In a perfect world we can just jump in our side by sides, hit the trails, have a great day and return home without running into any kind of issues. But unfortunately that’s not always the case.
And that’s exactly why I do my best to ensure that I’m well prepared to deal with whatever wrenches might get thrown into my perfect day of riding. There’s nothing worse than getting stranded on the trails because you weren’t prepared.
So what should you carry in your UTV? Every side by side should be equipped with at least a basic tool kit, a spare tire, a tire repair kit, air compressor, recovery gear, some common spare parts, personal protective gear, first aid kit and an emergency survival kit.
If you have the additional room it is always good to try to be as prepared as possible though. You can never hit the trails with too much gear. Personally I try to think of and add more gear to my side by sides inventory every riding season.
Usually I find out the hard way that I’m missing something in my kit and add it ASAP. That’s why I made this list, so you don’t have to find out the hard way.
Here is a comprehensive list of some of the gear that I have in my side by side or plan to add to my side by side. Although it seems like a ton of stuff most of it will fit in any side by side with room for whatever other gear you might need or want.
22 Important Tools You Should Carry In Your UTV
Without a decent selection of tools you are pretty much screwed on the trail if something should break or if your side by side breaks down. If you don’t want to carry to many tools that’s ok. You can go over your machine and figure out exactly what tools you would need to perform the most common repairs on the trail and build a little kit like that.
Here is a list of every tool that I carry in my UTV when I’m out riding. These tools stay in my machine at all times.
- Socket Set – There is no need to get carried away when it comes to a socket set. Just something cheap and basic will usually do the trick for most repairs you might need to do on the trail. I’d just make sure that you have a socket set with all the typical sizes in both regular and deep sockets.
- Wrench Set – If you’re like me you’d prefer to use sockets over wrenches but unfortunately a socket wont always get into to those tight spaces. That’s why I like to have a good selection of both metric and standard wrenches on hand, I prefer ratcheting wrenches because it’s the best of both worlds.
- Adjustable Wrench – As much as I hate adjustable wrenches they can certainly come in handy if you are trying to keep the amount of wrenches you carry to a minimum or as a suitable backup wrench. I always carry a couple adjustable wrenches despite hating them so much.
- Pliers – A good selection of pliers can certainly help you perform whatever repairs you need to perform on the trail. I recommend a decent pair of Vise Grips Pliers, as well as a set of common pliers like groove joint, slip joint, needle nose and side cutters. This pliers set has everything you’ll need, is decent quality, good price and comes in a handy little roll up carry case.
- Screw Drivers – Typically a couple of flat heat screwdrivers and a couple of phillips screwdrivers will suffice for most machines. But I’d recommend going over your machine and packing the screw drivers that you may need including a couple allen wrenches if your machine requires them. I recommend this screw driver set it comes in a nice little carry case and has everything you’ll need.
- Hammer – Hammers can come in handy whether your using it to loosen stubborn parts while wrenching, using it during recovery or building a shelter for survival. A compact 3lb sledge hammer is not to big to take up much space yet plenty adequate enough to get the job done.
- Tire Repair Kit – Whether it be from a branch or a sharp rock, punctures in your UTV tires are almost inevitable. That’s why you should never leave home without a tire repair kit, this tire repair kit from Rhino USA has everything you’ll need. They are super simple to use and work very well for most punctures you’ll encounter on the trails.
- Air Compressor – Air compressors come in handy for when you decide you want to air down your tires based on the terrain you’re riding in. But an air compressor is also crucial to have if you should get a flat tire and need to air it up.
- Ratchet Straps – Of course they’re great for strapping down your load but I’ve also used them to aid in recovery. For example while I was winching myself out and I was on a side hill that I was worried about tipping over I attached the ratchet straps to a tree to ensure I couldn’t tip.
- Mechanics Wire – Use it to temporarily tie stuff up out of the way while your wrenching on your side by side or tie your exhaust up so it’s not dragging on the ground. Mechanics wire can come in handy for many applications while out riding the trails.
- Zip Ties – You can get pretty crafty with zip ties and they’re a cheap way to get yourself out of an emergency pinch. I like to carry a pack of a few different sizes.
- Electrical Wire – Hopefully all of your electrical is tucked up out of harms way but just in case it’s a good idea to keep a spare roll of electrical wire. Whether you catch it and rip it off or you have a short and need to replace a chunk it’ll come in handy.
- Electrical Tape – From taping up electrical connections to making band aids electrical tape is simply awesome to keep on hand. I like this electrical tape because it comes in a handy plastic case and keeps it from getting mangled, stuff sticking to it or getting wet.
- Wire Connectors – I also like to keep a good little selection of wire connectors like butt connectors, ring terminals, quick disconnects and fork terminals on hand.
- Wire Crimping Tool – Of course if you are going to be doing and electrical on the trail you are going to need a decent wire crimping tool to hold those connections together.
- Duct Tape – From repairing broken hoses to taping up a splint for a broken leg duct tape can come in handy for so many applications.
- Jump Starter and/or Jumper Cables – This past summer I spent a week out camping with my cousin and we were both thankful for jumper cables. As it turned out, both of our batteries crapped the bed and we had to jump start one another on multiple occasions. If you’re riding alone then a portable jump starter could come in handy as well.
- Chain Saw or Hand Saw – A chainsaw or handsaw is especially important if you ride it wooded areas. I commonly come across trees that have fallen across the trail that I need to cut up and remove or sometimes I get into a tight spot that I may to remove a tree from in order to get out.
- Radiator Stop Leak – Another thing that can leave you paralyzed on the trail is a hole in your radiator whether it be from a stick or even a rock. I highly recommend Bars Leaks Liquid Copper, we even use it at work to fix leaks in the radiators of our commercial trucks and not small leaks either.
- Water Cannon – Yes, a kids water cannon. If you ride in muddy or even dusty conditions then you run the risk of plugging up your radiator resulting in overheating issues. And believe me, there’s nothing worse than being out in the bush and having to stop and let your machine cool down every 15 minutes because your rad is getting no airflow. I’ve even taken water bottles, punched hole in the lids and tried to rinse out my rad. That’s where water cannons come in handy, you can fill them up in any body of water and rinse all that pesky mud and dirt out of your rad. Heck, you can even use them to wash yourself up after a muddy adventure.
- Storage Bin – Some side by sides like my Kawasaki Teryx have built in storage compartments to haul all your gear and tools but if not then there are great options for waterproof storage totes that you can secure in the box of your side by side. Many UTV manufacturers even offer totes that are designed for your specific machine.
8 Recovery Gear Items You Should Carry In Your UTV
I like to think that if your not put your recovery gear to work while you are out playing in your side by side then you are not having enough fun. Personally I like to push my machine to see what it and myself are capable of. But that comes at a price, sometimes I need to make use of my recovery gear.
Here is a list of all the recovery gear that I carry in my UTV at all times. My High Lift Jack crapped the bed so I will be buying a new one to replace it.
- Winch – In my opinion this is definitely a must have for any side by side. My winch has gotten me out of so many pickles that would have otherwise left me stranded (yes, I occasionally ride alone). When you are buying a winch it is good rule of thumb to buy one that is rated for around 3 times the weight of your machine (find the weight of over 200 machines here). This is a common mistake that many people make, thinking that their machine only weighs 1500 pounds so that is how big of a winch they need. Personally I’ve never had any issues with the Champion Power Equipment 4500lb Winch on my Teryx and it is relatively easy on the pocket book as well.
- Snatch Block – Snatch blocks are super handy to have when winching yourself out. With just one snatch block you double the amount of pulling power that your winch has as well as reduce strain on your winch motor and gears. You can also get really crafty with snatch blocks and pull yourself in different directions.
- Shovel and Pick Axe – This is another thing that I don’t hit the trails without. Sometimes you need to dig yourself out of a hole or widen the trail and a shovel and pick axe comes in handy. Hi-Lift makes a great multi purpose tool that includes a shovel, sledge hammer, pick axe and axe head that comes in a handy carry bag.
- Tow Strap/ Tow Rope – Whether your towing or need to pull or be pulled out of a sticky situation a tow strap or tow rope is another essential item I always carry in my side by side. In fact I always carry 2 tow straps one large 30000lb tow strap and a smaller 20000lb tow strap and yes I’ve had to use both before.
- D-Ring Shackles – D-Ring shackles and tow ropes or tow straps kind of go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Personally I keep 3 D-Ring shackles in my Teryx to go with my 2 tow straps, I will be adding another one or two this riding season though. They work well for attaching straps to your side by side and attaching tow straps together as well.
- Shackle Hitch Receiver – If you’ve ever had to hook up straps to a side by side you understand how hard it can be to find places to attach to that you’ll feel confident not wrecking anything. Most side by sides come equipped with a tow hitch receiver these days which makes a perfect spot for hooking up tow straps for towing and or recovery. A shackle hitch receiver works well for this application.
- Hi Lift Jack – Hi Lift Jacks are one of the most handy tools that you can carry on your side by side. Not only can it be used to jack yourself up and change a tire, it can be used as a come along or used to jack yourself up and move your side by side over and out of ruts. Remember though, high lift jacks can be dangerous and are prone to kick out, an off road base will help with that.
9 Recommended Spare Parts To Carry In Your UTV
Depending on the terrain that you ride in and how hard you are on your side by side it might be a good idea to think about bringing along a few common parts that are prone to breaking on side by sides.
Here is a list of parts that I feel are essential to bring with you on the trails. Depending on your machine I would also add a drive belt if your machine allows for an easy change on the trail.
- Fuses – This is something that I didn’t always carry in my side by side until last year. I was using a 12V compressor and it kept popping the fuse so I had to steal fuses from other spots in my fuse panel resulting in not being able to use my lights. Since then I have always made sure that I carry a small fuse kit in my side by side.
- Spare Tire – Now I’ll have to be honest here. This is something that I have yet to equip my side by side with but it is the first thing that I’ll be adding to my Teryx this riding season. It is always in the back of my mind while I am riding. What if I get a flat that I cannot repair with a patch kit? I got really lucky one time when I got a large gash in my tire from a rock but luckily it didn’t punch all the way through my tire.
- Oil – Whether your machine burns oil or not it is important to carry at least 1 quart of oil with you. Be sure to check your manufacturers specs for oil to ensure your not adding the wrong oil to your machine.
- Coolant – Whether you puncture your rad, or you overheat and lose a substantial amount of coolant or it just mysteriously disappears you’ll want to ensure that you always have a jug of coolant in your machine. Much like oil be sure to check your manufacturers specs before you put coolant in that could result in costly repairs.
And here is a list of other spare parts that I would recommend that you carry with you but aren’t exactly essential especially if you aren’t to hard on your machine.
- Spark Plugs – Over time spark plugs can foul up and unfortunately you always seem to find out at the worst times. Having a couple spark plugs on hand will ensure that your prepared in case you run into spark plug related issues on the trail.
- Replacement Drive Belt – Slipping a drive belt is probably one of the most common issues that people run into as far as break downs on the trail. For a machine like my Teryx it’s a little hard to replace a belt on the trail but machines like the Polaris RZR make it super simple and fast to replace a belt on the trail and carry on. With that said, know your machine and if it’s feasible, always carry a spare belt with you.
- Replacement Axles – For most people carrying replacement axles probably aren’t a necessity. Usually if you happen to break an axle you can limp your machine back to safety. However if you ride hard or do a ton of rock crawling, stocking a spare front and rear axle might not be a bad idea.
- Ball Joints – Typically you’ll know well in advance before your ball joints decide to kick the bucket on you. But things happen sometimes and for most machines, ball joints are pretty cheap, usually around $50 for a set.
- Tie Rods – Tie rods are probably one of the more common parts that’ll break on a side by side but the god thing is that their not super hard to change with a little common mechanical knowledge.
9 Things To Help Protect Yourself While Riding
You can keep your machine in the best shape ever but if you don’t protect yourself while you are out riding then neither you or your machine will make it home.
Here is a list of the personal protective gear I carry in my side by side on every ride. Other than the bear spray but it is on my shopping list of stuff I need.
- Helmet – Although not mandatory in many regions in the Canada and the USA you may still want to have a helmet on hand. I always carry a helmet in the storage box of my side by side for for a little extra safety measure in those “just in case” moments.
- Rain Gear – I’ll have to admit, a little rain on those scorching hot summer days feels very nice but most of the time I am not a huge fan of the rain. That’s wear a little rain gear will have you feeling warm and comfortable on your ride.
- Riding Goggles – If you’ve ever rode with a group of other people in dusty conditions without goggles then you know how much it sucks when it’s your turn to ride in the back of the pack. Save your eyes and get yourself a pair of riding goggles. I always keep a couple pairs of goggles on hand.
- Gloves – I never used to carry gloves in my side by side up until 2 falls ago. My wife and I left town, it was nice, relatively warm day. We dropped the side by side at the staging area and proceeded up the mountain trails. Little did we know that once we got up into higher elevations our fingers were freezing off our hands. I don’t know about you but I hate having cold fingers.
- Warm Jacket – There’s nothing worse than being cold while your out riding and even in the warmest of days it can get a little cold when riding in the higher elevations and the sun starts to go down. I always have a couple extra jackets and hoodies on hand in the storage bin on my side by side.
- Closed Toed Shoes or Boots – Personally I like to ride in the mud so I always have a pair of rubber boots on hand but even if that’s not your thing it is still a good idea to keep a pair of closed toed shoes in your side by side. For example, what happens if you break down and have to walk hours out of the bush in flip flops? I’m sure your feet wont appreciate that much.
- Sun Screen – I’m sure we’ve all fell victim to the UV rays of that pesky sun. You know what I’m talking about… Minding your own business, enjoying the day out riding, only to wake up the next day looking like your closest relative is Sebastien from little mermaid. Protect yourself and your riders by keeping sunscreen in your side by side.
- Bug Repellent – Most bugs don’t bother you to much while your cruising but imagine this… You’re pumped because you’ve spent all day navigating the trails to a beautiful lake, you arrive at the lake and want to settle down to enjoy the scenery have a nice lunch… only to spend the entire time your there swatting at mosquitoes and horseflies. Save yourself the pain and agony and make sure you pack bug repellent.
- Bear Spray – I have encountered bears on multiple adventures out on my side by side, fortunately I’ve never had one attack or felt that I’ve been in any danger. Usually they can hear you coming and they run the other way. But if you do happen to come up on a mama bear and her cubs on the trail and she feels you’re a threat it’s best to be prepared with some bear spray. Bear spray will at least give you a little extra time to get out of dodge.
13 Emergency Items You Should Have In Your UTV
Nobody plans to encounter an emergency situation while out riding the trails but a person should still be prepared in case of an emergency. Aside from having all this emergency gear you should always have an emergency plan in place as well.
I always let my wife know exactly where I plan to be riding and an approximate time I’ll be home before I head out on the trails. That way she knows where to send search and rescue if needed.
Other than an EpiPen (because I don’t need one) and a Two Way Radio that’s on my shopping list for this year. Here is a list of all of the emergency items I carry in my side by side on every ride.
- First Aid Kit – Nobody ever wants to have to pullout the first aid kit but unfortunately sometimes accidents happen, the truth is, we all put ourselves at risk of a first aid emergency every time we jump in our side by sides. Heck, my cousin took his side by side down his driveway and was coming back up and rolled it down a 50 foot rock face resulting in snapping his leg in half. Accidents happen!
- Two Way Radio – Two way radios are not only a great way to communicate with your group but they are probably one the most important things to have for your safety. I was reminded of this just a couple weeks ago when a truck was traveling one of our logging roads and got hit by a logging truck because they didn’t have a two radio to call their kilometers. Aside from calling your mile markers on logging roads though, usually if you don’t have cell service you can get ahold of someone on a two way radio.
- Cell Phone – For most people these days you don’t even need to tell them to make sure that they have their cell phone, they’re usually glued to it. Personally a cell phone is a must have for me on the trails, I use it to play music and I also use it as a GPS device. It is also good to have in case of emergencies. You might not always have service but when I’m out riding I will occasionally check my phone to see if I have service or not, that way I know where I last had service in case of emergency and I can back track to that point on the trail.
- GPS – When you’re riding the trails it’s easy to get turned around especially when you’re exploring new areas. Personally I use and love the BRMB App but I believe that it’s only available in Canada and I think Washington State. Polaris offers a GPS system called Polaris Ride Command which I’ve heard is pretty good, I’ve never personally used it though. Or another great system is the Trail Tech Voyager Pro, not only does it track your GPS location but it’ll track data about your UTV like speed, temperature, battery voltage, RPM’s and more. If you are riding with buddies it’ll also track their locations as well.
- Plenty Of Water – You can survive for many days without food but water is essential for survival. That’s why I always ensure that I have plenty of water on hand before I hit the trails. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a Lifestraw Water Filter as well for if you happen to run out of clean drinking water.
- Food – I always pack a good supply of food items like beef jerky, trail mix or canned goods like beans, chili etc. One thing that I don’t stock in my side by side is an Emergency Food Supply Kit but I will be adding that to the inventory this riding season. These freeze dried rations will last you 3 days, have a 30 year guarantee and the kit is small and easy to carry and store on your side by side.
- Fire Extinguisher – An ABC fire extinguisher is actually mandatory for riding in some locations, be sure to check your local UTV riding laws. Either way a fire extinguisher is great security against your machine burning to the ground in the middle of the bush, especially if you ride a Polaris (sorry I had to, lol).
- Extra Fuel – I can ride for 8 solid hours in my Teryx and barely touch the fuel gauge yet I always ensure that I keep a small jerry can of fuel on hand just in case. Maybe you might puncture your fuel tank, forget to grab fuel on your way out of town or you may run into a fellow rider that is in need of fuel. Either way I believe extra fuel is essential.
- Flashlight – I don’t know about you but I lack in the night vision department so a couple of flashlights and a head lamp are always in my side by side. I like to have a couple of 12V rechargeable flashlights that I can charge right on my side by side.
- Fire Starter – Whether you want to have a fire on your ride to heat up your lunch, you need to warm up on a cold day or if it’s for an emergency some sort of fire starter is a lot easier than rubbing 2 sticks together. I always like to have a couple of lighters with me, some storm proof matches and of course a flint fire starter if all else fails.
- Knives – One an never have to many knives handy. I’d recommend having a good multitool on hand like a Leatherman or a Gerber as well as good hunting knife. Another knife that comes in handy is a good machete for chopping stuff up or clearing brush.
- Toilet Paper – Sure, when nature calls you can clean yourself up with some leaves or rip off the bottom half of your shirt but personally I always pack a roll or two of toilet paper. Coleman sells a handy pack of 3 rolls of biodegradable toilet paper in a water proof package.
- EpiPen – This is obviously a must have for anyone that deals with allergies to bug bites or anything else that you may encounter while out riding. Having an EpiPen on hand could be the difference between you making it out of the bush alive or not.
There you have it, everything that I feel you should carry in your UTV when you are riding the trails.
Like I say, it seems like a ton of stuff but if you pack wisely and only take what you need from everything in the list you should have no issues fitting everything in this storage tote and strapping it down.
The only other thing that I might add to this list is a cooler with latches to keep your beer cold and safe on a hot summers day.
Now that you have everything you’ll need, get out there, have some fun and make some memories.