Browsing: 4×4 skills

Chris Collard shares his three decades of backcountry breakdowns, and the tools and equipment needed to get you (and your vehicle) home alive. For Chris’ full insights, grab the December 2017 edition of SA4X4.If we sat around a campfire spinning yarns about our early exploits into the backcountry, my guess is that the memories, regardless of the details, have been filtered into blissful adventures. They were most likely simple affairs with a full complement of necessities: a cooler of coldies, sleeping bags, and camp chairs. I recall the first trip in my ’82 Hilux. My buddy Rich Currie and I…

In a Bushcraft situation, while making shelters, etc, it may be necessary to lash structures together. But what do you do if you don’t have any string or rope? Well, you can resort to making your own. There are many ways this can be done. We can use stems from certain fibrous plants or the inner bark of some species of trees – whether this be from the tree trunk, branch, or roots. However, it is important to understand that a tree is a complex living structure, with a multi-faceted layering system moving nutrients and water through this structure. Surrounding…

If ever there appeared to be an unlikely combination of bushrelated topics, I would agree this might be it; but, as John Muir the Scottish-American naturalist (1838- 1914) is believed to have said, “When you tug at a single thing in nature, you will find it is attached to everything else”. “We owe the amazing diversity of wildlife that we are able to view on a safari to the dynamic equilibrium that exists between grasses and trees in the Bushveld/Savanna”Southern Africa is home to some 1000 grass species, of which at least one third occurs nowhere else on earth. Although…

Water is the most abundant substance on earth, and essential to all forms of life. If you run out of water, and cannot locate a source, in some situations the consequences can become dire very quickly. Fortunately, wildlife can give us a few pointers on how to find it. By Paul Donovan Animals can be categorised into three groups, based on their water reliance: ‘non-dependent’, ‘less-dependent’ and ‘dependent’. Although it is impossible to cover the dependency needs of every animal species, this overview points out a few which are reliable, and a few which are not. Some animals may not…

Legend, tradition and folklore abound in Africa, and are often viewed with some scepticism in this, the post-modern era. However, it would seem that much received wisdom still has the potential to reveal startling information about the natural world in which we live; elephants, bees and the marriage tree being no exception… “In many traditional cultures, it is believed that marriages held under the Marula tree are divinely blessed”Legend has it that Hare acted kindly towards Elephant during a year of drought by helping him to find water, and was rewarded with a tusk. This he planted in his garden…

Reaching 30m in height, with a circumference in excess of 28m, the baobab tree can live for several thousand years. By Paul Donovan If you found yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, you would be hard-pressed to fi nd in one place all the elements you require to survive. You have to go hunting for them. Th at is, of course, unless you fi nd yourself in the proximity of Adansonia, the Baobab tree. In my view, this tree is a living survival kit, as it can help you out in so many ways. Sometimes known as the ‘upside-down…

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” (Albert Einstein)Einstein is best known as a visionary physicist, but he was also passionately interested in all the complexities and interactions of the natural world. Nature is indeed an intricate web of many interconnected threads, and I am always amazed that the more I look, the more remarkable and unlikely are the relationships I discover… Images: Will Jansen & Lorraine DoyleThe time before the arrival of the first rains is a stressful period for many bushveld animals, as food is often in short supply after the dry winter season.…

By Lorraine DoyleSeptember marks the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere, and, as the late Robin Williams once said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party!’”. With this in mind, it seems fitting to look at some of those creatures for which the arrival of warmer days is cause for celebration – insects. “I’ll follow the sun…” (The Beatles, 1964)Although these are not usually high on the list of ‘things to see in the bush’, if they are on the list at all, it really is worth pausing for just a moment on a spring day to see what you…

If you are open to their clues, various animals can lead you to water in an emergency, but once you have found a water source, you should not simply go and drink it, even if it looks clean. Water is a two-edged sword. It is the most important element we need to keep our body working, but it can house bacteria and pathogens which can cause us great harm. It is therefore important that we treat all water, irrespective of how ‘clean’ it may appear, in such a way that we render these harmful organisms harmless to us. Before we…

When it comes to winch recovery, there is a sharp divide amongst enthusiasts about whether steel cable is superior to synthetic rope. No matter where you go, people seem to argue the merits of both types, making it hard for someone not in the know to get a definitive answer. In the past few years, the popularity of synthetic rope has escalated and it is now widely available; but is it the right choice for you? Steel cable For as long as winching has been around, the industry standard has been aircraft-grade steel cable, which is more durable than synthetic…

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