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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just returned from a 10 day trip to the mountains where I had time to consider this list in the evenings and it’s surprising what you can accomplish when you’re not distracted by 21st century technology. :)

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a gear list on this site so I thought I’d take a run at creating a checklist of inexpensive off-road gear for beginners. In addition to keeping costs down, another goal of this list is to make each item as small as possible so it can be stored out of sight.

Many of the items on this list have been suggested elsewhere on this site…I just tried to put them all together into one organized list…so this is as much a site list and it is my list. Suggestions for small, basic, inexpensive gear that I missed are welcome.

  • I like Harbor Freight (HF) tools for many things. They are inexpensive, readily available, and good enough. Some HF prices are listed below.
  • Beginners: If you should decide that off-roading is not for you, it’s a good idea to carry most of these inexpensive, basic tools anyway. Being able to fix a common problem yourself instead of waiting hours on the side of the road for AAA to show up can turn a problem into a minor annoyance. A little confidence and self-reliance can go a long way.

  • JUMPER CABLES: 20 foot, 4 or 6 gauge
  • JUMP STARTER ($$): Lithium Ion battery. Charge it annually or when needed. I use the Gooloo GP4000 which was $140 at Amazon on sale.
  • BATTERY HOLD DOWN ACCESS: Ratchet, 13mm socket, two six inch socket extensions.
  • BATTERY POST SERVICE: Post cleaner or fine sand paper, 10mm wrench, pliers or small vice-grip.
  • TRAINING: If needed, research online or have a friend or family member show you the jump process and read the instructions that come with the jump starter.

  • QUALITY ALL TERRAIN TIRES ($$$): This type of tire has thicker side walls, a more aggressive tread, and is far less prone to rock punctures…especially when aired down a bit. My stock Goodyear Eagle LS2’s (not all terrain) suffered a rock puncture on my very first outing. A FWD Patriot with good all terrain tires is easily capable of traveling forest service roads and picking its way through a washed out section but you need to know your vehicles limitations and that comes with experience.
  • TIRE SIZE: Stock tire sizes are cheaper, they are designed for peak fuel efficiency, and they are in sync with the motor, trans, axels, speedometer, and odometer. Larger tires look great and will improve off-road performance but your around town performance (acceleration, braking, steering) will suffer a little. If off-road is a priority and you go with larger tires you will need to update your Patriots computer to correct the speedometer, odometer, shift points, etc.
  • 12 VOLT AIR COMPRESSOR: Hose + cord length should reach all 4 wheels. I like the HF 100 PSI pump because it’s tiny, cheap, powerful (140 watts), has a 15 foot reach, and zips up into a tiny carrying case that fits under the front seat. ($40 HF)
  • LUGWRENCH: Half inch drive breaker bar ($15 HF) and 19mm deep well impact socket ($4 HF). The stock lug wrench is a little short and weak.
  • FLAT REPAIR: Plug kit ($6 HF), 12” piece of 2x4 for jack support, quality tire gauge.
  • AIRING DOWN: Airing down as little as 5 PSI improves comfort and traction when off-road (bigger contact patch). 30 PSI is acceptable for short stints on the highway but you should air back up if running at lower PSI in the dirt. Stock alloy wheels should not be run at super low PSI off-road. The heat from highway speeds can increase tire pressure by 2-3 PSI. A large increase in elevation (5000 feet) can increase tire pressure another 2-3 PSI. Your tire pressure should drop a few PSI after you air down at the trail head and drive off into the dirt because your tires will cool. The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) will light up on the dash after you air down which is to be expected.
  • SPARE TIRE: Check your spare tire air pressure every six months. A full size spare is recommended for off-roading. The largest tire the Patriots spare tire well will hold is a 215/65R 17 or a 215/70R 16 tire. Check the DOT number on the inner sidewall for the age of the spare tire. The last four digits tell the week and year of manufacture. Replace the spare if it is cracked, damaged or more than 8 years old.
  • TRAINING: If needed, practice using the jack and lug wrench in the driveway to change a tire and decide if you what to replace the stock scissor jack with something different (hydraulic) or more robust. I still use the stock jack.

  • FUSE KIT: Chrysler/Jeep fuse kits (with puller) can be found online or at Batteries Plus ($18).
  • PATRIOT POWER OUTLET: 160 watts max, fuse located in cavity 11, takes a 15 amp light blue mini fuse (from 2017 manual). You can buy some nice power inverters that plug into the power port to charge/power a laptop or charge multiple phones at once but you can’t exceed the maximum wattage of the power outlet, no matter what the inverter is capable of.
  • PATRIOT POWER INVERTER (If equipped): 150 watts max, fuse located in cavity 12, takes a 20 amp yellow mini fuse (from 2017 manual). It resets on its own but may need a manual reset in some circumstances. To reset manually, unplug the device from the inverter and plug it in again.
  • COMMON FUSE FAILURES: I have not had any issues. ?
  • FUSE MAP: The owner’s manual will tell you what each fuse protects (by cavity #) so keep the manual in the glove box. All Patriot fuses are located in the fuse box under the hood.

  • Cell phone and 12 volt charger.
  • A few blue shop towels (workshop paper towels).
  • A pair of cheap HF mechanics gloves.
  • Small stuff sacks in different colors for storing gear.
  • First Aid kit.
  • Silicone tape (Rescue Tape) for repairing radiator and heater hoses. Use hand sanitizer to clean the hose prior to repair.
  • 1 quart bottle of Mopar coolant/antifreeze (50 coolant/50 distilled water). Choose a bottle shape that fits your storage area best.
  • Headlamp/Flashlight: A headlamp shines where you look. A shake flashlight has no batteries to fail but will be dimmer. I use a small HF Quantum 250 lumen LED Spot/Flood/Flashlight whose head rotates 90 degrees. It also has a magnet on the base so you can stick it to a fender or the underside of the hood. Carry spare batteries or use rechargeable batteries.
  • Duct Tape. Wrap some around the coolant bottle.
  • Four way screwdriver.
  • Pocket knife.
  • Crescent wrench.
  • A few Zip Ties.
  • Trailer Hitch ($$): Accepts bike rack, cargo basket, recovery point, etc.
  • 2” hitch mount D-Ring recovery point (if you don’t have tow hooks).
  • Tow strap: 2” x 30 feet.
  • Soft shackle.
  • 18” long, .5” thick wooden dowel to prop open the spare tire cover (see the slots on the back right perimeter of the opening/lid when the lid is open).
  • Cam buckle tie downs. I use the 12 foot CamJam Nite IZE. Thread them through opposing cargo area D rings and use them to secure interior cargo. You can also lay out a cheap HF 72x80 moving blanket so the tie downs run under and over the blanket and then fold the blanket in from the sides and back. Place cargo on top of or inside the blanket to protect the Patriots plastic side panels from cargo before cinching down. A heavy blanket has many uses and is nice to have on hand.

Most of these comfort items can be stored in a duffel bag that you toss in the back of the Patriot on the day you leave.
  • Drinking water, food, meds/pills, small amount of medicinal bourbon.
  • Toilet Paper and folding shovel.
  • Small hinged lid cooler(s) that sit in the rear floorboard.
  • Hand towel.
  • Hand sanitizer (cold and flu season)/Baby Wipes (back woods shower).
  • Bic lighter/Waterproof matches/dryer lint (fire starter) in a Ziploc bag.
  • Quality Folding saw: These are small, easy to store, and can bring down 4 inch thick standing dead wood which is always dry inside. Get a good one…you don’t want this to break when you really need it.
  • Old butcher knife from the kitchen drawer: When the woods are wet, use this to split the 4 inch thick lengths of wood you cut with the saw to expose the dry interior. Use a length of wood as a baton to drive the knife. This knife does not need to be sharp. If it is sharp, store it in a sheath.
  • Light weight hiking boots: Store these on your feet.
  • Change of clothes for wet days or longer trips.
  • Poncho/Rain Jacket/Hat.
  • Ozark Trail Backpacking Chair (Walmart): It’s made of steel, zips into a tiny case that fits under the front seats, and provides back support. ($25) Those hard plastic disks that come snapped to the top of some beer six-packs work well as chair supports on soft soil…just toss 4 into the zippered case.
  • Two person backpacking hammock. These pack down small and are really comfortable for one person.
  • Medium duty tarp (versatile) and paracord to create a rain canopy for when you are relaxing in your chair or hammock. Paracord is strong and has a million uses so pack extra.
  • Sleeping bag (Double size bag if your Jeep girl is with you).
  • Sawyer Mini water filter and Smart Water bottle with sport cap. See YouTube for Smart bottle hack on usage and back flush procedure.

  • Scan Tool: This tool allows you to read codes and get closer to knowing what is wrong with your Patriot when a warning light appears on the dash. It’s nice to know what the issue may be BEFORE you take it in to be repaired. You can research codes online.
  • 1 gallon of washer fluid.
  • Mopar Coolant/Antifreeze.
  • 1 quart 5W-20 oil of the type currently in the engine.
  • Phone number of a good mechanic. Ask around before you need this.

  • The Patriot has good ground clearance (8-9 inches before loading gear and passengers and before airing down) but many Patriots do not come equipped with metal skid plates so look under your Patriot and note the low/vulnerable points.
  • The stock shocks on FWD Patriots are a little soft so go slow over rough terrain. The 4x4’s have a stiffer spring and damping rate.
  • Stay primarily on Forest Service roads until you gain some experience.
  • Travel with another off-roader when exploring areas with no cell service.
  • If you do travel into the wilderness alone, let someone responsible know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Always know the weather forecast and any reputable tow or recovery companies in the area where you off-road. Calling your insurance company is also a good way to find a tow in a pinch.
  • Research your intended trails or Forest Service roads and have a detailed paper map of the area with you. If in cell range, Google maps can show Forest Service roads and you can switch to a terrain or satellite view. You can also download a Google map (Offline Map).
  • GPS: You can buy a GPS device that comes preloaded with trail maps and you can get apps for your phone as well. Your phones GPS will show your location in an app map even when you are out of cell range because GPS functionality (free to all) is not tied to cell service. Apparently you need an unobstructed line of sight to 4 of the 28 satellites overhead for GPS to work. You can search this site for many GPS solutions by members.

This basic gear list should serve beginners well when they head out into the woods but everyone will need to change or add to this list based on their own needs and interests…e.g. hunting, camping, etc.

I’ve found some great tips on this site over the last year and I’d like to thank everyone for their willingness to help other Patriot owners. I also really appreciate the expertise of the Administrators and Super Users who have hundreds of thousands of miles under their belts and who are willing to share their knowledge. Thanks guys.

33 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It occurred to me that I forgot to mention the Patriots ESC switch in my Off-Road Gear list for Beginners. It’s an important piece of off-road kit that beginners may not understand…especially if they don’t read or possess the paper manual.

This topic is a little convoluted for someone who’s just getting started so I’ll just summarize it…but beginners should read the details in their Owner’s Manual which can be found in the Knowledge Base section of this site. Just search your manual for one of the acronyms listed below.

Bottom Line: Turning off ESC in the dirt allows for more wheel spin by eliminating the power/torque reduction of the TCS system while still allowing the BLD system to activate. This allows my FWD Patriot to use both front wheels (very effective 2WD) to claw its way through a rough spot in the trail and it’s even more effective on a 4x4 Patriot which has both partial and full off ESC modes.

Also important…turning off ESC allows you to slide around in the dirt and just have fun.

ESC: Electronic Stability Control - (ESC enhances directional control and stability.)
TCS: Traction Control System - (TCS limits how fast the driven wheels can spin relative to the actual speed of the vehicle.)
BLD: Brake Lock Differential - (BLD controls wheel speed side to side across a driven axle and does not care how fast the wheels are turning, just that they are turning at the same speed. BLD provides improved traction capability similar to a locking differential. Note that BLD is defined as Brake Limited Differential in the manual but everyone seems to refer to it as Brake Lock Differential.)

Here’s some additional reading on Brake Traction Control from an old 2008 Stellantis post.
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