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Preparation is key. From performing a quick bolt check on our ride to making sure we toss in an extra pair of clothes; our pre-trip check list has only grown longer over the years. While we never plan for our trip to go sideways, we’ve experienced enough trail disasters to know that it’s always best to be as prepared as possible. While you can never plan for every scenario, you can equip yourself with core necessities.

Air Compressor The absolute easiest way to make your vehicle ride and perform better off-road is by reducing the air in the tires. Even dropping as little as 10psi can make a major difference in comfort and traction. While removing the air is easy, airing back up can be more complicated at the end of the trail. This is why we recommend having onboard air. Portable electric air compressors, such as the Rough Country 12-volt Air Compressor Kit, simply attached to your vehicles battery and allow you to pump your tires back up to a safe street pressure in a matter of minutes.

Safety Gear Every vehicle we drive always gets two safety items - a fire extinguisher and first aid kit. First aid kits come in a variety of sizes. We prefer the ones that include a small assortment pain relivers in addition to the traditional Band-Aid bundle. A fire extinguisher with an ABC rating can be tucked away neatly in most trucks and SUVs.

Getting stuck is a part of going off-road. It’s not something anyone plans on, but you have to be prepared for it. Rough County offers a variety of a self-recovery winches and bumpers to help ensure you can keep moving on the trail. If you’re not ready to step up that sort of serious trail equipment, then pack a recovery rope that’s appropriately rated for vehicle recovery. This is also a good time to point out that, when possible, never go off-road alone. If you do, be sure to leave a detailed map or coordinates with someone close to you. So, if there is a problem, it will be much faster to get you the help you need.

Bring Tools You don’t have to be an ace mechanic to drive your vehicle on the trail, but you just might need to play technician if things go wrong off-road. We carry a fairly expansive tool bag, for we would rather be overprepared than under. Sometimes, you’ll need to get creative to get off of the trail. If you have the room, critical fluids (brake and power steering) are also great to haul with.

Water When you’re off-roading technical terrain, your adrenaline is jumping, and you become hyper-focused on the task at hand. This can take more of a hit on your body than you realize. Add in the constant getting in and out to examine your line choice and you can become dehydrated faster than you might think. This is why packing sufficient water is critical. Sure, trail snacks are great to have, but water will keep you alive! We prefer refillable containers. These are not only better for the environment over cases of plastic water bottles but can survive rough off-road conditions much better.

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