Category: Gear

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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Hi-Lift Jack Do’s and Don’ts

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

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.

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Heads-Up: Tips For Better Trips

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

When venturing out on the trail, most of us take at least basic precautions to deal with some common trail mishaps. We carry tools, emergency supplies, and a first aid kit. But those things only work if you use the most important piece of equipment—your brain. The ability to pay attention, recognize problems as they develop, and calmly utilize available assets are the best tools you can have.

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How to Take Care of Your Winch Rope

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on fourwheeler.com.

If you use synthetic rope on your winch, there are some things you should do to ensure the safety, functionality, and lifespan the winch rope. The number one killer of synthetic rope is abrasion, meaning things that rub the independent fiber strands down and weaken the rope. There are many ways we expose rope to abrasion, some that are not so obvious.

First and most obvious is rubbing the line on rocks and terrain while winching. Most of us know to use a blanket or winch sleeve of some kind to protect the rope from any direct contact with the terrain while pulling, but our ropes often pick up dirt and debris while in use. Small particles cause abrasion within the rope. Soak your rope in clean water from time to time, or especially after a particularly dirty recovery.

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What Should I Bring on a Rubicon Trip?

Pack Light

Space is limited in a Jeep so we encourage our guests to pack light, fitting all of your personal gear in one sturdy duffle bag if at all possible. Here's an idea of what should be packed:

  • Shorts and long pants (warm days, cool nights)
  • T-shirts (or other comfortable, breathable shirts you don't mind getting dirty)
  • Sweatshirt or fleece
  • Windbreaker or packable rain jacket
  • Sturdy shoes: hiking boots, Teva-style sport sandals
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and bug spray (we can also have these available if you cannot carry them on your flight)
  • Tums, Advil, Imodium--basic things to help keep you comfortable
  • Any medication that you take regularly
  • Towel, flashlight, lighter/matches
  • Sense of humor and a smile!

We've Got You Covered

If you book a custom guided Rubicon trip through Barlow Adventures, we provide meals during your time on the trail. Pack your own favorite snacks, and any beverages you want besides water for after each day on the trail. We can also provide clean, quality tents, pads and sleeping bags for our guests, upon request. Restrooms are porta-potties along the trail. There are no showers, though you may find the lakes and rivers suitable for swimming. 
 
Our guide Jeeps carry tools, first aid, a emergency communication and recovery equipment for unexpected breakdowns and sticky situations along the trail. Every Barlow Jeep is outfitted with a fire extinguisher and other emergency equipment. When you book with us, we'll give you a rundown of any other basic safety equipment you might need to carry in your vehicle.

Aside from all of the gear and equipment, our experienced and knowledgeable guides will provide spotting, recovery, 4x4 instruction, and information about the trail and the spectacular country it traverses.

How to Prepare Your Rig for the Rubicon Trail

Can My Rig Handle the Rubicon?

Rock rash, mechanical failures and body damage can and do happen on this trail and any driver intent on bringing their own rig should be aware of the risks. If you think you can get through the whole Rubicon trail without a scratch of any kind anywhere, you should probably NOT go on this trip—scraping and scratches happen with even the most skilled drivers.

Not only should your rig be in top-form maintenance, but if your vehicle doesn’t have the following MINIMUM requirements, we will not even consider it for a Barlow Adventures guided trip. We have developed these minimums for the general capability and comfort for a long trip to be enjoyable by the majority of clients. Can a lesser vehicle make it through? Yes, but it will take considerably more time, with a much higher risk of damage. Even if your vehicle does have these, we may still decline to accommodate your vehicle based on other factors, like gearing ratios versus driver experience, vehicle condition concerns, or safety worthiness.

Minimum Vehicle Requirements for the Rubicon

33' or taller offroad tires (35" for wheelbases longer than 105")
"Offroad" means three-ply sidewalls with tires in good working order - no dry cracking, sufficient aggressive tread depth and pattern, full size working spare. For most vehicles, this also involves having an adequate suspension lift to accommodate full articulation and turning of larger tires.

Rocker panel protection
Unless you don't mind body damage, you need some side protection, not only for the occasional slip off of a rock, but also for jacking and recovery purposes. The factory Jeep Rubicon rocker guards are barely sufficient, but they are better than some cheap aftermarket tube sliders (ask us for recommendations).

Skid plates
Factory Wrangler plates are okay - protection for your transmission pan, transfer case and gas tank are adequate on factory Wranglers, but we recommend protection beyond the minimum - see more under "Recommendations" in the linked PDF below. Other vehicle makes often have varying protection by trim package.

Traction device
At least one locking axle differential. Both front and rear lockers are better. Limited slip, locking center differential and traction lock are NOT the same as axle lock.

Recovery points
At least one frame-mounted recovery point in each the front and the rear, rated for 5,000 pounds or more. Yes, factory Wrangler hooks are sufficient. No, the 3/8" transport loop is not.

Read and download our PDF guide below for a full rundown on vehicle requirements for the Rubicon.
How-To-Prepare-Your-Jeep-For-The-Rubicon

Recommended 4-wheeling Equipment

By popular request...from our Jeep School workbook--the Equipment list for 4-wheeling! It is in written form, below the photos, so you can cut and paste, but for a better format, see the attached photo.

 

Recommended Equipment for Four Wheeling

Basic Outdoor Preparedness Gear (stuff for your own self-preservation):

Water & food
Extra Clothing (know the weather forecast)
First Aid Kit
Matches, Lighter, Candles, FIRE
Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Trash Bags, wet wipes, hand sanitizer
Detailed Road Maps, Topo Maps, Compass, Watch, Knife
Tarp, rain gear
Cell phone, CB, HAMM radio, or Personal GPS Locator Beacon
Flares, signal mirror, police whistle
Flashlight (windable, or with extra batteries)

These are the most used recovery items. Invest in quality items.

  1. TIRE CARE: Jack, spare tire, repair kit, tire pressure guage, air compressor. Keep your spare tire inflated and in good condition. Make sure you have the correct lug wrench for your wheels.
  2. VEHICLE PULLING: Tow Strap. A tow strap should be at approximately 10-15 feet long and rated for at least twice your vehicle’s gross weight. Buy good quality strap with loops on the ends, not hooks.
  3. DIGGING OUT: Compact folding shovel/axe/saw. A Forester Tool, Handle-All, or plain old shovel is an invaluable all-purpose tool for getting yourself unstuck in a variety of circumstances, and are also useful for general survival.

These items are an important part of your regular excursion kit:

Heavy duty work gloves
Jumper Cables
Fire Extinguisher
Recovery Strap (20' to 50', with loops, rated at 3-4 times the vehicle weight)
Baling wire, Duct tape, Zip ties, Ratchet Straps, bungee cords, equipment tie-downs
Stop Leak radiator repair, Motor Oil, Transmission Fluid, extra water
Replacement fuses and electrical tape
Basic tools: wrenches, pliers, mallet, ratchet, spark plug socket, vehicle-specific tools
Variety of hoses, clamps, nuts, bolts, washers, parts specific to your vehicle

Additional equipment to consider for more extensive excursions:

Extreme caution is urged for the use of these items. Make sure you are thoroughly familiar with their function and operation. Read owner’s manuals thoroughly and follow all safety precautions:

Hi-Lift Jack
Full-size Shovel (especially for sand, mud, or snow areas)
Full-size Axe, Bow Saw, Chain Saw (in heavily-forested areas)
Winch with accessories: tree strap, clevis, snatch block, chain
Extra gas

 

GPS Locators: No Substitute for Proper Preparation

This week's blog is brief, but, once again, focuses on bad behavior.

By now, most of us have heard about or used a "Personal GPS Locator"--a device that allows you to use satellite communication to send a distress call. I often mention these during 4x4 clinics as a good tool to have in your bag of self-preservation goodies.

However, it is recently coming to public attention that GPS locators are being abused, wasting the resources of various emergency services for such trivial things as being scared by a thunderstorm, having bad-tasting water, or just an accidental activation. My favorite quote from a Search and Rescue administrator says "you send a message to a satellite and the government pulls your butt out of something you shouldn’t have been in in the first place.”

Though having a GPS-based locator can save lives, it should NEVER be used as a substitute for good preparation, including having adequate water, maps, a thorough weather and trail conditions check, and--what I hesitate to call "common" sense--a general awareness of one's surroundings, one's capabilities (and limitations) and a little knowledge about handling "the unexpected."

Even having a locator doesn't mean that you will have adequate signal or that conditions will allow rescuers to get to you. One should always approach a venture into the backcountry with the attitude that "no one is coming to rescue me--I have to rely on myself to get out and back", and plan accordingly, even if that plan means scrapping the excursion altogether. Know when NOT to go.

For a thorough article about the rising misuse of GPS locators, see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33470581/ns/us_news-life//

For more information on one specific device that I have used with great satisfaction, visit: http://www.findmespot.com

Happy trails!