Recommendations For Being Prepared On The Trail

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Dirty Harry

Staff member
It seems like every week lately there is a new thread on someone who is stuck and in need of help. With a little bit of planning these situations can be avoided. I recommend taking/doing the following when you are headed out to wheel. Most of these items are required if you go on an organized run like Sierra Trek or Jeeper's Jamboree, so you will already be ahead of the game.

  • Tow Strap- A winch is great, but a strap can get you out of most situations if you have someone else to give you a pull.
  • Tow Hooks- A strap is no good if you don't have anywhere to hook it. Don't wrap the strap around suspension or steering components, use actual tow hooks and D-rings.
  • Hi-Lift- You can use it to change a tire, lift a corner of the vehicle to put rocks in a hole, or even drive over them if you don't have anything else to use. Be careful though, next to your winch a Hi-Lift is one of the most dangerous tools on your vehicle. Always leave the handle in the up position when the jack is stationary.
  • First Aid Kit- These are cheap and don't take up much room. Hopefully you never need it, but if you do need it nothing else will do.
  • Fire Extinguisher- These are cheap and don't take up much room. Hopefully you never need it, but if you do need it nothing else will do.
  • Fullsize Spare- You need a spare tire and the ability to change your tire. Also, if you don't have on board air periodically check the air pressure in your spare to make sure that it is ready when you do need it.
  • Water- We live in the desert, so water is important all year round. Whether you need it to drink, for your radiator, or to wash off a muddy windshield, water is scarce in Nevada but necessary. I carry two one-gallon containers. They cost less than a buck each.
  • A Friend!- It isn't smart to go out alone if you are going into challenging terrain. Often times a simple tug from another vehicle is enough to get you unstuck. At the very worst, you can hop in the second vehicle and go get/call help.
  • A Plan- Everyone loves last minute wheeling trips, but take the time to make a quick call to let someone know where you are going and when you are going to be back. Ideally you would call a friend who has a built rig with a winch, so if you get in trouble they can come rescue you. Of course you need your phone (and service) in order to call them for help.

Winter wheeling brings its own set of additional requirements. You can spend the night on the Rubicon in the summer rather comfortably, but I wouldn't recommend it in the winter unless you are totally prepared.

  • Snow Shovel- A shovel doesn't work as well as a winch, but it will allow you to get out of most situations with a little work.
  • Hi-Lift Base- In the snow your jack is going to want to go down instead of your vehicle going up. A piece of wood spreads out the load so the jack won't sink.
  • Sleeping Bag- If you do need to spend the night, or if your passenger gets cold, you need to keep warm.
  • Energy Bars- You burn a lot of calories keeping your body warm and it is important to replenish them.
  • Change of Shoes and Socks- Nothing is more miserable than cold, wet feet. Bring along a second pair of shoes and socks, but wait until the recovery is done to change them. Or change back into your wet shoes if necessary. I know that sucks but it is worth it to keep one pair dry.

I wrote an article for Off-Road magazine that has even more thorough suggestions regarding tools and parts. You can read it here:
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