Most vehicles come with a limited slip differential to aid in delivering power to the road, while eliminating wheel slip caused by wheels needing to move at different speeds while negotiating a turn. The inside wheel needs to turn slower than the outside wheel. A locking differential locks both wheels on an axle to deliver power from the drivetrain to all 4 wheels. Most 4x4s actually only deliver power to 2 wheels at a time.
And then there's the stuff a lot of off-roaders would never leave behind on a ride. Eric Olsen, an off-roader from San Jose, CA who recently destroyed his transfer case on a ride just east of Ukiah, CA, had to limp back to town - and be towed a couple of times by a buddy - told me his first rule is never go alone. "Two vehicle minimum," he says. "Things can happen."
When he heads off the trail, his off-road kit always includes:
Straps Shackles Work gloves Food and water Fire extinguisher Tools Jumper cables Flashlight Shovel Hatchet CB radio GPS with USGS chip Maps Extra clothing While that may seem like a lot of gear, Michael Green from OffRoad Experience has a much longer list of required gear that they recommend you have to take part in one of their trips. It's 32 items long, and besides the items above, it includes things to have on hand like motor oil, radiator water, a rain suit, a full set of spark plugs with wrench, and a full set of belts and filters. A bit extreme? Maybe, but like Olsen says, "More is better."
And there is always the favorite must-have gear off-roaders like to bring in addition. Like the sand ladders off-roader Michael Gibson relies on to give him traction to get out of deep sand or mud. " I lived in the Middle East and Africa for over 10 years, and would never go anywhere without sand ladders," he says. "I made my own out of the aluminum sections used to make walkways and keep four 4-foot sections inside my HZJ 78."
Want to start gathering your own kit for off-roading? Here's a dozen suggestions for some gear to include:
To Hold and Stow Your Gear:
A revolutionary, secure fastening system, Loop Rope ($19.95-$22.95) never tangles, is safer than bungee cords, and is fully adjustable. You can use two or more together to create a cargo net. No need to tie knots, wonder if you have the right length rope, or getting whipped with hard hooks from bungee backlash. Comes in 3 ft, 4 ft, and 5 ft lengths, complete with 2 stainless steel S-clips