Have you been dreaming of or planning a 4×4 Off-Road Adventure.
An expedition truck can be anything really, built for the purpose of adventure. It’s like backpacking with a vehicle when you’re sitting in a 4×4, but with all the essentials packed. Of course defining ‘essentials’ is personal to the trip and you. Do you want to sleep inside, up top, throw a tent out beside you or book into a B&B at the end of every day? Have you an itch to compete in a Continental Rally, climb dunes in a toured convoy? Perhaps it wild camping in the mountains or trawling the green lanes across the UK and Europe or Africa. There really is no limit when there’s a 4×4 involved.
Sort your adventure gear to suit your trip …
Is your vehicle ready for it?
Making that dream trip means first defining and making an honest evaluation of your truck and yourself. Got the desired tyres for your trip, got the right 4×4? Eight hours chewing tarmac in a Rock Climbing monster to experience half a day climbing a mountain pass is going to tell on the spine. Most solid 4×4 trucks with a low range transfer case and locking differentials will pass through soft mud or sand. Just think how basic a military Defender or Jeep is and where these can scamper. The defining 4×4 adventure competition the Camel Trophy was achieved with standard factory fit Land Rovers and bolt on additions. Vehicles built for overland need to prioritise practicality and liveability across long trips, and cope with a variety of terrains. So what do you need on your truck, under body armour, waffle boards, a winch?
Start with basics like Roof racks, they’re a great addition giving a place to mount lights and hold a lot of essential gear as interior space becomes precious. Everything needs a place, there’s no point burying key items like toolbox or fridge. 30 minutes searching for a wrench, compressor or beer is bad planning. All the personal kit too, clothes, toiletries, it all needs firmly packing and securing, we don’t want a jack lift slamming into the back of our heads just as we’re contemplating a curvy descent. Lets face it we’re driving 4×4, hopefully we will be stretching our selves on at least some gentle angles on our voyage. Tie everything down with ratchet straps to avoid damage from anything coming loose or vibration and hopefully escape that infernal rattling noise. Equipment can be added or refined over a period of time along with driving experience and confidence.
Driving off-road has a unique style. It needs precise control of your vehicle over a multitude of tricky and changing terrains. You’ll need your wits about you, be constantly examining the track in front, making decisions and accessing a safe route. Be prepared to walk a route and abandon one if an obstacle cannot be crossed or bypassed. There are great places to gain and hone 4×4 recovery experiences with training courses, events and clubs all across the UK and Europe. Confidence comes with a sense of knowledge that you can recover your truck from getting stuck. It’s always easier to travel with others creating camaraderie as any obstacles are overcome.
Where to go.
Once you’ve built your dream machine, shackled on and wedged everything in, your ready for the OFF. Time to explore but exactly where can you go? Contrary to belief just because a 4×4 can pretty much go anywhere doesn’t mean we should. So what can we do and where can we go?
In the UK we are lucky to have BOATS, (Byways Open To All Traffic) a vehicle rights of way which can be found on most good maps. You can explore some beautiful places with these routes. Checking the Internet for free county maps can help keep cost down plus include any locations of interest or camp sites and you can see if there are any special events on whilst you travel. These green lanes are a great way to escape for a day/week adventuring, trundling or just testing your gear.
Using the Byways is classed as green laning but don’t be fooled by the term, there’s still plenty to challenge you, your vehicle and gear. If you’re unsure there are plenty of 4×4 clubs around that regularly use their local BOATS.
Google maps can be a good source for checking trails in Europe although it can’t tell you about the floods or landslides that occurred last week. There are plenty of companies that organise trips abroad to lead the way, ease any ferry and border crossings and help with overnight stops.
What to take.
When your relying on your truck to travel into the unknown you’ll need to be able to maintain and repair it. What tools and spare parts you end up carrying are best based on your ability to fix things, and the needs of the vehicle with its common wear and tear items. Tyres are going to be the most frequently damaged part of your truck, but they are also the most important part. Keep all bases covered, great if you can carry a spare but best carry a puncture kit, Fix a Flat can, air compressor and off-road jack. This will become the bases of the tool kit plus the maintenance and spare bare necessities then there’s a persons basic human needs.
Water for drinking, cooking and washing, items to drink, eat and wash with. Shelter and bedding if you’re enjoying the freedom of camping, a fridge for that cool drink of an evening? Is there enough food to support the whole trip? The good thing is there’s no Ryan air baggage allowance but you’ll need to hone those stashing skills and keep an eye on your Gross Laden Weight. (GLW). If you’re towing, then check those weights too.
Don’t forget fuel range, usual fuel economy can be halved when ambling in the dirt. You either need to plan routes around relevant petrol stations, or carry extra jerry cans. Always better to carry more fuel than you think you might need.
Happy planning and happy travelling, don’t forget to send us any pictures if you find yourself somewhere worth boasting about.