4x4 and Touring

Top Ten Must Have Items For Road Trips & 4x4ing

A list of basic equipment and tools that every 4x4 should have


Be Road Trip Ready!

If you're looking to hit the road for a holiday away, we have a few ideas about how you can prepare your vehicle. The difference between a stock 4wd and a fully-equipped offroading monster is like night and day, but what exactly constitutes fully equipped? Sure, there are a bunch of modifications you can make to your vehicle to increase its offroad performance, but it's easy to overlook the stuff you keep inside your 4x4 when figuring out what you need to assemble. And the thing is, you'll only really know what you really want to carry around in your off-road rig once you've been out and about without it.

So as a handy place to begin - we've assembled a list of what we see as indispensable equipment to be stowed on-board your 4x4 or overlander.

Learn how to winch a vehicle.

Learn about why UHF communication is important.

Learn about recovery points.

Learn how to get the most out of your fridge.

Learn more about fridges and coolers.

Learn how to inflate your tyres.

Fridge setup on ute

Fridge or Esky

If you're visiting rural communities and keen on cooking up some beautiful produce, drinking divine wines or sprints, and delicious craft beer, then you're gonna need something to keep it cool. There are a few different types of fridges and Eskys available, and depending upon the length of your trip, this may determine what would suit your needs. Iceboxes and Eskys are great for a few days away without power, and a couple of ice bags or blocks will work great. If you're planning to keep food cool in a portable solution, a thermocooler is a great way to keep food and drinks cool without the weight of a compressor found on larger fridge freezers. Last of all, fridge freezers are a fantastic way to keep food and drinks at zero or even below but will require more power for longer to keep it running.

Tool Kit

In the event of a breakdown, or if something gets knocked loose when you're driving or offroad, you'll need to be able to make repairs. A lot of the time, damage to your vehicle won't be able to be fixed properly when you're still out on the trail, so instead, it's a good idea to keep things like wire, tape, and metal putty in your tool kit, as well as regular tools and a few spares. You can patch up things like a cracked diff housing, or a gouged oil sump with metal putty, and there isn't much that can't be temporarily taped back onto a vehicle. In terms of spare parts, you might want to take along a few filters for your air and fuel - especially if you're in dusty environments - as well as belts, bulbs and other consumables that could be worn out or damaged easily.

High Lift Jack In Use

First Aid Kit

You should never go on holiday without a well-stocked first aid kit. Be sure to keep any medication, such as pain relief, antiseptic creams or antihistamines fresh, and in the case of an injury or allergic reaction, you'll want your kit to be easily accessible. Be sure to get a waterproof container for your first aid, but make sure it's easy to open and that everything is clearly marked and laid out inside it.

Vehicle Jack

A flat tyre or a tyre that's jumped the bead is pretty much an inevitability, and when it happens, you need to be able to jack your vehicle up to change the tyre. A standard scissor jack is unlikely to cut the mustard offroad, so be sure to carry a bottle jack, high-lift jack with a base plate or airbag jack. These are capable of lifting the vehicle from the sills and even the wheels and can be used for more than just jacking your 4wd up as well if you know what you're doing. Make sure to check your spare tyre pressure and condition before setting off!

Tyre Deflator in use

UHF Radio

A good radio can go a long way towards keeping you and others safe off-road. Familiarise yourself with the appropriate channels to use, and stay on your radio to keep in contact with other trail users, keep up to date with any safety or environmental and weather warnings, or just know that you have a lifeline to emergency services in case something goes wrong. There's a variety of radios available - each better suited to different uses, so be sure to read up on what will fit your requirements best.

Tyre Deflator and Inflator

When you drive off-road, you need to let the air out of your tyres in order to allow them to flex more, and thus provide more grip. It's easy enough to do, and with a deflator that comes with a gauge, you can ensure that your tyre pressure is exactly where you need it to be. The thing is, when you get back to the road, you don't want to be driving around on deflated tyres as your safety, and the safety of everyone else on the road will be seriously compromised. You can use manual inflators - such as a foot pump, but that takes effort and time - which could be better spent actually driving! Instead, it's a great idea to get yourself a tyre pump that can run off your vehicle's battery and that you can use to quickly re-inflate your tyres to the recommended pressure when you leave the trail and head back to the tarmac.

Recovery Boards in use on Hilux

Shovel

This is one of those tools that is so easily overlooked, and in many ways can be done without, but just makes horrible tasks so much easier than you really should have one. Sure, you could dig out soft sand or mud with your hands or a chunk of bark, or you could invest in a simple folding shovel instead and save your back and your hands, and reduce the effort when digging out the soft stuff beneath your tyres, and filling the hole with rocks, sticks or a traction pad.

Recovery Tracks

The safest way to recover a vehicle is to first see if you can drive it out, as winching or snatch recovery requires a large amount of energy at once, which may find weak points and fail. To help driving out, you're really going to want to clear out the soft stuff and replace it with something your tyres can really get a grip on. These recovery tracks are exactly that something. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you'll have no trouble finding one to suit your vehicle. Most double up as a handy shovel making the job even easier.

Power Inverter in use

Power Inverter

If you do want to power things like a TV, or other 240v plug-in devices (like phone or laptop chargers), then you'll need a Power Inverter. Some people prefer a more permanently wired solution - especially for running larger electronic devices, but there are inverters that simply plug into your 12v cigarette lighter port and allow you to charge smaller devices too. The more serious you'd like your setup to be, the more likely it is that you'll need a secondary battery - and so you might want to look into a dedicated deep-cycle battery install as well, as they are designed for this sort of use more so than your standard vehicle battery is.

Fire Extinguisher

When you think about it, all vehicles are carrying around a bunch of really flammable stuff, and the last thing you need when you're far from civilisation is that stuff catching fire. When you are going off-road, the likelihood of a vehicle fire breaking out is increased due to the additional strain placed on your engine, as well as the added potential for impacts or damage that can cause fires. When you are off-road, you'll need to be able to take care of any fires yourself, and you'll need an extinguisher or two to do that. Be sure get an extinguisher that's rated for liquids and electrical fires, and store it somewhere that's easily accessible but secure enough that it can't go bouncing around when you're on the trail.

Standing by a 4x4 looking over hills

Bonus Item - Recovery Kit

Finally, one of the most indispensable things you can carry onboard when you're going off-road is a full recovery kit. A decent kit contains snatch straps, D shackles and gloves - to help you get unstuck, or to help others. Make sure you locate the correct recovery points on each vehicle before recovering. If you don't have an electric winch, then you can get hand-operated versions that you can stow inside your vehicle too. Make sure to use tree-protectors and other safety accessories when you are recovering vehicles - such as gloves, dampers, and decent shackles, and always use the correct recovery points to tow from, not the transport tie-down loops!

And there are 12+ super useful things you can carry in your overlander or 4wd when you're hitting the road or going off-road. Whether you want to be able to help yourself and others to get unstuck, communicate easily, or just make sure you can smash back a cold one when you get to where you are going - if you use our recommendations, we hope you can make the right calls when it comes to decking out your own 4wd.

You'll never know what you need until you've gone out without it - so let other people make those under-equipped voyages on your behalf; always check with people what they miss most when they are going offroad. Similarly, you shouldn't aim to simply buy everything - weight is important when you're out in the country. You don't want to be buying a bunch of stuff that you aren't going to be using, after all!