging off road. And if you're planning a major trek into the great outdoors, look into satellite phones. If a sat phone isn't in your budget, but a far-reaching adventure is, then ask your local sporting goods or camping store about GPS tracking devices that allow you to send out your location to loved ones and emit 911 distress signals in an emergency.
No matter if it's a quick stuck in the mud or a scary off-camber situation, a good recovery kit can save your tail and your ride. A heavy-duty rope or strap, a D-ring clevis, a flashlight, and gloves are all basic parts of a standard recovery kit.
A fire extinguisher is a simple must-have item. From out-of-control campfires to vehicles catching ablaze, fire is a real possibility on or off the trail. We suggest placing the extinguisher within arm's reach and mounting it where it is secure but has a quick-release strap.
Any time you are around vehicles and the great outdoors you run the risk of getting cut, scraped, or burned. While most off-road injuries are minor, an open wound or burn that's not immediately taken care of can turn into an infection. For what they cost, a basic first aid kit is a safe and smart investment.