The 20 Essential Tools we won’t leave home without
Not to put too fine a point on it, but shit happens. Usually when you’re about as far as you can get from any place roadside assistance could hope to reach; and as Murphy’s Law would have it, probably out of mobile range to boot. It sure is amazing how often things tend to break on your vehicle under such circumstances. And let’s be honest, there will be breakages you won’t be able to fix. But if you have the following kit and the knowledge on how to use it safely, then there really ain’t too much short of a grenaded gearbox that’ll prevent you from being able to limp to civilisation. Along with recovery gear, fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit, these are the tools you should be carrying with you when you head out bush.
- Bottle jack
Arguably safer to use than a high-lift and much easier to change tyres with; they can even be used in conjunction with your tow bar as a makeshift press. Check out this issue’s Adventure Cinema to see just how useful these things are.
- High-lift jack
The most dangerous and useful tool you can own. Make sure you educate yourself before use. Everything from panel repairs to winching can be done with this bad boy.
- Hub nut socket
Yeah, a screwdriver and hammer will get the job done when you find yourself with a busted CV, but why would you struggle when you can get one of these for $30 and make life so much easier?
- Socket set and spanners
Kind of a no-brainer, but the trick is to carry the socket and spanner sizes that suit your vehicle. Entire Toyotas can basically be rebuilt with a few common sizes, and there’s no point in carrying metric gear if your vehicle uses imperial bolts…
- Rubber mallet
One of those things that you don’t realise how much you use it until you forget to pack it. Everything from tent pegs to dents to stubborn bolts (with assistance from a spanner) can be abused by these guys
Another obvious one. Have a look over your vehicle and see if any Allen bolts or Torx heads are used. If so, chuck the appropriate screwdrivers in for them, too.
Pro tip: A minus-head screwdriver and a rubber mallet are great for removing internal circlips on uni-joints.
- Jumper leads
Great for flat batteries and can be used as welding leads… why the hell wouldn’t you have them?
Unless you own a Ford Model A there’s a good chance your vehicle has some sort of electrical system. Familiarising yourself with your multimeter’s functions will allow you to diagnose electrical gremlins like a boss.
- Electric, gaffa, rescue tape
Just pack it. These three all have more uses than we can fit in these pages. Punctured radiator hoses, exposed wiring, noisy kids in the back seat… silence is golden, gaffa tape is black. Same thing.
- Crimpers, terminals and fuses
Again, 12V problems can be a massive headache. A small electrical kit is worth its weight in Rhodium.
- Tyrepliers and plug kit
Ever had a tyre blowout in the middle of nowhere? Then you already know what this one’s for.
- Welding rods and lens
They take up bugger-all room and with a little practice can repair chunky metal parts on your 4X4 – like leaf springs, frames and drawbars. Don’t forget the lens though; arc welding burns damn bright so don’t imagine that your sunnies will do the job.
- Chainsaw and axe
Track clearing, splitting kindling, making your travelling companions marvel at your masculinity. Yes. Just remember the safety gear and ensure the brain is in gear too, hey? Neither of these things are toys.
- Quality rope
Because ratchet straps can snap, stuff falls off and having unsecured gear on the vehicle is outright dangerous. Grab yourself a coil of good-quality rope, learn a truckie’s hitch and never have loose gear worries again.
- Diagnostic tool and laptop
Every. Single. New. Vehicle. That’s how many of them run computers these days. Want to guess what the number-one cause of serious breakdowns in the bush is? That’s right! Diagnostic tools and laptops are cheap these days. Don’t be caught with your pants down… or if you are, you can use the laptop to cover your shame.
- Long-handled shovel
Essential for sand driving, but can also be used as a skid for your trailer’s jockey wheel, a frypan, a bush-loo digger… You get the point. They’re great to have on hand.
- Metal putty
Holed a fuel tank, radiator or intercooler in the bush without having metal putty in the tool kit before? Be honest, how much would you have paid for a tube of this magical substance?
- Brakeline clamps
Nothing worse than the feeling of losing brakes. Chances are it’s probably a ruptured soft line. Throw one of these things on it to isolate the caliper and drive (very carefully) into the next town.
- Fencing wire
If you can’t fix it with fencing wire, you’re either in real trouble or just not trying hard enough.
Just trust me, spend the money on a good one – even if you think you won’t use it. If Tom Hanks had one of these, ‘Castaway’ would’ve been a hell of a lot shorter movie.