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 reduce tyre pressures or the one getting bogged asking for constant help isn’t going to win you any friends.
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. However, there are a few essentials that should be in your four-wheel drive all the time.
If your vehicle doesn’t have an electric winch sitting on the front bumper to extract your rig from sticky situations, you can still add a winch accessory kit to aid in recovery. A couple recovery straps, shackles and a jack can help you get out of most situations. If you’re on a highly trafficked trail, there’s a good chance someone with a winch will drive by and if you have a recovery kit, you’ve got a good chance of getting unstuck.
Recovery boards and shovels
You can buy specialised recovery boards from off-road retailers, which are lightweight and a lot easier to cart around than planks. These are specifically designed for when you find yourself off the beaten track, with no help in sight. Whether it’s sand, mud or snow, these mats can get you out of the toughest conditions.
The nylon recovery boards also double as shovels - if you can’t place them under your tyres and drive out, you can use them to excavate your wheels.
Spare tyre or repair kit
Not only are tyres the most important component on your vehicle, they’re also the most frequently damaged. Everyone should carry a spare or if you consider yourself handy - a complete tyre repair kit.
When driving across rocks and dirt, off-roading vehicles need to reduce their tyre pressure to improve traction. When playtime is over, the chances of a service station around the corner with an air compressor is slim to none. Get a 12V air pump and simply plug it in to your accessories socket, and off you go. This could also be handy if you happen to develop a small leak throughout your adventure.
Getting out of a problem on the trail is time consuming. If you’re going to be out after dark, a solid work light will allow you to see what you’re doing as you carry out a recovery, repair or even just put air in your tyres. We also recommend a set of compliant fog lights wired through a separate circuit as a backup.
The more extreme the trail, the more likely it is that you'll break parts on your way, and with no road service available deep in New Zealand bush, carrying a tool box is a must. In addition to the usual spanners, pliers, vise grips and screwdrivers, there are a few lifesavers also worth thinking about. Items such as epoxy putty, duct tape, oils, rope, cable ties, spare fuses and a spare serpentine belt could be the difference between getting home for dinner or being stuck out in the bush overnight.
Adventuring into the wilderness is a fun pastime for Kiwis and we are blessed with many places to explore. Before jumping in your 4WD and pointing your headlights toward the dunes, make sure you’re kitted out with the essentials.