The Most Comprehensive Packing List for 4WD Touring

a swag in a grassy field

“Never let someone else define your adventure, or tell you how to do it. Not even us.”

This is the message we put at the beginning of each post. 

The Rough As Guts mandate is that we must always tell it like it is, regardless of popular opinion. Sometimes it may seem like we’re trying to gate keep the word “adventure” when we say things like “real four wheel driving” or “real camping”. That’s not our intent, but what we damn-sure are hell-bent on, is to make sure people are never putting their limitations on others, advising against reasonable risk and lowering the bar for people who just might have gone and done something incredible if they hadn’t been talked out of it.

Your life is your adventure. Live it however the hell you want.

Table of Contents

What to Pack for 4WD Touring and What to Leave Behind 

There’s a heap of packing lists available elsewhere online and while most of them are sufficient, some of them are just downright ridiculous. 

According to total4x4.com.au, here’s some of the “basic essentials you should have at all times”: 

  • Water purification tablets 
  • Flares 
  • Medication 
  • Vitamins 
  • Antibacterial wipes 
  • Safety glasses 
  • Disposable gloves 
  • Safety Gloves 
  • Wooden blocks 
  • Starter fluid 
  • Extra fans (As in, they’re saying to take an extra radiator fan) 

Fuck me. It’s no wonder the pandemic has really taken off. Not covid, but what happened during lockdown where every second person bought a camper trailer or caravan and now there’s this pervasive belief that you can’t hit the road unless your set-up cost at least $100,000 preferably $200k. That’s the pandemic that’s still alive and well in Australia. 

I miss the hippies in beat up old vans just cruising around and getting it done. Often taking a two wheel drive vehicle down tracks most of this new-wave wouldn’t take a capable four wheel drive. Be like the hippies, but wear deodorant. 

It’s got nothing to do with Total 4×4, they seem like a good company, but they’re obviously doing some content marketing like everyone else these days. What I learned from my time living in Thailand where I was working as a freelance content writer so I could afford to drink Chang beer every night, is that 90% of the internet is just regurgitated rubbish compiled from other blog posts where a freelancer who knows nothing about the subject does their best to pull it together in a way that seems like someone from the company wrote it. I know this because I was the guy writing that sort of shit. 

What this results in is that when someone new to a pursuit, such as 4WD touring, tries to do a bit of research they see content written by someone who doesn’t really know a lot about the subject. And, because 90% of the other blog posts are written in the exact same fashion, all that newcomer will see is what seems like supporting evidence. We’ve got the informational equivalent of the Habsburg Jaw, a very distinct jawline in ~17th century royals, due to inbreeding. If we’re all pulling from the same source material, we’re going to end up with an unsightly growth of bad advice that’s ever present on the ugly face of recycled blogs. 

This is one of the main reasons behind our drive to start Rough As Guts. We wanted to tell it like it is and be able to offer readers and viewers an informed opinion on things they should do or take, but not need to worry about a lot of the superfluous nonsense that’s being recommended all over the place. 

At the end of the day, it’s Australia. Pack a lot of water and take a hat, the rest just depends on how hungry you’re willing to get and how long you’re willing to wait on the side of a track. You’ll know if you’re going somewhere remote enough to justify really worrying about things.  

Nothing teaches you to take a pillow better than coming home with a sore neck from sleeping on some socks. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it perfect the first few times, but you’ll learn with every go. 

The following is a list of things you could take, and we’ll specifically mention things that are a must. Remember, this is an exhaustive list. If you try and take it all, you’ll be exhausted. 

You can get away without a lot of this stuff for small trips, such as taking an esky instead of a fridge which will also absolve you of battery and solar requirements. This list is primarily made for longer term touring however, so a lot of these nice-to-haves start making more of an impact the longer you’re travelling. 

 

Camp Cooking Equipment 

  • Gas Cooker 
    There’s a myriad of options for cookers these days and we’re seeing small, single-burner cookers that use disposable butane cartridges become cheaper than ever and easier to get canisters for.
    They’re a great option for a weekend away or keeping in the car when you’re not running full tour spec, but for touring they’re not a great option. Being disposable, the canisters are made from a thinner material and therefor hold less pressure, relative to the volume they take up. Because of this, they’re not very economic and you have to take a lot of extra canisters.As we’re touring in a 4WD and don’t need to worry about weight savings the same way a hiker would, we don’t need to worry much about options such as Jetboils etc. I find that the best cooker for touring is just a good old fashioned multi-burner LPG cooker and a 4.5kg gas bottle. You can of course use a 9kg bottle if you wish and these are easier to exchange at servos on the road, if you can’t find somewhere to refill your gas bottle.Just a quick not on Jetboils however, if you do tend to drink a lot of coffee or tea and will be boiling water several times a day, they are a great option for that and will save you needing to set up a cooker every time you want a tea break. They boil water damn quickly too. 
  • Hot Plate 
    Nothing beats a hot plate for cooking bacon and eggs for multiple people all at once, to save doing it one at a time on a frying pan. They’re also great for chucking on the coals instead of on the gas cooker.
  • Frying Pan
    You’ll probably need a frying pan.
  • Pot/Saucepan 
    Having at least one pot is always handy. I like to lean heavily on canned food when I’m camping and having a pot makes heating things a lot easier without spilling everything.
  • Billy 
    Camping is a time to slow down. In the morning or evening, camping provides a rare opportunity in this fast paced world to take things slowly and to let ourselves unwind. While a Jetboil is quick and easy for a single cup of coffee, there’s nothing like real Billy Tea brewed on the coals and with enough for a second or third cup to stretch out your morning just that little bit more before packing up.A collapsible silicone kettle is good for a lot of things, but a billy that you can put on the fire helps remind you that you’re camping in Australia and what a privilege it is to be able to take things slowly. If you really do want a great cup of coffee while on the road, we’ve got a breakdown of some of the best portable coffee making solutions for touring.
  • Matches/Lighter 
    I’ve mentioned before how I don’t like to be overly cautious and I do believe that over-preparation is a band-aid for a lack of resourcefulness. But with that said, I somehow manage to always wet my matches and if you only take a lighter, you can never be certain just how much gas it has left. For the small cost and tiny volume that they take up, it’s worth taking both.
  • Gas Bottle or Canisters
    If you’re running a butane cooker, take spare canisters. I like to budget almost one per day if I know I’m going to be boiling the billy.If you’re taking a Jetboil for making coffee, you probably only need one spare canister for a trip of two weeks or less. They’re much more efficient at boiling water than a canister type butane cooker.
  • Cutlery/Crockery
    You don’t need me to tell how much to take, I’m sure you can figure it out.
  • Chopping Board
    I always try and minimise the amount of food prep when camping by buying things like sliced mushrooms and diced frozen onion, but there’s still going to be some food prep required. While I try and keep most the things I take as small as possible, a chopping board is one of the exceptions. Often, working space is limited and no matter how systematised you try to set up your canopy, tray or wagon, there’ll be a time when you’re trying to chop food on a tailgate, chair or bonnet. Having a big chopping board makes this a bit easier and because they’re so thin, a larger one doesn’t take up much additional space.I recommend plastic chopping boards because they are thinner than wood and easier to clean. Preserving water is important and wooden chopping boards require a more thorough scrub and rinse after cutting meat.

Recovery and Mechanical 

Spares & Accessories 

  • Cable Ties
    Just one of those things that will eventually be quite handy. We strongly recommend including some in your kit.
  • Hose Clamps
    Depending how remote and how long you’re going for, it could be worth taking some hose clamps, particularly in the right size for your radiator hoses.Hoses and fan belts have come a long way. Modern, synthetic rubbers seem to really be up to the task at hand, which you can tell by the fact that they’re rarely sold at servos these days. However, any sort of leak in your cooling system can stop you dead in your tracks no matter where you are, so if you’re taking spares, prioritise your radiator over things like power steering. It’s time people remembered what it used to be like to drive with both hands working hard. 
  • Insulation (electrical) Tape or duct tape
    Many are the men who didn’t take tape but wished they had.
  • Valve Core/s – If your puncture repair kit doesn’t have any, chuck in one of these.
    They’re a mass produced $0.01 component and it doesn’t take much for them to jam and let your air out. You don’t see them fail much on most vehicles, but as four wheel drivers we’re airing-down and airing-up a lot and usually in dirty or muddy conditions which can lead to a bit of sand or dirt getting in and holding the valve open.Instead of bothering to find, pack and take a valve tool, just grab some metal valve caps that have the little valve tool attached. 
  • CVs
    If you’re running two or more inches of lift on an IFS vehicle without a diff drop, or you’re running larger tyres, it might be wise to carry a spare CV. If you’re doing any technical or hard wheeling, then it’s doubly prudent. If you’ve got a front diff-lock, then you’re also more likely to break a CV.If you break a CV and don’t have a spare, you can get away without it but will be stuck in two wheel drive, or three wheel drive if you have a front diff-lock.
    The key thing to remember though, is that CVs normally only break when you’re doing some decently difficult four wheel driving, meaning it’s not the place you’ll want to be stuck in.You have to be giving it a fair bit of shit to break a CV, but if you’ve got bigger tyres and a from diff-lock, than you should be giving it a fair bit of shit. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you’re not a status-seeking wanker who adds all this gear just for show.
  • Hubs
    If you’re running larger tyres, a front diff-lock and freewheel locking hubs, you may want to bring a spare. Again, the consequence is being stuck in three wheel drive.If you’re not running a diff-lock, it’s unlikely you’ll be breaking hubs.
  • Fuses – Recommended
    You can get away without spare fuses, but you should at least take some spares for your headlights and anything else that will make driving a lot easier. You can make do with only a few sizes and if something blows, just put in the closest size that you have.I got away with a guitar string off-cut in my 60 series cruiser for over 3,000km, but that would be a fire risk and not something I’d recommend. It did get my lights working again so I could outdrive a bush fire, arguably the bigger fire risk of the two.

Recovery Gear 

  • Max Trax
    Recovery boards, recovery tracks or whichever non-trademarked name you want to use for them, they are a bloody good invention.Gone are the days of gathering sticks or poinciettas to feed under your tyre in the hope of getting off the beach before you’re met by the rising tide.Basically they’re good, relatively cheap insurance for getting you out of trouble when there’s no one else around to help. Plus, you can join the hoards of suburbanite wankers who adorn their cars with Max Trax to make it look they go off-road when they don’t. 
  • Snatch Strap/Kinetic Rope
    If you’re not familiar with them, kinetic ropes are just the new, stretchier versions of snatch straps that add a little more curry to your snatch recovery. If you don’t have one, snatch straps are till as good as they ever were and are certainly more than sufficient.If you’ve never used either before, never put them around a towball. We’ve written a whole article on how snatch straps on towballs kill people. If you’re doing any sort of decent off-road touring, we’re putting a snatch strap on the necessary list. It’s one of those things where you might not realise just how important it is until you don’t have it. Besides, who doesn’t like having a bit of snatch in the bush.
  • Shackles
    With lowballs ruled out completely as a mounting point for a snatch strap or kinetic rope, we’re gonna need some shackles.Steel shackles are just fine if they’re rated accordingly. Ones bought from a 4WD accessory retailer for the purposes of winching or snatch recoveries should be rated to a suitable force. While steel shackles are sufficient, if you’re budget allows it soft shackles are a better alternative. Besides being light weight and easy to store, they also don’t create a heavy projectile in the event of a snapping snatch strap or mounting point etc and they’re a necessity if you’re using a winch ring. They’re a good, usable bit of kit and a worthwhile addition to a recovery kit.If a snatch strap or kinetic rope is on our essentials list, then you’re gonna need a way of using it.
  • Winch Rope Extension
    If you’ve got a winch and you’re anything like me, then you’re probably taking risks based on the fact that you think your winch might get you out of trouble. I have never found a situation where I have measured the distance from the nearest tree before getting stuck and the times I haven’t had a winch rope extension, it’s been pure luck that I wasn’t too far away to winch myself out.
  • Winch Dampener
    You can get away without one, it just increases your risk of getting hit by a projectile. Seeing as winch dampeners double as a bag for your recovery gear, you may as well take it. We’re not deeming it necessary, just convenient.
  • Tree Trunk Protector
    If you’ve got a winch, you may as well have a way of hooking on to a tree that doesn’t damage your winch rope, such as when you double the rope back around and hook it on itself.There’s a lot of ways to get around this, but if you’re going to bother to have a winch, you may as well have the right accessories.
  • Snatch Block/Winch Ring
    Having some sort of pulley, allows you to do a double line pull with the winch, effectively doubling the pulling power. This is handy when you’re really stuck. Situations like deep clay, such as salt lakes, add a huge load to the winch and sometimes you need a double line pull to get you out without snapping the rope or killing the winch.Winch rings, which require having at least one soft shackle, are so compact and lightweight that you’d be mad not to take one if you have a winch.
  • Shovel – Highly Recommended
    Burying your own shit is a must in the bush, but that’s not why a shovel is included in the recovery section.The vast majority of boggings occur from getting stuck on the belly of the 4WD. As most touring rigs will only have a modest suspension lift, tyres that aren’t ridiculously sized and because they’re mainly being used on boggy tracks rather than silly weekend-fun hill-climbs, it’s most common to get stuck on the undercarriage of the vehicle.Whether it’s a beach with deep ruts where you’ve bellied-out or a wet and boggy dirt road, it’s usually something like spring hangers or a diff-centre that’s getting caught up.This is best dealt with using a shovel with a long handle.You can double this up as your “personal shovel” or get another, compact shovel for digging poo holes. The choice is 100% yours.
  • Kangaroo Jack
    A high lift jack gets used rarely, but is very handy when it does. A lot of people can get away without one depending on the weight and height of their car and where they’re going, but it is worth thinking about. Just make sure you know how to use it without smashing your jaw.
  • Compressor – Essential
    Four wheel driving requires changing your tyre pressures which means you’ll want to have a compressor for pumping your tyres back up after airing them down.While you can get away with soft tyres on road for a while, a compressor is a must-have because you’ll need one to re-inflate a tyre after repairing a puncture. If you’re only planning to go where you think you won’t get punctures, there’s two problems with that:One: That’s lame and boring. Go read Anaconda’s packing list. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.Two: Punctures happen on the road plenty of times. Most cars or trucks that are dropping nails, rivets, screws or anything else long and protruding are mainly driving on road. If you’re doing a big drive on road to the location where you want to start going off-road, you might already be down a spare tyre if you don’t have a plug kit and compressor.
    Which brings us to:
  • Tubeless Plug Kit (Puncture Repair Kit) – Essential
    Another essential. Grab a plug kit from any reputable brand and change the plugs/strings every two years or so. The main components you need are plugs, a reaming tool, insertion tool and lube is handy. I prefer to replace the lube that comes with a lot of kits with a tube of vulcanising fluid, the glue that turns people into Mr Spock.
  • Deflators
    We’ve talked about tyres going up, so they also need to come down.A lot of people’s ideas of touring is going to be different to mine and going to be basic and non-technical, not requiring a whole lot of airing down. Even if that’s the case for you, it’s prudent to be able to get yourself out of the shit for if you get stuck unexpectedly.
    Also, lowering your pressures is the best way to deal with corrugations off-road. We recommend 28psi for corrugations up to moderate and most boggy-ish, tracks but you may need to go lower for more extreme situations.I lived my first 27 or more years without tyre deflators despite having a life that was centred around off-road exploration. Let’s face it, there’s nothing a deflator can do that a stick can’t. Other than be left to achieve a certain pressure of course.A stick or car key is more than enough to let your tyre pressures down when bogged to help you get out, but not only is it time consuming, it’s inaccurate. If you’re planning to let your pressures down on a long road and won’t be pumping them up soon, then having mismatched pressures is not great for steering and handling.There’s a lot of different types of deflators available and choosing the right kind depends on use-case as well as budget.I always keep a set of Staun type deflators in my 4WDs because of how little space they take up and how cheaply they can be acquired. But, they’re not super accurate so if I’m packing for a specific trip, I’ll take one that uses a gauge. Here’s how to set staun type tyre deflators.
  • Tyre Gauge
    If you’re not taking deflators or you’re using ones such as Staun deflators which don’t have a tyre gauge inbuilt, it’s a worthwhile inclusion on your own packing list.You can get away without it, but if you’re going to be covering any decent sort of mileage, the gauge will pay for itself by avoiding uneven tyre wear. 

 

  • Spare Tyres – Essential
    The old adage; two is one, one is none has never applied more than to spare tyres.If you’re touring, having two spares is damn important. You shouldn’t travel without a spare. If you’re travelling with one spare and you get a puncture, you’re now without a spare. There’s a lot of punctures that can’t be plugged and there’s a hell of a lot of things that can puncture a tyre.If you’re weekending within a reasonable distance of some sort of township, sure take the risk, it’s something that I’ve done plenty of times. For touring, just take two. I know it’s a pain because they’re bulky, heavy and expensive, but that’s just the reality.
     

 

Toolkit 

This really depends on the model of your car, as they will have different common bolt sizes and some manufacturers, such as most European brands will use Torx fasteners (star keys) where a Japanese manufacturer would probably use a standard metric bolt. American cars will need something else entirely.

The best way to figure out what you’re likely to need is to perform all the maintenance on your car only using the toolkit that you’re planning to take with you. You’ll soon realise what’s missing from it.

Here’s a rough list of where to start: 

  • Shifter (adjustable spanner) – Essential
  • Pliers – Essential
    You may want to add a pair of pointy nose pliers, side cutters or circlip pliers depending on your car. Doing your own maintenance and servicing is the best way to know if you’ll need any specific tools.
  • Vise Grips – Highly Recommended
  • Socket Set – Essential
    Most opt for a 3/8” drive socket set for compactness, but you’ll probably need to add a couple of larger sockets to your kit. If you’re taking a 1/2” set it’ll probably have everything you need except an 8mm socket. Rather than finding an 8mm socket for a 1/2” ratchet, you’re probably better off to just add a 1/4” ratchet with a matching 8mm, 10mm, 11mm and 12mm socket. A lot of times these smaller bolts will have much tighter access and the smaller drive sockets will be a lot narrower at the base. You might need a 50mm extension for some of these as well.
  • Screwdrivers – Essential
    Both a Phillips and flat head are crucial, but the amount of sizes you want to take in both is up to you. If you’re trying to strike a balance between comprehensibility and space/weight, it’s better to have more variety in Phillips than flat heads.
  • Spanners – Essential
    8mm through to 21 is recommended. Even though you’ve got sockets, a lot of bolts won’t have captive nuts and will require a spanner on the other end. Sometimes a spanner is the only thing that will fit.
  • Allen Keys – Essential
    Some manufacturers may opt for Torx fasteners instead. Just remember, 5mm is the most common size for Allen key bolts, but usually the one missing from most people’s sets. You can get both Allen and Torx in a socket style. I keep one Allen socket with me because I have recessed wheel nuts on my D22 (more on that below).
  • Hammer – Generally Recommended
    Sometimes you just need to bash things and sometimes spanners or ratchets need some coercion.
  • Impact Driver/Rattle Gun – Optional
    Great for changing tyres quickly. If you have a camper trailer or caravan, they save a huge amount of time for adjusting the stabilisers. You’ll probably need a tube socket for the stabilisers as they often have to pass through the handle that unlocks the stabiliser for rotating. With that said, you really should get a set of impact sockets which are generally tube type anyway. This is to stop a normal socket from shattering under the torque and hitting your eyeballs, or more likely; rounding the bolts with a 12 point socket, which is why impact sockets are all 6 point.
  • Jack – Essential
    I’d recommend ditching a scissor jack if it’s what comes with your car and buy a decent hydraulic bottle jack, but either way make sure you’ve got something to lift the car high enough for changing a tyre.
  • Cross Brace, Allen key Socket, Security Lock Nut Key – Essential
    Whatever your wheels/rims require to be removed, make sure you’ve got it. Amaroks, for example, come with lock nuts that require a special tool for removal and they come with a separate one on the spare tyre holder.Rims with recessed wheel nuts, such as those on my D22 use an Allen head nut. You can get Allen key sockets or adapters for a cross brace.If you do require something atypical for your wheels, don’t keep it in your toolkit, keep it somewhere like behind the backseat where it won’t be moved. Every toolkit comes out of a car at some point and if you’re not on a big trip, you might forget to put it back in before you drive to the shops etc.
     

If you’re new to four wheel driving and don’t already have a lot of tools in the shed and you’re on a budget, a good place to start can be one of the Adventure Kings complete tool kits. They’re not the best quality but are good value and are tailored for 4WDs. You can take out all the things you don’t need and then upgrade the components one by one as you outgrow the cheaper tools. 

 

Fluids & Glues 

I’m asking you to trust me on this without asking questions: In a pinch, urine in a radiator works a damn sight better than nothing. 

But, with that in mind and while still not asking questions, there’s not too many things worse than pungent, yellow steam billowing out of your engine. The steam is actually white, but that doesn’t create the image I’m going for. 

As long as you’ve got water, you can get away without bringing coolant. Water is more than sufficient to get you going after blowing a hose or repairing a hole in a radiator and you can replace it with coolant in the next town. 

  • Barsleaks
    Barsleaks or any other leak plugging goop that you can add to your radiator is something I’ve carried in all my older 4WDs. I haven’t carried it in my D22 ever since replacing the radiator, but I would if I was going to be traversing a lot of virgin scrub where there’s higher chances of staking a radiator. 
  • Devcon/J-B Weld
    An epoxy based metal putty is particularly good at fixing staked radiators and any number of problems. It’s not something I usually keep with me, but would probably take with me on a long, remote trip. 
  • Injector Cleaner/Diesel Treatment
    We’ve got a whole write-up on the best fuel treatments for 4WD touring, but basically all it comes down to is trying to mitigate likely fuel problems encountered in the outback. Moisture contamination and diesel bug are likely problems with old storage tanks and the low turnover that remote servos see. Our favourite for most situations is F10 which is surfactant based and the best for eliminating moisture in a fuel system. 

 

12v – Battery, Solar & Lighting 

  • Dual Battery System – Very Important
    As most people 4WD touring are going to be using a fridge and lighting at night, we recommend having a second battery. Most important in this set-up is to have all your accessories running from the second battery with a system that isolates this battery from the cranking/starter battery when the car’s not running, so you don’t get stranded with a flat battery in the middle of nowhere.A dual battery system can be as simple as using a solenoid that’s activated by a feed from the ignition. You can also buy a ready-made isolator that detects the charging voltage from the alternator and automatically isolates or connects the battery. The problem with these systems is that they do not split and regulate the charging voltage from the alternator between the batteries. What happens is that as you discharge the accessories battery overnight while the car’s not running, the two batteries are at different voltages when the car starts and the alternator is running. The regulator on the alternator reads this as a low voltage and keeps charging until the accessories battery is almost charged and both batteries are averaging a high enough voltage for the alternator to stop charging. Because the starter battery is being charged, despite already being fully charged, it gets overcharged which causes overheating and battery damage. With a system like this, eventually the starter battery will stop working. The other problem with voltage sensing isolators is that a lot of modern vehicles have low-voltage or smart alternators designed to reduce emissions. A lot of these won’t trigger the relay to charge the second battery.The best option in any vehicle is a DC to DC charger. It’s a system that controls the charge to the second battery without causing the alternator to overcharge the starter battery. They also isolate the secondary battery when the car isn’t running and are compatible with smart alternators. Most modern DCDC chargers will also have an inbuilt MPPT solar regulator making them an all in one system for running dual batteries and multiple electrical accessories. We recommend REDARC as the best option for dual battery and battery management systems as they are the highest quality available.
  • Fridge – Important but not essential
    For sure, you can get away without a fridge. If you’re solely a red wine drinker and taking dehydrated food, you don’t need a fridge at all, but where’s the fun in that.For shorter trips, an esky will get you by with a bit of ice. The best I’ve seen from an esky is about 4 days without an ice top-up and using it normally with a combo of food and beer. This was a Yeti esky which I was given as a wedding gift and I was later told that it cost $600. It’s an exceptional esky, but because it’s so expensive, it’s not suitable as a cheap alternative to a car fridge, but rather a different tool altogether for when you’re not going to have any power. An esky in the $100-$200 range will probably only give you two days at best.A car fridge is a really great solution to the problem of warm beer and perishable food. Engel is still doubtless the best option if you’re looking for quality. If budget is more of a factor for you, these days there are a lot of great options around the $700 mark. We recommend 70L or more for touring. Dual zone’s usually the best option for longer trips as you can keep meat frozen until you need it, while keeping things like salad ingredients fresh in the refrigerator section so they don’t wilt from freezing.If you do go for a cheap fridge, there’s plenty that work well but do shop with warranties in mind. I had a stint at an off-road and camping retailer to help pay for starting Rough As Guts, when I first decided this is what I wanted to do. Working there I sold a lot of fridges in this price range and while most comments were positive, I did see a reasonable number coming back for repair or replacement under warranty.
  • Solar
    Solar power is great, but more often than not used unnecessarily. When I was selling this stuff in retail, I would have many conversations each day with people that wanted a solar set-up but had no real need for it.I’m not sure if it’s the amount of Youtubers pushing solar products or just good advertising from the manufacturers, but there seems to be a lot of people falsely under the impression that they require solar for their outfit.The size of your auxiliary battery, how many things you’re running from it and how many days you’re going to be in one place will determine if you’re going to need solar.Look at the current draw that your fridge specifies, the amount of lights you’re running and for how long each night and other accessories to see how much power you’ll use in a day. When considering your battery’s capacity, consider if it’s lead-acid or lithium. AGM batteries can only be discharged to about 50% before you damage them whereas lithium can be good for 90% depth of discharge, so consider what the useable capacity of your battery is.Another factor is how long you’re going to be driving in between camps. A prospector for example, might only be driving twenty minutes between sections of a mining lease and then spending a few days fossicking that section. In that case, the battery is not going to be charged by the dual battery system/alternator.If you’re running a battery and solar independent of a dual battery system that has an inbuilt solar regulator, you’ll need to get a regulator to run in-between the solar and the battery.Of course, you can fall into the opposite trap. Often times you can avoid having to lug such a bulky, heavy and expensive battery around by opting for a bigger solar panel. It really just depends on how you use your car and accessories and whether you leave it parked in winter with the fridge still running.
  • LED Strip Light or Light Strips
    If you’re not wiring in permanent lighting into your car or canopy, then a flexible LED strip light is a great option. They throw out a lot of useable light that you can use while cooking, they’re versatile and they can be packed down small. They’re pretty efficient too.If you do have a canopy, then rigid LED strips make for an excellent wired-in solution. You can also get ones that switch to orange which is less attractive to insects at night time.
  • Headlamp
    A worthwhile inclusion no matter what set-up you’re running. Even if you’ve got a canopy with internal lights and external working lights, a decent headlamp makes collecting firewood or working on your car so much easier than trying to use a hand held torch.
  • Work Lights
    LED flood lights, work lamps, or mini light bars, depending on the manufacturer all mean the same thing and are a permanently mounted light on a car or canopy. They really light up an area well for things like cooking which requires good illumination. It’s common to see them on the sides of wagons, back of Utes and on the back and sides of a canopy. 

Camping Gear – Swags etc 

  • Swag
    Unless you’ve got six kids, do yourself a favour and ditch the tent for a swag each. At the six kid mark, swags start to take up a lot of space. My recommendation there would be to stick to swags and decide which 3 kids are your least favourite.There’s more swags than ever on the market and it really just depends on your budget. If you’ve got an awning or other cover, than choosing the most waterproof option isn’t too important.Most swags nowadays are the type that you sleep in, with the swag erect, rather than laying on top of. The best benefit from this style is that it keeps the flies off. Once you start hitting the more arid parts of Australia, you’ll find that the flies are very active even before 4am and the first place they go is the corners of your eyelids and your mouth. I’ve had multiple people comment on how many flies I can have on my face without being bothered, but that early in the morning even I don’t have the patience.Aside from flies, a benefit to having a swag that sets up fairly tall is that you can have the canvas rolled up while the fly screen is still down. This is of most benefit on hot, summer nights where you need the breeze to come through but to keep clear of the mosquitoes that come along with the hot nights.
  • Chair
  • Table
  • Roof Top Tent
    If you’re touring solo or as a couple, you may wish to opt for a roof top tent instead of setting up a swag every night.The main benefits to a roof top tent are: 

    • More comfortable than a swag with a thicker mattress and there’s never any rocks underneath the mattress. 
    • Much faster to set-up than a swag. Much, much faster to set-up than a tent. 
    • Weatherproof 
    • Away from animals 

Some of the drawbacks of a rooftop tent are: 

    • Horrible fuel economy. They make quite a significant difference. 
    • You have to park somewhere level. 
    • You have to get up and down a ladder to pee. 
    • Unless you’re both very small, there’s generally not enough space for a couple. The soft-top type that fold out usually have enough space for two people, but they’re also the worst type of roof top tent. They create the most drag while driving and take as long to set-up as a swag.  
    • They’re a lot more expensive than a swag. 
    • You have to pack them down if you want to drive anywhere, even if it’s just to go get firewood. 

I prefer having a swag and have found that a double swag offers as much room as most roof top tents. 

 

Camp Pantry 

Here’s a few things I think you should keep in your camp pantry. Whether that’s an actual pull-out pantry in a canopy or just a plastic box. You’ll obviously go shopping before you hit the road, but these basics will cover most meals and are non-perishable. 

  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • Powdered milk 
  • Instant coffee 
  • Tea bags 
  • Paprika 
  • Cayenne Pepper or chilli flakes 
  • Onion powder 
  • Powdered mash potato. If you think that’s a joke, I assure you it’s not. Powdered mashed potato is honestly one of the greatest things for camping and it legitimately tastes good. With powdered mash, asparagus in a jar and canned mushrooms in sauce, you can have steak in mushroom sauce with mashed spud and some greens in about 5 minutes flat with only one pan, one plate and some cutlery to wash. 

 

Fuel, Water & Miscellaneous 

  • Fire Extinguisher
    If you did your auto electrical the way I do mine, you’d be carrying two extinguishers.Australia is pretty gnarly in bush fire season and there’s a lot of things in a car that are trying to catch fire. The most common are electrical faults and build-up of dry matter like speargrass around hot components. It’s good to have an extinguisher handy.
  • Rubbish Bags
    If you leave your rubbish in the bush you deserve to be put down.
  • Fuel/Jerry Cans
    If you think you’ll need 20 litres of extra fuel, take 40. If you don’t think you’ll need any, take 20.
  • Water
    When you’re going remote, you need a lot of water.Take whatever you’ll need for drinking, cooking and washing and factor in a buffer/margin for error. Then take an extra 20 litres. You never know when you’re going to get stuck, break down or need extra water for your radiator. 

 

Navigation & Communications 

  • UHF (two-way radio)
    “A UHF CB radio is absolutely essential for anyone considering going off-road” according to Anaconda, who just happen to sell UHFs. What a load of shit.Having a UHF is awesome and makes a lot of things a lot easier, which is why I have one, but to call it absolutely essential is just not true. Most people seasoned enough to be going places remote enough to where these can make a big difference to being recovered if broken down, aren’t going to be reading this list. If you’re going real remote and will be alone, you’ll probably need to consider something else like a Spot tracker or satellite phone or maybe just a VHF radio if you like to kick it old school and rock long antennas.
  • GPS
    There’s so many options these days, it would be a whole article itself. Just know that you’re phone doesn’t have a full GPS inbuilt and relies upon cellular connectivity to achieve location data. I heard somewhere that the new iPhone or Samsung might be coming out with full GPS, but as of 2023, I’m not aware of any popular models currently having it.Some UHF radios, such as the XRS from GME have an inbuilt GPS and can communicate that data to a phone via bluetooth.
  • Satellite Phone, EPIRB/PLB or Spot Tracker
    If you’re going to be heading well out of the way and particularly up North in summer where heat and dehydration poses a fairly quick threat, you might want something for if the shit really hits the fan.A satellite phone is the best option for communicating the nature of a problem to someone such as emergency services, flying doctor etc. but you’ll also need a GPS so you can tell them where you are. Satellite phones are very expensive to use, but their main problem is that if your wife knows you have the ability to make a call, she’ll expect it.Satellite communicators have become quite accessible over the last few years with popular models such as the Spot Tracker or Garmin inReach becoming much cheaper than previous methods of satellite communication.Some of these are very basic, such as the Spot Gen 3 which I use on remote adventure motorcycle trips. It will only do five pre-programmed functions:

    • SOS – The shit has hit the fan button where it sends a message via Spot’s own satellite network where they then contact local authorities with a location and request medical assistance. 
    • SOV (Save Our Vehicle) – This means we’re broken down or stuck, but not hurt. It sends a location to nominated contacts who can then organise a recovery. 
    • Tracking – Depending on your subscription and settings, it will send emails to a nominated contact with your latest coordinates at specified intervals. 
    • Check-in – This is the wife/partner pleaser and helps you get less resistance when saying you want to take off into the outback. It sends a message saying something along the lines of “all good, making camp, will check in in the next day or two” and it sends your coordinates as well. 
    • Custom Message (pre-programmed) – You can customise this message by logging into your Spot Tracker account online, but can’t change it as you go. I have mine set to something similar to the check-in message but with an extra bit saying I’m delaying my ETA by a day, so that if I’m not home or on the phone on an agreed date, there’s no cause for panic. 

Other models of Spot Tracker as well as the Garmin inReach offer full text messaging services and can even connect to your phone via Bluetooth for easier typing.

When I’m getting away from it all, I prefer to actually get away from it all, which is why I like my Spot Gen 3 which has an emergency button but no two-way communication.

 

Personal 

  • Dunny paper
  • Shovel
  • You don’t need me to tell you which clothes are toiletries you should take. 

 

First Aid, Sunscreen and Insect Repellent 

  • Sunscreen
    You’re gonna have a lot of chances to be hanging out in the sun.
  • First Aid Kit – Arguably Essential
    I once got accused of toxic masculinity for ranting about band-aids and how thinking you need to cover every little cut is weakness in action. I don’t really care what people think, but all I’m saying when I talk about first aid is having enough to treat a snake bite or prevent severe blood loss. You’re going to be a long way from the nearest hospital so make sure you’ve got something for real emergencies.If you’ve got a bad allergy, you might want to have that one covered too. Maybe try a band-aid?
  • Insect Repellant
    Some of the most beautiful parts of this country are checkers with flies and mozzies. Bushman’s tropical strength is the one to have. It might be worth getting something weaker as well so you only have to use the strong stuff when it’s necessary. 

 

Freedom does not come automatically, it is achieved. And it is not gained in a single bound; it must be achieved each day”

– Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself

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