It takes more than a tool kit
I’m used to encountering reckless and foolhardy off-road adventurers who have poor mechanical knowledge but make the decision to hit the trail alone and travel long distances in the wilderness. They eventually get stranded because of a minor electrical or mechanical failure. Many finally find a solution all by themselves while others have to call/wait for help (sometimes for days) or to give up and walk tens of kilometers. Having the right tools helps performing miracles for sure, but it’s also a question of attitude and organization.
1. Get out of the way: Your main priority should be to move the Jeep beside the trail. Even if the trail or the road appears abandoned, it’s a bad idea to take it for granted. Some logging truck could down the slope in the middle of the night and just run over your Jeep. So, use the winch, the jack, the come-along, or whatever else—but move.
2. Have a positive attitude: Stay cool. You have water, food, shelter, books, movies on the tablet... You wanted an adventure, you got one. Allow yourself at least three days before even considering giving up. A lot of repairs are actually easy, and a Jeep is the perfect vehicle to limp its way back to civilization. Or some nice guys might show up and help. Or else. Getting stranded in the remote wilderness is a misfortune that 100% of seasoned off-roaders experience at some point. It’s not the end of the world.
3. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you: There’s no bear, no cougar, and no mean porcupine hidden behind foliage,waiting for the right moment to strike. To my knowledge, nobody has ever been attacked by some predator because he was replacing a front-axle U-joint. Unless you got stuck in the middle of some grizzly maze, you certainly have not much to worry about.
4. Organize your tools: Deploy your tool kit right off the bat and make sure you won’t lose the only 18mm socket you have or anything else in the mud.
5. Don’t get hurt: It’s easy to hurt your hands or your back if you’re not careful. You need to stay fully operational. Personally, I even allow myself to take a nap (if I feel I’m really tired) before I start repairing something. You can’t think straight if you are too tired, and you could hurt yourself or break some vital parts. You are even more important than your Jeep and need to take care of yourself first.
6. Don’t get wet: If it’s raining like crazy outside, take shelter and wait. Wearing damp clothing is not good for your health (hypothermia, fungus, asthma, etc.) and not good for your brain either. You can’t expect to be creative and fully concentrated if you are freezing and covered with mud.
7. Have a budget ready ($2,500–$4,000): I warmly recommend you to not hit the trail at all if you can’t afford to lose several thousand dollars. Otherwise, you are going to start worrying about your monthly payments, the price of replacements parts, the prohibitive cost of a tow truck in the wilderness, your boss, your paycheck, your clients, or who knows what else. If you face a major electrical or mechanical failure, there will be financial consequences for sure. It’s a constant possibility.
8. Hide your Jeep if you have to leave: If you are 100% sure that there’s no other solution but to walk, it’s important to make your Jeep as invisible as possible. You could be away for days, and you don’t want losers to find your Jeep easily and loot it.
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