Your rig is all packed up, your full-sized spare is aired and ready to go, and now all you have to do is decide which tools to bring. It’s harder than it seems, because in a perfect world, we would bring them all along. There are ten tools that go with me off-road no matter what, and they should be in your rig, too.
Laugh if you will, but the crescent wrench has gotten me out of a number of jams. It’s essentially every wrench size thrown into one. It won’t fix all of your problems, but it sure comes in handy.
I probably don’t need to say much more. It’s a hammer. No matter how big or small the automobile fix, the darned hammer always seems to come into play. Also handy for tent stakes. Throw one into your off-road tool bag and forget about it; you’ll need it.
At least one Phillips and one flat head should be in your off-road tool bag at all times. Don’t bother with those stubby-handled ones that come in the kit, either; you can’t use them at home, and you can’t use them on the trail, either.
Off-road rigs have off-road accessories, and many of them are electric. Keep a roll of this in your tool bag. If you wheel often, your rig or a buddy’s rig will need electrical tape at some point–it’s a guarantee.
Wire and connectors
If you need the electrical tape listed above, chances are you might need wire and connectors. Both of these items can be found very cheaply, sometimes in kit form. 14-gauge wire is fine, and a small assortment of wire connectors, both butt and round, will do the trick. Of course, it’s also best to have a wire crimper/cutter, as well, but in a pinch the pliers and a good pocketknife will work.
These amazing things have solved more of the world’s problems than anything else. The amount of uses for them is endless, and they are good for both interior and exterior applications. I carry a big round tube of them I picked up at Harbor Freight for a few bucks. They are needed almost every time I hit the trail.
Roll-up wrench set
Yes, we already have the crescent, but it can’t do everything. I highly recommend a combination wrench set for your tool bag. It doesn’t have to be top of the line, either; Harbor Freight sells a couple different affordable sets in roll-up pouches.
RTV Gasket Maker
Yep, it’s intended for gaskets but in a pinch, it’s good for all sorts of things. I carry both the black formula and clear silicone RTV in my rig. Like zip ties, RTV has endless uses and as a plus, it doesn’t take up much room in the tool bag.
Pliers and/or Vice-grips
For everything the wrenches cannot do, pliers step in and take up the slack. Locking pliers are great, too, as are a good set of slip-joint adjustable pliers like plumbers use. I carry all three types in my rig but realistically, one will do in an emergency.
Small socket set
To many wheelers, a socket set is optional, but it isn’t for me. I keep one in my rig at all times. Sure, most of the time the end-wrench set will work, but if you can use a ratchet the job goes so, so much faster. Besides, a small set in a plastic case doesn’t take up much room, anyhow. Mine goes under the back seat (it’s a Jeep Cherokee and there is storage under them if you lift the seat up) so it’s there whenever I need.
Here are a few other things that are in my off-road tool bag:
- Gloves – I can’t stress these enough. They should be in every tool bag.
- Tire plug kit – yes, I’ve used this and it has saved the day.
- Lubricant like WD40 or penetrating oil.
- Tape measure
- Diagonal cutters (sometimes called dikes)
- An extra 2″ ball for my hitch
There are a few other odds and ends in my personal off-road tool bag, but I’m of the Be Prepared Boy Scout variety. I get ribbed for the things I bring along, sometimes, but I’m also the go to guy if someone needs stuff while out on the trail. Better to be overly prepared than broken and stuck, I say.