Preparing for an overland adventure: The absolute essentials

Preparing for an overland adventure?

If it’s your first time heading into the bush – a few hundred yards or a few hundred miles –  you must remember certain essential things:

1.  Choose the appropriate 4WD vehicle

Many of today’s 4x4s can’t handle true off-road activities. For serious off-road adventures, you need a modified 4×4 with a chassis frame built to withstand the punishment of off-road obstacles.

If you plan to tow a trailer, make sure it can go where you decide to take your 4×4 vehicle.  If your trailer can’t navigate rough terrain, you might want to consider this… 

2.  Don’t leave home without them

Before you take off on your awesome adventure, make sure you pay attention to some important details:

  • Learn how to use the controls of your 4×4 system
  • Know where to find the spare tire and jack, and learn how to use them
  • Familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s dimensions so you can pass through tight areas without damage
  • Determine the lowest point of clearance
  • Get used to driving your 4×4. Get a feel for its size and driving characteristics.
  • Practice using the low-ratio gearbox.
  • Maintenance: Check your tires (including the spare) to ensure they are in good condition and inflated properly. Keep track of maintenance on filters, belts and hoses, and keep all fluids topped up.
  • Safety precautions: Pack all of the appropriate “emergency” supplies. Travel with at least one passenger, and at least one other vehicle whenever possible. Let someone know where you are going, and set a time to contact them to let them know you are okay.

3.  Know the rules of the ‘road’

  • Don’t blaze a new trail. Instead, stay on the established path.
  • Drive slowly. Just as on the street, stay right to avoid oncoming traffic. If only one vehicle can pass, the more maneuverable vehicle (or the more experienced driver) should yield the right-of-way.  When two vehicles meet on a grade, the vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way.

4.  Emergency situations:

Sooner or later, your vehicle might get stuck or experience mechanical failure. If you pack the basic tools and supplies, you should be able to get under way again.

Do the following if you stall, get stuck, or break down:

  • If your vehicle is about to stall on a steep incline or decline, do not depress the clutch! Instead, turn off the ignition and apply the foot brake very hard. Then apply the parking brake. After selecting a suitable route back down the hill, slowly depress the clutch, put it in reverse, let the clutch out, and simultaneously release the parking brake and the foot brake slowly. Then start the engine.
  • When you get stuck on a rock, stump or log, survey the situation first to decide how to free the vehicle without damaging it. If you’re stuck on an object that can be moved, jack up the vehicle and clear away the obstacle.

 Make sure your trailer can go where you decide to take your 4×4 vehicle.  If not, you might want to consider this.