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Essentials for backcountry road trips

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Soon to be a resident of Las Vegas and concurrently, a full-time purveyor of all things canyon country, I am already planning a number of weekend expeditions. Obviously Zion, Red Rock and the Big Ditch are on the short list. I also plan on traveling as many of the unmaintained state roads as I can, both in car and on bike.

While getting there is half the fun, it too requires preparation. I came across this list of Ten Backcountry Road Trip tips on Popular Mechanics’ Web site. It’s a good one, but could probably be extended to 20. Like, where’s the extra gas suggestion? Or the basic pre-trip car checks?

Nevertheless, it’s a list worth keeping handy. And here is what I would add to it:

Roof rack: either a cargo box or one of Thule or Yakima’s baskets.
Extra gas: fill a 5-gallon Jerry can and rack it. Pick one up at an Army surplus store or at Expeditionexchange.com.
First-Aid kit: keep that sucker up to date and handy
Tarp: for shade and shelter in case the rig breaks down. Kelty has good options, as does Eagles’ Nest Outfitters. The Pro Fly can be used as a stand alone tarp shelter.
Tools: based on what you think you could fix, don’t bring what you don’t know how to use.
Maps: NOT your GPS. In remote backlands, reliability on sat nav is a risk. Get some from AAA if you’re a member or usgs.gov.
Jack: The standard, included car jack may not be enough on loose gravel or un-level ground. Consider an upgrade, maybe a Hi-lift.
Fix-a-flat: something that could extend the life of a tire for even a few miles could really help, even when you have a spare.
Duck tape: Come on, of course there will be a need.
What am I missing? Any other ideas?

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