7 Essentials for an Off-Road Expedition
If you plan to scout the taiga, the tundra (I really like those Russian words) or mountainous terrains with your Jeep, the following items are must-haves.
1. Pendleton Flannel Shirt
*Another summer chilly day in Tuktoyaktuk, Beaufort Sea, Yukon Canada (July 2019)
Traditional and quality flannel shirts have been used for over a century by lumberjacks and there are reasons for it: it's light, warm, made of a super tough/durable/dense material (fine and long sheep-wool fibers), keeps you dry in the rain or snow (wool is hydrophobic), and is incredibly comfortable. The more you wash it, the softer it gets over the years. And if you suddenly find yourself on warmer terrain, wool will absorb water vapor from your body and release it into the atmosphere. The process provides a cooling effect. That's the main reason lumberjacks use it. On your side, it's the perfect clothing item for demanding vehicle recovery operations in the bush.
2. Hooded Perfomance Jacket
What is it? A Perfomance jacket is a "soft shell" jacket that provides 1) Water resistance 2) Wind resistance 3) Breathability (hight rating) 4) Comfort 5) Lightness 6) Superb mobility
I warmly recommend you to search for a hooded performance jacket equipped with protective hand cuffs (with thumbholes).
Don't worry, it's not expensive. There are plenty of very decent models sold for $60 or $80. Here in the Yukon (Canada), the Tacvasen is pretty popular.
TACVASEN Men's Special Ops Military Tactical Jacket
With its medium weight fleece, this breathable jacket provides enough warmth from 10 below zero Celcius (10 Fahrenheit).
3. Stryke Tactical Pants
You definitely need a pair of these pants to face the harshest conditions on the trail. They are water-resistant, soil-resistant (Teflon-treated fabric) and highly comfortable (self adjusting waistband, 2-way mechanical strech, angled gussets, etc.). And they are easy to clean in a creek (will dry fast on the floor of your Jeep with heater on).
These pants are so strong that you can even use them to tow another vehicle.
This company created its own proprietary fibers and it's lightweight. My Stryke pants only weigh 0.38 lbs (6.75 oz). Normally sold for less than $100.
4. Salomon Hiking Shoes
Driving off-road means wearing shoes all day long and often getting out of your Jeep too. 1) Vehicle recovery operations 2) Moving obstacles out of the trail 3) Scouting dangerous terrains 4) Using binoculars (see Binoculars for Off-Road Use) to take a closer look at wildlife or suspecious individuals.
I've tried many products over the years and these hiking shoes made by Salomon are my best pick.
*I wear these hiking shoes all the time from -10 Celcius to +25 Celcius. After 13 months of use, they still look great.
- Provides a firm grip on pedals.
- 100% waterproof protection (polyurethane coated).
- Better grip on pedals or slippery rocks because Salomon mix two agressive and very different types of rubber (Contagrip).
- Reinforced sensifit arms that prevent you from falling when walking downhill on extreme terrain.
- Toes are well protected by an extra shell.
- Textile lining is highly breathable (no wet feet after hours of off-road driving).
- Made to walk super long distances (so you won't be ill-prepared if you ever have to leave your Jeep behind and walk to reach civilization).
- Lighter (and cheaper) than Salomon backpacking boots.
5. MPact Mechanical Gloves
*One of the pairs of gloves I constantly wear on the trail.
I'll be serious here: If you wheel alone in the remote wilderness but don't protect your precious hands, well, you're a reckless dumbbell. Whenever I encounter a Jeep club populated with a bunch of weekend warriors, it's appalling for me to see that almost all of them have dirty, bleeding and/or plastered hands. I know by experience that trail repairs and off-road recoveries are hard on hands. Especially if you're not an experienced off-roader and/or a professional mechanic. You're on your own and have limited resources (parts, tools, recovery gear, knowledge...), adrenaline is pumping (because you're stranded in bear territory or fear a heavy logging truck is coming), and/or your Jeep is in the worst possible position.
First rule: whatever happens, believe than you can fix anything or unstuck your vehicle no matter what. Resilience, mental thoughness and creativity are the key factors. Second rule: don't damage your Jeep because you rush and botch the job. Third rule: don't hurt yourself.
*I wear mechanic gloves all day long (while driving, handling tools or using recovery gear).
I went through a lot of lousy situations over the years and if I'm still here to write on the web it's partly because I know how to take care of myself. As I always say: if you have five gallons of gas + food and water for 72 hours, the rest doesn’t matter that much. You wanted an adventure, you got one. But do not hurt yourself (see Basic Trail Took Kit for a Jeep Wrangler and Expedition Recovery Gear Kit).
That being said, I really like the Mechanix M-Pact Gloves.
- Better grip on the wheel, tools and recovery gear.
- Prevent hand fractures (protection against impacts with padded knuckles/palms and reinforced fingertips).
- Make your hands stronger when clamping.
- Help you hold your rifle steady in case of an emergency.
MPact Mechanix Gloves MTP-55009
Available Colors and Patterns: Black - Green - Yellow - Leather - Coyote - Camouflage
6. Tesla Compression Shirt
Compression shirts are popular on the workout scene and there are good reasons for that. 1. Keeps your muscles warm. 2. Reduces muscle fatigue. 3. Supports your posture. 4. Cools down your upper body.
Recovering a 4x4 vehicle like a Jeep Wrangler all by yourself is pretty similar to a workout session. Whether it's -20 or +20 degrees, shoveling, moving obstacles, cutting tree branches, winching and jacking in the bush will make you sweat like a pig more often than you think. I lost 30 lbs the first year I hit the trail for a living.
*A compression workout shirt is highly breathable and has quick dry properties.
- Comfortable : Compressing means shaping your body tight, not suffocating.
- Breathable : Superb sweat absorption and wicks moisture fast.
- Cooling effect : Cools down upper body temperature for a little while after an intense effort.
- Resistant : Fabric won't be scratched or torn in heavy foliage or by stray branches.
- Anti-odor mesh : Ok, you'll still smell like a Canadian beaver after a while on extreme terrain, but it will take longer before you reach that point.
- 13% Spandex / 87% Polyester : No cotton at all.
- UV sun protection : If you care.
- Lifts your spirits : Makes you feel stronger and more muscular than you are.
7. Kryptek Cap 5.11 Tactical
- Customizable : With or without velcro patches at the front. Use your own patches and emblems.
- Water-Repellent Fabric : Cotton RipStop, Teflon and Polyester.
- Confortable : Multiple panels / soft crown fit.
- Indestructible : 6 to 10 rows of top stitching, embroidered eyelets and incredibly durable fabric.
Tesla Compression Shirt
Cool and affordable tactical cap for hunting, shooting range or off-road driving.