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Trail Preparedness Checklists

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:15 pm
by Wrench
I am working on a couple checklists that will help you prep for the trail. Many of the trails that we as a Club tend to frequent are very unforgiving, so being prepared well before hand can dramatically increase your level of satisfaction and enjoyment on a "run".

These are all general lists, and it is my hope you can use them and tailor them to your setup.


Pre-departure Maintenance Checklist
• Check all fluid levels; engine, transmission, brake, radiator coolant, windshield wiper fluid
• Check fan belts, hoses, air filter, and be sure battery hold-down is solid
• Check seat belts, shoulder strap mount points should be at or above shoulder height
• Check tire air pressure (air up to recommended pressure for highway driving, air down at trail head, air up prior to trip home)
• Check for tire wear or damage
• Tighten drive shaft u-bolts and joints
• Check and tighten lug bolts
• Check for frame cracks
• Check brake pads & shoes (adequate braking pad material, in good condition and without contamination)
• Confirm emergency brake not only works, but works very well
• Check for loose bolts or nuts throughout vehicle
• Grease all fittings (u-joints, steering)
• Check gear oils: transfer case/differentials, replace if necessary. If your case vents are broken or leaking, you may have introduced water into the axle, trans, or transfer case without knowing.
• Check Winch for proper operation, check winch cable for kinks, frays or damage, straighten winch cable if necessary
• Check shocks
• Check all lights for proper operation

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:20 pm
by Wrench
The Basic, Minimal Offroad Checklist
The minimal list is the basics that you should always carry in your vehicle when offroad. These items are good to have in the vehicle at all times.
• First Aid Kit
• Basic Personal Essentials (water, food)
• Flashlight
• Spare Tire, Full Size, NOT FLAT
• Jack and tire iron to change your tire
• Tow strap
• Tree saver
• Come-alongs
• Basic Tool Kit
• Spare Key and fuses for vehicle
• Fire Extinguisher
• Trail maps
• All required licenses and permits

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:25 pm
by Wrench
Safety and Survival

The First Aid Kit

First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. You can buy them, or you can make your own kit. Whether you buy a first aid kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you may need. Include any personal items, such as medications.
Here are suggestions for the contents of a first aid kit:
• Activated Charcoal (use only if instructed by Poison Control Center)
• Adhesive Tape
• Antiseptic Ointment
• Alcohol swabs, individually wrapped
• Band-Aids (assorted sizes)
• Blanket
• Cold Pack
• Disposable Gloves
• Gauze Pads and Roller Gauze (assorted sizes)
• Hand Cleaner
• Plastic Bags
• Scissors and Tweezers
• Small Flashlight and Extra Batteries
• Syrup of Ipecac (use only if instructed by Poison Control Center)
• Triangular Bandage
• Burnaid gel
• Snake Bite kit
• Disposable emergency blanket
• Instant Cold pack
• Instant Hot pack
• Medications:
Anti-diarrhea medication, Tylenol ( fever reducer), Ibuprofen (Nuprin, Motrin, Advil) inflammation reduction, sprains bruises, etc, Benadryl for mild allergic reactions, Epinephrine in the form of an Epi Pen to treat more serious allergic reactions that might otherwise be fatal.

Safety Items

• Safety Glasses
• Leather Gloves
• Fire Extinguisher - Should be mounted in the vehicle in an easily accessible location.
• Flares
• Tarp
• flashlights
• matches / lighter

Basic Personal Essentials

• Water - At least one Gallon per person, per day if not more. Drier, hotter climates may require more. Remember: Alcohol doesn't hydrate. In fact alcoholic beverages dehydrate since it take more water to metabolize alcohol than the beverage contains. Plus it may cause you to require the above mentioned First Aid Kit.
• Food - Bring food for twice the amount of time you are planning on being gone. Should you be delayed and have to spend a night out on the trail, you wont have to worry about going hungry. Good ideas for trail food: trail mix, beef jerky, fruits, dry/canned food, etc.
• Extra Cloths - Nobody likes to sit in wet cloths or an extended period of time.
• Personal items - This includes toilet paper, anti- microbial hand cleaner, etc
• Sun block
• Rain Jacket
• Communication devices - Cell Phone, CB Radio, GMRS/FRS radios
• Power inverter if necessary (e.g. Cell phone recharger, battery recharger for communication devices and camera)
• Trash bags - Keep your trails clean
• Maps, information about the area
• Compass or GPS
• Water purification tablets

Survival - Seasonal Specific


• Extra clothing
• Warm outer layers (jacket, wind breaker)
• Head gear (warm hat, hooded jacket)
• Emergency blanket (compact survival type)


• Sun Block
• Insect repellant
• Sunglasses

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:37 pm
by Wrench
Beyond the Basic Offroad Checklist

What goes beyond the basic checklist are items that depend on many factors. Factors like what form of offroading you will be doing, your driving style, the terrain you will encounter, how much room you have for packing gear, how remote you will be traveling, how long you will be gone as well as many other factors you should consider. However three primary things you should gear up for are Safety and Survival, Vehicle Recovery and Vehicle Breakage.

Vehicle Recovery

Recovery Items
• Hilift Jack
• Tow straps - 2 or more, 2 inch width or wider, 20 foot or longer
• Tree saver
• Come-along (one or more)
• D-rings, Shackles
• Shovel
• Chainsaw and bar oil, 2 cycle engine oil, spare chain (can be handy in recover situations, as well as for trail clearing on wooded trails)
• Winch Kit: tree strap, hi-lift jack, snatch block, pickle fork, shackle, gloves
• Pullpal
• Snow tire chains (if tires don't cut it)


Basic Tools

Basic tools are the versatile, essential tool sets that consist of a variety of sizes and combinations of commonly used tools such as socket sets, wrench sets, Allen wrenches, Torx sets and screw drivers. Your tool sets should cover the variety of sizes found in your vehicle. Regardless of whether your vehicle is American made or an import 4x4, when it comes to socket sets and wrenches, it's sometimes wise to carry standard and metric socket since sometimes there are a mix of both standard and metric on custom vehicles not to mention helping a fellow 4wheeler.

• Complete Socket Set with SAE (standard) and Metric with 3/8" and 1/2" drives. Deep and standard sockets.
• Crescent, open end combination box wrenches SAE (standard) and Metric
• Allen Wrenches
• Torx sockets (especially if you own a Jeep)
• Standard & Phillips screwdrivers, large, medium, small

Versatile Tools

Versatile tools are those that have many uses.
• Large Hammer (a.k.a. the "BFH")
• Pliers (various sizes)
• Needle Nose Pliers
• Vice Grips, various sizes
• Large channel-lock Pliers
• Pipe wrenches - having 2 medium of these can be useful for tie-rods.
• Utility knife or razor blades
• Crescent wrenches (medium & large)
• A BIG pry bar or length of strong metal pipe, inside diameter of pipe large enough to slip over a wrench or socket drive for extra leverage.
• Magnet

Specialty Tools

• Snap ring pliers
• Air Pressure Gauge
• Portable air pump
• Jumper cables

Additional Items

Versatile Items

• Duct Tape
• Bailing wire
• wood blocks - Useful as chock blocks, jacking platforms, ramps, suspension supports (for broken torsion bars)
• Bungee cords, several in multiple sizes - good for securing gear, temporary repairs, etc.
• Rope lengths
• Super glue
• Epoxy
• Tie wraps
• rags
• Work Gloves, leather

For the Vehicle


• Engine Oil
• Brake Fluid
• Power steering fluid
• Automatic transmission fluid
• Coolant or Water
• Bearing Grease
• WD-40
• Starter Fluid
• Extra gas
• Funnel, siphon hose

Spare Parts / Repair Items

• Lug Wrench
• Extra Fan / serpentine belts
• Hoses, fuel line, coolant hoses
• Spare Tire
• Tire repair kits, plugs
• Extra Lug nuts, tire star wrench or lug key with key socket
• Cotter pins / keys - various sizes
• Valve stems, Valve stem remover
• Nuts & bolts assorted standard and metric sizes
• RTV or Hylomar HPF - form-a-gasket
• Radiator stop leak - silver flakes in tube
• Spare Hub (and hub fuses if applicable).
• Electric fuel pump
• Coil / electronic ignition
• Spare Universal Joints (U-joints for drive shaft & axles)
• Spare Drive Shaft (rear and front)
• Extra spark plug wire (size of longest wire)
• Spare points

Electronics Repair Kit

• Volt ohms meter (multimeter)
• Wire cutters / wire crips / wire strippers (multi-tool)
• Spare fuses of all sizes and types used in your vehicle
• Electrical tape
• Spare wire - lengths of various gauges
• Spare switches
• Spare relay if you use relays
• crip on ends (male and female, various gauges)
• Small pocket sized needle point blow torch (handy for soldering wire)
• Flux core solder for repairs
• Wiring Diagram of your vehicle

Expanded List

The Expanded list includes items for the extreme wheeler with tools and gadgets that you may want to consider if you are serious about offroading.

• Winch and Winch Accessories
• Onboard Welder, welding supplies and welding gear
• Onboard Air
• Spare axles (rear left / right, front left / right)
• Spare tie rod assemblies (tie rod, drag link, ball joints, ball joint nuts and cotter pins)
• Spare Idler Arm
• Parts that have broken twice before (if you can't carry it, you should have upgraded it)

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:41 am
by Danny
Quite the list Paul....but you'd need another rig to carry all that stuff.

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:00 am
by SPR
Sharing to reduce the load is the benefit of running with a good group.

Posted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:10 am
by Danny
Yup, someone is usually going to have what you need.

Re: Trail Preparedness Checklists

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:43 am
by Wrench
Wrench wrote:
These are all general lists, and it is my hope you can use them and tailor them to your setup.

Or, you can just buy two rigs and swap out when one of them breaks. :D

But yeah, I feel sorry for the Scout guys; no one else on the trail will have spare parts... :P

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:56 am
by Grumpy

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:59 pm
by Wrench


Suspension is very critical to the overall capability of your 4x4. In a nutshell, you will get the best traction if all four wheels are planted and tires are gripping, regardless of what differentials you are running. Just one tire off the ground, and you dramatically decrease your available traction, along with your forward movement.

That being said, you want to test your full suspension travel to be sure everything is working smoothly. When possible, I do this with the springs removed. Be sure all shocks, suspension arms, track bars, drive shafts, and steering components work freely at full compression and full extension of the suspension. You should also set your bump stops so your tires have minimal to no contact with your wheel well components at full compression, as this can hinder tire rotation at very inconvenient times. Buying a bolt-on suspension kit usually has all these bugs worked out, but I have seen some that dont.

Shocks should never be used as bump-stops, always use at least a good heavy-duty rubber or hydraulic bump stop. Using shocks as a bump stop is a recipe for almost certain disaster to your shock mounts. It is also best to use something other than your shocks for extension limiters, such as limiting straps. On a leaf-sprung rig, the leaves tend to be the extension travel limiters.

As for spring rate, choose what is best for you and the terrain you wheel in. For a trail rig, you should be running about 50% sag, and your opposing wheels should bottom out on the bump stops evenly when "crossed up". For a higher-speed desert setup, you should run less sag and higher rate springs.


Locking differentials can dramatically increase offroad capability. They are by far one of the biggest improvements you can make to your 4x4, even more than tires and suspension. Here are just a few tips for choosing:

Selectable: ARB (air), OX (cable, air, or elec), Eaton ELocker (elec), Yukon Zip locker. They all have pros and cons, but selectable lockers give the benefits of both worlds (open diff/locked). Installation takes a pretty high level of mechanical ability, and these are the most expensive on the list.

"Lunchbox": Spartan, Aussie, Detroit EZ Locker, Lock Right Powertrax, etc. They all replace the stock spider gears in your differential carrier. They work great offroad, locking solid when needed and opening when turning corners to allow a decent turning radius. My experience: in the front, they have worked silent, seamless, and very well (Spartan). Around corners on tight trails, you will notice the front tends to "push" a little more than with an open diff. In the rear, they seemed a little more noticeable. After rounding a corner and hitting the gas, they will lock up and make the rig pull a little in the opposite direction of the corner you just rounded (straighline effect), but only when you accelerate. If your axle is bent or housing has a problem, these lockers will tend to make pretty tremendous popping noises and will not lock up well. These are a much lower cost than a full locker, and do not usually require carrier removal (unless your ring gear is too thick and blocks the center pin). Expense is usually less than half of the cost of a full locker.

Limited slip differentials: These require complete carrier replacement, so install is the same as a full locker. They are usually seamless on and offroad, but will not lock fully. Using the lightest gear oil possible in your diff and no LSD additive will help keep them from slipping as much, but tend to wear the clutches out faster.


No, I refuse to start a tire debate. I will list what I prefer to run: a 35-33" tall, ~12" wide mud terrain on 8" wide wheels. Regardless of brand or MT/AT style, your air pressure plays a HUGE role in capability. Running the lowest pressure you possibly can without popping a bead seems to have worked well for me. Pressures can vary, but I have found (with a Load Range C tire) on a rig that weighs less than 4,000 lbs, ~5psi seems to work very well. In the deep snow, more like 2-3psi. Play with your air pressure and see what works well for you, but dont be afraid to run single-digits.

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:01 pm
by Wrench
Grumpy wrote::roll:

Love ya, Dave. I really hope to see that Scout on the trail some day. :super

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:49 pm
by Grumpy
You have no idea...

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:49 pm
by Lurch
I typically run around 8 psi for general trails. For me one of the bigger reasons is just to make the ride smoother. Much lower makes side hills interesting. Also get to much tire roll and a higher chance of damaging a side wall. In the snow the lowest you can safely go. With radial tires I've found 2 psi is the sweet spot. With bias it's around 4 psi. Sand I like in the 5 or 6 psi range.