An Emergency Kit For My ATV

Not long ago I spent all day (and into the night) riding my ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) on various Snowmobile trails through the woods and National Forest regions of the White Mountains here in New Hampshire as I helped out one of the clubs with fallen tree removal, putting up signs for the coming season, and trail maintenance.

Before venturing out on this trip which I knew would extend more than 20 miles deep into the forests and climbing up to mountain-tops at elevation, I set aside some time to think about an emergency kit for my ATV. It was my first time out there and I knew there would be no other travelers on those trails as they’re off-limits except for Snowmobiles (it’s not in season yet…).

With that said, I was not traveling alone (always a good idea to do such things with a partner), but I still wanted to build a generic emergency kit – just in case.

Here’s what I took with me:

A M&P-45 on my belt w/extra mag
Full-tang heavy duty knife (‘Best Knife for Batoning Wood’)
Tow Strap
A length of heavy duty rope
Tire Repair Kit
Portable Air Compressor
Basic Tool Kit
Extra Fuel
A length of 550 Paracord (related article ‘Survival Kit Paracord’)
Topo Map of the region and Compass
Flashlight with fresh Lithium AA batteries
Sawyer Mini water filter (Mini Water Filtration System)
Water: Several water bottles
Emergency Food Bars – in addition to my lunch (Datrex High Calorie Bars)
A wrapped length of Toilet Paper in a Ziploc bag

Fire-starter kit including…
-BIC lighter
-Strike-Anywhere matches (in watertight containment)
-FireSteel with striker (from
-Small Magnifying Glass
-Tealight candle
-Vaseline coated cotton balls

Outerwear for the season, plus a bit more (just in case)
Emergency Mylar Blanket (The Uses For Emergency Mylar Blankets)
Small First Aid Kit with essentials
Cell phone (although mostly no coverage)
GMRS/FRS portable radio (alt-communications, just in case)
Handheld CB radio (alt-communications, just in case)
Whistle (A Highly Recommended Rescue Item)
Rain Poncho

Note: Some of the above mentioned items are kept in a Maxpedition Versipack. I highly recommend their bags due to the versatility, strength, and comfort for carrying ‘stuff’ less than a full-on backpack. I have two of these (one for Mrs.J) and they get used often when we’re out in the woods, hiking, etc…

Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack

I have inserted one of these in each bag:
Maxpedition Gear Universal Holster Insert with Mag Retention

Summary: I sure did enjoy the experience. There’s nothing like being way out deep in the forest, so many miles from even the smallest town. There were no emergency incidents, just lots of muscle usage while cutting/clearing and dragging fallen trees, tree limbs, rolling some big rocks off the trail, cutting brush, digging post-holes and pounding signs into the ground. It was all worth it in the evening when watching the sunset from atop a mountain as it lit up the Presidential’s across the valley with red/orange/purple fading light… The ride back down in the darkness was its own fun too ;)

I traveled with two others, so the likelihood of becoming stranded was quite low, however it sure is a good idea to be prepared anyway because the other person or people you’re with might not have their own appropriate emergency kit or supplies.

There is a false sense of security when you’re with others, so don’t count on it. Take your security and safety into your own hands and plan ahead for it.

I wish that I had my better camera, but this was taken from my ‘flip phone’
(with a little help from PhotoShop ;) )


  1. I have a different quad that allows a front carrier as well – that is where I secure my chain saw, fuel, oil, hand saw and ax. Having been stuck up a mountain after a large tree blocked my only way out, I will never travel the bush without these items.

    1. My partner that day (who has been doing this for awhile) has 4 ‘milk crate’ baskets strapped on (2 in the front, 2 in the back) filled with stuff, including two chain saws, fuel, and a zillion other related tools and things to get the job done. We joke that he’s prepared for a nuclear bomb…

      I agree wholeheartedly about the chain saw, hand saw, and axe!

      1. A hand powered winch might be a good thing, most ATV/UTVs will drain the battery and kill it if doing much winching so the warn one on the front may end up stranding you, just my experience, had to go and retrieve a friends ATV from a soft spot because he killed it trying to winch out, completely burned up the charging system so it wouldnt even pull start, got me thinking because my kawasaki mule dont have a pull cord and i have buried it up to the bottom pan,

  2. Sisters family went camping with a group last year, and I asked her do you have a med kit in your supplies, ah, NO. I promptly made up a kit with the supplies that I have on hand for the “what if”, put it in a mesh backpack that was given to us. It turned out to be a good thing, as they did have an emergency. A family member ended up with a fire burn on their hand.

    Other members of the group never thought of bring a med kit with them on the trip. Each party thought the other would have something, I even asked my sister are you sure? Yes, I am pretty sure, my reply, never count on someone else having something you do not have yourself. If it had not been for my insistence neither would the sisters family. Dirt bike/ATV riding has it’s own hazards, add in a camp fire something is going to happen.

    Good list I will add this to my sisters requirements when they go out riding for JIC. Thanks for the article Ken.

    1. I’m not saying that everything listed here is a requirement, I do suggest though to adjust according to where one might be traveling, etc..

      A First Aid Kit should be a requirement though!

  3. Talk about the unexpected happening –

    The story about the very experienced Sky-Diver, who had several hundred jumps under his belt, always had carried 2 knives at all times. On one trip, one of his partners forgot his knife, so he gave one of his to his partner. Sure enough, during the dive, Ms. Murphy struck.

    For the first time, his main chute failed to open fully, becoming tangled in his pack. His main knife, which was always handy, was now with the other diver. He had to struggle to reach his 2nd knife, which was not easy to reach. At the very last second, before plowing into the ground, he reached the knife and used it to un-foul his chute just in time to save his life, breaking both his legs and injuring his back, landing.

    ‘It’s better to have it, and not need it, Than to need it and not have it.’

  4. Don’t forget a spare spark plug, fuel filter, etc. We also carry spare cable and snatch block for our winch. The cable can double duty as a tow strap if need be. If we are going into cactus country we will use slime sealant in our tires. I had a tire that went many miles with a 3″ sidewall cut. I put a glob of flat patches in the cut and filled it up with fix a flat. It looked like I had a glove sticking out of the side wall but it worked great.

    ATVing is a great pastime where a person and his whole family can see a lot of remote country.

  5. Ken,

    Thanks to you and our group for getting out there and clearing trails. And, Thank you for the list. One last point I would like to make:

    When faced with an obstacle or changing conditions, know when to turn back or go home. My whole goal is to not have to break into my survival supplies upon returning home to my front door. I have had to carry home the dead bodies of people who tried to “Reach the Summit”.

    Coming home alive is the mark of a successful trip/adventure. As my old watch commander used to say after role call: “Stay safe out there”.

  6. Only the more experienced and/ or well trained will make safety/medical mandatory. How many hunters, hikers, etc. go out and away from civilization and never give it a second thought. Until the need arises. Although not on your list, I assume that because you have mentioned them before, that you also had chain saw chaps. I thought perhaps a dry bag, or a good heavy duty plastic bag inside the Fatboy, until I saw the specs. Glad that your return night ride went well. Perhaps a spare headlight may not be a bad idea. Just in case. A little more fun/challenging :/ having to steer down a mountain holding a flashlight.

  7. Maybe if you can afford one a PLB or Personal Locator Beacon. I don’t know much about ATVs but do know a lot about boats. Whenever I go out in my dingy I carry an emergency box with the coast guard requirements, flares, whistle & fire extinguisher. I also carry a VHF radio and spare batteries, PLB, GPS, strobe light, flash light, survival rations, water and all weather space blanket (can be used as a sun shade, makeshift sail, water catcher as well as to sleep in). While we were cruising the story was going around about a couple of guys who went fishing in their dingy. The wind came up and blew them offshore. They were never found.

    There are numerous sellers of strobe lights on eBay. Go to eBay motors, parts and accessories. boat parts, accessories and gear, safety gear and devices. I personally like the Forespar models and it is what I use as it has a longer operating life. There are newer LED strobes that also have a long operating life. Be leery of older (orange colored) military surplus strobes as they take an odd sized battery, newer olive-green colored ones use AA’s. If helicopters are searching for you the search will continue into the night if they know you have a strobe. Strobes are extremely easy to see with the night vision googles that the coast guard uses.

    If you decide to get a PLB they are small enough that they should be carried in a pocket or belt pouch. Imagine your ATV just went off the side of the hill when the trail gave way. You and it have stopped at the bottom of the hill but the ATV is a 100 feet away and you have a broken leg. Get out the PLB, turn it on and your GPS position goes up to a satellite and down to the rescue center. You can expect a helicopter shortly afterwards. They cost anywhere from $250 to $500 or so on eBay. I just saw a newer one listed with a 7 year battery and most of them say replace the battery after 3 years. Cheap insurance if it saves your life.

  8. I use mine around the Homestead a lot. A very good list if you’re knocking about out in the weeds.
    Now who here survived the old three wheelers? Man, I did a Superman off mine more than once! They should of been named Death Wheelers! Fun to ride but crazy dangerous…

    1. @ Bill Jenkins Horse

      I can raise my hand on that 3-wheeler one, the original Orange 90-CC Honda with those HUGE balloon tires…..

      Wide open they would do maybe 25MPH (downhill), but still had many of face burns. And that’s before they invented Helmets…. No wonder I’m brain challenged… HAHAHA


  9. I would love to have a 4 wheeler, but don’t laugh, I have used my riding mower down the trails instead of walking with my dogs to stay one step ahead of the mosquitos when bad.

    And Bill Jenkins Horse, I rode a 3 wheeler once that launched me in a deadly dance when it didn’t reach a top of the steep hill and tumbled down and finally landed on me. I was laid up from MX racing and hill climbing competition for a month, but I did make it to Sturgis for the hillclimb on my 450 Husky that August of ’74. Never touched the SOB again.

    Instead I have a boat. That’s my off road, off dirt vehicle. I carry my BOB with me and Moose, one of my dogs. I opt not to have a fast motor because my dog sits in front and I want his spit to fall before it hits my face.

    I just add boat and motor repair items and towels in my BOB plus dog treats, and drinking water, and a camera just in case I see Bigfoot coming out of the swampy end of the lake.

  10. Never ride alone in the forest/woods/outback. If you must… and you come across some tricky spots… Hop off the bike/quad/trike, and walk over and investigate the danger area. If you are not comfortable going down/up/through/over said area… then don’t. Go around, or turn back. Its not worth it hanging out beneath a vehicle alone, or stuck in a swamp, ditch, hillside or any other place alone.
    If you know the trail, and you’re alone… ride at a nice pace and always be aware of your surroundings.

    Many times I’ve ridden trails alone. I knew them well. Two times I dumped my bike. I was spooked by movement in the brush both times. The last time I was alone and dumped the bike (Spooked) the bike landed on my calf. I was pinned under it. I was very mad at “Self” and managed to get out from under it. I had a huge bruise for about two months. It was my right leg. Luckily I had the bike with elect start as well as kick start – so I didn’t need to use that leg to fire the bike back up.
    There wasn’t anything I could do for my mishap as far as med kits. I do carry one strapped to my fender with all the goodies in it that I would need. Spare spark plug too.
    Needless to say – that was the last time I rode that trail alone.

    ATV’s etc are great great fun… just be smart about it.

  11. I saw a guy riding around on something the other day that looked like an ATV but was about the size of a big jeep. I was thinking. Has anybody invented an 18 wheeler, with 18 wheel drive, articulated trailer all terrain vehicle? Then you can take everything with you every time you go out into the wilderness. :)

  12. Ken, this is a great article, and I liked the Comments – makes you think. You mention a compressor, can you tell me what type, etc?

  13. I have “basket carriers front and rear. Front carrier holds cammo netting and a bow saw held with bungee cords. There is a machete fastened to the basket with 550 cord and 3 molle pouches facing the driver that hold a handheld radio, GI flashlight and range finder. Rear basket is fabricated by own design and holds 3, 2.5 gal fuel cans with a folding GI shovel ty-rapped to the outside of the basket. Behind the driver is a padded quad seat with 3 pouches. One holds padded gloves, goggles and heavy duty paper towels in a zip lock. Middle pouch holds metric and sae tool box with sockets and wrenches, screw drivers, electrical tape, OD duct tape, ty-raps, etc. last pouch holds mini air compressor, tow strap, and a shackle.Tire plug kit, electrical connections,etc. Under seat compartment holds 2, 1quart bottles of oil. Between the handle bars is mounted a CB radio with a fabricated rain hood. Magnetic antenna is mounted to rear basket on “L” shaped bracket. I also fabricated a trailer hitch for assorted trailers around the homestead. All trailers were standardized with 1 7/8″ hitches. Quad plastic body panels were removed and painted woodland cameo. Headlights are covered with burlap squares held with Velcro. Tactical and practical.

  14. Good reminder Ken

    One has to remember that the ATV is of little difference than any other vehicle, I believe we would all agree that having a “vehicle bag” is a must for our cars/trucks, and a “GHB” along also. If one is going tootling into the outback for 5-10-15-plus miles why would ya not have the same equipment on that ATV?

    Here in Sothern CO and Northern NM we have dozens of hunters/hikers lost (or worse) every year because they were not prepared for where they are headed, that Snow Storm that hit, or their “vehicle” broke down and were stranded miles and miles from any help.

    YES, having the proper equipment is a pain in the butt at times, but guess what, so Is Search and Rescue/Recovery. Do NOT become one of the “numbers” with a toe-tag just because you did not want to haul that “extra stuff” for the short ride up the mountain.

    Be safe out there, Mom-Nature can be a cruel Lady at times.

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