What should I bring on my off-roading adventure?

What do you need to bring with you for a successful off-roading adventure? See more off-roading pictures.
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If you're into adventure sports like off-roading, you probably thrive on exhilaration and spontaneity. But you shouldn't throw all caution to the wind. Even short excursions off of the paved road require planning and preparation.

No vehicle is going to be 100 percent reliable, especially when traveling over rough, unpaved terrain. So, whether you choose to explore the outdoors on a dirt bike, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), dunebuggy or even your SUV, you should always have supplies handy to take care of your vehicle and yourself.

General provisions for an off-road excursion include the type of equipment you might take on a camping trip or keep in your automobile. These can include:

  • License, insurance and vehicle registration
  • Navigation items, includung maps, a compass and a GPS device
  • A spare key to your vehicle to keep in a hidden location
  • A flashlight, along with extra batteries and a spare bulb
  • Duct tape
  • A pocket knife
  • Cash, credit card and a cell phone for emergencies
  • A first aid kit
  • Food and beverages, preferably energy bars and water
  • A fire extinguisher
  • An emergency flare

You will also want to ensure your vehicle has its basic tools handy, too. Ideally, you should get a pre-excursion checkup for your vehicle to make sure it's in proper running order, but it's also useful to have the following on hand:

  • A spare tire or a tire repair kit
  • A toolkit of wrenches, sockets, pliers, screwdrivers, a hammer, and assorted nuts and bolts (ATVs usually come with a factory toolkit)
  • Spare spark plugs and fuses
  • Parachute cord, bungee cord, bailing wire, zip ties and a tow strap
  • Wire cutters
  • Engine oil
  • Spare wiper blades
  • WD-40
  • Tank sealant putty

You may choose to pack additional spare parts for your vehicle, such as air, oil and fuel filters, belts, hoses and hose clamps, and brake line. However, many vehicle owners will find it impractical or difficult to store this additional equipment.

Beyond the basics, you should plan for special contingencies based on where you'll be doing your off-road exploring. In the next section, you'll learn what you need to bring along for specific environments and terrains.