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Remember to Bring It

Trail Head

The other day I was prepping for an expedition, as all Jeepers should occasionally do. One of my new mates was a bit green in the art of fixing up our junk in the outback. After installing a particularly complex addition to his Jeep, he was left with a pile of miscellaneous bolts, nuts, washers, wires, and doodads. He gazed at the scattered parts and wondered out loud what to do with the debris. My first thought was, Why in the world would he even ask such a thing? Then I realized that he had never been on the underside of a Jeep in the deepest, darkest jungle, needing that very washer or doodad to fix the Jeep and escape from the alligators in the swamp. I quickly reconsidered my response and gleefully scooped the golden objects into a bag and whispered, "Bring 'em."

Of course, you can't bring everything and the kitchen sink, although some Jeepers do. There is a time and a place for everything, whether you're on a short trip or an expedition. Weight and space play a big part in preparing for your trip. Excessive weight hurts the performance, handling, fuel economy, and four-wheeling ability of any Jeep. Light is might as they say, and it has been proven many times.

Deciding the worth and value of any particular item you carry can also be mission-specific. For instance, your daily driver going to work shouldn't need the long-range fuel tanks or jerrycans full or attached, or the rooftop tent (unless that's the storage area). But it still amazes me why people refuse to carry a spare tire when wheeling past the point where they can walk back to get one. The excuses for this are as weak as damaged winch rope. "My buddy has one." Except when your buddy slices a tire—then where is his spare? "I have a plug kit and a compressor." That's fine until you realize that slice in the tire has 14 plugs in the sidewall and the wire stitching isn't holding. After 25 feet of driving you can shove in every piece of clothing you have (you did bring a blanket and jacket, right?), but the likelihood of making it back to civilization is slim if you're on a tough trail. "It won't fit my tire carrier," "It looks ugly," and "I don't have a place for it" are also common beginner's blather. Just bring 'em.

And tools? I'm overkill in the tool department, as I usually carry everything needed to completely rebuild anything on my Jeep. Of course, that varies depending on which Jeep I am driving, so I even have roving tool bags with the basics for most any Jeep I end up with. If it's a late-model JK, then I won't bring a hub socket, but I will carry the 12-point 5/16 socket for the U-joint straps.

On the other hand, I once borrowed a brand-new Ram 3500 dualie and towed a buddy's trailer with a Jeep on it. I didn't even think of throwing in a toolkit because I was late and tired—and heck, what could possibly go wrong? For that matter, what could I fix on a brand-new truck anyway—maybe a fuse? And then on a lonely stretch of desert asphalt the trailer tire started to seize up. Luckily, I felt the pull and pulled over to the side of the road to check the wheel-cap temperature. Sure enough, one was almost smoking hot. And I didn't have any tools. Or a jack. Or a ratchet strap.

Just bring 'em.