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Pre-expedition Check Lists for Off-roading Trips

Pre-expedition Check Lists

Most capable 4x4 vehicles will be fine for one of our UK trips, with underbody protection as a minimum. Your vehicle should, of course, be in good mechanical condition and have had a recent service. Land Rovers will be OK with just steering and differential guards, which are a good precaution. A snorkel is great for protecting the engine against dust, as well as water. A dual battery and split charge system should be used on vehicles with winches and refrigerators. On one of our UK trips, we can work out what other things your vehicle may require to join us on a longer expedition.

Give plenty of thought to how you will use your vehicle throughout your trip and carefully plan your storage accordingly.

For example, you will want to gain easy access to some of your items such as your kettle and stove so a boxed storage system may be useful. Any amendments you make should, of course, be useful to you (e.g. some people like to have a fridge). We suggest you gain ideas by searching the internet to begin with or have a look through your favourite 4x4 magazine. You can always come and look at our vehicles and see what we do!

  • Fluids

Check the following levels and ensure there are no leaks:

  • • Brake fluid
  • • Engine oil
  • • Gear oils:  transfer case / differentials, replace if necessary
  • • Power steering fluid
  • • Radiator coolant (check correct fluid for conditions)
  • • Transmission fluid
  • • Windscreen wiper fluid

Remember that it gets very cold on some trips!

Air filters
Check the air filter and the air filter box for debris.


Check the condition of your tyres for wear or damage, including the spare. Be sure they are all inflated to the appropriate pressure for the conditions.  Take note of your tread and think about whether it will be suitable for the terrain you will be travelling on.  Remoulds are not usually suitable as they are too weak and aggressive mud tyres dig too much.  We recommend either BF Goodrich AT or Cooper STs – good quality AT or AT/MT tyres are a must.  The new BF Goodrich ATK02 are our choice for snow.

If you have room, carry a second spare wheel and tyre. At the very least, carry a repair kit just in case.



Check brake pads and shoes for excess wear.



Make sure you have a working jack / tyre iron and know how to use them. 
A high-lift jack is a great universal tool and also doubles as a hand winch (and lots more).


Ball joints

Check all your ball joints, tie rod ends and wheel bearings by jacking up and securing the front of your vehicle. Grab the tyre at the top and bottom and check for any excess movement by rocking the wheel in and out and side to side. Any excessive free play should be checked out by a qualified mechanic. Do the same for the rear.  Check solid rear axles for worn bearings or other damage.  Grease all fittings such as u-joints, steering etc.



Check your shocks for signs of leakage, damage or excess wear.


Belts and hoses

Check all your belts and hoses and carry spares.  The lower radiator hose is the one often damaged whilst off-roading.  Alternator/water-pump belts are the most important. Newer vehicles often use serpentine belts which are much less prone to failure but can be difficult to change and are also expensive but we do recommend carrying a spare.  Replacing an old serpentine belt and saving the original as a spare is a good idea.

Don’t forget to also check your seat belts!


Nuts and bolts

Check throughout your vehicle for any which may be working loose.



Make sure your head lights, rear lights and brake lights work and carry spare bulbs.



Fill the fuel tank prior to every trip.  When you reach your destination, fill it up again before hitting the trail.  You don’t want to run out whilst off-road!  Remember the One-Third/Two-Third Rule: Use one-third of a tank to get where you are going and save two-thirds for getting out.  If your fuel tank doesn’t have the capacity for the off road part of the trip, carry extra fuel or re-think your route.


Transporting Fuel

Always carry your extra fuel outside the vehicle.  Fuel containers have vents and fumes are explosive and toxic.


Recovery Kit

We advise you have proper recovery points at front and rear to attach either strops or a winch for self-recovery.  Check winch for proper operation, check winch cable for kinks, frays or damage and straighten winch cable if necessary.  Check you have all the necessary winch related equipment – (visit our Kit List page for Vehicle Recovery info).   If you don’t have a winch, bring a good quality hand winch or a high-lift jack.



If you are travelling at high altitude, or if there is the slightest chance of snow, carry tyre chains for all four wheels and know how to install them. Don’t forget the chain tensioners and check them over for cracks and splits as they do deteriorate over time.  Ensure you have the correct tyres for the conditions.


  • Plan the trip / inform others

Tell those that should know where you are going, when you are leaving and when you’ll be back.  Let them know when they should start to worry about you if they haven’t heard from you.  Give them contacts in case they need them. Prepare your trip.  Have a map of the area you are going to and how you should get there and back again.


Communications with the rest of the world

Take a mobile phone, charge it fully prior to departure and pack a phone car adapter.  When you are remote and off road you can usually find a signal, even if it’s atop a ridge or up a tree.   Be aware that if you are out of signal range, your mobile phone will be hunting for a signal and this will deplete the battery quicker than just sitting in standby when in range.  Also be aware that roaming charges can be high when abroad and you will need to ensure your provider will allow you international access before the trip. We will carry a satellite phone which you can use at a cost of approximately £3 per minute.


Communications with the rest of your party

CB Radios are an essential way of keeping in touch when in convoy.  We require your vehicle to have one radio fitted before the expedition starts so we can easily communicate throughout the trip and this is something we can arrange for you. 

If your radio hasn’t been modified to transmit more than 4 watts of power, no licence should be required.  Some countries apply import restrictions, we can advise you on the specifics for the country you are visiting.  We only use VHF or UHF radios under exceptional circumstances and we will advise you if necessary.

Certain countries are wary of tourists’ use of 2 way radio communications and so aerials should be detachable, with the base unit being either detachable or mounted out of sight wherever possible. It is also best if GPS units and satellite / cell phones are hidden from view when entering other countries.


GPS navigation

A handheld GPS is incredibly useful and easy to operate; ensure you are familiar with its operation before you leave.  They are reasonably priced these days and invaluable in an emergency.  Bring spare batteries and a car adapter.  An iPad is very good as a navigation tool.


Personal spending

You will need to inform your credit card provider of the country and dates you are travelling to so that they don’t block abnormal usage of your card. UK Pounds and the Euro can often be changed at banks and are sometimes accepted in shops but we do suggest you bring sufficient local currency.  Traveller’s cheques are not much use as it usually takes too long to cash them.

How much cash you require will depend on the country you are visiting and we are happy to offer advice.  In most European areas, you can change Sterling or Dollars but the Euro has the best rates and is the most widely accepted.  Fuel will be your biggest cost if you are in your own vehicle.

We advise you bring an underarm “holster” type money belt which is usually more comfortable to wear than those which go around the waist.  This is vital for carrying cash, credit/debit cards and passports.  We don’t advise you rely on zipped trouser pockets as these can be easily damaged.



Some destinations may require a passport or photo ID at a minimum.  Your passport should contain at least 2 clear pages and be valid for the entire duration of the trip plus 6 months thereafter.  Ensure your passport photo bears close resemblance to your current appearance.  If you need a new passport, please apply well in advance of your trip!


Travel insurance

We suggest you bring your own European Health Insurance Card which is available from UK Post Offices. Your insurance should be specific for the country you are visiting and should cover the cost of any medical treatment due to illness or accident whilst away; we recommend cover of at least 2.5 million pounds.  Let the insurer know the exact nature of your trip and ensure you have confirmation of this in writing.  Try a company who offer specific cover for off-road driving expeditions, which isn’t always covered by general travel policies due to higher risk.  The policy should also include the cost of repatriation, in the event that the expedition cannot be continued due to ill health.  We also suggest that cancellation cover is put in place from the date that the full cost of the trip is paid (this usually comes into effect from the date the policy is taken out).  Personal accident, loss, third party liability and legal costs cover are also a good idea and you should consider any additional adventure activities you may be interested in.



They are not usually required for the expeditions we cover but we suggest you speak with your GP or local travel clinic concerning requirements.  However, boosters for Polio and / or Tetanus may be suggested and possibly Hepatitis A and / or Typhoid.  Occasionally, a certificate which is signed and stamped by the appropriate health professional may be requested so you should keep this safe with your other travel documents if necessary.


Malaria tablets

The risk of malaria in certain countries does change over time, possibly due to climate change.  Currently, it is not a problem in the countries in which we operate but is widespread south of the Sahara and in many parts of Africa and can change over time.  Therefore if you are travelling elsewhere before or after your expedition with us, we suggest you speak with your GP or local travel clinic for the most up to date advice.  You may be advised to take the necessary course of medication as when dealing with malaria, prevention is key.



Take plenty of spare batteries, as those available to buy abroad often don’t last very long.  You should also bring plenty of film or digital storage media as locally bought may be of inferior quality.

You are likely to need more storage than you expect due to the spectacular scenery you will come across!  We can carry a laptop and DVD writer for you to back up your media throughout the trip but you will need to arrange this with us in advance.

A quality zoom lens (28mm to 300mm) is recommended and film speeds of 100 ASA are usually enough.  When photographing dark objects (such as people) in light environments, a fill in flash is recommended.  Protection against heat, dust and sand is vital which can cause damage to cameras with interchangeable lenses if it settles on the CCD unit.

Check and double check you have all the kit you will need! –

  • • Personal Essentials Kit List
  • • Clothing Kit List
  • • Toiletries Kit List
  • • First Aid / Medical Supplies Kit List
  • • Overnight Camping Equipment Kit List
  • • Tool Kit List
  • • Vehicle Electronics Repair Kit List
  • • Vehicle Recovery Kit List
  • • Vehicle Spares Kit List

See our Kit Lists for Off-roading Trips

Kit Lists

Please note that Mudrut Limited cannot be held responsible for any omissions and / or errors contained within these lists and ultimate responsibility for the preparation of any trip remains with the client.