Overlanding - Car Survival Kit
When out on an extended overlanding adventure, or really any long road trip, you will likely plan - and over plan - for your own health and wellbeing, as you should. But do you consider the health and wellbeing of your vehicle while on the trip? After all, it has to go just as far as you do on this trip and through a lot worse conditions! What considerations should you make before hitting the open road? Some you can probably guess while others might be a little less obvious. Consider this list a good starting place!
Safety Supplies & Tools
Probably the most obvious of all items you would want or need to bring would fall under safety supplies. This would include some maybe less obvious things like reflective vests (for your roadside safety), reflective triangles (again, for your safety as well as the safety of your disabled vehicle), or road flares if you prefer those over reflective triangles, and maybe even a window smashing hammer. Nothing would end your trip more thoroughly than you or your vehicle getting hit on the side of the road waiting for service.
Probably the most obvious of all survival items would be a better-than-basic mechanic tool set. Why do I say better than basic? Most likely you will find some less than ideal conditions, like off-road trails tend to provide, that will push your vehicle in ways a paved road could only dream of. These conditions will introduce greater, or at the very least abnormal, wear and tear on components leading to early or sudden failure while in the middle of your adventure. There are plenty of ways you can take care of your vehicle to avoid these failures but they can happen and you should be ready to do the work to fix it on the trail. If all that stood between you and the completion of your journey was a 44mm socket that you need to change your wheel hub, wouldn't that be the worst feeling ever?
Jumper Cables or a Jumper Box
These are also probably obvious survival items to bring however, while this section heading says OR I would encourage you to bring BOTH! A jumper box is great if you are on your own, which I would ask you avoid if at all possible, as you can jump your dead battery by yourself without needing a second vehicle. What if you do have a second vehicle nearby and your battery jumper is dead? Well, that's when it's a good idea to have a set of good old fashion jumper cables! They don't take up that much space or carry so much weight that you can't have both a jumper box and jumper cables with you on a trip. Bottom line is that batteries, for many reasons, will die and a dead battery means the trip is over if you can't get it going once again.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
Now for the first of the not so obvious survival kit items, you will want to strongly consider topping off, bringing extra, or topping off and bringing extra windshield wiper fluid! Probably not the first thing anyone would guess, right? When you think about it, it really is a game changer in some of the rougher and more remote areas. Say your windshield is splattered with mud as you race along a muddy, backwoods road. Sure, your wipers can push most of it off but they will leave streaks behind and that will make it difficult to see. Now put yourself on a twisty mountain road in the rain with mud cascading off the mountain-side splattering your windshield... You know there is a major drop-off to one side but it sure would be nice to see that drop-off as clearly as possible! Don't leave it to chance, make sure you have enough windshield wiper fluid to complete your adventure!
Tire Pressure Gauge, Tire Repair Kit, & Air Compressor
I like to think everyone has a tire pressure gauge already sitting in their car but I already know I would be wrong. Chances are though you do have one because you are building up your vehicle for overlanding and, when you take your vehicle to this level, you have already been on top of tire pressure for years (get it?) so for those of you in that position, make sure you know where it is and that it works! In addition to the pressure gauge, you will likely want to bring your own tire repair kit capable of handling punctures and reseating a tire on the rim. Of course, when you get through that process, you'll want the air compressor to refill your tire. When you think about it, why wouldn't you want to carry these with you on any road trip? Flat tires can happen at any time as I've learned firsthand.
Durable Floor Mats
This final item is totally optional however, if you like to keep your vehicle in the best possible shape, consider getting some really good floor mats. Why? For the obvious reason of protecting the carpet of your vehicle from all the mud and who knows what else that will be tracked into the vehicle while out on your adventure. The less obvious? You will not only protect your carpet but protect your health by keeping mold and mildew from growing in your carpet. By keeping your carpet clean, you will also protect the steel floor of your vehicle from rust caused by moisture held by the carpet. Whether that's a thing or not, I do not know, however, I have long suspected this was happening beneath the driver seat in my very own truck. How good can that be, right?
If you didn't already pick up on the theme here, it is every bit as important to not just care for your vehicle between trips but to be prepared to care for it during trips as well. A lot of time, wear, and tear can be saved by taking preventative measures while on an adventure. Doing so will ensure you have a long and enjoyable time with your vehicle for years to come and more so, a stronger guarantee you will make it back home safely and in one piece!