All trips entail a certain amount of group dynamics. Personalities play a part, of course. But preparation, or the lack thereof, can be a factor, too. Four wheelers know that preparation is key. Each driver must account for his or her own needs, but the real ladies and gentlemen in our hobby go above and beyond: They try to anticipate what may occur, and pack extra supplies accordingly. If the trip is short, you probably won’t have any issues. On a longer trip, something as simple as a shortage of basic gear can cause friction and conflicts. You and the others can minimize or eliminate these by packing extra gear.


Off-road tools and gear to pack

-When deciding what additional items to pack, think of basic needs. Space permitting, I suggest you bring extra gas, blankets (or a sleeping bag) and radios. Don’t worry about trying to pack for everyone. Even one extra blanket can come in handy.  If space is limited, focus on smaller items. Some of the more valuable ones include batteries, rope, band aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, tire plugs, tin foil, toilet paper, garbage bags, Ziploc bags, and tent stakes.

Having this extra gear has as much a physical effect as a psychological one. Drivers are more focused and less worried about their gas situation when the tank gets low. Therefore, I always recommend bringing an extra 5 gallons of gas, even if you don’t need it. The additional gas provides peace of mind, and supports the opportunity to take an unplanned side trip along the way.  While gas is always in demand, you may not have extra room. If your vehicle holds only two containers and those are spoken for (one each for gas and water, for example), don’t sweat it. Concentrate on smaller items. Similarly, a cold, restless night can really spoil the trip for a participant. That person’s demeanor can affect the entire group. Your extra blanket or sleeping bag can make a big difference.


Bear in mind that four wheeling naturally requires a certain amount of self-sufficiency. You should put a lot of thought and preparation into what you are going to need to bring on each trip.  When going with a group, it may sound logical to divvy up gear among the drivers, but this can cause some serious problems.The group may have only one of a particular item (say, a stove). If that breaks or the owner gets separated from the group, the other drivers will be forced to compensate. Also, you don’t want everyone in the group to start relying on the others for gear. As I mentioned above, four wheelers are naturally self-sufficient. If you’re going to participate, you must be able to handle your own basic needs. What would you do, for example, if you got separated or stranded?  Another possibility is that your group may want to split up. Drivers with certain skills or interests go in one direction, while the rest remain on the established route. (In extreme cases, say, due to severe weather or other dangerous situations, you may need to split up your group.) If gear is divided up among the vehicles, each group is going to be short of a number of items.

Bring the gear even if you’re not skilled. Some people wonder whether they should bring a piece of equipment that they can’t use (or use very well) themselves. I always recommend that they do. Even if that person isn’t very adept with the tool, another driver may be. Having that piece of equipment on hand could mean the difference between a successful trip and one that ends early. Due to the punishing nature of four wheeling, various parts can break on a vehicle during the trip. Someone with welding skills is a real asset to the group. You may not be skilled at welding, but you can still pack the necessary supplies.

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Believe it or not, it is possible to weld with two 12v batteries and some jumper cables. (Eye and face protection are crucial, too.) Another useful tool is an axle nut socket. Got one laying around? Throw it in your vehicle before the next trip. If anyone breaks an axle along the way, you’ll be considered a hero.

While you cannot be responsible for anyone else’s careless attitude and you can’t possibly foresee every issue that may arise, you can mitigate many problems with a little more planning. Carrying some extra gear you can give or lend to a teammate can improve the 4 x 4 experience for everyone.



Bring your gear and TAP into Adventure!


Author: Tom Severin 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit to develop or improve your driving skill.

Photos Courtesy of:  TAP, Jerry L’Ecuyer (, and Bernhard Leitner (

Editor: Lori Palmer

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Tom Severin is an International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association© certified professional 4WD Trainer and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is an instructor for the United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and the California Association of 4WD Clubs. Tom is the owner of Badlands Off-Road Adventures 4WD Training School in Southern CA that offers guided off-road adventures as well as 4WD training courses ranging from basic off roading to advanced rock crawling techniques.