Category: 4WD Training

Sedona Sustainable 4WD Day

Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2021

Apply to be one of eight people selected to join us for a special Earth Day 4wd course! We are looking to train a few people who can be ambassadors to help us spread education and awareness of responsible 4wd techniques that preserve trails, respect multiple access, engage other users in a positive way, and do our part every time we are on trails. Spend the day with Nena Barlow on some rugged 4wd backroads of the gorgeous Sedona area.

This hands-on course will cover 4wd driving techniques, trail etiquette and basic recovery procedures that respect the terrain, as well as look at the interests of other users, like UTV’s, non-motorized bikers and hikers, campers, and ranchers.

Perfect for the outdoor recreation-oriented driver who wants to use 4wd to explore and enjoy the backcountry responsibly, and help raise awareness of sustainable practices for all users.

How to apply:

  1. Meet the vehicle and course requirements listed below
  2. Apply by emailing no later than March 19, 2021. Tell us:
    a) Your name and phone number (your info will NOT be shared)
    b) Your vehicle description, and photo of it
    c) The reason you want to take this course
  3. Post this on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed, using the hashtag #Sustainable4WD

Chosen applications will be announced on Tuesday, March 22.

Vehicle requirements:

1. Jeep Wrangler or similarly capable rig with minimum 31″ tires, 4L, recovery points front and rear. Factory skid plates ok. Stock vehicles welcome.
2. Must be registered and insured as a street legal automobile.

Course Requirements:

1. Participants must be 18 or older, with valid drivers license and insurance.
2. No children or pets.
3. Additional guests must be approved and registered in advance.
4. Participants must be in physical condition capable of walking up and down steep hills in loose terrain, standing or walking for 20-30 minutes, and operating outdoors in dust,  heat or cold, wind or possible rain for 8 hours.

Recommended gear: Work gloves, long pants and tough closed-toe shoes, lunch and water. Arrive with a nearly full tank of gas, and a functioning spare tire.

Course length: 7-8 hours

Fee: None! This is a free course to those who are selected.

Cancellation Policy: 14 days notice is urgently requested.

Itinerary: 9 am meet time near Sedona AZ. (Location will be disclosed to registered participants). Finish approximately 4 pm.

The Secret to Good Trail Teamwork

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

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.

Continue reading “The Secret to Good Trail Teamwork”

How to Be a Good Trail Leader

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

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.

Continue reading “How to Be a Good Trail Leader”

Take Your Dog on the Trail!

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

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.

Continue reading “Take Your Dog on the Trail!”

Winch Fairlead Myths Debunked

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

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.

Continue reading “Winch Fairlead Myths Debunked”

Why Do We Train?

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

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.

Continue reading “Why Do We Train?”

What the Heck Is eTorque?

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

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.

Continue reading “What the Heck Is eTorque?”

Take Your Time

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

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?

Continue reading “Take Your Time”

Hi-Lift Jack Do’s and Don’ts

By Nena Barlow
This article originally appeared on

There are two common Hi-Lift jack misconceptions circulated among new Jeepers. The first one is that if they have 35- inch-or-taller tires, they have to carry a Hi-Lift jack with them. The second one is that they shouldn’t use a Hi-Lift jack because they are not safe. The truth is that a Hi-Lift is a very useful and versatile tool to have, no matter what size tires you own, and they can be unsafe if not used or maintained properly. Though I cannot go into all the possible ways to use a Hi- Lift jack in this short space, I will share with you the most common ways I use my Hi-Lift jack and a few key safety points.

First, what I don’t do with the Hi-Lift jack is change tires or work on my Jeep. I find an appropriately sized bottle jack or the factory scissor jack with a broad and sturdy base to be a far simpler option for tire changing. I also never use the jack for holding up a car to crawl under it—use jack stands.

Continue reading “Hi-Lift Jack Do’s and Don’ts”

Nena Barlow Named I4WDTA Master Trainer

25 July 2018, Stafford, VA. The Board of Directors announces the selection of I4WDTA Master Trainers. The Association counts among its members Certified Trainers that perform the best instruction and demonstration of Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) operating technique, daily and World-wide to recreational, commercial, and Government agency customers. They embody our slogan, “Excellence in 4-WD Training."

However, there are those among them that truly distinguish themselves and are deserving of the qualification and recognition as I4WDTA “Master Trainers”. They serve as an example for all of us, trainers and enthusiast alike, through their contributions that go beyond the exemplary performance we expect. Some of those contributions include the performance and conduct of continuing education; advanced certification in emergency care, rescue technique, and vehicle recovery practices; teaching advanced OHV skills at the recreational, commercial, and Government agency level; mentorship; environmental stewardship; trail advocacy; community volunteers at the local and state level; consultant to automotive and equipment manufacturers; authors and contributors to industry publications; adapt and develop emerging technology into 4WD training curriculum; provide advocacy, counsel, and explore new opportunities for the Association to advance the enjoyment and safety of OHV operation for the consumer and greater community at large.

We appreciate their commitment and leadership, and it is with great pride we make this announcement - please join us in congratulating I4WDTA members Nena Barlow and John Marshall as I4WDTA Master Trainers.