10 Must-have Trail Essentials for A UTV

Heading out on the trails in your UTV requires proper preparation and packing the right gear to handle any situation. Getting stranded without cell service or having an injury miles from help makes the essentials below vital for safe and successful off-roading. This list of 10 trail must-haves covers communication, shelter, vehicle repair, first aid, fire safety, navigation, and more to keep you rolling through rugged terrain.

1. Communication Device

A reliable communication device can be a lifesaver when off-roading in remote areas. Satellite phones maintain service outside of cell towers, and two-way radios keep groups connected within a certain radius. Having one of these on hand ensures you can call for emergency help if needed or coordinate meet-ups if your party gets separated. Models with SMS texting and GPS location-sharing capabilities are ideal - handy features for keeping the group posted on position and trip status. Durable two-way radios also enable communication up to a couple of miles in open terrain. Keep devices charged and test them for signal/range before hitting the trail.

2. Emergency Blanket and Extra Clothing

Sudden storms, cold nights, or accidents that leave you stranded all underscore the importance of emergency blankets and extra clothing on the trails. An unexpected drop in temperature or change to wet conditions can quickly lead to hypothermia and danger. Reflective emergency blankets trap body heat to prevent heat loss in windy or wet scenarios you weren't prepared for. It takes a little space to pack a few in your UTV. Likewise, keeping extra base layers, insulation layers, socks, gloves, and hats at the ready lets you modify your protection as the environment dictates. The safety and survival value more than justify the small storage space these vital items require.

3. Cooler

Hitting the trail inevitably works up thirst and hunger. Rather than jamming the cab full of food, a cooler lets you transport drinks and snacks cleanly and access them easily. Hard-sided coolers have excellent ice retention, translating to cold drinks all day long. Their durability also means they can take bumps and scrapes in the UTV cargo area while sealing tightly to contain leaks. For shorter runs, soft-sided options work well, too, and typically zipper fully shut. Just leave room for that post-ride refreshment as well. A good cooler ensures the group stays energized and hydrated all day for maximum trail enjoyment.

4. Spare Tire and Tire Changing Tool

A flat can derail any UTV trip quickly, especially if you lack the gear to change it on the trails. Carrying a full-size spare tire provides backup rolling stock if the original gets punctured or damaged. Match this with a quality jack, lug wrench, impact driver, and any specialty tools needed so you can safely change the flat once it is stopped. Depending on the terrain and jack capacity, you may even need a portable jack stand kit beneath for stability. Don't forget the torque wrench either to secure the new tire properly. Investing in good equipment guarantees you can change that flat and continue the adventure.

5. First Aid Supplies

Accidents happen, making a well-stocked first aid kit mandatory during off-roading. Kits tailored specifically for UTV use make packing easier with trauma items like tourniquets, compression dressings, and tape all housed neatly together. Look for waterproof storage as well to shield contents from dirt and moisture - inevitable in trail riding. Beyond supplies, also brush up on the proper application of tourniquets, bandaging methods, and other critical response knowledge so you can deploy life-saving measures if needed. With the right gear and information, you'll be ready to provide emergency care until professional help arrives.

6. Fire Extinguisher

Given their engine proximity, UTVs always carry some fire risk, especially if smoking or refueling around them. Packing an ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher mitigates this danger by providing a means to suppress flame flare-ups. The compact size even leaves room to store it on board. Locate the extinguisher near the fuel cell but also safely secured while driving. Take time to learn proper operation as well - remember the PASS technique (Pull pin, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep). With practice, you'll be ready to knock down small fires quickly before they escalate. This inexpensive item and knowledge translates to invaluable protection.

7. Tablet

A tablet proves extremely helpful across many trail scenarios. Download offline topo maps before leaving cell service and use the GPS for continual position checks and route planning. Waypoint marking also enables easy return navigation if you wander to explore side areas. Some maps even include trail ratings and points of interest. Beyond navigation, tablets also carry owner's manuals for reference during UTV troubleshooting, step-by-step repair instructions from sites like YouTube, and can even connect to OBD tools to scan fault codes. Waterproof cases keep devices shielded in adverse weather as well. There's hardly a better multi-use item for the trails than a well-equipped tablet.

8. Spare UTV Parts

Rugged terrain that punctures tires, breaks suspension, and damages drivelines makes carrying spare UTV parts critically important. Tie rods, radius rods, ball joints, and control arms take hard hits driving over rocks and through mud pits. Packing replacements for common failure items gets you back driving again after trail fixes. Don't forget small parts, either, like hardware, uni balls, and rod ends, which also frequently get torn up. For long-distance trips, even consider bigger items like half shafts or a spare rear differential if yours lacks a locking function, and you anticipate tackling tough obstacles. UTVs are complex machines - having components, tools, and mechanical know-how prevents small issues from interrupting the journey.

9. Multitool

A good multitool packs a wide range of functions into a super portable package - perfect for UTVs with limited space. Look for options specially outfitted for vehicles and trail use with pliers, multiple screwdrivers, hex bits, knives, scissors, bottle openers, and other implements. These compact yet mighty tools open stuck containers, trim binding straps, hack minor repairs, and accomplish other key tasks critical to off-road survival and comfort. Some even add LED flashlights, providing light when working in dim cargo areas. The right multitool means not having to pack a cumbersome toolbox to handle routine equipment fixes. Simply toss it in a pocket and know you've got the essential functions at the ready when needed.

10. Jack

A sturdy jack is mandatory equipment for any trail ride, allowing you to safely lift the UTV for changes or suspension repairs. Models with excellent height for larger tires and compact rapid pumps achieve similar clearance in a smaller, lighter package. Whichever you choose, ensure it has the lift capacity to handle your fully-loaded vehicle weight. Also, consider a wide base jack stand for stabilizing the raised vehicle during repairs. Precision ground pads prevent sinking in dirt or sliding on rocks. Proper lifting gear gives you the ability to tackle critical repairs off-road and continue putting miles on the trails regardless of breakdowns or damage.

Final Thoughts

Navigating backcountry trails in UTVs makes reliable equipment and preparation absolute necessities. Failure to pack proper communication devices, recovery tools, first aid, and other essentials mentioned above can cut enjoyable rides short and potentially put you and your group's safety at risk. Use this checklist to ensure your vehicle and passengers have all the gear needed to handle accidents, breakdowns, weather, and other situations the rugged, unpredictable trails may present.

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