It's always best to start with the basics, especially when it comes to off-highway travel. It's often the simplest things that get you home or keep your adventure going. Luckily, most of those basic accessories aren't even that expensive. It's easy to over think what you need for your vehicle, but before you start putting thousands of dollars into your vehicle , do a quick check of the essentials.
1.) Hi-Lift Jack
Shown above, the Hi-Lift has innumerable uses in the 4WD world, however, it's important to remember that a Hi-Lift is only as useful as the re-inforced jacking points on the vehicle. The user above is using the jack on the front bumper of a Land Rover Defender, which is made of steel. Additionally, they're jacking beneath the frame, which protrudes into the bumper. Not all vehicles are this lucky. From changing a tire to using the handle as a tie rod, or even winching yourself slowly out of mud, the Hi-Lift is a great thing to have with you. Not to mention they're available at most auto parts stores, as well as farm supply shops. Unless you opt for the "Extreme" models, you shouldn't pay more than $70.
2.) Tire Repair Kit
Give someone a fish, and they'll eat tonight; teach someone to fish, and they'll eat for life. This analogy can be applicable to many things in life, one of them is tire repair. A good kit to repair a flat is an essential piece of overland gear, as is the skill that's needed to use it (and a way to inflate your tire.) It's recommended that repairs made in the field with a kit like this are for emergencies only, and to get you to a licensed service station as soon as possible. We like ARB's kit, it comes with high quality components, and with a market price of around $40, it's great value.
3.) Good Quality Recovery Strap
One of the most dangerous parts of technical off-highway driving is without a doubt recovery, that's why there are so many classes devoted to promoting safety when recovering a vehicle. A good quality recovery strap can go a long way in making vehicle recovery much safer. Be sure to note that just because a strap is expensive, does not mean that it's properly rated for your vehicle, also be sure to inspect the strap each time you use it. We're huge fans of Viking Off-Road's recovery equipment. Their 2" by 30' recovery strap is rated to 17,500 lbs and is Made in America. It's also bright orange, a plus for nighttime recovery, and it's priced right at just under $80.
4.) Snatch Block
Assuming your vehicle is equipped with a winch, a snatch block is an effective way to increase the pulling capacity of your winch while reducing the stress on the unit. Most popular recovery companies offer their version of a snatch block that are acceptable for use with steel or synthetic lines. With the recent increase in popularity of synthetic line, Master Pull is now making a specific snatch block for this purpose. With its nylon sheave and protector plates, it's designed to be a little bit more delicate on the soft line. We have one in the shop and can tell you that it's worth all of the $100 purchase price.
5.) Auxilary Fuse Block
With all of the electrical accessories that often get added to overland vehicles, how many of them are properly fused and wired? Instead of cramming wires where they don't belong and running in-line fuses in inconvenient places, try using a fused power distribution block. Simply run one wire from your battery to where your accessories that need power are located and branch out from there. This way you'll have a clean install and feel good about your vehicle. I've personally been using the Blue Sea fuse block, it's made for marine use, and is a high-quality product. At around $30-$50, depending on the size of the unit, it's quite a value as well.