Trail Tips: Good Wood for Your Next Off-Road Adventure

Mar. 13, 2014 By Tom Severin
Use the 2x6 to drive up on a tire to break the bead.

If you watch an experienced four wheeler unpack his vehicle, you’ll notice his gear includes various pieces of wood. Whattheheck, is he some kind of carpenter?

Nope, he’s just carrying some trail tools he’s found valuable. A muddy trail might call for something to keep his knees protected or to keep his high-lift jack from sinking into the muck. Ever tried to eat dinner off a paper plate held on your lap? Tried to cut a hose on the dirt? Well, I think you’re getting the idea. Good wood is necessary for a good time… off road.

Consider adding two or three select pieces of wood. These aren’t large pieces and, as you will see, each can be used in numerous ways. As a good start on your collection of good wood, I suggest: a piece of plywood roughly 12” to 15” by about 18” long and ¾” thick; a solid block: 4x5, 4x6,or 6x6 and around 18” long; and a 2x6 that is 2 or 3 feet long.

Use to chock wheels when changing a tire, winching, or anytime lifting on a jack.

Where to Pack your Good Wood
You can pack it almost anywhere. I cut my jack board (a.k.a. the plywood) in the shape of one of the floor mats. When I am not using it to separate gear that might rub against each other, it disappears under the floor mat. The other pieces of good wood find similar homes doing double duty as packing spacers and separators.

Here are Some Ways to Use Your Plywood
1. Jack board (pad) for the jack to sit on to keep it from sinking into mud and sand

2. On top of the jack (bottle jack) to spread the weight when lifting on the oil pan to avoid damage to the oil pan

3.  As a trivet for a hot pan when cooking

4. Cutting board for food - not sure how this works after using it as a jack board in the mud. Does the 15 minute rule apply?

5. Cutting board when repairing a hose (slide board under the hose; in the engine compartment)

6. Work bench when you need a smooth hard surface to change a U- joint

7. Under a tire on soft surfaces when breaking a bead to fix a tire so that you only break the top bead and not the inside bead

8. Protect sheet metal from the Hi-lift jack by placing it between the jack up right and the door panel. Not that I have ever seen a problem!

9. Platform on the roof rack to span several rungs for smaller items – works great to secure a solar shower.

10. Something to kneel on when you’re working on mud or snow.

11. Protect the top of an airbag jack.

12. Lap table: for eating around the campfire, in your vehicle; anywhere you need a flat writing surface.

13. Shower floor - throw a couple of 2x4's under it to raise you out of the mud that is coming.

14. Target backdrop - of course of you are a good shot there will be one big hole in the middle.

15. As firewood in survival situation.

Notice the rope on the jack board? In mud, the rope makes it easier to retrieve the board when finished.

Some Ways to Use A Block of Wood
1. Use to chock wheels when changing a tire, winching, anytime lifting on a jack

2. Use to fill in a hole under a tire for traction

3. Stand on like a stool to work in the engine compartment

4. Buffer between areas when packing the vehicle

5. Under (or on top of) a jack to gain extra height

6. Between the axle and frame to support vehicle with broken spring

7. Sit on it around camp fire (forgot your chair) or as a foot rest. Watch out for splinters.

8. As a “dead man” to start the roll when recovering a upside down vehicle

9. Level the vehicle so you can hook up an anti-sway bar or level the vehicle for a good night’s sleep in your roof top tent

10. Drive tire upon to lift it a bit when putting tire chains on

11. As a dead blow when you need force without damage from a hammer – for example, while removing bearings, seals, you need to push sheet metal out

12. Good paper weight to hold down one side of a map in the wind or to keep the table cloth from blowing away. As a bonus you can set a hot pot on so you don’t melt the table cloth.

13. Something to put a watermelon on top of before you hit it with a 12ga.

14. As fire wood in survival situation

The board keeps the tire off the chains and provide room to adjust them.

Ways to Use A 2x6
1. Varmint whacker – snakes or mice that get into the tent

2. Ramp – one use is to drive your vehicle up on a tire laying on the ground in order to break the bead.

3. Lever

Need to check your brake lights by yourself?

4. Fire poker – this is a high risk use. Someone may not recognize it as your “good piece of wood” and pitch it into the fire at the end of the night.

5. Straight edge & Ruler (mark it off in one inch increments before leaving home). Could be useful to see how deep the water is before driving in. Or use it to scrape a level spot for your tent.

6. Jam between the foot brake and the seat so you check if your brake lights are working

7. As firewood in survival situation

As you can see, there are lots of uses for simple pieces of wood. How many other items do you carry that have so much versatility? They can make your expedition a pleasure and, best of all, the price is right…FREE at your local construction site! Pack these pieces before your next trip. You probably will need to use a good piece of wood at some point.

When you have good wood you will be looking for a place to use it.

Not only does the block keep the table cloth from blowing away but a hot pot can be set on it.

Previous Trail Tips Stories
10 Habits of Highly Admirable 4-Wheelers

How to Replace U-Joints on Your 4x4

What Causes Washboard Roads?

Badlands Off-Road Adventure
Off-road trainer Tom Severin shares insight and tips on a variety of topics related to preparing you for that next off-road adventure. With over 40 years of off-road experience, Severin operates under his business Badlands Off-Road Adventures. He is a certified professional 4WD Trainer by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is a member of the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC), United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the BlueRibbon Coalition. He also is a certified UFWDA and a CA4WDC 4WD instructor.

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