No short list of ten items is going to adequately prepare you, the complete novice, for self-sufficient driving in the absolute wilderness. But, here are ten essential items of survival equipment, picked by Jalopnik readers, that might just keep you alive.

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Photo Credit: Leonora Enking

10.) GPS/compass/map

Suggested By: waveridin1959

Why it's essential: You will get lost and your phone won't get reception. You need a way to get back to some road, and a little GPS from Garmin will show you exactly where you are and where you need to go. Bring a topographical map and a compass as well, at least to teach yourself how to use them. The Kindle is not required.

Photo Credit: Stewart Black

9.) Water

Suggested By: Slysdexia

Why it's essential: The simple rule for how much water to bring is more. Bring more water than you think you need. A gallon per person per day is the bare minimum. Your car may also need water, and you will need water to cook with, as well.

Photo Credit: Maria Ly

8.) A firestarter

Suggested By: 404 Name not found

Why it's essential: Have you tried starting a fire by rubbing some sticks together? It sucks. If you want to eat cooked food, bring any kind of modern firestarter.

Photo Credit: Pig Monkey

7.) Recovery gear/tow straps

Suggested By: I, Oilburner

Why it's essential: Be prepared for when you get stuck. A winch would be great, but tow straps will work, so long as another vehicle comes by. If you do have a winch and you're going into the desert where there aren't any trees to use as winch points, you'll want a soft-ground anchor, or attach the winch to your spare tire and bury it in the ground. Now is a good time to mention that you will want a shovel.

Photo Credit: Zlatko Unger

6.) First aid kit

Suggested By: Viperfan1

Why it's essential: This one should be a no-brainer. Pick one up a sizeable kit at a wilderness store. Don't just throw some old band-aids and aspirin in a bag and call it a day.

Photo Credit: marcin ejsmont

5.) A knife

Suggested By: becaus3Porsche

Why it's essential: This means more than a Swiss army knife. You hopefully won't have to saw your own arm off or anything, but you need a knife more often than you'd expect out in the wilderness. The sharper the better.

Photo Credit: SOGKnives

4.) A tool kit

Suggested By: RamblinRover

Why it's essential: That's the kind of tool kit a competitive rally team brings for their car. You don't need quite that many tools, but you'll still need a comprehensive kit. Here's a basic list of what to bring:


Needle Nose Pliers
Wire Cutters
Phillips Screwdriver
Small Flat Driver
Medium Flat Driver
Lanyard Ring
Jumper Cables
Duct Tape

Photo Credit: t3hWIT

3.) A full spare tire

Suggested By: Nibby4WD

Why it's essential: If you get a flat on your Subaru, you won't want to drive the 50 miles back home at 35 miles per hour. If you're on a more serious trail, a donut just is not going to work. Don't forget that you need a way to keep that tire inflated. Also, a high-lift jack is necessary if you've got big tires.

Photo Credit: Adam Lisagor

2.) Extra fuel

Suggested By: SennaMP4

Why it's essential: You might know your gas mileage on the highway, but you don't know it offroad. Bring at least one five gallon fuel can, or more if you're going somewhere especially remote.

Photo Credit: Greg Lilly

1.) Another vehicle

Suggested By: Baber K. Khan

Why it's essential: Look at any picture of a successful, happy offroad trip and you'll notice one thing: multiple vehicles. You'll want more people around just to lend a hand and make the trip less miserable, but going in a group of vehicles is a matter of survival.

Photo Credit: Rúnar Már