You don’t have to be a man to be MacGyver. When it comes to picking a lock with a bobby pin, or fixing a bra strap with a safety pin, women’s skills are well documented. But women can also fix a vehicle. If you find yourself stuck or even injured while off-roading, don’t be intimidated. Instead of feeling like the damsel in distress, hoping to flag down someone to help you, here are a few quick fixes (with some unusual items) you can do on your own to get you and your vehicle out of the backcountry safely.
Feminine Products As Fan Belts, Fuel Caps, and First Aid
The cashier at your local grocery store may not believe that the tampons, maxi pads, and pantyhose are for a weekend of four-wheeling in the backcountry, but you’ll be the one smiling when they save your butt from being stranded. If you’re ever in a bind, you’ll be glad you have these stuffed into your glove compartment or toolbox.
Let’s start with the pantyhose. They make a perfect emergency fan belt – if you have a V Belt. All you need to do is remove the damaged belt and very tightly tie a pair of pantyhose in its place. It isn’t a fix which will last long, so you may need to bring several pairs, but it will work better than no belt at all. Sadly, modern serpentine belts negate this fix because they do not have grooves to follow the path of the belt.
Tampons, as we know, excel in absorbency. If your fuel cap is vented or has been lost on the trail and you need to do some stream or creek fording, push a super absorbency tampon into the fuel tank filler neck. The tampon will soak up most of the water that may splash into the opening and prevent your tank from flooding – though it isn’t guaranteed to keep it completely dry. After you get through the water section, just tug it out using the handy string.
This last one can literally save your life and should always be a part of your first aid kit: maxi pads. If you get a bad gash, apply a maxi pad to it face-down and bandage it to the wound. It will help to stop the bleeding until you can get medical treatment.
Winching Your Vehicle Out With a Jack
Before explaining how to do this, a disclaimer needs to be made. Hi Lift Jacks are designed to constrain a great deal of energy. If you use them in the wrong way or don’t pay enough attention, there is a real chance of serious injury .
With that in mind, if you’re stuck on the trail without a winch and no one is around to pull you out, a Hi Lift Jack can be a handy—albeit tedious—lifesaver. In fact, there is a pre-prepared Hi Lift off-road kit designed just for this situation and it works like this:
As you can see from the video, the process is exhausting and slow, but it will get the job done. Here are a couple of tips if you intend to assemble your own Hi Lift off-road kit:
– 3/8” chain is the best was to winch with a Hi Lift Jack because it does not stretch like tow straps or recovery straps do and it is strong enough to resist breaking and becoming shrapnel.
– Without the Hi Lift custom nose attachment, you will need to detach the jack nose from the chain or recovery strap each time you reach the end of the Jack’s travel along the standard.
– Make sure everyone stays a safe distance from the winching process, just in case something does go wrong.
“Adult” Quick Fixes
It’s a Sunday afternoon and you’re looking through your significant other’s toolbox, trying to discern where your best pair of pantyhose has gone, when you discover petroleum jelly, condoms, and Viagra. Before you get mad, read on. Those items actually have more uses than you think.
Petroleum jelly and condoms are both splendid water-proofers on the trail. Lightly coat electrical wires in petroleum jelly to keep them dry and stretch a condom over the top of anything you need to completely seal. You can also make a cheap cover for some of your exterior accessories using condoms, if you’re in a pinch and they’re at risk of becoming rusty and/or filthy. An important note: Do not use petroleum jelly and condoms in tandem, as the petroleum jelly will dissolve the latex.
Studies have found that Viagra can be used to combat altitude sickness. As you reach higher altitudes, low air pressure can cause blood vessels to leak fluid which builds up in the lungs. Viagra relaxes those blood vessels, improving blood flow and decreasing symptoms. Notably, this isn’t an instant fix, but if you’re spending a few days at extreme elevation in the mountains you might be glad to have a bottle of little blue pills packed away in the med kit.
Using Your Jack to Hold a Broken Axle
A broken axle shaft is one of the worst breaks you can have on the trail. There is no limping along without it to get to a mechanic and it’s not exactly one of the extra parts you keep in the back. Or is it? Here’s where we bring it all full circle with your handy Hi Lift Jack.
This is an especially easy fix with a C-clip axle. Remove the handle from your Hi Lift Jack and place it across the outside of your tire. Then, use ratchet straps to hold it in place by attaching them underneath your vehicle. This will keep pressure against the tire and hold the broken axle shaft in the housing, allowing the wheel to continue turning with the other three—just remember to drive back very slowly.
With all of these fixes, the real deal is—of course—preferred. A winch will work better than a Hi Lift Jack and a spare belt won’t shred like a pair of pantyhose will. However, if you’re up the metaphorical creek without a paddle, they can help get you home in one piece.
Rachel Bowes is a copywriter with 4WD”