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Browsing: Trail savvy

Guys like to be kitted. There’s even a sense that if you have more stuff than the folk in the campsite next-door, that you’re a better, more organised person. That smug sense will be wiped clean away when it comes to the reality of driving your 4×4 laden with all that clutter. Quite simply, an overloaded vehicle is a dangerous vehicle, not only in the handling department, but also because it is more prone to mechanical failure. Apart from the strain on the drivetrain, a vehicle that’s too heavily loaded at the rear will have overly light and unresponsive steering,

What is wheelbase, and how does it affect your rig off-road? We take a look at the pros and cons of different vehicle lengths, and how to alter your driving approach to match.

As four-wheel drive systems have evolved over the years, many different variants have surfaced to do essentially the same job: distribute power to all four wheels. How this is achieved through various systems affects vehicle dynamics on- and off-road. Last month we explained how electronically-controlled clutches automatically distribute power, a system typically used by All Wheel Drive (AWD) soft roaders, which are not equipped with low-range gearing. In this article we explore how the mechanical Torsen (TORque SENsing) differential works, what its benefits are and its application – typically on large SUV-type 4x4s with longitudinal drivetrains, low-range gearing and permanent

Recovery tracks work on the same principle – no matter whether they are the steel or aluminium ‘sand ladders’ that overlanders have been using since WW2, modern composite versions, or a host of other fold-up or roll-up contraptions. Quite simply, when you are on a soft or slippery surface, these all spread the load under your wheels to provide a grippy platform that helps you to get going again. At SA4x4, lightweight plastic recovery tracks are our first go-to recovery aid, and we never leave on a four-wheeling trip without them. The Australian company, Maxtrax, was one of the first

From the purple low-riders of Los Angeles to the blinged-out SUVs in rap videos, we’ve all seen the trend. Huge wheels are now an intrinsic part of motoring culture and modern car design. While giant rims with painted-on tyres may look great stuffed under a wheel arch, they have several drawbacks which are most obviously highlighted off-road. Take the new Land Rover Discovery, for example. Its standard fitment wheels range from 19- to 22-inch, a trend echoed on many premium four-wheel-drive SUVs. This makes a mockery of the 4×4 capability of these vehicles. From personal experience and simple common sense,

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

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