4WD Trip Packing Checklist: All the gear you need!
If you’re new to off-roading you probably can’t wait to pack your 4WD and head off to some truly remote locations. But before you roll off into the wilderness, take some time to make sure you’ve got everything you need for the journey. After all, this isn’t like a trip to the caravan park where you can just duck down to the shops to pick up a few bits and pieces.
When you go remote, forgetting to bring the right equipment, or not learning how to use your equipment properly, can actually land you in some trouble. That’s why we put together this handy guide — so you can rest easy knowing you’re fully equipped and ready to go.
Personal safety should always come first for obvious reasons. And if you’re going off-grid regularly, it’s a great idea to not only carry the right first aid gear but also have an understanding of how to administer basic first aid such as CPR and applying a snake bandage. Once you’ve got that sorted, it’s time to get yourself a first aid kit with everything you need for going off-grid. As a guide, here are a few essentials you should have with you no matter what adventure you’re planning.
First aid kit
- Adhesive bandages
- Compression bandage (or snake bite kit)
- Safety pins
- Irrigation syringe
- Antiseptic wipes/cream/lotion
- Ibuprofen and paracetamol
- Disposable latex gloves
- SPF 50+ UVA/UVB broad-spectrum sunscreen
- Insect repellent
- Hydration tablets
- Space blanket/bivvy sack
It’s imperative you’re able to track your location and communicate that to others should you need help at any time, and to do this you need the right equipment and know how to use it properly.
UHF CB Radio
A UHF CB radio is an absolute essential for anyone considering going off-road. Mobile coverage can be patchy at best in remote areas and not having a UHF radio can turn a mishap like getting bogged or breaking down into a real disaster.
A UHF CB (Ultra High Frequency Citizen Band) radio enables you to explore remote areas of Australia knowing that, should you run into trouble, you’ll be able to contact anyone within a 5-8km radius of your position.
To navigate reliably, you’ll want to get yourself a GPS that is made specifically for off-roading. This means having topographical mapping as well as street mapping — enabling you to see contour lines, geographical features, unsealed roads and 4WD tracks — because when there are no buildings around, knowing the lay of the land and where mountains and rivers are in relation to your position is vital. For an in-depth look at off-road GPS, check out our article on What to Look For in a 4WD GPS.
The guidelines for remote travel are to carry double the volume of water needed for survival. This varies between 2 and 3L of drinking water per person, per day but can be higher in extreme environments like deserts. It’s also a good idea to carry your water in multiple containers or Jerry cans, this way if one gets damaged or gets contaminated, you will still have enough water to keep you out of trouble.
While we can survive much longer without food, it’s always a good idea to pack a little extra just in case you need it. Long lasting foods such as canned goods, beef jerky or energy bars are a great option as they won’t go to waste if they don’t get used on each trip.
A snatch strap is essentially a long strap with loops at both ends. They use kinetic energy to sling-shot a vehicle out of a bogged situation. While they can be incredibly useful when used correctly, they’re also very dangerous if misused, so make sure you know what you’re doing.
Recovery boards offer a safe and simple method of recovering your vehicle from sand, mud, bog holes and snow. They’re easy to carry and provide a quick way out of many situations that would have normally called for a winch.
A bit of elbow grease and a shovel can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Choose a shovel with a handle long enough to reach right under your vehicle, the longer handle will also give you more leverage and make using it a whole lot easier.
Air Compressor/ Tyre Gauge
Not letting your tyres down on soft surfaces like sand is a great way to get yourself bogged. There are recommended pressures for a whole range of surfaces (check out our handy guide to tyre pressures) and to make sure your tyres are at the correct pressure, it’s best to use a tyre gauge to deflate your tyres and an air compressor to inflate them again when you get back on the blacktop.
A good set of tools should be packed just in case of an emergency breakdown. Even some basic hand tools can get you out of a tricky situation. A good starting kit should contain a complete socket wrench set, adjustable spanner, flathead and phillips screwdriver, hammer, pliers, electrical and duct tape, WD40 or equivalent, cable ties, rags, and a bottle or high lift jack.
Australia is a huge country and if you’re going remote, the last thing you need is for the petrol light to come on when the nearest servo is miles away. Fuel containers like Jerry cans should be purpose made for holding petrol, heavy duty and UV-resistant. Never store fuel in a container that is not specifically made for that purpose. Petrol and other fuels can degrade polyethylene plastics, causing leaks and contamination of the fuel itself.
The camping equipment you choose to take with you is largely down to personal preference, but whether you’re in a swag or a rooftop tent, you will want to make sure you have a comfortable sleeping setup that will keep you warm, dry and protected from the elements.
If you haven’t got one already, a 4WD awning can really take your camping setup up a couple of notches. Not only do they provide a nice spot of shade and protection from the rain but they can usually be set up and packed down in around two minutes, making them a hard option to pass up.
Also, make sure you have a car fridge or a good quality cooler with enough ice to keep your perishables cold for the duration of your trip and enough space to store your food (and chilled beverages). For some great hacks on keeping your cooler cold for longer, take a look at our article on Fridge and Cooler Hacks.
Whether you’re using roof racks or the tray of your ute to carry your gear, it’s a no-brainer (and a legal requirement) that you make sure it’s tied down securely. Ratchet tie down straps are a great way to ensure your load is secure, but there are a heap of other options like bungee cords, tray nets and good-old-fashioned rope. Whatever load restraint you use, just make sure that your gear is not going to move around when you hit the trails.
Off-roading is not only a heap of fun, it enables you to visit places that are otherwise completely inaccessible. And while there is a fair amount of gear and know-how required to get properly prepared, once you’re set up with the right 4WD accessories, you won’t look back.
From spontaneous weekends away with a swag and a campfire to taking a year or two to do the big lap, your future adventures really have no limits. Australia is a huge, exciting and beautiful place — and there’s no better way to see it than out the window of your 4WD!