So we’ve all read these articles about “life hacks,” right? You know, little things that maybe you haven’t heard of, seen, or thought of, that can make your life better. Well we here at Jp have learned a lot of “trail hacks” over the years, and wanted to share some of them with you. Check out these 12 trail hacks.
If you have any of your own, send a photo with a description of what it is, how it works, and how it makes life on the trail in your Jeep easier or better. Don’t forget to tell us your name and hometown, and we’ll get them in Jp for you.
This is one of our favorites for a few reasons. It’s easy to do: Cut hole; insert plastic cup holder. It’s very handy: Stop for the day when back in camp; hang out with pals around your Jeep (where else?); insert cold beverage of your choice into fender coozie so it’s close by and easy to reach. And it’s an attention getter: Who’s going to walk by it and not think it’s cool?
Here are two takes on the same idea: a vise on the trail. Imagine all the things you could fix, or fix easier, with a vise attached to your Jeep. In our first example, the vise is bolted to a customized draw bar that can be secured to a standard 2-inch receiver hitch, and it also offers a tow point that can be used without removing the vise. Our second example shows the vise pinned to a mount that’s integrated into the custom front bumper, and the vise is used to secure one end of a Hi Lift jack to the nose of the Jeep.
All Zipped Up
A bundle of zip-ties tucked away in your trail tool bag/box or stashed away in the glove box is a great idea. Zip-ties are the next best thing to a roll of duct tape on the trail. However, the tricky part of this particular setup is that the bunch of very easily accessible zip-ties have been zip-tied in place on the upper shock support spreader bar. As zip-ties are pulled out for use, the two zip-ties securing the bundle to the bar are tightened to keep the bunch a very tight and secure bunch.
There are a hundred places you can mount an air-chuck on your Jeep. We like this because it’s out of harm’s way. From the compressor to the air chuck, here are the components. This setup features a York compressor out of a Volvo wagon, upgraded to serpentine belt clutch; Goodyear quick fit hose to a ½-inch check valve; Pumptrol adjustable air pressure switch that controls the system and is set to “on” at 40psi and “off” at 100psi¬–it gets its pressure reading from the discharge on the bottom of the check valve. The switch on the top is a waterproof 12v unit that taps into a thermal cutout breaker on the grille. Air flows through the pressure switch manifold and past a pressure relief valve (just in case everything runs away with itself). From there air flows through another T-fitting that supports the gauge, and then into a Parker universal coupler (air chuck) that will take any standard air fitting, from auto to aircraft, and that is capped with a cover to keep dirt out of it.
Carrying a variety of recovery aids (such as tow straps, hi lift type jack, etc.) in addition to a winch is a great idea for any Jeeper heading into the middle of nowhere. The one pictured here is a custom dimple-die-holed aluminum folding job that is easy to stack onto the spare tire with a t-handle-style threaded bar. Even if you don’t have a trick aluminum sand (good for mud too) ramp like these racers, this is the perfect place to mount up some homemade recovery boards, or store-bought devices such as the MaxTrax. Cut a hole in the center, use an extra long t-handle, and bolt it up to your spare tire carrier.
Judging by the light patina of rust on the two halves of this u-jointed front axle shaft hose-clamped to the grille support rods in the engine compartment of this Jeep, it’s been a while since the owner needed it. However, a tad rusty or not, they will come in handy one day should he crack, bend, twist, or otherwise mangle the one currently in use. When looking for places to stash spare hard parts, you have to be inventive, and this Jeeper has certainly done that. There is also a quart of oil tucked in beside the shafts.
Look like the gearshift lever from a 10-speed bicycle to you? Well, that’s exactly what it is. This Jeep owner mounted it in an easy to reach location on the dash, and then ran the cable all the way up to mechanical throttle control on the YJ engine. He uses it to hold the engine speed (rpm) up a bit higher when operating the winch, and told us that he also occasionally uses it as an on-trail “cruise control.”
Don’t have or don’t want fancy quick disconnect devices (mechanical or electrical) on your front anti-sway bar. Here are two examples of how the anti-sway bar link has been secured after being manually disconnected from the bar. These owners used pin-mounts either on the frame or on the inner fender well to pin the links up and out of the way safely. We’ve also seen people use bungee cords to tie the link and bar end to the frame.
Want a hot lunch on the trail without having to fire up the camp stove or make a campfire? If you’ve been ‘wheeling as long as we have, then you’ve seen just about everything. Here’s a favorite of ours, and we’re always surprised to find people who have never known the wonders of the header burrito. It’s simple. Roll homemade burritos in heavy-duty aluminum foil. About 15 to 20 minutes before stopping for lunch, pull off the trail, pop the hood, securely nestle the foil-wrapped burritos in crevices atop the engine, button everything back up, and head off to your lunch stop. “Voila!” ¬Hot food for your trail lunch.
Long ago, we figured out you can learn a lot from racing. Here is another trail hack picked up that way. Once you’ve properly torqued hardware, especially when it comes to suspension and steering system hardware, even if you’re using cotter pins or safety wire on them, use a bright-colored paint to mark your nuts. This bright line down the side of the nut and on to the surface it’s tightened to can tell you at a quick glance whether or not it’s staying put.
Trail Tire Fix
Flat tires on the trail are just a fact of life on the trail. Get used to it. Hopefully most of the flats you experience are small punctures caused by sticks or very sharp pointy rocks. Believe it or not we have found plenty of nails in place nails should not be, but the fact is that pallet bonfires (and thus nails) are common with those who four-wheel and camp in the desert. Get a tire-puncture repair kit such as the one pictured here; a handful of manufacturers offer them. Also, if you’ve never repaired a puncture on the trail, practice at home on a junk tire. Drill a 1/8-inch hole through the tread to simulate a nail puncture, and learn how to repair it. You don’t want to be learning on the trail.
Swap Meet Tools
Tip: The tools you have and use in your shop or garage should not be the tools you take with you in the Jeep. If you’re taking tools back and forth, things can get lost, or left behind, and eventually that tool you really need on the trail that day will be the one you left at home. Get a tool bag and fill it with your collection of trail tools. Our last tip today: You don’t need expensive tools on the trail. Shop swap meets for cheap tools. We have found gems (high-end or hard-to-find tools) digging through the swap meet bins.