The 4WDers Guide to Pre-Trip Packing

You’ve ticked everything off your camping checklist and you’re keen to hit the road, but without your gear packed properly your dream road trip might turn into a nightmare. Use these simple tips to keep everything organised and in reach on your next adventure.


  1. 1. Pack heavy items first. Cargo elevates your vehicle’s centre of gravity and packing heavy gear in the centre helps minimise this issue. Stacking heavy gear on top of more lightweight kit runs the risk of items getting crushed or worn as you bump along a track. Meanwhile, arranging your lighter gear around a centrally located, heavier item can also help to keep everything in its right place for longer.

  2. 2. Distribute your gear as evenly as possible. Weight imbalances increase the chances of mechanical fatigue while compromising your 4x4’s ride and handling. If you have heavy items to one side or near the back of your 4WD, your vehicle might see unnecessary mechanical wear over long off-road trips from carrying lopsided cargo. This can make your vehicle less safe when you’re travelling and may increase your vehicle service costs after the dust has settled. Worst-case scenario, it can even cause mechanical failures that bring your trip to a screeching halt.

  3. 3. Put light and bulky gear on the roof. When internal space is at a premium, roof racks can quickly spare your storage blushes. Luckily, many large items such as swags are also some of the lightest, so storing them in a spot that’s not limited by a ceiling makes a whole lot of sense. Plus, doing the opposite and storing heavy gear on the roof isn’t a smart move. For one, roof racks have a limited load capacity. Secondly, storing cargo up high raises your vehicle’s centre of gravity which, for off-roaders, equals a greater chance of a terrifying recovery situation: the dreaded roll-over.

  4. 4. Use storage solutions to organise your cargo. It’s one thing to Tetris your way to a fully packed 4WD, but what happens when you need that cooking oil you’ve stowed away right behind the back seats? If you think packing a 4WD before you leave is a pain, then imagine doing it multiple times a day for a two-week touring holiday. Drawer systems, canopies, space cases and even seat organisers make grouping your gear and accessing it simple and will save you time and sanity during your trip – whether it’s for a weekend or a life on the road.

  5. 5. Ensure emergency gear is always accessible. No one wants to imagine a situation where your emergency gear is needed, but it also makes no sense to carry a first aid kit, fire extinguisher or spot beacon for hundreds of trips and thousands of kilometres only for it be out of reach at the one time you need it. When time is short and the pressure is on, emergency gear needs to be in a place that is easy to remember and easy to access.

  6. 6. Weigh up your setup. Your vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Mass is the maximum total weight of your vehicle, cargo and passengers, and it’s a requirement to be under your vehicle’s GVM when travelling (both for legal and safety reasons). Head to your nearest weigh bridge with your fully loaded 4x4 before you go – if you’re over your vehicle’s GVM, you will have to cull some gear from your cargo.

Slava Yurthev Copyright