If the drab grey concrete of the city is getting you down, you're planning on packing up your vehicle and heading out into greener surrounds, then half of the fun - alright, maybe not half, but definitely at least a tenth - is in the packing and prepping of your off road survival kit.
Your exact kit list will of course depend on the length of your intended trip and the climate and terrain you plan to cover. But there are a good few items that no one should be without.
Before you start, think about how much space you want to dedicate to your survival kit. Too big and you end up with half a repair shop and the pharmacy section of Boots in your pack. Too small and you may find yourself lost in the wilderness trying desperately to remember what it was Bear Grylls said about escaping from bears.
Some people even go so far as to attach a trailer for all of their 'just-in-case' items, but then you have the added problem of packing spares for the trailer.
Buy Quality Products
The best preparation you can do is to buy good quality products. One wrench or tire iron may cost twice as much as another, but if it doesn't snap or twist when you need it most, then its worth it's weight in gold.
Once you've bought your kit, know how to use it. A fancy lightweight tent may look great in the picture, but if you snare yourself in its guy ropes, or assemble it incorrectly it may not perform as well as it should.
One Off-road Survival Kit for the Vehicle
As far as survival kits go, you'll essentially need two: one for you, and one for your vehicle. If you've off-roaded before, you should have some idea of your vehicle's strengths and weaknesses, if you're a novice to the unpaved road, then seek advice from those in the know.
A spare tyre, extra jack, tyre levers and puncture repair kit are obvious essentials. Assorted nuts and bolts always come in handy, as do spanners, screwdrivers, pliers and wrenches to help fit everything. A hammer is also a good idea for that last-ditch 'give it a bash and hope that fixes it' method.
If your adventure travel takes you off-road it's essential you pack a shovel, as having to dig yourself out is a reality on routes less well travelled.
*there's an obvious cross-over here with what you should have on your vehicle anyway. As a survival kit for the vehicle, look to pack duplicates or back ups of items that may be perishable, or are found on your vehicle and could be used, but then break.
Take the shovel, for example: If you've a full sized wooden-handled shovel mounted to your bonnet, you could take a folding version in the survival kit - and always keep the survival kit inside the vehicle and secured!
One Off-road Survival Kit for You
As far your personal survival kit goes, the things that you will need most if you get into a bind are light, warmth, food and water. So a good torch, warm blankets, extra cloths and non-perishable foods are a must.
These can all be left in your vehicle pretty much permanently, and will come in handy next time it snows more than half an inch and the motorways grind to a halt.
As for food, a good guide is to take a minimum of 2000 calories per person per day, and to take enough for twice the amount of time that you plan to be away. For water, four litres per person per day is the minimum you should allow, any less than this and you could get into trouble.
It's vital you include a means of purifying water. The simplest way is with Puritabs, but better solutions exist, including
Firelighting tools are also essential. If your kit is small, pack a fire flint and lighter; if it is larger, look to also include a portable stove - or at least a hexamine pack.
Pack a small, quality knife. Choosing between a pen knife or multitool is never easy; if you've lots of space take both. Ideally you'd keep one of these on your person and have a larger working blade or axe on the vehicle.
A first-aid kit is another essential, and should be well-stocked. Shop bought kits can be useful, but often include a lot of one thing and none of another. So making your own can be more beneficial.
Plasters, gauze dressings, a triangular bandage, antiseptic cream, scissors, tweezers and painkillers are indispensable. Disposable plastic gloves are also useful, just don't use these to keep your hands clean when working on your vehicle - keep a separate stash.
Top Tip: Keep your survival kit in a small rucksack. This way if you ever need to leave the vehicle you can easily pick it up and go. It could also be easily packed into the top of a larger rucksack, or be contained in a pair of smaller pouches that can be clipped on - or zipped together to create something easy to carry.
Don't Use It!
The likely hood of you needing to use either of the survival kits will largely depend on the quality of your preparation. Planning a good route, checking your oil and water levels and giving all parts a quick once over before you set off could well save you a few hours of head scratching later on.
Once you've assembled everything, packing it all efficiently is the final test. Think carefully about accessibility, you don't want to have to rummage through everything to find your spare inner tube, or to the bottom of a bag for a plaster when you've got blood spurting out of a cut finger.
Generally, try and pack everything in securely to avoid flying projectiles when you hit a sharp bend or unexpected pothole. Strapping it all down is a good idea if you're planning on taking a particularly rough road.
Last but definitely not least, remember to tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back, that way they can raise the alarm if you fail to return. And if you do break down in a remote area, remember the golden rule is to stay with your vehicle until help arrives.
Did I mention a second mobile phone battery? And a written list of essential numbers? Probably both good ideas!