19 Essential Camping Gear You Need To Bring Before Going Off-Road
You’ve decided to take your Overlanding off-road. There’s a lot to know and it can be intimidating. There are many situations to prepare for.
What camping gear do you need? What about specialist tires? What if you get stuck in mud, sand, or snow? How can you recover your vehicle?
We’re here to break things down for you. Read on, be equipped, and avoid getting stuck in the mud.
Camping Gear – 10 Basic Essentials
Here are 10 essentials for your camping checklist. You need these items for any camping trip, but they’re crucial for remote off-roading - add them to your Overlanding gear list.
1. First Aid Kit
Include all the essentials such as:
- Alcohol swabs
- Adhesive tape
- Hand sanitizer
You may wish to include an emergency blanket to prevent hypothermia.
Other items depend on what part of the world you’re visiting, the specific risks involved, and how remote you’re traveling.
For example, maybe you’ll need a snake bite kit. You might need anti-diarrhea or allergy medications. For severe allergic reactions, epinephrine (in Epi-Pens) could save lives. Make sure instructions are packed for the less everyday medical items.
Any camping trip requires flashlights, especially off-road, away from civilization. Bright lights also scare away bears and mountain lions.
3. Personal Items
This includes water, food, soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, insect repellant, and so on. Duct tape also makes it on this list – it has endless uses.
Ensure you have waterproof clothing and extra layers for warmth in winter. You’ll need sunglasses if there’s snow on the ground.
4. Pocket Knife
Like duct tape, a pocket knife makes life easier for everyday jobs around camp. If you get into a difficult situation off-road, it can be used to cut seatbelts. It can also help with basic vehicle or electronics repairs.
5. Water Purification Tablets
In case you run out of water and you need to use a natural source, water purification tablets make contaminated water safe for drinking.
6. Communication Devices
Cell phones might not be enough. In remote locations with no signal, you need backup. For two-way communication, radio, satellite phones, and some satellite messengers will do the trick.
Like satellite messengers, personal locator beacons can send an SOS signal to rescue services but can’t receive messages.
Electronic GPS with spare batteries is not enough – bring compasses, printed maps, and local area information.
8. A Power Source
Portable power stations, generators, or solar power – the choice is yours. Portable power stations usually have USB and AC outlets, plus DC carports. You can supply several devices at a time. The smallest stations are handheld - ideal if space and the weight capacity are limited.
9. Temperature Control
Fans are helpful, even in winter – they prevent condensation inside your tent. Make sure you have the correct winter camping gear – proper insulation and if it’s cold enough, an electric or catalytic propane camping heater.
10. Fire Starters
Lighters, matches, or other fire starters are a must. You can get waterproof matches, great for inclement conditions.
Off-Road Overlanding Necessities
Let’s continue our Overlanding gear list with off-road essentials.
11. Suitable Tires
All-terrain tires are suitable for roads and some other types of terrain. They can handle gravel and sand, but they’re not so good for muddy or rocky terrain. Mud tires are the solution for driving on these surfaces. Make sure you have a spare tire.
12. Tire Deflators
Partially deflating your tires is wise when driving on sand or mud. Fully inflated tires have a smaller surface area, making them more likely to sink into soft ground.
The surface area touching the ground is longer with deflated tires, which makes it harder for them to sink. There’s also less chance of punctures with deflated tires, compared to fully-inflated tires.
Inflate make two and four-hose deflation units. Make sure you have an air compressor to reinflate them after.
The general guidance for how much to deflate by:
- Reduce PSI 25% for dirt roads.
- Reduce PSI 35% for rocky terrain.
- Reduce PSI 50% for mud, sand, and other soft terrains.
For snow, use winter tires, or deflate only for driving on deep, uncompacted snow.
13. Tire Patch Kit
If problems arise, a tire patch kit saves you using the spare tire. Some kits are more comprehensive than others. Contents may include:
- Tire pressure gauge
- Plugs and plug insertion tools
- Utility knife
- Valve stems, extenders, caps, and cores
- Valve core removal tools
14. Tool Kit
Include these fundamentals in your basic tool kit:
- Lug wrench
- Tire pressure gauge
- Socket set
- Torque wrench
- Pry bar
- Vice Grips
- Wire cutters
- Jumper cables
You may want to include spare parts, like hoses and lug nuts.
15. Vehicle Recovery Tools
A few essential recovery tools are below. Depending on the terrain, you might want to expand on this, but here are some fundamentals any aspiring off-roader should bring:
- Recovery tracks - use them to get vehicles out of sand, mud, or snow. These boards have grip and provide traction – place them in front of stuck tires and drive onto them to free the vehicle. MAXTRAX is a leading brand.
- Tow strap – for towing a vehicle behind another if it’s not safe to drive. However, they shouldn’t be used during recovery – only once the vehicle is free. They’re not designed to withstand the tension exerted during a recovery.
- Recovery strap – these are strong and stretchy enough to pull a vehicle out of ditches and other stuck places. If you’ve had your straps for a while, it’s a good idea to bring spares. Check for faded color, fraying and other signs of wear and tear – these signs make the straps more likely to snap during a recovery. Store them out of sunlight to prolong their usage.
- Tree trunk protector strap – these straps prevent trees from being damaged when using them as an anchor when recovering a vehicle. Chains and other types of rope can cause damage so be sure to use one of these instead.
- Shackles - for connecting the vehicle’s recovery points with straps.
- Gloves – they protect your hands from friction burns from rope and provide extra grip.
- A shovel – dig around stuck parts of the vehicle to ease the recovery process.
- A winch – using a winch is an effective yet dangerous recovery method. Winches can exert great force and if not used safely, can damage vehicles and kill bystanders. Make sure you have training and experience before using one in a real recovery situation and make sure you use the right one for the vehicle in question (rated to pull at least 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight).
16. Vehicle Fluids
Bring a funnel and sufficient fluids:
- Engine oil
- Extra gas
- Brake fluid
- Starter fluid
- Automatic transmission fluid
- Power steering fluid
17. Spare Vehicle Key
You never know what may happen - instead of getting stranded, bring a spare key and store it separately from the original.
18. Storage and Tie Down Straps
Next on our list of off-road camping necessities is a way to secure your gear in place. With the extra motion when driving off-road, this is essential. Some overland storage systems have numerous compartments for storing gear, with tie-down straps included. Otherwise, use cargo straps.
Being off-road for extended periods means there’s nowhere to stock up on food. A 50+ liter fridge gives you 7-10 days’ worth of food storage for two adults. If that’s not enough, larger models of 90+ liters are available. Make sure it’s securely mounted like the rest of your gear.
To Sum Up
The old adage “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” applies here. Preparation is the difference between off-road success and getting stuck in a ditch with your wheels spinning. With this introduction to the vital, must-have off-road camping gear, that doesn’t have to happen.
Whatever terrain you're headed to, recovery tracks are a staple item for your Overlanding gear list.
You’ll want them stored for quick and easy access - that’s possible with the MAXTRAX Rear Wheel Harness.