Feature photo by @zschrubb on Instagram
I drive a 2008 Honda Ridgeline which suits my needs for fun, comfort and long family road trips. Recently, while weathering the storm of our stay-at-home order and trying to find some outdoor fun, I discovered a network of non-paved gravel roads which are fun to explore and which weave the Wisconsin countryside with views of farms, hills, creeks.
I’m also planning to take my family on a camping trip where we’ll take my Honda Ridgeline truck on an overland soft-roading trip. This will mostly involve gravel roads in BLM, DNR and other County Highways in hopes of some outdoor fun! The terrain will be gravel roads, filled with sand or mud and if my vehicle gets stuck, I want be prepared to recover back to stable ground.
While we explore these unpaved roads I’m collecting a toolkit of 4×4 supplies which I will carry in my truck in case of a slide-off or need to pull someone else back onto the road.
There’s a lot of supplies that should not be overlooked or forgotten on an off-roading adventure and packing my 4×4 will require planning to have the needed equipment as well as researching a safe route.
I was not provided product or payment for these recommendation of must-have off-roading supplies and the opinions stated here include my own opinions. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Don’t overlook these 4×4 soft-roading trip supplies
If you are sleeping, cooking or using supplies in your vehicle, leveling off your off-road 4×4 with leveling blocks and balance will provide a handy and comfortable straight footing and don’t expect to find rocks nearby to balance your truck.
This can be used to inflate a tire with a slow leak, fill a spare tire or fill an air mattress. If you plan to air-down tour tires, you will need to reinflate them when hitting the pavement and an air compressor is essential for this.
When you drive in sand and rocks, it’s a good idea to give your ride the most comfort and traction by deflating your tires to accommodate for the terrain. Some circumstances need 15 psi and below and a tire deflator can do this quickly and with exacting precision. Air down tires to 20 psi for dirt and gravel roads and 18 psi for sand. Lower tire pressure creates a larger foot print.
Winch recovery kit
Don’t mess with getting stuck. It’s going to happen and you can’t always rely on getting help from a passerby with a winch on their vehicle. Most off-road winch recovery kits include:
- Winch line dampener (which doubles as the kit bag). “Winching using a Steel Cable is one of the most dangerous aspects of vehicle recovery as the cable stores kinetic energy. If the line or a connection point breaks under pressure, it can become a deadly projectile. Always use a Winch Line Dampener to absorb most of that kinetic energy if a break occurs.”
- Heavy duty snatch block
- Tow staps
- Tree saver strap
- Heavy duty gloves
- D-ring shackles
Recovery straps including tree saver and snatch straps
Shackles or hitch shackle and hitch lock
High-jack, wheel chocks and jack base
With loose ground when changing a tire, your vehicle’s stock jack set is not going to suffice.
For instructions on how to winch from another vehicle or other winch points, here’s information from towmart.com:
If you get stuck, you may have to rely on another vehicle to pull you out. The simplest way to do that is to use a couple of shackles and a snatch strap. Keep the kit in easy reach of the driver’s seat.
The snatch strap needs to have a minimum breaking strength of three to four times the weight of the vehicle you plan to use it with. They’re made of nylon and are designed to stretch. This helps add a little extra tug to your tow.
Three-and-a-quarter-ton shackles are the right choice for connecting one end of the strap to the recovery point on each vehicle.
When you attach the shackle to the recovery point and strap, make sure you tighten the pin completely. You should then back it off a quarter turn or so. This lets the required flex happen without harming the threads.
These must-have items will get you out of deep mud or sand, sticky wet snow and make sure to get four! Off-road traction mats also double as low profile leveling blocks and don’t forget to turn off tour VTM-4 so your tires spin together on each axle. And don’t plan on using floor mats, you will see these mounted on 4×4 roof racks or bumpers for a good reason!
Long or small shovel
Digging out is difficult at best when you encounter a stuck vehicle and is a most important recovery vehicle you’ll be glad to have even for burying compost or a small fire pit.
First-aid medical kit
Off-roading will put you in the middle of nowhere and when an emergency happens, you want to be prepared with first-aid supplies. Plan on this and check and refill used items each excursion. Shop for or make your own full medical kit as a simple first aid kit will not be enough for your OHV adventure.
Consult your owners manual for the original equipment size tires to fit your vehicle. In my case, I’ve done a ton of research and am very knowledgable about tires so knowing that my Honda Ridgeline comes with OE size 245/65R17, I’m still able to fit certain brands of 265/65R17 tires with a tread width of 8.5 inches or less. Below is the list of my favorite all-terrain tires for my Honda Ridgeline RTL. I recommend using tirerack.com to purchase new all-terrain tires as they provide free shipping to all lower 48 continental USA States and will ship direct to your local favorite auto shop and have a great selection.
This may seem obvious but is often overlooked! If you don’t already have a stocked tool bag or box in your four wheel drive supply kit, you can simply buy a full tool set too! Make sure your tool kit includes vice grips, oil for tour truck, extra gasoline, a hatchet and hammer, drivers, sockets, wrenches, gloves, a tire plug kit, pliers, WD-40 or other rust-removal item, lighter or weatherproof matches, headlamp, wire, rope, zip-ties, duct and electric tape and of course a multi tool.
There’s different kinds of fire extinguishers however on an off-roading 4×4 trails camping trip, you’ll want a B-rated (liquids fire) and C-rated (electrical equipment) fire extinguisher in case of the worst!
Want to double your winch’s recovery power? Yes, a snatch block tool will provide this essential ability.
These support handles can be installed on the inside of your off-road truck on back of head rests, pillars, doors and cross members, to provide grip in those “oh sh!t” moments where passengers will want to grip tight even while buckled.
Find a heated thermal blanket which is large enough for two people which plugs into your cigarette lighter to stay warm inside tour vehicle or around the fire.
Jerry can or gas tank
While we plan our off-roading trip route, we may find it handy to have extra gasoline which should always be mounted on the outside of your vehicle.
If you need to winch out of stuck location but you don’t have a second vehicle to assist and you don’t have a tree, giant rock or other super heavy object to anchor your winch to, you will need a deadman anchor. This winch anchor is a tool that lets you create your own winch line anchor point.
How to use a deadman earth anchor
Additional suggested off-roading supplies (from members of the Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Facebook Group)
- Change of dry clothes – because you never know when you have to get out and rig a winch line, spot your friend or walk a trail ahead of your truck while it’s raining
- Two-way radio CB – “not all areas get cell phone reception.”
- A hat – the sun can be hot as hell!
- Batteries/flashlights/bug spray/sunscreen
- Camp chair – to relax and to enjoy the small things in life.
- Snacks – because when you stop, you’re going to have the munchies.
- Chain saw (with blade oil, sharpener and eye protection) – for taking down fallen trees on the trail.
- Manual bow saw and machété
For more information about must-have Off-road 4×4 supplies, review the Wisconsin Off Highway Vehicle Association’s Safety Checklist:
Click to access ohv%20safety%20checklist.pdf
Off-roading trail tips
Other must-have off-roading supplies resources
- pirate4x4.com billavista VEHICLE Recovery Bible
- US Army Vehicle Recovery manual
- Warn’s Guide to Winching
You’re ready for an off-roading OHV adventure!