Being prepared is always a great idea and when you are on a machine that will quickly and effortlessly take you into remote places far from help. Having the right things with you can make the difference between “weathering the storm” in relative comfort versus clinging to life.
You need to think about what basic essentials you should carry on your Honda ATV...just in case. Considering that basic survival gear, such as water, food and matches for building a fire, can be easily carried in a backpack, we realize our 4-wheeler need not be overloaded. Of course the time of year and geographic location have a lot to do with how mean the environment can be. Montana in January will have much greater requirements than Virginia in May, but both can challenge you.
For flat tires, because they are so easy to fix, having one of the commercial patch/plug and CO2 kits or a compact tire pump will take care of all but the worst tire problems. You also need to plan out your fuel supply. No gas, no go. To that end you need to watch your tripmeter, know your machine’s range and perhaps carry a spare supply of fuel in an approved container. You also need a means to clear obstacles that might block your way. In timbered country, a blown-down tree can absolutely stop you. I never leave home without an axe or bow saw. The axe is far more versatile and can be used to do many things to enhance survival, but it requires much more skill and experience than the saw. The saw can make quick work of trees up to about 16 inches in diameter. Also, keep a small but efficient first-aid kit on hand. Your ATV can also be used to move logs that are too heavy to lift either before of after you cut them. Therefore, rope, a tow strap or light cable are very handy.
From a human standpoint, water is essential, while we can go quite a while without food. How much you need to carry depends on the temperature and if there is any source of natural water readily available. I keep a half gallon with me all the time. If you are in the desert where there is no water, better carry more. If there is natural water at hand, some form of purification device should be used before consumption. I once asked a Navy Seal what he took when he went on a really bad assignment. The answer surprised me: “Gatorade and Power Bars.” Hmmm, exquisitely simple. Freeze dried food or an MRE (those are military-type meals, ready to eat) become real banquets if you are hungry and are non-perishable and easy to carry.
Warmth: clothes, shelter and fire! If you are riding in winter or cold, you will probably have pretty warm clothes. However, once your helmet is off, you will want a good warm cap or hood. Keep in mind that at 40 degrees hypothermia will kill you long before dehydration or starvation get you! Do not assume that the 60-degree spring afternoon will become a comfortable night. Beyond sensible items of wool or synthetic clothing, pack a space blanket, one of the light military ponchos that can become a rain shelter or even a small tent to turn a nightmare into a camping trip. A light, compressible sleeping bag is not a bad idea. In addition to your heavier towrope, you should also have a good coil of light cord, like parachute cord. It is weightless, small and is one of those wonderful things that can make something out of nothing, such as the ATV and light tarp/poncho turning into what will seem like a palace in a storm (Well, almost!).
To build a fire you need a source ranging from one of the modern flint/metal fire makers, matches, a butane lighter (not always reliable at high altitude) or my favorite, an old-fashioned but effective-in-the-wind Zippo. Tinder or “base-fuel” is extremely important unless you have dry, easy-to-burn wood. By the way, you should never leave home without a good pocket knife for literally dozens of reasons not the least of which is its contribution to fire-making. A candle is another idea, and it can be as simple as 4-inch pieces of seam material cut from discarded jeans and soaked in melted wax. Quarter inch by four inch strips of rubber tire are very flammable and absolutely weatherproof. Also, natural pitch pine (fatwood) will start a fire. Your fire-making tools and tinder should be stowed in a plastic bag. If it is really wet and fire seems impossible, one last trick can be a lifesaver. While you could pour the entire contents of your fuel tank onto a pile of wet wood and get a magnificent “poof,” the result will often be very short-lived. To make fire with liquid fuel, you need a secret ingredient— the bottom half of a soda tin. Fill the aluminum cup with fuel and put a little grass, paper or cloth in it to form a wick. Place this on the ground and lay a piece of wood that is slightly thicker than the can is tall on either side. Then stack the wet wood around and above this huge “candle.” When the wood is in place, light the wick and get out the marshmallows. The long, concentrated burn will get even the most stubborn wood blazing.
Beyond the fires with natural fuel, backpacking stoves or the miraculous little alcohol stoves can boil, cook and keep you alive. With them you need to carry fuel, but because almost all of this is designed to be carried in backpacks they are compact and light on an ATV.
While it is impossible to anticipate every situation or emergency, expecting the worst in a mild and sensible way will keep you prepared for the unexpected.