Best equipment for new ATV/Truck or Jeeps

You’ve been feeling the urge to find adventure where the paved roads end, and you’ve gone out and bought a four-wheel drive vehicle, but what do you need now as a new off-roader? Yes, that $50,000 truck you just bought may say “off-road” on the badge, but it’s not quite ready to go off-road yet. You need some basic gear in your ride that can help you enjoy off-road life a lot more, and help you not only fuel that enjoyment, but also give you peace of mind that by having it, it will help you get home at the end of the day. We’ve all been there and we all had to start somewhere. Let’s go over some of the best gear for new off-road vehicles that you’ll need top-of-the-line help to get you on the right track off the beaten track.

Cover image courtesy of Toyota.

One thing about getting started with off-road driving – it takes money. Lucky for you, e has teamed up with 4 Wheel Parts to offer you an exclusive 10% discount code when you enter OFFROAD104WP at checkout when you shop at 4WheelParts.com.

Tires – Toyo Open Country A/T III

The writer has been running Toyo Open Country AT III tires for a couple of years and loves them. Photo by Derrek Sigler

If you’re new to off-road driving, you probably don’t have the right tires on your vehicle, and that’s the first place to start. Traction off the paved road and in the dirt is much different than you’ve probably experienced before, and you’ll need a proper all-terrain or mud tire to have fun. Luckily there are so many tires to choose from that it can be a little intimidating. A good, aggressive all-terrain tire makes sense because it gives you good grip off the road, but still has good on-road manners.

Although there are many really good options, I personally like the Toyo Open Country A/T III. These tires are aggressive enough for off-road driving, but behave well on pavement and get excellent grip in wet/icy conditions. These tires have excellent grip with a decent sidewall for an off-road tire. The wear also seems to be outstanding.

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Pull Strap – Smittybilt 4″

It’s a simple fact – you should NEVER ride off-road without a tow strap. Period.

Let me save you some trouble right now – you’ll get hooked eventually. It will happen, no matter what you do. And while you’re waiting for your turn to get stuck, you’re sure to run into other stuck mountain bikers. A tow strap is an important piece of equipment that should be on every off-road rig. It’s a good idea to have a heavy-duty one too, because you never know what you’ll need. I always say go big.

I like the Smittybilt 4″ x 20″ pull strap. It is rated at 40,000 lbs. So you shouldn’t be able to break it, and it will help you in your recovery efforts. It is looped at each end and there is no metal – that is important. As a new off-road rider, you may not be aware of it, but when you put cables in cords or straps under the immense pressure of your engine and your weight, any metal can turn into a deadly projectile. I like to limit as much of that as possible. This is a high quality tape and you need it.

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D-Ring Shackles – Smittybilt Delta D-Ring

D-rings are very handy on the trail to get you out of a jam.

As much as you need a pull strap, you need a way to attach it securely to things. That’s where the D-ring comes in. A good D-ring will also come in handy for more things. I have used them to not only attach a tow strap, but also to use as a tie down point and for extra leverage.

Smittybilt’s Delta D-Ring is shaped to give you a little extra stability and clearance, while being quite compact and strong. It has a 27,000 lb. Workload limit, so it can handle anything. Smittybilt E-coats and powder coats the finish for durability and rust resistance. It is ¾-inch in diameter with a ⅞-inch pin. For a little extra stability, it has a cam-over pin holder. It’s not a bad idea to have 3-4 of these in your vehicle at all times.

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Trail Jack – Smittybilt 54” Trail Jack

A powerful off-road jack can help you get out of a tight spot.

If you grew up on a farm, chances are you’ve seen a trail jack and probably used one, because they go by another name – a farm jack. These are heavy duty jacks that were originally used by farmers to jack up tractors and farm implements out in the field. Why do you want one as an off-roader? It’s easy. Let’s say you managed to get your rig stuck in a spot that has it at a weird angle, or something. There is no one around to help you, so the pull strap will not be an option. Feel like going out? Neither do I. A jack allows you to lift your vehicle, no matter how high your tires are, and helps you get that wheel that’s either stuck or flat, up and out of the mess, so you can fix it or get some stuff under it to help you to get started again.

The Smittybilt Trail Jack gives you 54 inches of room to lift and it has a load capacity of 4,600 lb, which is more than you should need. It also doubles as a winch, so if you need to use it as a hand winch, it gives you 7,000 pounds of pulling/winch capacity. These jacks also come in handy in the event of an accident, as they can be used as a power tool to pry open broken doors. It’s cheap insurance and something every new off-roader needs to have in their vehicle.

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Drag ramps – Smittybilt All Element

Everyone gets stuck and has no hope of getting traction? It helps to bring some with you.

You will probably notice that some of the items on this list are for recovery. As a new off-roader, you’re going to have to push your limits quite a bit and that means you’ll get stuck more times than you’d like. It’s as you’d expect though, as you have to push things to find your limits. Traction ramps come in very handy when you find traction has eluded you. They are very handy for snow and mud, as you can get them under your tires and use them to not only get grip to help you pull yourself out. But also to spread the weight of your vehicle to help.

Smittybilt’s All Element ramps can handle up to 7,700 pounds. They are 48 inches long and are made of high impact nylon reinforced plastic. You can use them to slowly but surely get out of a bad situation. There are several handles molded into the side to help you position the ramp, which is important because you’ll likely have to reposition it several times to get out of a tight spot. Use in combination with a trail jack for best results.

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Off-Road GPS – Magellan TRX-7 CS

The best way to not get lost is to have a track-capable GPS system.

Your trail rig may have navigation built into the stereo system, but once you figure out the road system, you’re mostly just driving through a green blob. If you don’t have maps and can navigate, you can get lost quite easily. That’s where a good off-road GPS system comes into play. Terrain GPS not only has road systems and other common navigational aids, but also maps of the major trail systems.

One of our favorite true off-road GPS systems comes from Magellan in their TRX-7 system. This beefy device has a 7-inch touchscreen and is preloaded with over 160,000 4WD, ATV, motorcycle and snowmobile tracks. It also has 2D topographic and 3D basemap of the US and Canada with free updates. Want to see where others have been? This device features track recording and crowd publishing, crowdsourced track database and one-touch social sharing, so you can share where you’ve been and see where others have gone too. And you can add photos from the built-in dual 8mp digital camera. As a new off-roader, this is a great way to discover new trails while feeling comfortable knowing you can find your way back home.

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Air Compressor – Smittybilt 2.54 CFM

Air down, air up or whatever you need to do. An air compressor is a good tool to have.

It’s no secret that airing your tires can make an off-road experience better by increasing your available traction. It’s also no secret that you need to re-inflate your tires before hitting the pavement. An air compressor makes it a much easier task. An air compressor is also something you’ll want if you should puncture one of these tires, along with having a patch kit.

The Smittybilt 2.54 CFM has multiple ways to connect to a power source and comes with everything you need to aerate in the field. It has a 24-foot coiled air hose, built-in air gauge and produces 150psi of air. You can also mount it in a permanent location and plug it into your vehicle’s electrical system. If it gets too hot, it has an automatic shut-off to save the engine from damage.

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Where do I start with off-road gear?

When you decide you want to get started in the off-road life, the obvious place to start is with a vehicle that can get you there. For most of us, this means something that is four-wheel drive. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a new off-road machine. Just make sure it’s reliable. It’s also the gear focus I suggest for all new off-road enthusiasts. Reliability is key and above all you want to have the right things with you to get back home.

You’ll also notice that a large portion of this list consists of items designed to keep you on track. Getting stuck is something that will happen to all of us, and even the most experienced off-roader will still bury their rig from time to time. Always keep some gear in the vehicle to get you loose. It’s also good karma to use it to help others along the trail. You’ll probably find a new buddy to ride with, and that’s a cool thing. Look for functionality and practicality first, then look for performance upgrades as your experience grows.

common questions

What should you know before going off the road?

First of all, the number one thing you need to know before going off road is to stay within your limits. If you don’t feel comfortable doing something – don’t do it! Always let someone know where you are going, and you should always accompany others whenever possible. Have the right recovery equipment and a way to communicate with someone in an emergency.

How do you prepare your vehicle for off-road driving?

The best way to prepare for off-road driving is to make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition. Make sure the important parts are protected and you have the right recovery equipment. Airing the tires is a must, as is having a means of communication, so a cell phone or emergency communication is essential. Use four-wheel drive when necessary, and of course use your head. Drive smart and be safe. You will enjoy it much more.

What not to do off-road?

The most important thing you should not do off road, especially for a beginner, is to go off alone. Even short trips can have big consequences, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Even experienced mountain bikers rarely travel along the trail without a companion.

How can I save some money on buying off-road equipment?

Don’t forget to use our exclusive 10% discount code when you enter OFFROAD104WP at checkout!

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