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Story & pictures Paul Donovan If I were only allowed to pack three items in a survival pack, they would be a knife, paracord, and duct tape. With these, I think you could surmount any catastrophe. It’s likely we know the origins of the knife and paracord (ok, if you don’t, paracord is used for parachute guylines), but what about duct (or duck) tape? What’s the story there? Without a doubt, duct tape has to be one of the greatest products ever invented. I have lost count of the myriad times I have used it to get me out of

It seems that a ‘must-have’ piece of equipment, which is often mounted on peoples’ 4x4s, is a winch. It most certainly has that ‘wow’ factor and makes you look like the ultimate adventurer. This piece of equipment has been available for decades, yet many owners have no idea how to operate it safely. Winches are used for lifting in industrial applications, as well as for pulling; think of overhead cranes lifting containers in the harbour, and the tow truck or flatbed that comes to pick your vehicle up after an accident or breakdown. In this series we keep on stressing

Mention the word jack and what usually comes to mind, in the 4×4 context, is the hydraulic bottle jack or scissor jack that your vehicle is supplied with from the factory. However, when it comes to vehicle recoveries, the standard jack is very limited. If your vehicle is fitted with a lifted aftermarket suspension, that standard jack will simply not be able to lift the wheel off the ground if you have a puncture or some other wheel/tyre issue. It does not have enough travel. Quite frankly, even with standard tyres and suspension, a typical OE bottle jack is short

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by puzzles. Both those that you solve on paper, and those that involve fitting pieces together to create the complete picture. Perhaps this is why I am so drawn to the greatest jigsaw puzzle of them all – nature. Everything in nature is interconnected, and even though some pieces might take us longer to slot into place than others, eventually the sum of the parts equals the whole. So often when we are out in the bush, in our haste to see as much as we can, we just

The go-to guide for safe driving off the tar By Jacqui Ikin The subject of off-road driving skills has been the basis of numerous books and endless debates the world over. Everyone has an opinion – some more valid than others. I don’t believe it’s possible to train off-road driving skills from the pages of a magazine alone. As with any practical skill, only experience creates ‘unconscious competence’. For this reason, a hands-on training course through a professional service provider is a highly recommended foundation for the extended journey of becoming a competent off-road driver. That said, it is possible

A material of many uses Words & pictures Paul Donovan We’ve all cooked a Sunday roast in tin foil (more correctly aluminium foil), but there are of course myriad other uses we can put it to. In my opinion, it is almost up there with the likes of duct tape and zip ties, so a roll is always in my camping and survival kits. Vessel for boiling water Purification of water is obviously important to make it safe to drink. The easiest way of doing this is to boil it. But what happens if you don’t have a suitable container?

We all love the sound of an old Rover V8 or the scream of a four-litre Lexus-powered Cruiser blasting up a dune. These large capacity eight-cylinder drinkers sure are good to hear and even better to drive – if you’re not paying the fuel bill. Nowadays, modern petrol engines have lost much of their aural tone and character, but despite being half the size they make the same power as V8s of 20 years ago. The case for diesel engines is the same, with downsizing taking effect and cylinder counts dropping. To keep power up but fuel consumption down manufacturers

Vervet Monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) are the most widespread of the African monkeys; occurring from the Ethiopian Rift Valley, highlands east of the Rift, and southern Somalia, through the eastern lowlands of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia (east of the Luangwa Valley), Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and all nine provinces in South Africa. Like the Impala (Aepyceros melampus) of a previous article, vervets are often overlooked because they are so ubiquitous. Yet they are fascinating animals and certainly worthy of a second look. The origin of the name ‘vervet’ is unclear; perhaps a shortening of two French words ‘vert grivet’ meaning

Take another look at those garden pests Words & pictures Paul Donovan The French eat them in great numbers but few other people are quite as adventurous. What am I talking about eating? Snails, of course. I have written a few articles extolling the virtues of bush tucker because it’s plentiful and easy to find. But not everyone may be motivated enough to eat crickets, locusts, and other creepy crawlies. However, slugs and snails are a bit different, because they more resemble limpets or whelks. So if you have a liking for seafood, you won’t find them too unpalatable. Slugs

In today’s day and age, with access to all the information we have ever wanted at the click of a button, it is scary to see how uninformed people really are. As a result of this, we often hear about how things go horribly wrong when it comes to recoveries. Which brings us to shackles. These are a key element in the recovery bag, and there are a few types available. For our purposes, they are typically a piece of cast metal or strong nylon rope used to attach a recovery strap to a point on the vehicle. As with

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