How to choose essentials for caravanning & off-roading?


Whether you're going off-roading in a four-wheel drive or caravanning, you'll need to take a few essentials so you're safe, prepared and can sort out problems along the way. Having critical gear at hand when you need it can be the difference between making happy memories and holiday horror stories. Safety always comes first - especially in remote locations where help could be hours away. If you've got everything you need before you hit the road, you can relax and explore the wonders of Australia confidently and comfortably.

What should you take caravanning and four-wheel driving?


What one person needs may not be essential for someone else, because it depends on:

  • Whether you'll be close to civilisation or in the middle of nowhere (so have to rely on yourself)
  • How long you'll be away from civilisation for (the longer it is the more essentials you'll need)
  • How much space you'll have in the 4WD or caravan (after factoring in people and bags)
  • How often you'll be going caravanning or off-roading (for a few days or for weeks at a time?)
  • How long you want your gear to last (will you want to use these essentials for years to come?)

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Which essentials should you buy?


Choosing the right essentials is easier when you break it down into these six steps:

1. The Basics


It's tempting to cram as much as you can into your 4WD or caravan, but remember, if it's packed to the rafters your vehicle will be heavier and chew through petrol faster. If you're going on your first adventure, you might want to just take a few of the basics below, plus a pen and paper so you can write a list of extra things to take next time.

It's tempting to cram as much as you can into your 4WD or caravan, but remember, if it's packed to the rafters your vehicle will be heavier and chew through petrol faster. If you're going on your first adventure, you might want to just take a few of the basics below, plus a pen and paper so you can write a list of extra things to take next time.


Safety essentials


To ensure you and your loved ones are safe always take a:

Caravan Essentials Buying Guide

Car Essentials


To ensure you're prepared for your road trip and ready for anything, it's a good idea to take:

  • Repair essentials:
    • A jack - so you can crank up the car, take off a flat tyre and put on a spare tyre.
    • Spare tyres - 1-2 tyres for each vehicle (depending on how long/remote the trip is).
    • A tyre repair kit - to repair punctures (especially if you're only taking one spare tyre).
    • Tyre pressure gauge - to make sure your tyres always have the right air pressure.
  • Driving essentials:
    • GPS device and maps - GPS isn't 100% reliable so take maps and a compass too.
    • Jerry cans - filled with petrol in case you hit empty miles from a service station.
    • Spare keys - so if you lose the car keys you don't have to call and pay a locksmith.
    • Cards - licence, campsite, insurance and roadside assist memberships, medicare.
    • Music - for the drive (CDs and offline playlists for when there's no phone reception).
    • Adapters - that plug into your cigarette lighter (to charge phones, iPads etc.).
    • Car organisers - that slip on the back of the front seats (for drinks, snacks, toys).
  • Towing essentials:
    • Towing mirrors - that sit beside your 4WD mirror and give you extra visibility.
    • Tow bars and accessories - so you can tow a caravan or trailer behind your vehicle.
    • Chocks or wheel clamp - to stop caravan/trailer wheels moving (and for security).
  • Recovery essentials - so if your car gets bogged you can use:
    • Wheel ramps - to get good tyre traction when you're on uneven ground.
    • A shovel - to dig out the sand/mud from around the tyres (and dig a camp toilet).
    • Self-recovery gear - a winch and tree trunk protector (to minimise tree damage).
    • Snatch-recovery gear - so one vehicle can be used to pull another vehicle free.
    • Gloves - to ensure your hands are protected when you're doing a recovery.

Camp Essentials


For the most enjoyable trip, think about taking:

  • Extra water - a large 5-60L water container to supplement your caravan's in-built supply.
  • Cooking equipment - pots, pans, utensils, plates, bowls, cutlery and ingredients.
  • A power source or two - for lights, phones and any equipment you want to use.
  • Table and chairs - foldable designs take up a lot less space in the caravan or boot.
  • Outdoor shelter - an awning or annex you attach to the van/car or free-standing gazebo.
  • Power leads - to power campsite lights and other equipment.
  • Toilet paper - plus a shovel if there aren't any campsite toilets.
  • Baby wipes and sanitiser - to get rid of germs and keep everyone clean and healthy.
  • Sunscreen, insect repellent and mosquito nets to avoid burns, bites and sleepless nights.
  • Cleaning essentials:
    • Washing up bucket, liquid, brush and tea towels (for doing the dishes).
    • Broom, dustpan and brush and cleaning cloths to keep your van/campsite
    • Clothes washing powder/liquid, laundry bag, clothes line and pegs.
    • A hose to clean sports equipment and the car, fill the bucket and wash feet.
  • Sports equipment - for surfing, fishing, paddling, biking etc. (with the right roof racks).
  • A tent or swag - to explore nearby spots away from the caravan/4WD for a few nights.

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Personal Essentials

To keep everyone happy and comfortable, it's a good idea to take:

  • Some entertainment for everyone (books, board games, cards, puzzles, magazines etc).
  • Towels - one for showering and one for swimming/the beach.
  • Umbrella/raincoats - so you're prepared for rain and it doesn't ruin your day or trip.
  • Clothes

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Caravan Essentials Buying Guide

2. Safety Essentials


To-do Checklist


A few months before your trip:

  • Make sure there'll be someone on the trip who has done a first aid course (or sign up).
  • Make a list of all the essentials you need to buy for your trip and start ticking them off.
  • Check all the appliances, taps and lights in your caravan and organise repairs if needed.

A few weeks before you head off on your adventure:

  • Check your oil, water and tire pressure.
  • Clean the caravan water tank with a tank cleaner.
  • Get your vehicle serviced (so there's time for repairs if needed).
  • Get your brakes, brake lights and tyres checked (and changed if necessary).
  • Put a fire extinguisher or fire blanket in your caravan (check the service date/expiry date).
  • Make sure you've got a first-aid kit, working jack, spare tyre and duct tape.
  • Make a list of everything you need to pack (so you can keep adding to it).
  • Consider getting a cargo barrier to stop gear flying forward and to fit more in the boot.


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Tyre Pressure & Conditions


The tyre pressure you need for the road is different to the tyre pressure you need in the sand:

  • Reduce the tyre pressure before you drive on sand (factoring in how heavy your load is).
  • Reduce the tyre pressure for outback tracks (factoring in how heavy your load is).
  • If you've had to reduce the tyre pressure, increase it again before driving on the road.

If you have a:

  • Tyre deflator you can decrease the tyre pressure.
  • Compressor you can increase the tyre pressure again.

Recovery


If you get stuck and need to recover your vehicle, you'll need recovery equipment.

Which equipment you need depends on the vehicle, terrain and if there'll be another vehicle:

  • Weight:
    • Make sure the straps, shackles and pulley blocks can handle the weight of your vehicle (go for heavier so you can help recover heavier vehicles if needed).
    • Don't go over The Working Load Limit - the maximum weight the equipment can handle.
  • Self or assisted recovery:
    • Recovery tracks are an easy way to create traction to get a vehicle out of sand, snow, mud and water.
    • While off-roading alone isn't recommended (because there's nobody to help you), you'll need more equipment for self-recovery (recovery with no assistance from another car).
    • For self-recoveries, never loop a winch around a tree - it's unsafe and can cause injury.
    • When one vehicle is used to pull another vehicle free you need to use snatch equipment.
  • Always read and follow the instructions that comes with recovery equipment.
  • All bystanders should be a safe distance from the car during a recovery to avoid injury.

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Communication Devices


When you're on the road or somewhere remote and there's no phone reception, it's important to still be able to make calls:

  • If you breakdown and need roadside assistance.
  • If there's an accident or injury and you need an ambulance, the police or fire brigade.

There are a few different types of communication devices:

  • Satellite phone
    • Coverage no matter where you are in Australia.
    • Keep it within reaching distance of the driver's seat.
  • UHF radio
    • Long range radio communication and vehicle to vehicle communication.
    • Different radios have different distance ranges and varying channels.
  • EPIRB
    • A beacon that sends a radio signal to Marine Rescue.
    • Only for life-threatening emergency use.
    • Good for offshore boating and wilderness hiking.

Important!

Don't leave your vehicle if you break down in a remote location. You'll be easier to find and have protection from the elements if you stay with your car!


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Caravan Essentials Buying Guide

3. Repair Essentials


Things can go wrong, and when you're driving a lot there's more wear and tear, so you need to be prepared for repairs-especially when you're a long way from anywhere.

Checklist


You'll need:

  • A spare tyre and a tyre repair kit - the nearest repair shop could be far, far away.
  • Spare oil (engine oil and gear box transmission oil), extra brake fluid and radiator coolant.
  • Duct tape - for electrical wires and general repairs.
  • A tyre pressure gauge - to avoid getting bogged and making the motor work too hard.
  • A toolkit - so you have the basic repair tools.
  • A jack - weight rated to lift your car or caravan.
  • Manual - for your car or caravan so you can follow the repair instructions.
  • Jumper leads - so if your battery dies you can charge it from another vehicle's battery.
  • Spare parts - to replace broken belts and hoses if needed.
  • Gloves - to protect your hands while you're doing repairs.
  • An air compressor or manual pump - to inflate tyres, airbeds and water toys quickly.

Choosing a Compressor


Compressor capacity (how many litres of air it pumps out per minute) is generally between 30 and 150 Litres per minute.

The right compressor capacity for you depends on what you're using it for:

  • For smaller vehicle tires and inflatable sports equipment, a small compressor will do.
  • To inflate larger 4WD wheels, a compressor that pumps more litres per minute is more powerful (but also uses more power).

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Caravan Essentials Buying Guide

4. Cooking Essentials


When you're cooking away from home-in a caravan or camping - it's hard to know what you'll need, so write up a meal plan before you go. That way you know what you're having and can pack all the ingredients, utensils, pots and pans you need.


Cookware


Make sure you pack all the essential cookware and utensils:

  • Utensils - long tongs, egg flip, stirrer, ladle - buy a standard utensil set to make life easy.
  • Pots and pans - one or two in a medium size (large if there are lots of you to cook for).
  • Can opener and a lighter/matches -to open food tins, start a fire, light the BBQ/stove.
  • Paper towels - for cleaning the BBQ after cooking and to use as napkins.

Crockery & Cutlery


When it comes to plates, bowls, knives, forks, spoons and cups:

  • Take one set of everything for each person and wash up after each meal.
  • You can buy:
    • Collapsible crockery and cookware that flattens to save space.
    • Durable materials like melamine and plastic (some are unbreakable).
    • Plant-based, biodegradable crockery that's good for the environment and sturdy.

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Stove


Most caravans have a stove, but if you want to cook outside or you're in a 4-wheel drive:

  • A separate portable stove you can use to cook outside is a great option.
  • You can get stoves with 1-4 burners, depending on how big your group is.

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Barbeque


A small, portable camping BBQ is perfect for cooking outside in hot weather:

  • Some have cooking plates and grills.
  • Some have lids so you can use them like an oven.

    Gas Bottles


    Portable stoves and barbeques are powered by gas bottles (and so are some caravan stoves):

    • Take a couple of gas bottles so you have enough gas for cooking between refills.
    • These can be fitted to your vehicle using gas bottle holders which can be locked.
    • Ensure your gas bottles, fittings and hoses are in date and good condition.
    • Always store your gas bottles in an upright position and transport using gas bottle straps.

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    Caravan Essentials Buying Guide


    5. Power & Light Essentials


    You may want to light up your campsite and take some creature comforts that need power.


    Lighting


    There are two types of lighting:


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    Power


    Sometimes, you'll be able to connect to mains power at your campsite, which makes life easy.

    If you're staying in an un-powered campsite or a remote area and you want power, you'll need:

    • A generator - watch the video that explains portable generators.
    • Solar panels - that convert sunlight into a source of power.
    • A battery - a second battery to power devices so you don't flatten your car battery.
    • Power inverters - so you can plug different things into your 12-volt car/caravan battery.
    • Power packs - for portable power, and to charge and power multiple devices at once.

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    Caravan Essentials Buying Guide

    6. Quality


    When weighing up which gear to buy, think about quality versus cost:

    • A higher capacity compressor that pumps more litres per minute means gives you more power so inflates a lot faster (and won't overheat), which is why they're more expensive.
    • Cheap gear may not last as long, so as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
    • Before you do a big adventure, do a couple of smaller trips to work out what you need.

    When it comes to how much you should spend, it depends on:

    • If you're travelling for a long time or more frequently, invest in gear made to last.
    • If you're only going out in your four-wheel drive or caravan occasionally, cheaper gear will do.
    • What you're buying. Don't skimp of safety-it's something you don't want to regret.



    How much are four-wheel drive and caravan essentials?


    When you go to the Camping & Hiking section on the Anaconda website and select 4WD, you'll see tick box filters down the left hand side of the page. Using these filters makes working out which gear to buy simpler because you can choose to filter what you see by:

    • Price - so you only see gear that's within your budget on the page.
    • Deal so you only see gear that's on sale or at clearance prices.
    • Category - so you just see Communication & Navigation, Compressors, Recovery, Towing.
    • Brand - so you can see gear made by a specific brand.


    Other Camping & Hiking Essentials


    Check out Anaconda's range of Camping & Hiking products available online or visit your local store.


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