As we know, breakdowns are going to happen.
It’s not a matter of if but when
And when you’re rolling through really remote regions.
Or way off out in the backcountry. Help will be more than a stone throw away.
So it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the occasion.
As you very well could be a long way from civilization.
If you’re well prepared with some mechanical know-how mixed with some elbow grease, tools, and spare parts.
You and or some friends. Could limp your rig back out of the woods.
So, you’re trying to put together an,
Off Road / Overland Tool Kit?
Now depending on what type of driving you are going to do. Will, play a big factor in what kind of tools and spare parts you need to carry.
Take for instance most extreme off-roaders will test the absolute limits of their 4×4, potentially busting parts more frequently like axles, U Joints, etc.
While on the other hand
Overlanding, you typically try to find the path of least resistance and go around tricky obstacles. To make sure you make it from point A to B, but unfortunately, sometimes stuff still breaks.
So do some research and find the parts that could commonly break on your specific vehicle.
Those would be the ones to consider having on hand and with the appropriate tools to perform the repair.
Just remember, all the tools and parts in the world won’t do you much good if you are very limited on your mechanical skill set.
So it is always a good idea.
To familiarize yourself and learn how to fix the different parts you plan to carry. Or maybe you could even find a mechanic savvy friend to ride along with you.
Now, tools come in,
Different Levels of Quality
You have High quality or really low quality (cheap) tools. Then you have the middle of the road stuff.
In some cases, having anything would probably be better than nothing at all.
Though going with the best quality tools you can find and afford. Try sticking with well known reputable brands.
To have the comfort of knowing they’re capable of getting the job done when the duty demands.
Or, you could use the cheap stuff. Although you run a higher risk of it, letting you down when you might need it most.
Something else to think about is,
How Are You Going to Store Your Tools?
You will need something to keep all your tools or spare parts in so they are not floating all around the vehicle.
Now depending on how much room you have in your vehicle will determine your toolbox option.
Some of the basic tool kits you can buy. Come in custom molded plastic cases while they are convenient and a good start. You may soon outgrow it as you start adding tools to your kit.
Hard plastic and metal tool boxes do work well,
But something to think about they can be bulking taking up precious real estate,
And it might be hard to find a home for it. In a tight-packed overland/off-road rig.
While sometimes soft tool bags might be a better option.
Which they are more pliable, allowing you to store them with a bit more ease. And to cram it in a corner somewhere.
Also, for your off road storage setup, you might consider some roll-up tool pouches. To organize tools, saving space, and helping tidy things up.
You could always make some storage boxes. Or look into a drawer storage system for your vehicle. Helping to keep everything secure, contained, and organized.
Before we dive in too deep,
Just keep in mind.
There is a balance between
Weight vs. What You Need
And there can be a delicate dance of having all the tools you need to tackle any task on the trail and then going overboard.
Because if you’re carrying too much unnecessary weight
And pushing it to the point, you’re nearly overloading your rig, where you will need to make some mods like a spring and or axle upgrade.
However, remember every bit of weight you add puts more stress on your frame and powertrain.
Which too much weight can eventually cause premature problems in itself.
But you will have to balance that, according to your own needs with how short or long your trip will be, where you are traveling.
Combined with how hard you will be on your 4×4.
Ok, so, to get started. You will certainly want to
Be Equipped For an Emergency
Having what you need for an emergency is essential, so don’t forget a first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
And locate them where they are quick and easy to get to
You should always have some form (or forms) of
For when you’re way out of cell phone range. (more on off road communication here)
Now a Ham radio gives the ability to reach out long range but does require a license.
But something as simple as a Garmin inReach device can be a good start.
Then it’s always a good idea to at least have some good.
Ratchets: 1/2″, 3/8″, and 1/4 inch drive. You could also add in some longer length ratches and maybe ones with swivel heads for increased versatility.
Sockets: Metric and Standard (SAE) deep and short sockets.
Extensions: Several different lengths for each drive ratchet. Wobble extensions are nice to have as well.
Swivels: have one for each drive ratchet. These help with those off angel spots.
Spark Plug Sockets:
Allen Wrenches: (metric and standard)
External Torx Sockets (E Torx): E Torx are found here and there on some vehicles. Jeeps are one that tends to use these in different places.
For some vehicles, you may need a Triple Square Bit Set for certain parts.
A full set of Combination Wrenches: Metric and Standard. Ratchet Wrenches are nice to add to the collection as well.
Have a couple of different size Adjustable Wrenches: When you just don’t have the right size wrench on hand. But be careful not to strip bolts/nuts with these; it can happen quite easily.
Also have on hand, an assortment of,
Pliers, Pry Bars, and Screwdrivers.
Needle Nose Pliers:
Regular (Slip Joint) Pliers:
Tongue, and Groove Joint (Water Pump) Pliers: Small, Medium, Large pairs (these are also called channel locks)
Wire Cutter/Crimpers: To cut and then crimp connectors back on those wires.
Locking Pliers (Vice Grips): It’s nice to have the Curved, Straight, and Long (needle) Nose. Small to Large Sizes. Vice Grips are useful for locking on to the head of a stripped bolt or nut, clamping a bracket back in place, bending stuff back in shape. Also, you can use them on a pipe and fitting if need be. They are a very versatile tool. You will want them with you.
Carry a Quality Set of Screwdrivers: Flatheads and Phillips (long and short/large-small).
A Few Different Length Pry Bars: So you have extra leverage to move things around.
Hook and Pick Set: suitable for pulling old O rings off shafts and other odds and ends.
Also, having some of those Alignment Pry Bars: help you align bolt holes up from part to part.
Don’t forget about them,
Hammers, Punches, Chisels, Hacksaw, and Files.
Never leave home without the
Hammer: Even have on hand a couple of different size hammers
Plastic Dead Blow Hammer: Helps prevent damage when banging on a more sensitive part.
While having a set of
Cold Chisels and Punches: Will help you split or drive free pins and parts.
Also, carrying a
Brass Punch Set: So you can beat on a stubborn steel part to prevent damaging it.
File: Can help fix threads on messed up bolts or even help flatten off a nick or burr on a surface. When you got a little wild with your hammer. (be careful)
And in addition to all that a
Hacksaw: Will allow you to hack on some metal if you need to. Plenty of uses for a hacksaw.
However on top of the files. You may want some,
Wire Brushes and Emory Cloth.
Small Wire Brush is good to clean up in a confined tighter area, clean rust and debris off threads on bolts. Or even corrosion off a wire connector, etc.
Large Wire Brush: It is nice to clean up when you have more room or larger objects.
Emory Cloth: is good durable sandpaper. Handy to have, to smooth, some rough edges off stuff.
Also, check and see what tools you will need for all the
Drain and Fill Plugs
Make sure you carry those along as well. To be able to top off the fluid if need be.
Let’s add a,
Extension Pipe: For your ratchet. Might need more leverage for the job in a pinch. Make sure it’s big enough to slide over your ratchet handle though
Breaker Bar: For those stubborn bolts or nuts
Strong Telescoping Magnet: To pull a broken axle out of the housing or even retrieve a bolt, you dropped in a crevice of your 4×4.
Axle Hub Socket: To fit your vehicle (if you want to able to tackle an axle job out on the trail)
Snap Ring Pliers: Are sometimes needed to do front hub and axle work.
18mm Wrench: To disconnect the front sway bar on JK jeep and zip ties to hold it up. If you have a rubicon, you don’t need it (because they typically have electronic sway bar disconnect)
Line Wrenches: You may have to bleed your brake or replace and or repair a brake line
A Telescopic Folding Inspection Mirror: to see in those hard to get to repair spots
Knife / Multi Tool: A good knife and or a multi tool like a Leatherman or Gerber
Quality Lights: LED Flashlights, Work lights, or even a LED Headlamp to put on your head to work with your hands free. Good Quality Light is a must.
Tape Measure: Now, say if you have to change a tie rod end. You will need a tape measure with you. To help get them back close to position for a somewhat proper toe adjustment.
Why not add some
Raincoat: so, when you get caught in the rain, can you stay dry.
Plus, you also can use a raincoat to lay on the ground when you’re repairing your vehicle to keep you from getting all mucked up.
It might be a good idea to carry a
Small Tarp: as well to lay on or use as a shelter if needed
Or even a
Extra Change of Clothes: A change of clothes is good to have If you get wet, muddy, or greasy. Keep in mind if you need to layer up. Always have plenty of appropriate attire for wherever you’re traveling, things like blankets, winter hats, winter jackets, or even a windbreaker and some muck boots. To stay dry and warm.
How about a pair
Sunglasses: This can be a huge help when you drive.
Safety Glasses: to help keep stuff out of your eyes while doing repairs. And can be a big benefit while working under a 4×4 covered in sand, mud, (dust).
Lighter: can not only be used to make a campfire if need be. But not unheard of for lighter to be used on heat shrink tube. Or for heat shrink wire connectors in a pinch.
Moving on to,
First up would be to have some.
Ensure you have various amp fuses and that they’re the right size and styles that fit your vehicle.
Because there are several different styles. more on that (here)
Either the standard Vinyl Insulated Wire Crimp Connectors and or Waterproof Heat Shrink Wire Crimp Connectors. Just have an assortment of connectors onboard
- Butt Connectors:
- Disconnects Blade Style Connectors: (male and female)
- Spade Fork Connectors
- Ring Terminals
- Fork Connectors
- Bullet Connectors
- Hook Connectors
- Quick Tap Connectors
Furthermore, you could add some.
Extra electrical wire is good to have to repair a damaged wire.
Or say if you need to connect an accessory. Always good to have a few different size gauges on hand.
Spare Light Bulbs
Also have some Taillights, Headlights, Interior Lights, Turn Signals, etc. Just find out what all the bulbs on your vehicle are and keep some extras on hand.
Now Wire loom can be used to wrap around an electrical harness that you needed to repair.
Now a multimeter is good to have to be able to check electrical problems. And it’s more versatile than a test light if you’re familiar with how to use one. But suppose you’re not sure how to use a multimeter. A test light is an excellent simple option.
Well, you just popped a fuse for your lights or something. Having a good test light makes easy work of finding a bad fuse.
So you don’t have to pull each fuse to check one by one.
All you have to do is check both contacts on both sides of the fuse to see if it’s getting current,
And a test light is also useful for checking various other electrical connections for power if you have a problem.
Also, note on newer vehicles with computers. An LED test light is safer for circuitry.
Or if you want to keep it simple. Go with a
Even just having a fuse tester can make finding a blown fuse quick work on the trail.
Now, what if your battery dies? You’re going to need,
Having some jumper cables is a way to charge a drained battery back up in your 4×4.
Well, that is if you have someone else around with a vehicle to hook up your jumper cables.
However on the other hand. You may also want to carry a
Because a quality jump start box is a way to boost your battery back in business.
When there isn’t another vehicle around to connect jumper cables.
Make sure to keep it plugged in, so it’s charged up and ready to go when you need it.
Rolling on to,
It’s only a matter of time before you pick up something and damage a tire on the trail. Here are some suggestions for tire repair.
You certainly want to have a Full Size Spare that matches the size you’re running on your 4×4.
And in addition to that on a long remote journey. You may want to have two spares. Of course, you would need a good tire rack to hold them.
But besides an excellent spare you can carry a
- Tire Repair Plug Kit: ARB
- Fix a Flat: Ride On
- Tire Patch Kit: in case tire plugs just won’t do the job. The hole might be too big, and you need something to get you out of the woods. So make sure you have different size patches: Large, Medium, and Small.
- Spare Valve Stems: and Valve Cores as well (Colby Valve, you don’t need to remove the tire from the bead)
- Tire Air Pressure Gauge: to adjust your tires to the appropriate pressure.
- Socket For Your Lug Nuts: some aluminum rims have recessed holes. A standard lug wrench might be too thick. To fit on, down around your lug nuts, or you could have a security lug nut. Make sure you have what you need to change a tire.
- Lug Wrench
Well, you’re probably going to need a,
Before you do any tire repair, or even if you just air down when you go off road for better traction.
You are certainly going to need a way to fill the tires back up.
So, you are going to need a compressor or CO2 tank.
Also, accompanying the compressor would be an extra length air hose 50ft to reach around your vehicle or use it on a buddies truck.
You will need to be able to
Jack, It Up or Pull It.
Having a jack will be very important for either changing a tire or even for recovery.
Bottle Jack: is useful on hard level surfaces to change a tire.
While it is also good to have a
Hi-Lift Jack: A Hi-Lift jack can come in handy for off road recovery situations. Or use it as a winch with a winch kit.
Or you could even just use a Come Along. With some winch extension straps.
Also, having a
Tow Strap: on hand, if for some reason you need to be pulled off the trail.
In addition to that, having a
Snatch Strap and line damper for a recovery situation.
Along with the tow strap and snatch strap, you need some.
D Shackles or Soft Shackles: So you can connect the straps to the recovery points on your vehicle.
And make sure you have the proper recovery points on your vehicle.
You could also throw in a set of traction boards like MaxTrax to help with a self recovery.
So, how are you going to
Hold Things In Place
Having some straps, rope, bungee cords, and some length of chain on hand to tie down cargo.
Also, on top of strapping stuff down.
Some folks have even used ratchet straps or chains to straighten and pull bent parts back in shape.
Or even to temporally help hold a steering and or suspension component in place. To help wiggle themselves back out of the woods.
Ratchet Straps: 1 inch and 2 inch
Chain, and a Binder
Always make sure your straps and chains have the proper working load limit (WLL) to support whatever you’re strapping down.
Additionally, you will want a good set of
Because a pair of gloves will help protect your hands when doing repairs or when handling gear and equipment. Because you certainly don’t want to bust your knuckles.
Alright, now we’re going to get into the sticky stuff,
Tape/Glue and Adhesives
Don’t ever underestimate the power of a little glue or tape. To be able to fix a leak, reattach, or hold stuff back in place.
- Duct Tape
- Electrical Tape: to tape up electrical connections and re-taping wire loom
- Fuel Tank Patch
- Loctite Super Glue (preferably gel)
- Silicone Sealant: to reseal mechanical repairs
- Radiator Patch Kit:
If you have something work loose or you need to fasten something back up after a repair
Therefore you need things with you like
Zip Tie Straps: various sizes (buy the Black color nylon UV (ultraviolet) stable good quality ones.
Spare Bolts/Nuts: Find the sizes that are common on your vehicle. When you travel down corrugated washboard roads, you could have some stuff start working loose on you.
Tie Wire: (aka mechanic wire or baling wire), for example, let’s say you’re out on the trail, and you break an exhaust hanger on your 4×4. You’re going to need something to hang it back up to keep it from rubbing on something. Having some tie wire is handy for sure.
A shovel is nice to have from helping you get unstuck, putting out a campfire, or even making a latrine if need be.
So how about some
Because you never know when you spring a leak or lose some fluid somehow. Having what you need to top it back off could be invaluable. Just make sure you have the appropriate oils/fluids for your specific vehicle engine and drivetrain.
- Distilled water
- Transmission fluid
- Gear Oil
- Engine Oil
- Brake Fluid
- Windshield Washer Fluid
- Penetrating Oil like WD 40 to loosen rusty bolts and odds and ends
- Dielectric Grease
- Coolant Stop Leak to use only for those leaks that pop up that can be hard to stop.
What about the,
Cleaners and Rags
When doing repairs, you will need a way to clean up parts and surfaces. Then when you’re all done. You can’t forget about your greasy hands.
- Brake Parts Cleaner: For cleaning up oily parts
- Battery Terminal Cleaner: Nice to have to clean corrosion on the battery or wire terminals.
- Spare Shop Rags: To clean up. (Those Scott blue shop paper towels work well).
- Hand Cleaner: Wipes, Tub O Towels
- Latex Gloves: Can help protect your hands when messing with oils.
- A Funnel: Will help you get the fluid in where you need it to go. Without making too much of a mess. Ensure it has a small enough end to fit in your fill holes, even having those flex hose nozzles that screw on oil bottles. For those hard to fill transmission, transfer case, or differentials.
- Trash Bags: Heavy duty trash bags work well to put on the ground to lay on if you don’t have a small tarp. And they can also be used to store your bigger old greasy parts.
- Zip Lock Freezer Bags: now, your smaller zip lock type bags can work nicely for spare bolts, nuts, or smaller parts.
Quick Grab Tool Kit For Your Off-Road Vehicle
Now here are some of the tools you might want to keep in a tool bag or box.
Locate it in a convenient spot in the cab that’s easy to reach.
So you can get right to your tools and quickly take care of a repair out on the trail.
And get back to wheelin’.
- Allen head wrenches
- Sockets: metric/standard the ones you think you might commonly use.
- Ratchets: 1/2″, 3/8″, and 1/4″ drive
- Wirecutter crimpers
- Screwdrivers: Phillips and flat head different lengths and sizes
- Utility razor knife
- Pack of wrenches: metric or standard depends on what your vehicle uses or just carry both
- Locking Pliers (vice grips)
- Tongue and Groove Joint Adjustable Pliers (channel locks)
- Standard Slip Joint pliers
- Binoculars are good to have to look downrange on the trail to see what’s up ahead.
- Folding Wood Saw
- Different Size Flashlights: small LED flashlight, large LED flashlight
- Tire Deflator
- Tire Pressure Gauge
You can find some off road tool storage options.
To help house tools in your vehicle from places like
Blue Ridge Overland Gear
Adventure Tool Company.
So, if you want to get wild. You could do some,
Welding On The Trail
Now when it comes to welding on the trail, there are different options available.
Some units go on the engine, replacing the stock alternator. Or there’s even some that mount beside the stock alternator with some retrofitting.
However, there are kits available that are a little more simplistic.
With some wire leads and connectors, that will allow you to connect a few car batteries in a series.
And then you have the portable (battery-powered) cordless welder options out there as well.
But you certainly don’t want to add too much weight. Or take up too much space in your rig.
Well, don’t wanna travel too far off track and in detail with this subject here.
However, something like this could give you the ability to weld to reattach those broken parts.
And or fix cracks on the trail.
And now for a few,
In brief, as we talked about at the beginning of the article. How hard you plan on wheelin’ and where you’re traveling. Will determine what you need to take along on your journey. And although you can’t take every part with you for your vehicle. Here are a few things to think on.
Fuel Filter: can very quickly get plugged up if you pick up some contaminated gas/fuel. Good to have at least one or maybe two or a few on hand.
Spare Serpentine or Drive Belts (V-belts)
U-Joints: There can be different size U Joints throughout the drivetrain. Keep that in mind.
Tie Rod Ends: (inner and outer)
Brake Line and Some Fittings: To repair a broken line. You will have to check what size line and fittings (metric or standard) you need for your vehicle if you decide to carry it. You will also need a double flaring tool if you plan on repairing a brake line.
Other Various Plumbing and Fittings: You may need to cap off or repair a line if a leak occurs. For instance, with an air locker line, power steering line, engine or transmission cooler line, etc.
Axle Shaft: Now, if you’re serious about off roading putting severe demand on your drivetrain. It might be something you want to consider carrying.
Water Pump: Make sure your water pump is in good shape. Before a long overland expedition trip, You may want to replace it or at least see if it’s fairly fresh to help prevent failure. Consider using the best quality new water pump you can get. And carry along a new water pump for a spare as well.
Also, make sure your alternator is in top shape.
Lines age and get brittle and leak also, they can be damaged from debris flying up from the trail. Or even if you bury your rig in the mud, something could get rip loose in the recovery.
So, for example, you can pack some
Spare Hose Clamps: Have some different size hose clamps. That will fit the upper and lower radiator hoses, heater core hoses, fuel lines, and the air intake boots for your vehicle.
Fuel Line: Never hurts to have a few extra feet of fuel line on hand. Because you never know when you could damage a line. Just make sure you have the size that fits your vehicle.
Radiator Hoses: Have a complete spare coolant line set for your vehicle—for example, the Upper, Lower, and Heater Core Hoses along with any others, etc.
Well most importantly inspect your rig with a fine tooth comb before each trip.
Because you certainly want to fix anything that may look like it could give you problems on your journey.
Ok, well, that will about,
Sum it up for now.
And I’m sure there is plenty more you probably could add to the list to fine-tune your toolbox. Yet you can always take and leave what you want. Well, this should give you some basic ideas and a good start down the right path as to what you might want to pack on your adventure.
Also if you’re interested in some tips for 4×4 weight distribution. (check out this post)