UTV GO-BAG: Everything you should take with you on the trail
— For decades American Express has used the slogan “Don’t leave home without it.” While a credit card and some cash are among the things we should always carry on UTV adventures, they will not be enough in the boonies. A satisfying UTV adventure has a beginning, some great fun and a triumphant return to your starting point. Having to walk back to camp puts a hurt on the fun factor. The answer is in that bag in the back of your machine, or it should be. If you’re going farther than you want to walk home, be prepared in advance.
The minimum you should have in your “don’t leave home without it” bag of tricks is a CVT belt, tools to change it, tire plug kit and a way to air up your tire, and a tow strap. This will help you through 90 percent of the situations you’ll come across. The more capable you are at field-side repairs, the more you should pack as far as tools and spares.
No matter what machine you are driving, they all require tires with air in them to get back to camp. You have a variety of options to reduce tire failures. You can carry a plug kit and air to repair punctures temporarily to get you back. That is by far the cheapest option and they usually work pretty darn well. You may need a little water to help you find the puncture spot but not normally. If you feel the need to plug the tire on the trail, it’s not going to be a slow leak that makes you deal with it.
Two, three or four plugs may be necessary. We once plugged a slice successfully (enough to gingerly get us back to camp) with seven plugs in it. We carry a reasonably priced Harbor Freight 12-volt air compressor. It works great and it keeps on ticking after a few years of abuse. If you don’t have that, bring a couple of cans of ThreeBond Seal ‘N’ Air or Slime ThruCore.
Also, better bring a jack if you plan to change a spare. RockyMountainATV.com has a nice, reliable scissor jack designed to mount to the cage for a reasonable price. Escalating the tech and the expense, you could have your tires fit with Tire Blocks, Tire Balls or run beadlock rims. Tire Blocks and Tire Balls both allow you to keep driving with no issues when you get a puncture or cut a tire. Beadlock rims allow you to drive with a flat, but you will certainly destroy the tire in the process. You can also choose to carry spare wheels with tires already mounted. Again, this adds expense and weight, and you need a jack and other tools as well.
If you are driving a CVT vehicle you should have a spare belt with you if you plan on driving far. Naturally, you also need the tools and know-how to change it on the trail. You should be packing a spare belt and the tools to change it. If you’ve never serviced a belt, take the time to watch a video and maybe even do a practice run. On most machines it is not hard to change, so make sure you have the tools to do it, but on other machines it may take more work. Fortunately, the machines that have belts that are difficult to swap generally smoke the belt less often.
We’ve changed a bunch of belts on the trail, so plan on this if you explode a belt. In addition to the tools to swap the belt, have a long needle-nose plier to help you fish the belt remnants out of the clutch. This is extremely important, as your next belt will fail almost instantly if you leave debris in the clutches. We also bring a piece of Scotchbrite pad to scuff the rubber off the clutches. The clutches will be hot, so if you’re going to be in a hurry, bring mechanics gloves. Plan on removing the CVT case vent hoses on the trail, as they will be packed with bits of your belt.
Bring a tow strap. You don’t drive alone, right? A tow strap can get you home and it will allow another machine to right a car laying on its side. We like the Speedstrap, as it takes no hardware. You loop it around, slip it through itself a couple of times and you’re done. It comes undone just as easily. We once looped two together to pull a motorcycle out of a really bad situation, so get your buddy one for Christmas.
Spark plugs, tie-rods, jumper cables, ball joints for the front spindles, JB Waterweld 8277 epoxy putty or Moose Racing Quicksteel are all things we see commonly packed in bags or stored on the car. Each of these items may help you get going in a bad situation.