10 ITEMS YOU SHOULD TAKE WITH YOU ON EVERY TRAIL RIDE
Always be prepared for the worst out on the trail
As an off-roader, you know that few things can match the thrill of hitting the trails and exploring new terrain. However, you should always be ready for unforeseen issues during your ride wherever you go. Don’t be the guy that holds up the rest of your crew because you and your ATV/UTV were ill-prepared.
Every ATV/UTV owner should carry a well-stocked tool/survival pack to ensure readiness for the worst-case scenario. Here are ten essential items that you should always have in your kit for trail rides:
Tire Repair Kit
Any experienced ATV rider can tell you that getting a flat tire on the trail can seriously ruin your day, especially if you are miles away from your tow vehicle on a primitive trail. A tire repair kit is a must for any ride and should include a tire puncture reamer, a tire plug installer, tire plugs, rubber cement, and a tire gauge. If you’re on a rec/utility ATV with a fair amount of storage, and your ATV has a 12-volt power port, a small electric compressor is good for inflating multiple tires. Many tire repair kits have compressed air CO2 cartridges and an inflation nozzle. These are perfect for sport ATVs, but will also work for 4×4 ATV and UTV tires.
Pliers, Wrenches, Screwdrivers, and Sockets
A basic set of tools will cover most of the repairs you’ll likely make on the trail. Having a variety of socket sizes is key. We’ve found that a small socket wrench with 6, 8, 12, 13, 14, and 17mm sockets are ideal for ATV use. A medium-sized crescent will cover most larger bolts. There are a variety of folding metric tool sets that are compact and lightweight, which include sockets, a socket wrench, Allen head drivers, and Phillips and flathead screwdrivers. A multi-purpose knife can help with unexpected repairs and even be used to cut branches out of your way. Better yet, get a Leatherman-style multi-tool that’s small enough to carry in a pocket. UTV drivers should also pack a socket wrench and a jack
Accidents happen, so having a basic first-aid kit is necessary. Bring bandages, compresses, pain relievers, antiseptic wipes, and any other medication you may need. A belt can be used as a tourniquet.
You never know when you’ll be caught out after dark, so make sure you have a reliable flashlight with fresh batteries. As nerdy as they might look, one of those head-mounted flashlights will keep both hands open for tools during repairs.
Belts and Spare Parts
It should go without saying that owners of CVT-driven machines should always carry an extra belt. Keeping a small container with the most common metric nuts and bolts on hand is also a good idea. If you’re headed on a long or multi-day ride, it’s also a good idea to pack an extra air-filter if sand or water crossings are part of the adventure. A spare sparkplug is also a necessity, especially if your vehicle is carbureted and prone to plug fouling.
Duct Tape and Zip Ties
While it may not be pretty, duct tape can fix almost anything in a pinch. We’ve even used both to splint broken tie rods together well enough to return to camp slowly. Zip ties can also be used to fasten loose wires, secure bags, and even hold your muffler on temporarily if it comes loose.
Steel Reinforced Epoxy Putty
We always keep a tube of JB Weld SteelStik in our tool bag for quick engine case repairs out on the trail. The tube contains two compounds that remain moldable until mixed together by hand. It can be molded into shapes or used to patch up holes in engine cases, including holes that are leaking oil. It sets in three to five minutes and can be filed or drilled after one hour. Once cured, the putty can withstand 900 PSI and resists heat up to 350 degrees. Oftentimes, these repairs are a permanent fix that can save you the cost of replacing an expensive side case.
No matter how reliable your ATV is, there’s always a chance you’ll get stuck or break down. Bring along a tow strap in case another rider needs a hand.
Portable Battery Jump Box
This is an excellent tool to keep onboard if your vehicle uses a CVT transmission or can’t be bump started. Battery jump boxes are powerful, yet small and light enough to be stored in a backpack. They can be recharged at home, or with a 12-volt power port. For ATV and UTV use, one charge will usually last for several jump starts.
Water and Snacks
You must keep hydrated and fueled while on the trail. Bring plenty of water and high-protein snacks like energy bars, even when temperatures are cool.
Carrying a good tool and survival kit should be standard practice for every off-roader. Being prepared with everything you need ensures your ride is always enjoyable and trouble-free. Don’t forget to check your tool bag before every ride to ensure you have all the essentials and that everything is in good condition. Stay safe out there and have a great ride!