Confucius says: rich man buys his tools once; poor man buys his tools many times. The good thing about tools these days is that you don’t have to blow a bunch of money to get something high quality, that’ll give you many years of sterling service.
After steadily increasing my repertoire of curses and insults whilst rounding off too many nuts and bolts with cheap tools, I finally succumbed to putting aside a decent chunk of my income for something good. I saw that Repco had tools on special with a lifetime warranty, and took a punt on a 60 piece socket and spanner set, with a mix of metric and imperial, ½” and ¼” drive. They are made from drop forged chrome vanadium steel, and feel very high-quality in the hand.
Fast-forward about three years, and all jokes aside, I have given these tools a genuine beating on my two Land Rovers (one of them being a forty-year-old work in progress). They have stood up very well, without a single issue to date. The metal box scuffs easily but is strong, and the mix of tools and extensions is a perfect basic foundation on which to build a comprehensive kit. With the warranty, they are definitely worth the extra coin over Repco’s other entry-level tools.
Regular retail is roughly $400, but they can often be had for up to a 50 per cent discount. I paid $180 for the 60 piece socket & spanner set.
Maxxis Bighorn 762
When it came time to replace the archaic old rubber on my Series Land Rover, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend. So, I hit the internet forums for opinions, and shopped around for something of good value. I ended up with Maxxis Bighorn 762, a traditional-style mud-terrain tyre made by Cheng Shin Rubber in Thailand.
It’s worth noting that Maxxis do another, more modern style Bighorn called the 764, which is worth a little bit more. Yes, the name is a bit silly. But at least the writing on the side is just ‘raised black’, instead of the full-on white emblazoning. The tread pattern is old-school mud terrain: big, square blocks of tread with big deep voids. There is siping on the blocks, and also some biters on the sidewall.
After putting roughly 20,000 kilometres onto these tyres on two different vehicles, I am impressed with the way they perform. On-road performance is good and predictable, but off-road is definitely where they shine. They air down for off-road work terrifically, and give bucketloads of traction in rocky, shaley and muddy terrains. In the little bit of sharp, rocky terrain I put the tyres through, I had no issues with sidewall strength, but I wouldn’t exactly call myself a hardcore four-wheeler.
They do have a fairly steady howl on the road though, so if you are sensitive to noise, perhaps shop elsewhere. But if you want something cost effective with an emphasis on off-road performance, then the Bighorns would be hard to beat.
My size was 235-85R16LT. They can be had for around $250 per tyre if you shop around.
ARB Maximum Performance Portable Compressor
If you’re not at the point where you’re ready to permanently mount an air compressor to your vehicle, yet you’d still like a premium, high-output air compressor; it would be hard to talk badly about the ARB CKMTP12. Packaged inside a moisture and dust resistant hard case, this compressor pairs ARB’s twin motor, dual cylinder compressor with a four-litre air tank and all the accessories you need to get the job done.
I’ve been using one of these compressors on and off over a few continents of 4X4 travel, and I was more than happy with the performance I received from the unit. As a standalone system, it’ll fill up tyres quickly (I’ve tested it with tyres as large as 37” in America) and it’ll also provide enough juice for most air tools you could imagine. The benefit of being a portable unit really becomes noticeable when you’re the only guy that has an air compressor in your group – no longer do you have to constantly reposition trucks nearest to the one with on-board air.
At over eight-hundred dollars, the ARB Maximum Performance Portable Compressor isn’t cheap, but neither are the products located inside the high-quality case. I was impressed that even the 12 volt power cables were fused, to reduce the possibility of damage to the unit incase the polarity was accidentally reversed by the user. The four-litre air tank provides a little bit of breathing room for the compressor, and allows you to have a little bit of reserve air capacity. It’s all switched on by an ARB-style locker switch. Price aside, I haven’t seen a better unit on the market.
Factor 55 HitcHLink
Prior to Factor 55 arriving on the market, recovery gear wasn’t exactly imaginative, and that’s okay, because it was designed around being functional; and provided it wasn’t purchased from a knock-off Chinese reseller, it was also designed to be safe. So, recovery gear is serious equipment – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good looking equipment.
Factor 55 innovated in a space where no one else thought to do so. With the use of high-strength, low-weight materials and a decent design eye, they managed to create a receiver shackle mount with a strength rating of 4,300kg, and an ultimate breaking strength of over 23,000kg. The whole package is made from 6000-series aluminium and weighs in under a kilo – impressive. It looks pretty fantastic too, if I might say.
I’ve been using the Factor 55 HitchLink for over a year, and there’s not a single doubt in my mind about the product when it comes to safety. Some are hesitant of the aluminium construction, but I’ve pulled, and pulled, and pulled with it, and it keeps on chugging. My first HitchLink (which was conveniently stolen) was red powder coat, and I did notice some chipping in the finish after heavy use, though the silver anodised model has corrected that. They’re compatible with standard 3/4-inch screw pin shackles, and work with most tow bars.