Off-roading is a great way to hone your car control skills, but go solo and there's a good chance you'll wind up stuck on the mountain. Here's what you need to get home in one piece in something like the 2018 Jeep Wrangler we just tested.
A good nylon tow strap can get you out of all manner of jams. Whether it's yanking another stuck rig off the trail or pulling a downed tree out of your way, it's a must-have tool for hitting the trail. It's also an integral part of the come along system. You can find a quality strap for around $20. The one above is a solid option for just under $30.
Most off road parks do a great job of maintaining their trails, but workers can't be everywhere all the time. A bow saw is great for dispensing with downed trees or vines in your path. While there are collapsable versions that stow easier than this monster, I prefer a rigid frame. At $20 or less, these things are indispensable.
You know what ruins a good day on the mountain? Poison ivy. Throw a cheap pair of gloves in the truck for dealing with vegetation. Don't go home itchy. Any home improvement store will have quality deerskin gloves for $15 or less, but I prefer a pair of nitrile cut resistant Kevlar fiber gloves. They handle abuse like a champ, breathe well, and can be had for around $10.
You never know what can happen out here. Lacerations, burns, sprains, stings. It's all on the table. Pack a full first-aid kit just in case. Know what's inside and how to use it all properly. This one comes from Ready First. It's fully loaded and comes in water-resistant case. That last bit's handy for bouncing around in the back of a Jeep.
A good hatchet's hard to beat. While it's excellent at dispensing with small limbs and trees in your way, it also serves as a passable hammer. Keep it sharp and know how to use it safely, and it can save your paint from nasty pinstripes from overreaching limbs. Mine's an Estwing hand-me down. A new one will set you back nearly $50, but sales crop up all the time. Here's one with for $43.
If you're planning on tackling rough terrain without a winch, you'll need a come-along. With careful planning and use, you can pull any stuck vehicle out of nearly any situation with the careful application of a lever and a couple of pulleys. Wrap the tow strap around a solid tree, let out the line and go to town. This is hands-down the most expensive tool on the list. While cheaply made examples can be had for $20, do yourself a favor and shell out for a quality mode. The Maasdam Pow'R Pull is built like a tank, has a two-ton capacity, and will set you back $60 at the most.
GPS isn't always an option out here, so make sure you bring along a high-quality, well-marked trail map. Plan your route ahead of time, discuss it with the officials to make certain you won't run into any trail closures or obstacles, and have fun. Also, play close attention to topography lines. What seems like an easy trek may be a sinister climb. This Arizona guide costs just $14.
Why bring a tow strap and a chain? Chains are almost infinitely adjustable, and having some extra length can mean the difference between reaching that anchor point and being forced to hike off the mountain. Mine's older than those hills, but you can pick up a new chain with a handy carrying case for $60 or less.