Q: I understand the concept of “safety first,” but I don’t want to overload my Jeep. What are the most important safety items to carry on the trail?
A: To me, the most important safety items vary with the trail, but some components of a Jeep safety kit are essential. Let’s run through the three items you will need for recovery and six additional items you or someone in your group should have on hand for every trail ride.
1. Tow points: Every Jeep needs to have at least two tow points, preferably front and rear. They should be at the center of each bumper to prevent twisting of the frame.
2. Tow strap: Your tow strap should be at least 3 inches thick and have a rating of at least 30,000 pounds. When you select your strap, shop for quality, not price. If you ever go out wheeling on your own — which we never recommend you do — you should also buy a tree strap. Also look for a “tree save,” which is a short tow strap that wraps around the trunk. It prevents the winch strap from digging into the bark and potentially damaging or felling the tree.
3. Winch: You will want a winch with at least a 9,500-pound rating and a synthetic rope. In the event of a break, the synthetic rope will just drop, whereas a steel cable will hold the energy and continue to move, potentially causing serious injury or damaging your vehicle.
4. Radio: I never go anywhere without a high-powered ham radio with the ability to reach a repeater. In the event my phone does not have service, I still have a way to reach someone in an emergency.
5. First aid kit: A fully stocked first aid kit should include bite relief in addition to the usual supply of Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape and scissors.
6. Tools: It is always wise to keep a shovel, trail saw, machete and basic toolkit in your Jeep.
7. Zip ties: Even if you have never used a zip tie, buy a bag. You will find several uses for them as time goes on.
8. Flashlight and bug spray: You need a flashlight for night rides. As for the bug spray, we live in Florida, and our critters tend to get a little friendly at night.
9. Refreshments: Last but not least, always pack lots of water and food. You will get thirsty and hungry, and there are no stores or restaurants on the trails.
Nuts and Bolts
Randy Kelly is an experienced off-roader and a member of Blackwater Jeepers. He recommends equipping your Jeep with nine essential safety items:
- Tow points
- Tow strap
- First aid kit
- Zip ties
- Flashlight and bug spray