Off Road Basics

  • Always travel in groups of 2 or more vehicles
  • Always alert someone back home where you are going & when you expect to return
  • Take at least a basic supply of tools and gear (see The Basic, Minimal Offroad Checklist)
  • Air up to recommended tire pressure for highway driving, air down at trail head, air up prior to trip home
  • Straighten winch cable if necessary
  •  Fire Extinguisher - Should be mounted in the vehicle in an easily accessible location.

Pre-departure Maintenance Checklist
    Check engine oil 
    Check transmission oil 
    Check brake fluid 
    Check radiator coolant
    Check windshield wiper fluid
    Check fan belts 
    Check hoses
    Check air cleaner
    Check seat belts
    Check tire air pressure 
    Check for tire wear or damage
    Tighten drive shaft u-bolts 
    Check  and tighten lug bolts
    Check for frame cracks
    Check brake pads/shoes adequate pad material, in good condition w/out contamination
    Check for loose bolts or nuts throughout vehicle
    Grease all fittings - u-joints, steering, driveshaft
    Check gear oils: transfer case/differentials
    Check Winch for proper operation, 
    Check winch cable for kinks, frays/damage straighten 
    Check shocks
The Basic, Minimal Offroad Checklist
The minimal list is the basics that you should always carry in your vehicle when offroad.  These items are good to have in the vehicle at all times.

    First Aid Kit (See Safety and Survival below)
    Basic Personal Essentials (water, food)
    Spare Tire, Full Size
    Jack and tire iron to change your tire 
    Tow strap
    Recpvery Strap
    Tree saver
    D-ring or Soft Shackles 
    Basic Tool Kit
    Leather/Work Gloves 

    Spare Key for vehicle


My 5 Must Have's: As a new Jeeper or off-roader it can be very overwhelming trying to figure out what to buy and where to start. These 5 items are a great start to building your Off-Road recovery kit.

Recovery Strap
You need a good quality recovery strap. Make sure it’s a recovery strap, not a tow strap. The recovery straps are designed for the rigors of pulling out a stuck vehicle, a tow strap is designed for flat road towing. 

Tree Saver
Soft Shackle / or Shackle A.K.A D-Ring
**Make sure these items are rated for the proper load.
Click Here - Jeep Momma Blog Post - OffRoad Recovery Gear

There are so many more items that should be in a Off-road Recovery Kit, but this will give you a great start. Make sure you check all your items for warnings and load ratings. And keep your gear in good condition. This will help with safety off road. 
Click Here Road Safety & Weather Emergency Kit 
Click Here 5 Must Have Kits for your Jeep


Safety and Survival

The First Aid Kit
First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. You can buy them, or you can make your own kit.  Whether you buy a first aid kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you may need. Include any personal items, such as medications.  

    Activated Charcoal (only if instructed by Poison Control)
    Adhesive Tape
    Antiseptic Ointment
    Alcohol swabs, individually wrapped
    Band-Aids (assorted sizes)
    Cold Pack
    Disposable Gloves
    Gauze Pads and Roller Gauze (assorted sizes)
    Hand Cleaner
    Plastic Bags
    Scissors and Tweezers
    Small Flashlight and Extra Batteries
    Syrup of Ipecac (only if instructed by Poison Control)
    Triangular Bandage
    Burnaid gel
    Snake Bite kit
    Disposable emergency blanket 
    Instant Cold pack 
    Instant Hot pack
    Israeli bandage 
    Medications: Anti-diarrhea medication, Tylenol ( fever reducer), Ibuprofen (Nuprin, Motrin, Advil) inflammation reduction, sprains bruises, etc, Benadryl for mild allergic reactions, Epinephrine in the form of an Epi Pen to treat more serious allergic reactions that might otherwise be fatal. 

Road Safety 

My top 5 picks 
(Tow Strap/Gloves in Off-Road Recovery Kit)
  • Jumper Cable
  • Fire Extinguisher/Mount
  • Road Safety reflectors/Flare
  • First Aid Kit  - Items to put in your kit
  • Weather Emergency Kit

The mounts I use are mounted on the rear roll bars. Super easy access by unzipping your windows.

Jeep Momma Mounts

  • Made of black Nylon, durable and reliable. It is very easy to install
  • 3 adjustable straps to any size what you want. Suitable for different fire extinguisher
  • All accessories attach to roll bars using hook-and-loop fasteners.
  • Bundle includes pair of ultimate grab handles and fire extinguisher holder.
  • Works with 3-inch roll bars. Can be held one 3 pound fire extinguisher 

    • High quality,
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    • Color Choice to match your Jeep
    • Fits both padded and non-padded roll bars
    • Fits PALS webbing as a MOLLE accessory

    Basic Personal Essentials

        Water - At least one Gallon per person, per day if not more.  Drier, hotter climates may require more.  Remember: Alcohol doesn't hydrate.  In fact alcoholic beverages dehydrate since it take more water to metabolize alcohol than the beverage contains.  
        Food - Bring food for twice the amount of time you are planning on being gone. Should you be delayed and have to spend a night out on the trail, you wont have to worry about going hungry. Good ideas for trail food: trail mix, beef jerky, fruits, dry/canned food, etc.
        Extra Cloths - Nobody likes to sit in wet cloths or an extended period of time.
        Personal items - This includes toilet paper, anti- microbial hand cleaner, etc
        Sun block
        Rain Jacket
        Communication devices - Cell Phone, CB Radio
        Power inverter if necessary (e.g. Cell phone recharger, battery recharger for communication devices and camera)
        Trash bags - Keep your trails clean
        Maps, information about the area
        Compass or GPS
        Water purification tablets 


    Having some important supplies and keeping your vehicle in top condition is valuable for having a safe journey. During the winter months in colder climates it's extremely important to be prepared. I have started my own list of items for your cold-weather kit. There are Winter Survival Kits that can be purchased online, but they tend to be pricey. The quality of these kits is often poor. Most of the stuff in my kit can be found  around your house. 

    Winter Survival Kit

    First aid kit – don’t skimp on this
    Blanket – wool or survival
    Signal mirror
    Flashlight / headlamp
    Nylon cord
    Glow sticks – Flares – Warning Triangle
    Hand Warmers
    Emergency Candles
    Quick Spark Fire Starter / Tinder
    Matches - waterproof
    Folding Shovel
    Basic Tools for Repairs
    Vehicle Fire Extinguisher
    A good Knife / multi tool
    Duct Tape
    9×12 feet (to construct a makeshift shelter)Change of clothes
    Lip balm
    Food - protein bars or MRE's

    Jumper Cables –
    There’s plenty of cheap “made in china” cables out there, so be cautious. You’ll want your jumper cables to be at least 12 feet in length, but longer is always better. 16 feet is ideal for most situations and should allow you to get a jump from someone behind you if need be. Go with 20 feet if you have a truck.

    Portable CompressorHi-lift jackBeacon – A device which transmits your location. 
    Ham Radio (need license)

    Keep Your Vehicle Serviced
    Most emergencies can be prevented by keeping your vehicle in top condition. Cold weather makes a few of these items below even more important, such as ensuring your antifreeze level and type of mixture is good to go, putting a winter-specific “no-freeze” windshield wiper fluid mix into your fluid reservoir and keeping the gas tank as close to full as possible at all times.

    Vehicle Checklist
    Antifreeze and Radiator
    Windshield wiper operation and fluid check (no-freeze mixture)
    Heater and Defroster
    Brakes and Brake Fluid Level
    Emergency Flashers
    Tire Pressure and Tread Depth
    Fuel Level
    Oil Level
    Battery Charge and Terminal Cleanliness
    Jack and lug wrench - Hopefully the items that came with your vehicle are still in it. 

    If you upgraded to a larger sized tires on your vehicle, I’d hope you don’t need me telling you this, but your factory jack might not reach high enough anymore to enable you to change a flat.  A fellow jeeper suggested to carry 2 x 4's, stating... 

    "it's actually not the aftermarket lift, it's the bigger tires that cause the factory jack to not reach, as the factory jack lifts from the bottom of the axle, not the bottom of the frame like most vehicles do. Therefore only larger tires would cause problems with the factory jack being too short.""  

    Always check your spare periodically to ensure it’s properly inflated and there’s no cracking in the rubber. Tires have a shelf life and a general rule is that a tire is only good for about five years before the rubber starts to deteriorate.

                Sun Block
                Insect repellent

    Beyond the Basic Offroad Checklist
    What goes beyond the basic checklist are items that depend on many factors.  Factors like what form of offroading you will be doing, your driving style, the terrain you will encounter, how much room you have for packing gear, how remote you will be traveling, how long you will be gone as well as many other factors you should consider.   However three primary things you should gear up for are Safety and Survival, Vehicle Recovery and Vehicle Breakage.

    Vehicle Recovery Items
        Hilift Jack
        Recovery & Tow straps - 2 or more, 2" wider, 20' or longer
        Tree saver
        Come-along (one or more)
        D-rings, Shackles
        Chainsaw and bar oil, 2 cycle engine oil, spare chain (can be handy in recover situations, as well as for trail clearing on wooded trails)
        Winch Kit: tree strap, hi-lift jack, snatch block, pickle fork, shackle, gloves
        Snow tire chains (if tires don't cut it)

    Basic Tools
    Basic tools are the versatile, essential tool sets that consist of a variety of sizes and combinations of commonly used tools such as socket sets, wrench sets, Allen wrenches, Torx sets and screw drivers.  Your tool sets should cover the variety of sizes found in your vehicle.  Regardless of whether your vehicle is American made or an import 4x4, when it comes to socket sets and wrenches, it's sometimes wise to carry standard and metric socket since sometimes there are a mix of both standard and metric on custom vehicles not to mention helping a fellow 4wheeler.

    My Top 10 Must Have Tools for the Trails
    #1 BFH - Hammer
    #2 Adjustable Wrench
    #3 Big Screwdriver or Pry Bar
    #4 Socket Set and Ratchet
    #5 Vice Grip Pliers
    #6 Screwdriver and Bits
    #7 Zip Ties
    #8 Duct Tape
    #9 Bottle Jack
    #10 Flashlight


        Complete Socket Set - Standard) & Metric w/ 3/8"& 1/2" drives.  Deep and standard sockets. 
        Crescent, open end combination box wrenches Standard & Metric
        Allen Wrenches
        Torx sockets (especially if you own a Jeep)
        Standard & Phillips screwdrivers, large, medium, small

    Versatile Tools
    Versatile tools are those that have many uses.

        Large Hammer (a.k.a. the "BFH")
        Pliers (various sizes)
        Needle Nose Pliers
        Vice Grips, various sizes
        Large channel-lock Pliers
        Pipe wrenches - having 2 medium of these can be useful for tie-rods.
        Utility knife or razor blades
        Crescent wrenches (medium & large)
        A BIG pry bar or length of strong metal pipe, inside diameter of pipe large enough to slip over a wrench or socket drive for extra leverage.

    Specialty Tools
        Snap ring pliers
        Air Pressure Gauge
        Portable air pump
        Jumper cables

    Additional Items
        Duct Tape
        Bailing wire
        wood blocks - Useful as chock blocks, jacking platforms, ramps, suspension supports (for broken torsion bars)
        Bungee cords, several in multiple sizes - good for securing gear, temporary repairs, etc.
        Rope lengths
        Super glue
        Tie wraps
        Work Gloves, leather

    Must Have Fluids 

    #1 Oil
    #2 Coolant
    #3 Water
    #4 Brake 
    #5 Differential (gear oil)
    #5 Transmission
    #5 Gas

        Brake Fluid - Power steering fluid - Bearing Grease 
        WD-40 - Starter Fluid - Funnel, siphon hose

    And don't forget to take fluids for yourself and passengers. Water and Gatorade were big vote-getters. Save the adult beverages for back at the campfire. Never Ever wheel and drink so many horrible accidents have happened because of mixing alcohol and driving.  

    Spare Parts / Repair Items
        Lug Wrench
        Extra Fan / serpentine belts
        Hoses, fuel line, coolant hoses
        Spare Tire
        Tire repair kits, plugs
        Extra Lug nuts, tire star wrench or lug key with key socket
        Cotter pins / keys - various sizes
        Valve stems, Valve stem remover
        Nuts & bolts assorted standard and metric sizes
        RTV or Hylomar HPF - form-a-gasket
        Radiator stop leak - silver flakes in tube
        Spare Hub (and hub fuses if applicable).
        Electric fuel pump
        Coil / electronic ignition
        Spare Universal Joints (U-joints for drive shaft & axles)
        Spare Drive Shaft (rear and front)
        Extra spark plug wire (size of  longest wire)
        Spare points 

    Electronics Repair Kit
        Volt ohms meter (multimeter)
        Wire cutters / wire crips / wire strippers (multi-tool)
        Spare fuses of all sizes and types used in your vehicle
        Electrical tape
        Spare wire - lengths of various gauges
        Spare switches
        Spare relay if you use relays
        crip on ends (male and female, various gauges)
        Small pocket sized needle point blow torch (handy for soldering wire)
        Flux core solder for repairs
        Wiring Diagram of your vehicle

     Expanded List
    The Expanded list includes items for the extreme wheeler with tools and gadgets that you may want to consider if you are serious about offroading.

        Winch and Winch Accessories
        Onboard Welder, welding supplies and welding gear
        Onboard Air
        Spare axles (rear left / right, front left / right)
        Spare tie rod assemblies (tie rod, drag link, ball joints, ball joint nuts and cotter pins)
        Spare Idler Arm
        Parts that have broken twice before (if you can't carry it, you should have upgraded it)

    Camping List for Extended Stay or Remote Excursions        Maps, information about the area
        Compass or GPS
        Duct Tape
        Propane Lanterns
        Mosquito repellant
        Lighter, matches
        A knife of some sort
        Toilet paper
        Water purification pills
        Cooler with beverages
        Cooking Pans for breakfast
        Paper plates
        Paper towels
        Folding camping chairs
        Sleeping bag
        Sleeping pad or air mattress
        Stove or grill and fuel
        Tarps, lots of tarps
        Bathing suit
        Flip flops or swimming shoes 
        Funky fishing hat
        Hiking boots
        Rain jacket
        Bottle opener 
        Cooler cup 
        Pocket knife
        Trash bag 
        Extra keys 
        Sunglasses and/or goggles 
        Ice and ice chest or cooler 
        Camera, case, film and batteries 

    Here are my Top 5 Modifications to make to your Jeep Wrangler for off-road readiness. These Top 5 aren't all the modifications you can make, but a great basic start. 

    #1 Tow Points
    When you go off-roading there is always a possibility your Jeep could get stuck. To help in your recovery efforts you should have good, strong tow points on your Jeep. I decided this was the first place for me to start. I replaced my plastic bumper and hook type tow points with a steel metal bumper from Extreme Terrain, The Barricade Trail Force HD Front Bumper.

    #2 Rock Sliders
    While I off-roading in my stock Sahara my plastic side step would get caught up on a rock. One time a rock pulled off my side step. However, I was able to knock it back into place.  I would have been better off with out them. My suggestion is to remove the stock side steps if you plan on doing any sort of trail rides with medium sized rocks. 

    If you are getting into some more serious rocks you may want to consider rock sliders like my Barricade Rock Sliders. They help to protect the body of your Wrangler. 

    #3 Diff Cover
    It seems I am always running into rocks. The first thing they hit are my diff covers. I replaced mine with the Riddler Diff Covers which are cast from high grade iron with a lip free transition. This helps prevent a rock from 'grabbing' the cover. 

    #4 Skid Plates
    Your stock Jeep is outfitted with some skid plates and they hold up well in mild to medium rock crawling. Your transmission and oil pan are not protected. I added the M.O.R.E oil and tranny skid plate. 

    I also added skid plate to the rear control arm and shock mounts. That's another place I tend to get hung up on. I used the EVO Rear Lower Control Arm Skids.

    #5 Air Dam Removal
    What is an air dam? It is a piece of plastic under the front of your Jeep. Some say it's to help hood flutter, some say it's to prevent debris from flying up into your engine or possibly to keep your engine cooler. Whatever it does I ended up removing mine when I installed my new front bumper. This plastic piece also has a potential to being ripped off while rock crawling. 

    Should I remove my Jeep Wrangler Air Dam Jeep Momma Blog Post - April 2014



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