Off-Road Camping and Touring Checklist
Being stranded in the middle of nowhere can range from feeling like a small headache to a full-blown nightmare, and often what dictates your situation is how well you’ve prepared.
If you’re about to hit the road for some extended or even regular touring, there are things to take with you that are non-negotiable. While a lot of these necessities may seem obvious, some are often forgotten or overlooked and are a lot harder to acquire when you’re far away from any major cities or towns. But not to worry, we’ve got you covered with a list of must-bring items.
Many travellers have been caught in remote places in Australia not carrying enough water. Adequate drinking water (and even in excess) is the number one item you must always take with you when touring. Depending on fitness level, mental fortitude, body weight and fat reserves, a human being can last from four to six weeks without food, but only 10 days in the shade at low temperatures without water. Considering the Australian outback is often extremely hot and sunny, especially if you go north, not carrying water is almost a death wish. It’s recommended to carry at least 20L of water in a suitably distinguished container, such as a colour-coded jerry can. A general rule of thumb is to allow 10L of water per person per day, particularly in hot weather, and to replenish your supplies wherever possible.
If you’re going offroad or visiting remote country, you’re going to have to plan your meals in advance. But how do you keep your food cold and fresh? In days gone by an in-car fridge was the only way to go, but now that ice is available in even the most unlikely places in the outback, an Esky will do it. However, if you’re planning on going off-grid for an extended period, an Esky would obviously not suffice so you’ll need to make sure you have a good fridge system in your caravan, RV or camper trailer.
If you enjoy a cold beer after a long day of driving, aluminium cans are the way to go. Shattered stubbies are not a fun experience and you’ll save valuable room in your rubbish as cans are easily crushed and take up less space. For the same reason, wine casks are preferable to bottles. And remember if you’re carrying alcohol to look into the alcohol restrictions that apply in many Aboriginal communities and to clean up after yourself and ‘leave no trace’ at your campsite.
If you’re planning on going extra far out or staying off-grid for days on end, you’ll need to take extra fuel. The recommended container is a jerry can. It’s best to keep your jerry cans colour-coded, as is the norm these days. We recommend you follow NATO’s colour chart to avoid confusion: green for petrol, red for lead-replacement petrol, yellow for diesel, blue for kerosene and tan, light blue or black for water.
For shorter trips not too far off the beaten track, a mobile phone would usually be enough to call roadside assistance if caught in a sticky situation. However, you should generally aim to have the following on board as a backup: a standard toolkit, socket set and an adjustable wrench. If you’re travelling alone, you should carry a kinetic rope or snatch strap, rather than rely on someone else if you get stuck. If travelling at night, you should also consider installing aftermarket auxiliary lighting to help you see kangaroos and other hazards. You’ll also need a tyre gauge.
If you’re going to use your standard vehicle jack for changing tyres, make sure you pack a base plate if you’re headed somewhere sandy or soft. Alternatively, you could purchase an exhaust jack — these inflate using the exhaust gases from your vehicle and they don’t take up all that much room when deflated, plus they’ll work on any terrain.
If it’s likely your location will involve a bit of winching, pack a tree protector, gloves (for handling the winch cable), a relatively heavy piece of cloth to drop over the cable during winching operations and D shackles. We also recommend bringing a length of chain and/or tow rope. And lastly, the little things: jump leads, a can of WD-40, a torch, a length of plastic tubing in case you have to transfer fuel, a long-handled shovel and, of course, a portable air compressor to reinflate the tyres after you’re off the beach.
At Hema Maps, we strive to provide the most comprehensive and accurate maps and guides for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Australia's natural wonders.
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