Driver & Vehicle Guidelines
The properly equipped trail rig should have some or most of the following items installed prior to attempting any real 4X4 or High clearance vehicle rated trail.
The first item on everyone’s list should be a First Aid kit. It should be of a sufficient size for the number of expected passengers in your vehicle. Remember, you will most likely be in a wilderness situation far from immediate help. In most cases, cell phone coverage is limited or non-existent.
A properly maintained vehicle is less likely to fail on the trail and tends to make certain that you will not have a mechanical issue while exploring the back country. In the spring, before the beginning of the local off road season, it’s recommended to perform the following; change the oil, filter, and lube. Check brake lines, shock boots, suspension components, look for loose nuts or bolts, Install a new or clean the air filter, look at the brake pads, rotors and brake shoes. Check all fluid levels, look for leaks and repair them. Check the cooling system and A/C, Change cabin filters, clean battery terminals and check the battery cables. Inspect tires for sidewall damage, check air pressure and have any scheduled maintenance items performed. When changing any belts or hoses that are in fair condition, you may wish to carry the old ones as emergency trail replacements or spares.
When exploring the back country it is generally accepted practice to never travel alone. Ideally you should be accompanied by a second vehicle. At a minimum, never travel without a second person. If somehow you were to become incapacitated, your companion could summon help or provide aid.
Books and maps:
You will need to know where you are going. Trail books and maps that have GPS coordinates, a little history of the area, description of outstanding remarkable object’s or vista’s, short hikes to interesting locations or observation points, historical monuments or structures and scenic features, will all add to your enjoyment and education.
Each off road vehicle should be equipped with a method of communicating with each other. A CB radio is a very good and relatively inexpensive but a limited device depending on the terrain. Cell phones can be spotty at times. Often there is limited or no service in the back country. Even short wave radio can be spotty depending on your location so keep in mind that the radio is a relatively close range device for communication.
Roll bars or cage:
Roll over protection is essential. It is important that it be properly installed and anchored to a good foundation to be effective. Padding is a wise decision and a couple well placed grab handles will make your travels more comfortable.
Factory seat belts should be sufficient for most folks but the more adventurous driver may choose to upgrade to a four or five point system as he is more likely to need such restraints. These are usually installed in competitive application vehicles.
If one is good, two are better! Choose a unit of the correct type for automotive use. A foam or Halon Gas type is generally recommended by most organizations. They offer the advantage of quick application and limited clean up after the fire is out. Using an extinguisher of the Halon Gas type will generally allow inspection of the cause of the fire and possible temporary repairs would be more easily made to allow you to return to civilization.
Dehydration is the number one killer of most people who get either stranded or lost in the great outdoors. Always carry plenty of water for you and your passengers. Don’t forget that water will be needed for any first aid that may be required. Although most mountain streams may look clear, it is recommended to carry a water purification filter or tablets. Prior Planning Prevents Problems.
Tire deflators, PSI gage, air compressor or Co2 cylinder with regulator, hose and quick disconnect, tire inflator , blow gun, tire plug kit, razor knife,
It is a good idea to bring along an Axe, Tree Saw, Shovel, Hi-Lift jack and accessories. A hydraulic scissor jack, Lug wrench, 3” tug strap, Tree strap, sturdy Gloves, 3 lb. sledgehammer, Shackle mount, HD tow hook’s, Two HD nylon ratchet straps, 4’x8’ sheet of 4 or 6 mill of plastic or a tarp, news paper or roll of paper shop towels, waterless hand cleaner, and large trash bag’s a just a few of recommended items.
Hand tool suggestions:
Vise grips, multi-function screwdriver, channel locks, small and large crescent wrench, pliers with side or wire cuts, needle nose pliers, test lamp or multi-meter, small set of sockets or combination end wrenches, metal file, cold chisel and hack saw with extra blades, tie wire, duct tape, zip-tie’s, golf tee’s, #8 floor nails-4, Barr’s radiator stop leak, motor oil, ATF, Brake fluid, Teflon tape, Permatex gasket seal, fuses, Nitril gloves.
Camera, Toilet paper, bug repellant, sun protection, hand sanitizer, sun glasses, hat, jacket weather appropriate, good sturdy comfortable shoes, chap stick, Snacks, 5 Hr. Energy it may be a long trip, day pack, Bear repellant, personal protection for you and your family.
Be sure to secure all of your gear properly. Be sure to tie down your cooler, tool box or bag, Co2 cylinder and other equipment. In the event that things get bumpy or in the situation of a roll over the last thing you want is a Co2 cylinder, cooler or tool box shifting position or flying into your face. “OUCH!”
Recommended vehicle modifications:
In order to safely navigate the more difficult trails, a 4X4 high-clearance vehicle is recommended. A recommendation for the more difficult roads includes a suspension upgrade with a minimum 2.5” lift, 33” mud-terrain tires, a Posi-traction differential or locker–preferably 2. If you go with a higher lift and 35” tires, it is also recommended to add lower gears. Remember, every modification leads to another to compensate for the first. Modifications should be planned by experienced professionals for the desired performance. The sky is the limit depending on desired characteristics and finances. Transfer case and gas tank skid plates are recommended as well as heavy-duty differential covers or skid plates. An external transmission cooler is recommended for the higher elevations and longer trails for automatic transmission vehicles.
Depending on the trip you may want to bring along additional gear for fishing, hunting, camping, binoculars, prospecting, and gear for whatever you like to do.
PLEASE TREAD LIGHTLY! Be smart, be safe, leave no trace you were there, be courteous to other travelers, explorers and sportsmen, Remember we aren’t hear for a long time we are only here for a good time.