*Boot Camp: Keeping Your Feet Warm & Dry in the Cold & Wet*Camping Essentials: What to Pack for You and Your Vehicle*Six Must-Have Multitools*How to Carry Firearms in Your 4x4
Other Essentials For The VehicleMake sure your tires have proper pressure, including the spare. We like to bring along a tire-sealant kit, just in case a tire does get stabbed. Try Prestone's Tire Jack (available at most automotive and discount-retail stores), which seals slow leaks with acrylic resin until you can fix the tire. Check out our story "Multipurpose Tools" for why a QuickAir2 is another good product to pack.
Top off all fluids.Change your oil.Make sure belts, pumps, and hoses aren't cracked, leaking, or worn out.Confirm that your fire extinguisher is charged and your flashlight has fresh batteries.
Pack handtools for tightening anything that could come loose when traveling to your destination over rugged terrain. Duct tape and zip-ties are also good to throw into the mix.
Clean up any corrosion around the battery connectors. While you're under there, make sure the battery itself is secure. Jumper cables are a good idea, but be sure to read about the Xantrex XPower Powerpack 400 in the story "Multipurpose Tools," also in this section, which might just save your hide if your battery is dead and yours is the sole vehicle on the trip.
Make sure your rig has a CB. Channel 9 is the standard emergency channel.
For The PeopleWater. Water. Water. High altitudes, desert heat-it all means you can get dehydrated before you know it. Remember, if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrating, so you need to keep the liquids coming throughout the day. The advice is a gallon each day per person, but we calculate water supply like this: When we think we have already packed way too much, we grab a few more gallons. Gatorade, Powerade, or some other sports drink laden with carbs and electrolytes is also good to mix into the bunch.
Get maps to the area you'll be visiting, and also talk to the Forest Service to make sure trails you're headed to aren't closed due to fire damage or forces of nature. If you're planning to hike or four-wheel, think about getting a GPS to keep track of where you've been and where you're going. If you don't want to invest in a GPS, at least bring along a compass-and your cell phone, since it just might work in the middle of nowhere.
It may sound obvious, but if it were to all people, we wouldn't mention it: Check in advance what the weather will be so that you're not dressed for summer in a monsoon. Fleece, wool, windproof, waterproof, breathable...there should be clothing featuring these buzzwords in your baggage.
The West Nile virus is alive and well in many states, so wear a bug repellent that contains DEET. Stock up on sunscreen (no lower than SPF 15) and lip balm with sunscreen too. Even on overcast days, you can burn.
Make sure that you don't take food into your tent or keep it around the campsite when you go to sleep. Bears can be cute, but not when they are tearing off your arm to get to last night's burger remains. Stuff leftovers or waste into food-storage containers so they can't smell it.
First-aid kit. Companies sell complete kits, but if you're making a homegrown one, be sure to include such items as: gauze rolls and pads, different size bandages, latex gloves, scissors, tweezers, alcohol and antiseptic wipes, plastic bags, Benadryl and Tylenol, a snake-bite kit, and splints. Although, if you're going to the effort of gathering all of that, why not just invest in a kit (and a CPR class) and leave it in your vehicle even when you're not camping?