4WD Checklist

Essential Equipment Needed for Touring in the Red Centre

Adventures in the outback are a lot of fun and there’s nothing better than climbing behind the wheel of a 4WD and hitting the desert road. However, the land in the Red Centre is unforgiving, the climate can be tricky to manage and the sheer remoteness of the place means you need to be absolutely prepared before you think about setting off. So we’ve put together a helpful checklist of all the things you need to have or be wary of on your 4WD adventure!


Prepping Your 4WD Vehicle

On top of the additional things to take with you, that are set out below, there are a few items which should be permanently attached to your vehicle. Rental vehicles should all have these, but if you’re using your own, we’d recommend getting these fitted:

  • Water tanks/containers - lots of water is the absolute biggest must have onboard any vehicle
  • Bull bar - this isn’t the inner city and these things are very handy when you’re driving through low scrub
  • Driving lights - if you find yourself driving at night you’ll need the extra help to see unsealed roads clearly
  • Long-range fuel tank/jerry cans - again, it isn’t the inner city and you’ll likely have long stretches between fuel stops, having spare fuel is recommended
  • Fire extinguisher - it goes without saying, but a vehicle with fire is never a good thing
  • Recovery treds/tracks - these are essential to aid your recovery equipment in getting you out of sticky situations
  • Snorkel - if you do find yourself in the unfortunate (or maybe exciting) situation of having to cross a less than comfortably high river, then a snorkel is important to keep your engine dry
  • Air compressor and air pressure gauge - there are lots of sandy places to visit in Central Australia, being able to control your tyre pressure is crucial to a fun time

Personal Essentials

Being comfortable is going to have a big impact on how much you enjoy your outback adventure. So we recommend the below as some absolute basic personal necessities:

  • Sleeping mat - the sand out there might look soft, but trust us, you’ll want something purpose made for sleeping on
  • Sunscreen - yes, it really is a desert and you really do need to protect yourself from the sun
  • Water - lots and lots and lots of water!
  • A good hat - we recommend a broad-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your neck and face, for when you're not in your vehicle
  • Good walking shoes - the best spots you can only visit outside of the vehicle by foot
  • Camera - obviously you want to capture all the awesome memories you are experiencing
  • Long sleeves & pants (lightweight) - this is both to protect you from the sun, mosquitos and long grasses
  • Insect repellant - even if you are wearing long pants and sleeves
  • A jumper - possibly the most important because even though it might be incredibly hot during the day, the nights can get mighty cold!

Recovery Equipment

While you might be the greatest 4WD driver to enter the desert, the desert doesn’t know that and you could find yourself victim to a bog, rugged terrain, punctured tyres, sand or stuck in some other way. You may even find that there’s no-one around to help you. So it’s important that you’re carrying on-board the right equipment to help get you out of the situation you might find yourself in:

  • Tyre repair kit - this should include spare/s, spare tubes, tyre levers, jacking plate and a rubber mallet may come in handy too
  • Electrical or duct tape - possibly one of the most versatile items you can have on board
  • Toolkit - this should have all your basics including screwdrivers, spanners, hammers, pliers and chisel
  • Torch - it is possible that you find yourself stuck with little light, so a torch will go a long way
  • Rope and/or chain - aside from your camping equipment, a good strong rope is always handy for pulling or levering if you get stuck
  • Workshop/instruction manual - it might go without saying for some, but if you aren’t a mechanic or 4WD extraordinaire, definitely make sure you take with you the instructions or guide specific to your vehicle. Most will come with some sort of guidance on how to change a tyre or get out of a bog
  • Shovel - incase you need to dig out some sand or mud to unstuck your wheels
  • Snatch strap & a winch - if the shovel digging doesn’t help and you need to winch yourself out of a hole that’s a little too boggy!


Part of the allure of an outback adventure is the isolation & the absolute quiet. But you will absolutely want to make sure you have the ability to communicate with help or support, just in case! Here’s what you should have on-board:

  • Emergency locator beacon - yes it’s incredible being out in the desert on your own, but it stops being incredible when no one can find you
  • Satellite phone - reception isn’t great in the outback and if you find yourself with a flat tyre, out of water or just feeling lonely, you’ll want a phone that works
  • Battery pack - without this, the first two may become useless, so we’d recommend taking a spare as well
  • Your mobile phone - while there may be some areas that don’t have reception, modern mobile phones come with a whole range of gadgets & tools that could be helpful
  • UHF/HF radio - it might seem like Stone Age technology, but the tried and true methods will always have a place in emergency situations in the outback

Emergency & First Aid

Obviously if you’re sensible and pick the right time to drive, you likely won’t find yourself in need of any emergency or first aid equipment. That being said, it always pays to be fully prepared as the outback is no place to be stuck and in need of some basic treatment. We suggest having completed some level of first aid training, if possible, to make best use of your resources in a situation. So here’s what we’d suggest:

  • Band-aids & bandages, sterile gauze dressings and crepe heavy duty bandage
  • Medical adhesive tape (don’t use duct tape!)
  • Triangular bandages
  • Alcohol/sterilization pads
  • Scissors & tweezers
  • Antiseptic cream & burn cream
  • Eyewash
  • Tea tree oil (this stuff is absolute magic on all sorts of things!)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Basic painkillers like panadol and neurofen

Another thing which you might want to keep onboard is a snake bite kit. These are a form of a first aid kit but also come with everything you need specifically to treat a snake bite, as well as some very useful information on how to act around snakes and what to do if you are bitten.


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