Author: Adventure Coordinator

We are open!

Through all of the uncertainty, one thing remains true. We have wonderful customers. We want to extend a big “thank you” for being a part of what we do, following us on social media, sending us your great photos, and calling us just to say hi during the last couple of months.

State orders will allow us to open up our full Jeep rental schedule starting May 16th. Our trips and training will also resume, since our events have always been small groups, outdoors, and each party in their own vehicle.

Of course, there are a few changes to the way we need to do business to keep our guests and staff safe. Sarah says “everyone expects things to be all differenty.” We find that with our business already about getting out in a Jeep with just your own family, we didn’t have to make as many changes as we thought, so we feel lucky that we can get back to having fun with you, at the small cost of trying to keep some spacing, and wearing masks when you are at the store with us.

Here are the details on our updated policies and procedures:

  1. Jeep rentals by appointment only. To allow our staff to properly disinfect our workspaces, equipment, and vehicles we will be open by appointment only, with only one group booked per hour. If you have visited our stores before, you know how small that front office can get when two or more parties try to squeeze in. And one party at a time will make it fun to really customize your plans and ideas for your excursion. To make appointments, just give our rental team a call, or book a Jeep rental on our website. Of course, if you are just in town on a whim, by all means, call us–if we have room at that moment, we are happy to get you in a Jeep!
  2. Face masks, physical distancing. Everyone agrees that physical distancing, and even better for you to be outdoors than indoors, is the best way to prevent the spread of disease. Our staff is required to wear masks, but since we are not able to maintain good physical distance throughout the rental process, like when we talk over trails and introduce Jeep operations to you, we will also require our guests to wear face masks while at our store. (We actually considered many different possibilities: “Trail talk by Zoom?”, “Plastic bank teller screens at the map desk?”, “YouTube videos followed by written quizzes?”–needless to say, masks were the least painful, especially if you have seen our videos…!) If you do not have your own mask, we can provide you with one. Once you leave the store, you don’t have to wear a mask on trails or in the Jeep. And you won’t have to wear one to check back in when you return the Jeep–we can do the inspection with good physical distance. We understand that this can cause difficulties for some. If you have any concerns about your health or physical needs for this procedure, please call us to discuss, and we can work with you to make some arrangements for your situation.
  3. More cleaning. Our rental team uses stringent disinfecting protocols on all of our vehicles, as outlined by the CDC. Our Jeeps already had a reputation of being squeaky clean, so we just leveled up. Now, they get a double disinfecting process–the aerosol treatment upon return, some good Southwestern sunshine and fresh air, then a last wet disinfectant wipe down throughout before going out again. Everything from door handles and turn signals, to seatbelts and radio dials get a double-dose for your peace of mind.

If you are ready to get out of the house, we would love to see you!

Gladiator Comparison

By Nena Barlow
This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

After months of waiting for my ordered Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition, I was dying to throw on a few “Barlow” modifications and hit the trail, and I needed to answer one question: How does the Gladiator measure up? Though I have argued that the Gladiator should be compared to other midsize trucks, like the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado, in the end I stuck with what I know best and sized up the Wrangler and Power Wagon against the Gladiator.

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The Secret to Good Trail Teamwork

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

When Ken Brubaker of Four Wheeler magazine, Jp’s sister publication, asked me to guide the first Overland Adventure, one of my biggest concerns was how to bring together a group that was going to be far more diverse than the usual all-Jeep run. With everything from rock crawling Wranglers to overland monsters like John Marshall’s U-600 Unimog, and a smattering of various off-road trailers, the vehicles and the experience of the participants were vastly different. We planned to travel from Wickenburg to Prescott and onward to Overland Expo in Flagstaff—via 260 miles of backroads over three days. What came of this eclectic event was a lesson in teamwork and camaraderie unparalleled in any other large groups I have led.

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How to Be a Good Trail Leader

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

When people think about what is required to be a good trail leader, they often think of spotting skills; however, it’s much more than that. Trail leaders don’t just know how to drive their own rigs through some tough terrain—they also help others drive their rigs through it. And, most importantly, they properly prepare for the trip in advance with information, comfort concerns, and safety logistics to help the group enjoy the whole day from start to finish.

Good trail leading means starting with a plan. Beyond the date and time you are inviting the group to meet, provide information about the intended route, itinerary, pace for the trip, weather forecasts along the route, whether the group needs to bring lunch on the trail, if there are bathroom facilities or the participants need to plan otherwise, and any other special considerations people should be prepared for, like permit or entrance fees, gas stops and fuel range expectation, and if pets and children are recommended or permitted in the areas you are visiting.

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Take Your Dog on the Trail!

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

Thinking of taking Fido with you on the Jeep run or backcountry vacation? Many of us consider our dogs as our children and travel everywhere with them. However, there are some special considerations for Jeeping or overlanding with pets.

Aside from the usual concerns about plenty of nature stops, food, and water, having a safe and secure place to ride in the vehicle is of special concern on rough and steep terrain. Many people recognize that all human occupants in the vehicle should be wearing seatbelts, but consider what happens to Fido when you start down a steep descent or bounce over a rocky crossing. We have seen dogs get launched off the back seat and actually crack the front dash components on impact—extremely unpleasant for the dog, I am sure. And since many of us like to take our top and doors off, it adds an extra level of danger to your fur baby. Consider the dynamics, but also consider your dog’s behavior. I had a dog who would launch himself out of the Jeep if he saw a rabbit, whether we were moving at 5 or 50 mph. We learned to travel with the windows on with him. Pet experts recommend that if you don’t travel with your dog in a crate, large dogs should be restrained in a doggy seatbelt harness, while doggy car seats are ideal for small- to medium-sized dogs.

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Winch Fairlead Myths Debunked

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

When you purchase a new winch, it usually comes packaged with a fairlead. A winch with wire rope comes with a roller fairlead, and a winch with synthetic rope will have a hawse fairlead. We’ve talked before about good winching practices and winch rope care, but let’s talk about the pros and cons of your fairlead choices, and why you may want to switch fairleads.

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Why Do We Train?

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

Who among us hasn’t broken or stuck something on the trail, which, in retrospect, became a very clear lesson about what not to do? Many of us learned our 4WD skills the hard way, by trial and error, or by learning from watching others make costly mistakes. Most would agree there is tremendous value to receiving professional training. Paying for training up front may cost money, but it usually results in saving an exponential amount of money and time in the long run.

When I started working in the tour industry in the 1990s, typical commercial training consisted of “ride with this guy for a while to learn the ropes, go out and practice by yourself, and when you feel ready, take us on a tour and we’ll see how you do.” Needless to say, companies that operate like that have very high liability and vehicle repair bills.

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What the Heck Is eTorque?

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

When I first heard there would be a mild-hybrid motor option in the JL Wrangler, I was curious, but not convinced that anything but a diesel would tempt me away from the tried-and-true 3.6L V-6. I reluctantly ordered two for our fleet, just to try them out. First to arrive was a pretty Hella Yella Unlimited Rubicon that we named MaryAnn. Though I can neither confirm nor deny that there was drag racing between the 2.0L turbo eTorque Wrangler and one of our 3.6L V-6 Wranglers, what I can say is that the 2.0L turbo is noticeably faster off the line and in the quarter-mile than the V-6 in the JL Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

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Take Your Time

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

As a kid traveling in the backseat of our family 4x4s, what I looked forward to most was the stopping and getting out. Once I was old enough to drive, a whole new world of traveling enjoyment opened up, just for the sheer joy of driving. But, now that I’m getting older and have my own kids riding in the backseat, I find that there is so much more to enjoy when you aren’t trying to set a record pace for every mile of terrain. Most of us didn’t buy our Jeeps to just get from point A to point B, right? Why not invest a little time into where that wonderful machine is taking you?

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Preparing a Jeep for 1,000 Miles of Desert

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

The first year of the Rebelle Rally was 2016, and Emily Miller of Rod Hall Racing had put together an all-women’s off-road rally lasting seven days and covering more than 1,000 miles of desert roads. The competition would not be for speed, but for navigational accuracy using only a map and compass—no GPS allowed. I was asked to prep some Jeeps for that first Rebelle Rally and decided to compete as well, and I have ever since. Having completed our third year in the rally, we have fine-tuned an approach to preparing a Jeep for such an endeavor.

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