One thing you should never do is go off the road or to an unfamiliar country without an overland tool kit.
Everyone’s kit will vary depending on your degree of mechanical knowledge. However, there are still some basic components that you should always keep in your vehicle.
We also suggest you read up on your vehicle and get to know it a little better.
Things go wrong when you least suspect it, but if you are competent and equipped with a sufficient tool kit, you have nothing to fear.
What’s in an overland tool kit
No two tool kits are the same; each will vary depending on your degree of competence and your vehicle. We will go over the basics here, but they might need slight alteration to suit you and your vehicle.
Nuts and bolts
One of the most important things you need in your overland tool kit is something to be able to open nuts and bolts.
These are the most abundant things in the vehicle, and most repairs require you to open a nut or bolt of some kind; even to change a wheel, you need to do so.
Most vehicles only use a small range of sizes, so you might find that 7-10 spanners or sockets are enough to cover all your needs.
I like to carry both open-end spanners and a couple of sockets. It’s also a good idea to have some nut-busting tool for those stubborn nuts. A pneumatic or electric tool is perfect for this.
The next thing you need to consider is opening all types of screws. Similar to nuts and bolts, most vehicles will have only a small range of shapes.
Learn what shapes and sizes are in your vehicle to prevent you from carrying unnecessary equipment.
Usually, a couple of Torx, slotted, and Philips head screwdrivers or bits is plenty. It’s also a good idea to carry some Allen keys.
Electrical problems can stop you in your tracks, and sometimes finding the electrical problem is more effort than fixing a mechanical problem.
Nevertheless, we need to be prepared if something goes wrong.
For this, you need to keep a few things on hand, such as connectors, crimpers, strippers, electrical tape, and spare fuses.
More often than not working on parts, you will find that you can’t get enough force with your hands. Adding some grips to your overland tool kit will make things a lot easier when you’re already in a bad situation.
I always find a use for a set of mole grips and a plier wrench. I use these more than any other tool on the list.
There’s always a need for certain items that don’t quite fit anywhere else on the list, but you would be really lost without.
Things like a hammer or rubber mallet, zip ties, Loctite, lubricating oil, and a tarp to work on. These are all things I always keep in my vehicle.
I also make sure to carry the owner’s manual as well as spare fluids such as oil, gear oil, diff fluid.
How to Store Overland Tools
One of the big issues with overland tool kits is that people tend to overdo it. Weight is a real issue when it comes to tools.
You are not trying to overhaul an engine in the bush; you just need basic tools to get you to the nearest town where you can find a garage.
Space is limited in our overland vehicles, and weight even more so; it’s important to try and keep weight down.
So, just take the bare essentials that you can’t do without, the rest you can leave at home. Some tool kits come in a handy little tool box, this keeps everything together and is sturdy enough to handle rugged trails.
If you’re not carrying a large kit you may get by with a tool pouch, this takes up a lot less space than a box and is a lot easier to carry around.
Never store your tool kit in plain sight as it might entice thieves.
Battery vs. Air
The battle of the ages. I always carry some nut-busting tools. Many times I’ve found myself struggling to open some stuck nut, and even with the biggest lever, it wouldn’t budge.
Pneumatic-If you have an air compressor on your rig, and you should, then you have the benefit of carrying air tools.
The one extreme advantage to pneumatic tools is that they are lighter. They also don’t need a bulky battery and charger to be carried around with them.
However, you need to make sure you have an air compressor that’s up to the task of powering these tools. Should that air compressor fail then, your tools are worthless.
Battery-Battery power tools are more clunky, although modern-day tools are becoming more streamlined.
Once a battery is fully charged, it can last for a long time. It’s also not difficult to find places to charge your battery.
The battery can be used for multiple purposes, like to power a light, operate other tools, and even charge your phone.
Use the list above as a guide to creating your overland tool kit. Find out what works for you. Consult your owner’s manual to help you determine some of the sizes you and special equipment you need.
One thing I would like to mention here is to be sure to buy good quality equipment. The last thing you want is your equipment breaking on you in a time of need.