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OT: minimum useful set of tools for car trip?

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  • OT: minimum useful set of tools for car trip?

    My partner Karen and I will be taking a month-long road trip in her 2004 Chevy van. We intend to never sleep in hotels. We will either be staying with friends/family or sleeping in the back on a sleeping platform built on legs so we can slide milk cartons underneath for storage. We will be camping in several national parks, and we will be cooking a lot of our own meals. We intend to back up to a picnic table at a campsite and open the back doors, and put a 10x10' easyup canopy over both the back of the van and the table, securing it from wind gusts by twine to ground stakes, to the table, to the bumper, or some combination thereof. We will be carrying firewood, kindling, paper and matches, as well as a coleman-type propane stove to cook on, pots, pans, kitchen gear, etc.

    I've been tasked with coming up with a minimal set of useful tools to have on such a trip. We have roadside assistance insurance, so we don't need to be able to work much on the van itself, but it would be nice to have just a few tools. Obviously we'll bring a hatchet and camping (bowie) knife and a roll of duct tape.

    I know there is a boatload of wisdom and experience on here. Have any of you faced something like this before and have a list of stuff to bring? Is there anything (maybe medium Vise-Grips) you would think handy enough to bring?

    Bringing 100 lbs of tools is not going to happen. The price for space/weight is too high.

    Any advice would be welcomed, thanks!


  • #2
    Visegrips, set of wrenches, imperial and metric, hammer, pliers, set of screwdrivers, ratchet set with extensions, long ones too, crescent wrenches 8-12", 12v light bulb tester, pry bar, hack saw, spare fan belt. Should all fit in a tool box.


    • #3
      Hi Everyone,

      Bunch of larger size nylon zip ties. Light weight & can be hooked together if you need bigger than just one.

      I also like taking various size binder clips as in office supply items. The ones that are black, flat spring type w/shiny wire handles.

      Sounds like a fun trip. Hope you have a great time!
      Last edited by jhe.1973; 09-16-2011, 11:33 PM.
      Best wishes to ya’ll.



      "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

      "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

      Location: Bustling N.E. Arizona


      • #4
        Carrying firewood is no longer a good plan due to so many tree-killing insects that travel in wood...... Ash borer, etc, etc.

        In some places in US toting firewood across county lines is good for a hefty fine.

        As for tools, tools with multiple uses are best.... you can hate crescent wrenches, but one size DOES fit "all"..... a kit of interchangeable bits and the screwdriver to fit is naturally handy.

        As for roadside assistance plan...... it's nice, and lovely to have.... and does pretty much nothing in more remote areas. It's good in the city, though... that's for sure. basic car tools and obvious spares (extra oil and other essential fluids, for instance) are just plain sensible.
        Last edited by J Tiers; 09-16-2011, 11:49 PM.

        Keep eye on ball.
        Hashim Khan


        • #5
          2 credit cards, and a AAA card with towing.
          No good deed goes unpunished.


          • #6
            A decent number of lighters (At least 4), and led flashlights of all sizes. Idealy AA driven ones (AAA have very little power for the size/cost) or D cell if you can find em.

            Realise your cells might not work in the forested areas.

            Consider not using your car battery much except for emergency use, or you might end up stranded easily. idling the car for a few minutes will hardly recharge it. It takes hours to fully recharge a lead acid battery.
            Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.


            • #7
              First off it sounds like a heck of a trip, FUN!

              I have a project car that I have basically built from the ground up with aftermarket and junk yard parts. Its still only got 50 or so miles on it. But before I take it on a nice long trip I wanted to put together a "fix-it" bag with the stuff to get me back on the road if something minor broke, I have AAA for the major break down

              So I went to harbor freight and picked up a canvas tool bag, a metal tool box is more weight without the usable space IMO. The bag empty and flat is about 20" long by 12" wide and flat to about 3". It has metal bars on the mouth of it that can be locked open to get into the bag. Fully opened its about 15" tall, so it can hold alot of essentials.

              The essentials? All the stuff macona said. But Ill say what I use..

              Channel lock pliers, two sizes, really big, as long as the bag, and small, about 7". Cresent wrenches, two large ones and one small one. Five screw drivers, three blade drivers, one large (pry bar size), one medium and one small one and a medium and small philips. One hammer, I love my craftsman long handled hammer. Hack saw is something I forgot but will include (thanks M). One diagnal wire cutter (dikes). Two punches, one long 12" flat nose and one 6" pointed. A 2" round mirror on a telescoping rod. I made a simple cover for the mirror from thin cardboard and duct tape to protect the mirror. So thats it for the tools, just working off of memory, I should pull the bag out to see. Oh, and some leather gloves.

              Now some consumables are needed also. DUCT TAPE!!! Dont leave home without it. And the good stuff works much better. Id have a roll in the bag and one for the camping. It has SO may uses I cant even go into all the uses. Better make it three rolls A roll of bailing wire. The coated type. Its dark in color and kinda brown and shiny, VS the bare metal type. The coated type seem to be more flexible and just as strong. The 3" roll has enough to wrap around the van a few times.. Some hose clamps. I like the stainless ones because the screw doesnt tend to rip out of the slots too easily. You can really crank them down. Two each of four sizes for those (8 total). And like M said, fan belt. The "link" type belts are my choice for emergency needs, there are so many types out there you can decide. But a length that will make two belts and you will have enough to service the car for the rest of its days. A small roll of teflon tape. And a tube of epoxy. I like the paste type that you knead the two products together and it makes a ball of clay that hardens to a very firm material. I have fixed leaking cast iron water pipes with that and some hose clamps (and a small piece of sheetmetal).

              Ok, it sounds like alot but its not. Its all small stuff that will fit into the canvas bag and it doesnt weigh all that much.

              If you are camping you will prolly have all the other stuff like lighting to cover the stuff I didnt talk about cause I keep an led flash light in my bag also.

              I gotta say, Im jealous!!! I havent roughed it in 35 years, back when I was camping with my Dad, he was the king for roughing it. We would camp in the Sierras, Rockies, Smokies, Appellation trail and everything in between.. Yer gonna have a great time!!! JR

              Yup Jim, I forgot, the wire ties. Those are just as handy as the duct tape for many uses.. Good call
              Last edited by JRouche; 09-17-2011, 12:16 AM.
              My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group



              • #8
                At least 2 sets of gapped sparkplugs. Water pump,air conditioning and alternator belts & tools to change them with. Maybe 3-4 qts of oil.

                Ratchet & extensions to change sparkplugs. Spare air filter.


                • #9
                  "link" fan belts? spark plugs? Come on people!!! He said a 2004 model vehicle. What will you do with "link" fan belt? Hang up clothes to dry? Spark plugs? We have this new thing, platinum plugs, good for about 200,000 miles.
                  He did not say he was going in a model A.


                  • #10
                    I'll throw my normal list of things in as well- crescent wrench, pliers, vise grips, couple of coathangers, hank of light rope or heavy cord, flashlights of course, hatchet with a sheath, all-purpose knife, container to hold drinking water, and a sierra saw.

                    If I'm backpacking, I'll pretty much have all of the above with me, although it would be small versions of the crescent wrench and vise grips. Instead of coathangers, it will usually be a short length or two of copper wire removed from the sheath (house wiring).

                    I pretty much always have a zip loc bag assortment- one with matches in it, and another one with a chunk of wax in it. If I think to, I'll bring a zip loc bag full of dry wood shavings, and another one with some bandages. One with several pouches of oatmeal, which I rotate out now and then, and one with a pair of gloves. Couple of garbage bags and some spare zip loc bags also, and a couple of space blankets.

                    All of the bagged stuff and the small tools can be packed into a shoulder bag (throw a roll of toilet paper in there as well) and shoved into a corner in the vehicle. It would be a good idea to have a few bottles of water in it too.

                    This is a combination emergency kit and convenience kit. If it comes down to it, you need only a few basic things- water, the ability to light a fire, the ability to stop bleeding, and some basic thing to put in your stomach if you get really hungry. You can mix the oatmeal in a ziploc bag if you have to, and you can carry water in a good sized zip loc - been there, done that.

                    The kit I keep in my van also has a container of antifreeze, a plastic slinky, a small tarp and some rope. I recently built a small container to hold all this stuff so it's easy to remove when I need the full room to carry plywood.

                    The slinky? It's two-tone fluorescent colored and is attention-getting even in low light. It's my version of reflective tape, something I can string up on a dark highway if I'm broken down.
                    Last edited by darryl; 09-17-2011, 01:16 AM.
                    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                    • #11
                      The wife and I took our Goldwing from Ohio to Washington state. We were gone for 17 days and "tented" all but 2 or 3 nights. One of the 2 or 3 was in a KOA "Camping Cabin", and one of them was in Jackson Hole, and I think we stayed 1 other night in a motel due to heavy rain.

                      In your travels there are things called "stores" where you can go inside and buy stuff that you may have forgotten, or not realised you needed. If you find you have too much stuff that prevents you from carrying what you really need, you ship it home.

                      I carry a small tool kit with sockets and wrenches that I know are needed to work on the Goldwing. These are buried at the very bottom since I know they will probably never be touched. I keep a 6-way screwdriver, pliers, etc in with the camping gear as it sometimes does come in handy.

                      THe wife got 1 of the side saddlebags, I got the other. All the camping gear (inflatable queen-size air matress, Eureka tent, inflator, etc) went in the upper trunk. All the riding gear (jackets, rain suits, etc) went on a strap-on, waterproof bag that was secured to a small "luggage rack". Sleeping bags and towels were in cinch bags that were carried on homemade pivoting carriers that pivoted over the side saddlebags.

                      Having an entire van sounds like an incredible luxury, and will probably lead to you carrying much more than you really need.

                      We didn't do any cooking though, we ate out for almost every meal.

                      Here's the wife on our Goldwing. It is July (and there was snow) and we are crossing Beartooth pass as we were travelling to Yellowstone from Montana.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tdmidget
                        "link" fan belts? spark plugs? Come on people!!! He said a 2004 model vehicle. What will you do with "link" fan belt? Hang up clothes to dry? Spark plugs? We have this new thing, platinum plugs, good for about 200,000 miles.
                        He did not say he was going in a model A.
                        Ok azz hat! What did YOU contribute to the needs of the man? Not a damn thing. Guess you need to crawl back into yer tool box and take a nap and come up with something huh? Ill give you a days nap, then show some productivity... JR
                        My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group



                        • #13
                          I haven't read all the good suggestions but, is it bear country, is it insect country.



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Black_Moons
                            Realise your cells might not work in the forested areas.
                            Don't know about in Canada, but in the US there is an analog emergency service that you can access with a cellphone whether it has a plan or not, simply by dialing 911. I was stuck outside of Winslow, Arizona once in a rental car out of gas with two young kids and no cell service, and I tried 911 and an emergency operator in Flagstaff picked up the call and patched me through to AAA.

                            I think this service has pretty good coverage in the continental US.


                            • #15
                              Look closely at the hardware on your EZ-up and bring the tools to take it apart and straighten the metal tubes when they inevitably get bent in the wind. When it happens its not too hard to fix, but you must disassemble it to do so. After that I'd add a Philips and straight screwdriver, Leatherman or similar multi-tool, two good knives, medium channel lock pliers, and about 100' of parachute cord.

                              Good luck - sounds like fun.