Over the years of exploring solo outdoors, I’ve learned a lot about what I and my vehicle need to make it back home.
The following is a list of go-to essentials that successfully bring me and my vehicle back from the hills in one piece. Hopefully you can customize it to fit your own needs and style of adventuring!
I carry an avalanche shovel in the winter and a little folding shovel in the summer. The reality is that if you get stuck in the mud or snow by yourself, you are almost certainly going to stay there if you don’t have a shovel or a very strong winch.
I have used my tow strap to pull stranded vehicles out of a ditch and fallen trees off the road. Get one that is rated for at least twice what your vehicle weighs. A stuck vehicle is much tougher to pull out than one that is rolling. Also, stay away from chains and metal hooks if at all possible. Not only do they weigh more to carry, but the metal can become a deadly projectile if it breaks or slips off the vehicle while under tension.
Having a wide selection of tools in a small package is huge when the chips are down. Knife, saw, screwdrivers, wire cutters, all stuff you might have a need for if you get stuck or break down in the woods.
Carrying at least a couple bottles of water in your vehicle is always a good idea, especially in remote or hot regions. A simple vehicle breakdown can turn even further south if you are stranded for long and dehydration becomes a risk. It will also double as a clean source to flush wounds with in a medical emergency, as windshield wiper fluid, and radiator fluid.
Critical for staying warm and happy when’s it’s cold, and perfect when your traveling companion gets hangry.
A wintertime must. Trips in cold, remote areas or during inclement weather can get very dangerous if your vehicle heat goes out for any reason. Having that extra piece of mind is worth the minimal amount of space it will take up.
For that situation when the light on your cell phone just won’t cut it. Working on a broken down car, walking for gas at night, or signaling fellow motorists—a good flashlight is simply crucial part of your kit.
First Aid Kit
From taping sprained fingers and digging out the moleskin after a long hike, to a full blown medical emergency, you should never be without this in your rig at all times.
Full Size Spare
If you do any driving on dirt roads you will want to make sure you have a full size spare tire with you. The all too common undersized donut tires wont make it very long on gravel, possibly leaving you completely stranded.
Jump Start Power Pack
Ever left a door open or dome light on while out in the hills? I have. Having a pocket sized jump pack is a simple way to get yourself out of that particularly sticky situation. Most of them will start any gas engine and most small diesels and can just plug into your cigarette lighter. They also have USB ports for charging up devices if they die. (I have yet to find one I trust to start my big diesel so I always try to park at the top of a hill so I can roll-start the rig if I’m solo in the hills.)
Tire Chains (winter only)
Chains can make the difference between being stuck somewhere digging out every five minutes, or being able to slowly and safely claw your way down the road. In some states they are legally required to be able to travel on certain roads.