Essential Tools for Off-Road Riding
What’s the thrill of offroad riding without some risk? Mechanical failures and unexpected emergencies come with the territory of powersports off-road riding, calling for some extra tools.
When you’re out “in the sticks” far away from gas stations, garages and society in general, you need to have tools and supplies to handle potential mishaps. What belongs in a comprehensive list of essential offroad tools is subjective, so we’re keeping it simple here with a handful of basics you’ll find on just about any list like this one. Ultimately what’s essential to you and your offroad vehicle is in your hands, but here’s some of what we consider to be essential off-road tools and supplies.
Rather than kick off this list with a bunch of common-sense individual tools, we recommend getting a comprehensive toolkit with an assortment of basic tools like wrenches, pliers, ratchets and sockets, impact drivers, etc.
An assorted portable tool kit comes in handy when unexpected problems arise, and may include extras you didn’t think you would need in an emergency. Find a tool kit with the essentials plus extras like a flashlight and a tire gauge, and you’ll be better prepared to tackle offroad tracks and trails. Add a multi-tool to your tool kit for good measure.
Tire Repair Kit
Aside from the basic toolkit, it’s also prudent to have a tire repair kit. With all the debris you’ll ride over offroad, you’re bound to get a flat tire sooner or later. Having a tire repair kit may also come in handy for use on the truck that transports your offroad machine. A good tire repair kit comes equipped with basic tire and wheel tools, CO2 canisters, and seals such as replacement dust caps, patches and rubber cement. Of course you’ll also need a full-size spare tire, a lug wrench, an offroad jack, and the next item on our list.
Air Compressor Kit
Adjusting tire pressure on the fly is crucial to safe offroad riding. Whether you need to drop or raise the air pressure in your machine’s tires, having a portable air compressor kit gets the job done. A quality air compressor kit includes all the accessories needed to connect to your motorcycle, ATV or side-by-side battery with alligator clips, and has a long air hose that can reach both or all four of your machine’s tires.
So far we’ve listed convenient kits rather than individual tools, and another important kit to take offroad is a recovery kit. This type of kit includes everything you need to save the day when your offroad vehicle needs towing assistance. Your ATV or UTV should be fitted with a winch, but even if it’s not, a recovery kit helps others pull you out of trouble. A good portable recovery kit includes heavy-duty tow straps and shackles, as well as work gloves to safely free your stuck vehicle.
Shovel and Saw (or Ax)
An offroad shovel does more than just help you dig your vehicle out of mud, rocks or snow. You can use it to dig a fire pit and put out campfires, or even as a tool for cutting debris out of the way in the absence of a saw or axe. With that said, Polaris offers a shovel/saw combo to cover both cutting and digging needs.
This entry on our list is more of a “put-it-together-yourself” kit for handling unexpected electrical problems on the trail. A comprehensive electrical tools kit should include a multimeter, a test light, jumper cables or a jumpstarter, electrical wire, and patching products such as electrical tape, duct tape, wire strippers and crimpers, butt connectors and zip-ties.
While a standard head lamp is probably fine, a work light is great for lighting up a work area or camping site to fix problems after dark. Get a work light that’s mobile with adjustable settings so you can tackle nighttime emergencies without blinding yourself or disturbing those around you.
It’s easy to get lost out in the sticks, so of course you’ll want to have GPS navigation. And yes, we know phones come with GPS now, but phones also lose signals and battery power, especially out in the middle of nowhere. While Google Maps or a similar smart phone navigation app might do the trick, it’s better to have a GPS navigation system designed for offroad riding that’s not reliant on a cell signal. And even with a high-quality GPS navigator, it doesn’t hurt to get an old-school paper map of the area you’re exploring just in case. Throw in a CB radio for good measure, as GPS systems have been known to be inaccurate from time-to-time.
Spare Parts & Supplies
It’s always good to bring spare parts and supplies, particularly of the electrical kind. That includes spare fuses, spark plugs, chargers and adapters. Also make sure to bring extra fluids such as coolant and power steering fluid, and of course a funnel to add those fluids. Don’t forget to bring a spare fuel storage tank or two as well.
Finally, while not tools, we’d be remiss to not include bringing plenty of food, water and any other necessary camping supplies if you’re staying overnight.