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Browsing: Trail savvy

There are pluses and minuses when it comes to dragging a trailer about on your overland adventures. Around any campfire, you will find both the big supporters of these houses on wheels, and those who prefer to keep things to just four wheels when it comes to the rough stuff. If you are considering taking the trailer plunge, there are a few regulations to consider, as well as some loading and towing tips that will make life both easier and safer. Benefits to towing The most obvious benefit to having a trailer is, of course, the masses of added packing…

Whether you’re a weekend camper, holiday adventurer or hard-core overlander who stays out for months at a time, your sleeping solutions will vary widely. Ground tents, roof-top tents or interior sleeping accommodations all have their pros and cons. In this column, we discuss some of the issues faced by campers and how to deal with them. Interior camping I remember a horrific story my father told of a French family that he knew who were camping in Zaire (now the DRC) on a Cape to Europe trip. The parents slept in a roof-top tent, and the two kids below in…

We’ve all been there, looking at piles of ‘vital’ items and realising that they’ll never all fit in at the same time. Perhaps you’ve even had massive, heated arguments with your spouse because of their inability to compute the difference between the space available and what they insist must fit in. Or perhaps it is you who are the gadget freak, and who can’t leave without two of everything in case one of them breaks on the road. On our recent trip to Malawi (elsewhere in this issue) the packing problem quickly went from annoyance, to frustration, to forcing us…

A turbocharger is a turbine driven by exhaust gases. It increases the combustion efficiency of an engine by compressing intake air before the engine consumes it. Because the air is being compressed, the engine has more oxygen available for combustion, thus increasing output and efficiency. Why boost? In recent years, we’ve seen nearly every vehicle manufacturer drop large displacement naturally-aspirated petrol engines from their line-ups, and focus attention on the more efficient (turbocharged) diesels. Some markets still demand the old-school petrol engines (including ours, the United States and the Middle East), which is why Toyota still offers a 4.0-litre V6…

A controversial picture was recently published in SA4x4 showing a reader using a high-lift jack, but not in the correct manner under load. (The jacking handle was at the halfway position, not fully up, while he changed a tyre.) Because of this oversight, we thought the timing right to talk about high-lift jacks and how to use them, as they are a very useful overlanding tool but can also be highly dangerous when used incorrectly. Because they are relatively low priced and have a myriad of uses, they have become a mainstay in the overlanding community and are standard kit…

This month’s column may be a bit controversial and against the advice of some of the tyre experts, as it includes some tricks that should really only be used in the case of a dire emergency. Fact is, countless times we’ve been stuck on the roadside with a torn sidewall, or marooned in a dune with a tyre off its rim. What do you do in these situations, and how can you get home safely? Torn sidewall Let me first be clear that once a tyre has a torn sidewall, it is ruined and must be replaced. However, the problem…

The dark and slippery art of mud driving is a difficult subject to tackle, primarily because there are so many different types of mud. Sandy mud, black cotton soil, layered clay and waterlogged mud all have different characteristics and require a different approach, so this article will cover the basic techniques required for most instances, but can’t hope to cover every situation. Look before you leap Mud must be approached with caution, just like any other challenging surface. It’s best to stop before entering a deep bog rather than ploughing into it without knowing its depth or length. Check to…

At the Rust De Winter Jamboree (see elsewhere in this issue), steep rocky inclines were the name of the game − and more than a couple of folk came short. There are several fundamentals that are vital in climbing a steep, rocky slope safely: traction, momentum and line choice. The first and most important aspect of hill climbing is maintaining traction. This is achieved in two ways: line choice and tyre pressure. On rocks, especially, it’s a balancing act between deflating tyres for traction and maintaining clearance. Where clearance is not an issue, you may drop as much as 50%…

All over South Africa, and especially in Namibia, sand is a vital part of any 4×4 adventure. Once the skills to conquer it have been mastered, sand driving is possibly the most fun you can have in a 4×4. In this chapter, we delve into some of the tips and tricks to keep you on top. Drop the pressure Arguably the most important aspect of sand driving is tyre pressure. If you try driving on sand with hard tyres, you’ll soon find yourself struggling. When you reduce pressure by as much as 50% below standard, the footprint of your tyres…

Isn’t it strange that most South African male drivers (yes, that’s us) believe that as soon as they hit a dirt road, their skill level is suddenly on par with a driving genius combination of Sarel van der Merwe and Sebastién Loeb? The hammer goes down, the red mist descends − and before you know it, your vehicle is fishtailing all over the place while the family goes all wide-eyed and grips tightly on any handholds. Seriously, guys; what’s the rush? You are on holiday. Another 35 minutes on the road will still leave enough time to set up camp…

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