How to Prep any Vehicle for Remote Adventure Travel
A lump formed in my throat as the sound of rushing air emanated from a rear tire on my 1998 Ford Ranger. No spare tires left, 4x4 out of commission, and 15 miles of rough doubletrack mountain driving to the nearest pavement...
This Ill-advised camping trip into the Catalina Mountains of southern Arizona could have turned out much differently; however, a tool kit and bit of preparation saved the day.
The tire was promptly patched and reinflated with a small, onboard air compressor, and on our merry way, we went.
Any Vehicle is an Adventure Vehicle with the Correct Skills and Gear
I've since traded in that rusty Ranger of my teen years for a slightly more refined Subaru Crosstrek; it gets way better mileage and is significantly more reliable. While I wouldn't take it rock crawling, with decent preparation, one can enjoy the comfort benefits of a crossover vehicle, while still finding far-off (enough) adventure.
Note: this kit is meant for adventurous road trips; those wanting to cross Sibiria overland should go significantly heavier.
Tire Patch Kit and Portable Air Compressor
Your tires are the only connection between the earth and your vehicle, sometimes that connection goes poorly.
A good quality patch kit and small air compressor are arguably the most essential thing in your kit. Spare tires are great, but once you have your first puncture, the safety net is spent.
Here are a few things to note:
Patch Kit: Any well-made kit will work, but look for one that also has spare valve cores and sidewall repair supplies.
Air Compressor: go with a compressor that uses alligator clamps to clamp directly to the car battery. The cigarette lighter models are severely limited in the amperage they can draw, meaning that you could be waiting a long time to reinflate your tire.
Basic Hand Tools
Socket Wrench set: Most parts on an automobile are held in place with some form of bolt or nut. Get a set that is strong enough to use to break tire nuts loose - just in case.
Tool Roll: A cloth tool roll with a few of the basics is all you need for everything but a full overhaul. This is what I carry at all times:
- Channellock pliers (most versatile)
- Wire stripers
- Box wrenches
- Adjustable wrench
Stick Broken Stuff Back Together
Many minor problems can be fixed with the correct application of duct tape and zip ties; don't leave home without them!
A few additional supplies can provide that extra level of safety and self-reliance needed to see the more unusual sights while not taking too much room from your camping gear.
- 10l of water
- Ax or hatchet
- Short shovel (if you have room)
- Waterproof tarp
With a few well thought out provisions, anyone can leave the well-traveled trails and National Parks for a truly epic road trip. See you out there!