Off-road tips that might actually be useful! Gear you might want to buy!
by Jerry Dupree
It is important to carry essential winch accessories when going off road, the most important of which are a good pair of gloves for handling cables, hooks, and connections. Never hook a winch cable to itself. Always use a “choker” to attach to the vehicle needing help. A choker is a short nylon tow strap with hooks at either end. A choker is also vital when connecting a winch to a tree to prevent damaging the tree. I have used my winch at least five times to help other people and a couple of times getting myself unstuck. On two occasions I used my winch to put vehicles back on their wheels because of a roll over. In those cases I used the car’s seat belts as they are in the middle of the car and they didn’t pivot the front or rear. The choker prevented further damage by not scratching or denting the other vehicle. One was a pickup and the other was an SUV. The roll overs caused extensive damage which probably totaled both vehicles. Fortunately no one was injured.
It is very important that everyone stay completely clear of the cables, hooks, and the remote control. I know of a tragedy when a motor home got stuck in the sand and a man with a truck with a winch hooked up the motor home with a 9,000 lb. winch while the wife was standing too close video taping the event when the cable snapped, which caught her neck and killed her. A hook could also come loose if the rescued vehicle twists or pivots. Stay out of the “bite.”
A snatch block is a pulley used to double the force of the winch. The cable is passed through the pulley from the winch to the rescued vehicle. The winch will operate at half the speed while doubling the force. Given the choice I would prefer winching downhill rather than pulling against gravity. A man who was stuck for a couple of days was trying to tell me how to extricate his vehicle by pulling it uphill. I told him I was the one in charge and my decision was to pull his vehicle downhill, which proved to be the easiest way.
Shackles are used to attach the winch hook to the other vehicle. One is shown that will insert into a trailer hitch receiver which is a very strong connection and will pull in a straight line to the winch.
A friend of mine pulled a truck out of a small canyon up a hill. One time while hunting in Utah a motorhome slid off of an icy road up against a tree. Two vehicles with winches at either end “see sawed” the RV back up and on the road. Since the RV was on an angle to the tree, there wasn’t more serious damage to the coach.
Off roading is a fun hobby, but it can get us into serious trouble. Getting stuck is inevitable and having the right equipment helps a lot.
Pull Pal Off Road Rescue Equipment by Jerry Dupree
I am always interested in new equipment to help with off road adventures, especially when stuck or disabled. I am also a sucker for gimmicks and gadgets of all kinds and I have an extensive collection.
I found a device called a Pull Pal which is designed to use with a winch for pulling out sand, mud, or snow. It was designed by a man who got stuck in sand out in the desert and he thought of this device as he walked out to get help. The retailer who sold it to me had literature about how well it worked. The device was originally designed in two sizes, but they only had the large one in stock. The “shovel” or “plow” part of the device is removable and needs to be attached and locked in to place. The whole thing weighs about 40-50 pounds and takes up a lot of space in a vehicle.
Winches have their limitations, especially in the desert because there are few things large or strong enough to connect a winch to. Thus I thought I had a Eureka moment when I first saw a Pull Pal in an off road equipment store.
The Pull Pal is a device which resembles a cross between a sea anchor and a plow. When connected to a winch and pulled it is supposed to dig itself deeper, thus enabling the stuck vehicle to pull itself out of a hole. I felt secure in the belief that in the event of burying my wheels in a soft spot that I could confidently use my Pull Pal and place it ahead of me, turn on my winch, and be delivered to where I would have enough traction to continue on my journey.
One thing about a winch is the need to connect it to something solid that is at least as high as the center of the wheel of the vehicle. If the winch is too low, it will pull the front of the vehicle down, making it ineffective for pulling out of the stuck position. Under the best situation the Pull Pal would have to be higher than the wheels so the winch doesn’t pull the vehicle down. I needed to try using the Pull Pal on an occasion where I was stuck in soft sand. It could not dig itself in with any traction and there were no trees or large rocks. It just plowed itself toward me. I was fortunate enough to be in an area where there was cell phone reception and I contacted a four wheel friend who could come to my aid. I walked to a road so I could be found and we could return to my stuck truck.
I still have the Pull Pal because I paid for it and wouldn’t think of selling it to anyone I know. It is too big, heavy, and simply doesn’t work. It was a nice try though. ~ Jerry
Engel Fridge User Review
by Steve Marschke
I have an older Engel refrigerator/freezer, which I keep in my Jeep CJ most of the time. I had it before we went to Baja with John Marnell in 2005 and it still works perfectly today. At the time, ARB and Norcold also made almost exact copies. Mine is two-tone grey, ARB was two-tone blue and Norcold was two-tone brown. Otherwise they’re exactly the same. It is a compressor based refrigerant system much like a home refrigerator but uses a Sawafuji ‘swing’ motor. The motor is supposed to be very efficient and the piston slides back and forth without a direct connecting rod, not rotary like a home fridge. The case is steel with bolt on steel handles. It uses about 2.5 amps max when compressing but doesn’t run all of the time unless it is very hot. Cool down time is amazing fast at least compared to RV refrigerators. It will go from ambient to 32 in about 20 minutes at my house when it’s about 70 degrees outside. When its 105° F, then it will run almost 100% of time.When really hot I can leave car parked about 24 to 30 hours and still start, but any more than that and I’ll have dead battery. If you have two batteries under the hood, then no worries at all. Otherwise drive your car about one hour or more each day to recharge. Usually when fourwheeling this isn’t a problem. We keep it on our Jeep CJ most of the time, but we’ve also used it on roadtrips in our Jeep Cherokee and VW Jetta Sportwagon. In fact, many years ago we had it in the Cherokee when we hiked to Panamint City. We meant to turn it off when we started hiking so we would not return to a dead battery. We forgot to turn it off after we took our food out. We had been gone more than 30 hours and to our relief, our single battery Cherokee started right back up when we returned. We used that experience as a lesson learned and improved our system by incorporating a portable solar panel into our system to work as a trickle charger. The solar panel does not provide enough energy to run the unit, but it does reduce the drain on the vehicle battery when we are parked. A 20 watt panel fits on the lid nicely. Another option we have used occasionally is simply plugging the unit into an extension cord and connecting to available power while the car is parked somewhere. We do this at home when we pre-pack the night before we leave, but also at RV parks or friends residences. Once you have owned it, you will find all kinds of options to adapt and use it to match your mode of travel and style.
Inside there is just one wire basket to put your food in. I have 45 quart which might seem smallish but remember, no ice. Holds about as much food as normal 60 quart cooler with ice. Shape is tall and narrow and takes some getting used to. I use an old tray from a cooler to help organize the food and it makes it easy to remove for access to bottom layer of food. Since you don’t have to worry about conserving ice you can store most of your drinks warm, then put them into fridge at end of day or in morning and let it cool them off... something you would probably never do with cooler as it would melt your ice.
One thing to keep in mind - you can’t really use this as a freezer and fridge simultaneously, it’s really one or the other, chosen by how cold you set the knob. The old model like mine only goes from 1 to 5. I usually have it set at 1.3 and that will keep things about 34°F while sitting on the back of my CJ without a top in direct sunlight in the desert with ambient at about 100° or even 110°F. I have run it inside my other cars with windows up and parked in sun and same thing. If the knob gets bumped to 2 it will freeze the water bottles by the time you try to get the next one out. Debbie used ours to transport an ice cream cake 50 miles from the point of purchase and it worked well (the clerk at Baskin-Robbins was so intrigued that she came out to the parking lot just to take a peek).
ARB has since updated their design and offers a plastic case. It has electronic thermostat and low battery protection. Also the interior is divided into two compartments. I have several buddies that have this newer model. Can’t say that it’s really better or worse than my old one. I like mine with the steel handles as I can strap it down really tight.
I see that Smittybuilt is now making one that looks very much like the new ARB. I suppose it’s a copycat - Smittybuilt seems to make a lot of copycat products. I would stick with original, seems that Smittybuilt always cuts corners somewhere to get lower price.
Watch out for any thermoelectric coolers - they are not really refrigerators. Most of these are significantly cheaper and used to be found at Walmart, Target, etc. These utilize an entirely different physical principle for cooling. TE coolers are used on a lot of other products and are very efficient but only for small temperature changes. Usually they are only capable of cooling about 40°F below ambient. When it 100°F outside that means your cooler will be about 60°F - that’s barely even cold and really only good for part-day trips to keep your drinks from heating up too fast.
I love mine. Wouldn’t hesitate to buy another. I think by now I have saved enough ice money to pay for it but I didn’t really expect to. Mostly I purchased it for convenience and to avoid hassle of ice. No more side trips to replenish ice, which will cost you precious gas and time. I’ve eliminated that nasty “melt ice soup” that can ruin your food once the ice shifts and melts. In fact, unconsumed food is not wasted anymore and can come back home without danger of spoilage. No problem taking restaurant leftovers with you. Ask anyone who has taken the plunge and spent the money – the benefits do outweigh the cost and it will enhance your enjoyment of the trail. You will wonder why you waited so long to buy one. ~ Steve Marschke
by Jerry Dupree
Always something new. This is another product we learned about from our visit to Australia. There are various reasons to carry different types of jacks. One may work in some situations but totally worthless in others. The best thing you can do with the jack that came with your vehicle is to throw it away and get a hydraulic floor jack. Always bring a couple of scraps of 1/2” or 3/4” plywood to use in mud or sand. Floor jacks are cheap, small enough to carry anywhere, easier to use, and much safer. I have a high lift jack and a floor jack, and now an Exhaust Jack.
It operates by connecting to the exhaust pipe of your vehicle and has a 6,000 lb. capacity. It is larger than a large pizza and weighs about 20 lbs. Just unzip the carrying case and place it under the vehicle in a position where it will reliably support the vehicle. That could be the frame, axle where it connects to the spring, or under a differential. Connect the hose to the exhaust pipe and start the engine. As with any jack there are precautions about getting under a vehicle without jack stands. Just don’t do it. As with any jack, always place blocks under the wheels to prevent the vehicle from rolling off of the jack.
We “field tested” the X-Jack in desert terrain. We took it out of its cover and thoroughly read the instructions, then carefully positioned it and connected everything. Did it work? Well sorta, but not as expected. It is simple, but too many parts that could get lost at night or fall in the sand. The hose comes in two pieces depending on whether you are lifting the front or the rear. It is supposed to lift 6,000 lbs, which is more than the weight of my truck, or at least half of it. It did lift one wheel, but not enough to clear the ground and would require building up the jack position or digging under the tire to change it or plan to extricate where a vehicle might be stuck. It would take more than one person to operate the jack; one to hold the hose adapter to the exhaust pipe and the other to start the vehicle. A third person would help to hold the position of the jack while it inflates. It might get mushy on uneven or sloping terrain and tend to roll. The jack comes with a rubber mat to protect it from sharp objects on the ground. I placed a piece of plywood on top of the inflatable bag to protect the top of it.
Would I recommend it or buy it again? No, there are more reliable jacks that are cheaper and easier to set up, operate, and put away. I recommend a high lift and a hydraulic floor jack.
Preventative Check Up • Jerry Dupree
Little problems can turn in to bigger ones. It is always good to check the electrical and cooling system before leaving home, and particularly when going off road where it is not as easy to find help. I bought a battery/alternator tester which only takes a few minutes when the hood is open while checking oil and other fluids. The battery tester costs a lot less than a new battery, but tells you whether you need a new one. Just connect the red connector to the positive battery terminal and the black one to the negative terminal or ground. The device has a switch, which places a load similar to starting the vehicle.
It measures the health of the battery by the needle showing whether it is good (black) or red (bad), therefore needing replacement. It is a lot more convenient than trying to start a vehicle with a dead battery. The same connections with the engine running will indicate how many volts the alternator is producing and how well it is charging the battery. There are smaller and cheaper devices, but this is the kind the pros use.
The next device is a radiator pressure tester. It fits on the radiator in place of the cap. Remove cap and install the tester and pump pressure into the cooling system and check for leaks. If there is a leak or reduction of pressure, this will be a good time to correct it rather than on the road, or back road. Be sure the engine is cold before removing or releasing the cap. I carry a full set of cooling system hoses in my truck and spare clamps.
Never start on a trip without checking the systems. I have been on out of state hunting trips when one member of the party had simple problems which resulted in a long stop for the whole group.
by Neal “Trust Me” Johns
The NorthStar Camper is not guaranteed for Off Road use as delivered. Several DE members have or did have these well built Campers. Here are the things that must be done before Off Road use for NorthStar and many other Campers:
1 Four angle iron brackets must be added where the upper hold down is attached to the Camper. These brackets should hold the vertical walls and horizontals together in rough country. Two DEers left them out to their dismay (A pulled apart horizontal and vertical section is a mess to fix). The owners are both deceased now, no connection (bad pun). You can use one of the hold-down bracket bolts if you have small hands.
2 A 2X4 angle iron must be added across the rear of the bed (and another 2X4 added around the outside of the bottom of the Camper (if there are none). This is to help prevent the camper from sliding backwards on steep hills.
3 Adding 2X4s underneath moves the cab-over part of the Camper up over the truck cab to help clearance over bumps and rough roads also.
4 A Battery Brain (the device that disconnects the load from the battery when the battery is low, but has enough juice in it to start the engine is nice to have. Don’t ask me how I know.
Questions? (909) 887-1549
While touring Australia, the “Wonder Down Under” we looked around at a lot of things the Ozzies do that are different than they are here. Their off road vehicles are called a “ute” (utility vehicle) and we saw how they modify them. Any vehicle used for off roading has a specialized very heavy bumper called a “roo bar” or a “bull bar” and is designed to protect the vehicle if it collides with a kangaroo or range animal. A kangaroo can really mess up a car. They don’t believe in fences most of the time. The big exception is the dingo fence which runs across the continent to try keeping wild dingoes on one side and sheep on the other side.
Outdoor and off road activities are everyone’s diversion in Australia, such as driving up and down beaches, launching boats, driving across rivers and through mud in the jungle, or out in the desert, which is most of the country. One learns to be self reliant because there is no AAA to help you when and if you are stuck in snow, mud, or sand. Another favorite diversion is to find a private beach and make it clothing optional.
We read Australian off road magazines, prowled specialty automotive accessory stores, camping supplies, and hardware stores, and got a good education about what they do in their country, and what to do when something goes wrong. People tow camping trailers (caravans), utility trailers, and launch boats on sand, and they get stuck. They also know how to get unstuck.
We discovered a product called Max Trax, which are heavy duty plastic platforms which form a shovel at each end and a heavy treaded surface in the middle. If stuck in the sand, pull out the Max Trax and shovel the sand, mud, or snow out of the way and place one in front of each tire, drive out and keep going until your vehicle is on more solid ground. Repeat as necessary. I carry four of them at all times and have used them. As a predator hunter I am out at night and have been stuck in sand more than a few times. After returning from a trip down under I contacted the Max Trax company and ordered two pair and have saved a lot of time, energy, and good hunting trips simply by driving out of sand traps. They really work. Go to maxtraxamerica.com and be sure to watch the video.
– Jerry Dupree
There has been some interest in the navigation system I use in my Jeep, so I have been asked to present a tech article about it. What I concocted was a system that uses a laptop car mount to hold an Android tablet. The tablet runs an application called Maverick GPS. The advantages of this set up include:
1 Pre trip downloading and caching of maps for the areas I will be traveling in.
2 Switching back and forth between multiple map sets (i.e. USGS, ESRI
3 Large screen for ease of viewing.
4 Easily removable for security purposes.
5 Inexpensive (if you already own
I am sure that a similar system can be created if you own an iPad, but I will limit my comments to the Android Operating System as that is what I am familiar with.
Starting with the laptop mount, there are many of these available onthe market. I choose one from a company called Jeniko that was fairly inexpensive, but has proved to be sturdy and doesn’t shake a lot when traveling off road. It incorporated a “universal” mount that bolts to the base of you passenger seat. In the case of my Jeep Grand Cherokee, it didn’t quite give me the fit I wanted, but a short piece of 2” angle iron with three holes drilled in it did the trick. The mount is adjustable for a wide range of positions so you can get it right where you want it.
The tablet is a Lenovo Android tablet with a 10” diagonal screen and built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. These are usually all of the interfaces I need. If I need to access the internet on the road, I utilize the Wi-Fi hotspot capability of my cell phone (assuming there is a cell tower in range). Also of critical importance is a built-in GPS receiver. However, nearly every Android device now comes standard with GPS. Nearly all Android devices use a mini USB jack for charging. By buying a cheap USB charging unit that plugs into your cigarette lighter socket, you can keep the tablet going around the clock.
Maverick is only one of several similar applications for GPS navigation that can be used. I have also tried the US Topo Maps Pro application. The important thing to look for in one of these applications is the ability to cache maps in advance as we usually travel in areas without internet access. Another feature to look for is the ability to import track and waypoint data from other sources, such as Google Earth. Beyond that, choose the application that appeals to you the most. In the case of Maverick, the application comes in two flavors. The basic application is free so you can install it from the Google Play Store and play with it to see if that is what you want. You can then install the “Pro” version for just a few dollars that allows you to download and cache maps. All of these maps can be downloaded for free. Instead of downloading complete quadrangles, this application allows you to download much smaller “tiles” that follow the route that you wish to take. This can be a real time saver. For example, on the Great Western Trail trip this last March, my downloaded map tiles added up to 1.6 GB of data (whew.) Once you purchase the Pro version, you can then choose which of many different maps you want to view. Play with this feature. Different maps might be the best for you on different trips.
Some of the other features of Maverick include:
• The ability to zoom in and out at will.
• Freeze the map while you are moving, then quickly recenter the map on your current position.
• Record your moving track and display/export it later.
• Add and annotate way points on the fly to record interesting or important information.
• Maverick can import most of the commonly used way point and track formats used by different manufacturers.
Since I already had the tablet, the total cost was under $100.00. If you start from scratch, you can get the whole system for around $300.00. Keep in mind that the tablet does so much more than a dedicated GPS receiver that you could get from say, Garmin or Magellan. It does email, web surfing, takes photos and videos, file sharing, word processing, etc.
All in all I have been very happy with this set up. I have noted a few gotchas though. It is important to set aside enough time for the tablet to download all of the tiles before shutting off the program. For a long trip, this could take as much as 18-24 hours depending on your internet link speed. If you don’t, you can occasionally have the map details disappear on you in the closer in zoom settings. Fortunately, it this occurs, zoom out and you get your info back on the screen at lower resolution. As these map files can be huge, you should have a large capacity SD card installed in the memory expansion port and set up Maverick to cache files to the SD card rather than the built-in memory.
– Happy navigating, Bill Powell
Low Tech Cheap Tricks from Jerry Dupree
Have you ever been stuck or helped someone else out of a jam? There are so many ways to get stuck, such as in sand, snow, mud, or high centered on a large rock, sand dune, or a wash out. At one time or another I have experienced most of them. Of all the things to bring with you, such as a winch, a good set of tools, a Swiss Army knife and a Leatherman multi tool, consider some light weight low cost or free items that take very little room and are very useful. “If I had only brought a..., or some...“
I have a real shovel and not one of those folding military fox hole “E tools.” It could mean the difference of minutes vs. hours of digging. I also carry a garden hoe because it is a lot easier to pull dirt or sand from under a vehicle than dig and lift it. I also use it for reaching my equipment from the truck. I have seen or helped a lot of people who have ended up in very difficult situations to extricate a vehicle. I have seen two vehicles that were high centered on huge rocks. In one case the owner dug a hole big deep enough that the rock dropped into the hole enough to allow the vehicle to clear. The other one raised the vehicle high enough to place scraps of lumber under the front wheels to form a ramp and free the vehicle up and over the rock.
I recommend carrying some lengths of 2” x 4” and 4” x 4” boards that can make a bridge or ramp, and some scraps of 1/2” to 3/4” plywood to jack up a vehicle and place under a wheel to drive out. We came across a vehicle with the body lifted and had huge tires so the vehicle was too high for even a high lift jack to raise it up. I have a 3 ton floor jack that lifted it with ease from the axles with the help of a couple of pieces of plywood. I have two nylon tow straps. One is beaten up from helping others and the other is saved for me if I need help, and I have.
My son and I rescued a couple one year on Memorial Day weekend. They had been stuck for three days and were desperate and out of everything. If they had a few simple necessities they could have driven out of their predicament. The funny part is the guy was trying to tell me how to get him out. We gave them food and water. I carry military MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) for such emergencies.
I have a tool set of special tools for off roading. I drove a long way only to find a locked gate when I was low on fuel and time. I unbolted the gate, drove through, and put it back together and was on my way. I carry fence wire and two special fence tools in case I need to cut a fence and repair it in an emergency. Always bring duct tape and bailing wire. (Note: Rebar tie wire from Home Depot,
You can build a bridge over wash outs.
Storing scraps of lumber
Foot for jack
Variety of 2” x 4” and pieces of plywood
Real shovel and hoe
Harbor Freight or Lowes is a good substitute.) I knew a guy whose fuel tank fell out and he fixed it with bailing wire and some Okie ingenuity. A very simple piece of “equipment” that is light weight and doesn’t take much space are coat hangers. They are good for a lot of things besides roasting marshmallows. One time an off roader’s battery hold down broke due to corrosion and he made a sufficient one with a coat hanger and a piece of rubber fuel line. Another time a man wrapped a piece of a hanger around a water hose to replace a broken clamp and twisted it with pliers. Pack electrical wire and tools to repair things and plastic tape and fuses.
I asked an EMT and a nurse for advice on what to pack in a first aid kit. Be sure to check the supplies once in awhile and replace things such as dried up rubber gloves.
If anyone has had a flat and had to lower a spare tire from under a truck with the tools that came with the vehicle, they know it is difficult especially at night. Mine came in three pieces that made it nearly impossible to aim for the part that lowers the spare. I tried finding a better one in junk yards with no success until I found one laying in the street. I had a lug nut welded to it so I didn’t have to use the silly crank that came with the truck. I use a lug wrench.
An easy way to start a fire in any kind of weather or wind condition with wet or any kind of wood or charcoal; use a flare. You can make a fire regardless of conditions. I didn’t learn that in the Boy Scouts. There are lots of other tricks, but we are running out of space... more later.
– Jerry Dupree
GPS Global Positioning System by Jerry Dupree
Technology changes so fast I can’t keep up with it. I am grateful to the U.S. Government for launching 30 satellites that civilians can use for free. I have a GPS receiver, a navigation unit, a tracker/locator, and a satellite phone. All of them operate from satellites orbiting the earth.
I have been wandering around the desert since I was a teenager and have hiked, explored, and blundered my way around a lot of territory. People are lost or injured every weekend. Our deserts and surrounding mountains can be dangerous places resulting in some very sad deaths. Fortunately, modern digital electronics can help save a lot of problems for people who are out in wilderness areas.
A few years ago I bought a GPS receiver and didn’t know how to use it or all of the functions it was capable of doing. I learned there was an activity called geocaching where otherwise intelligent adults go looking for hidden treasures which were placed by others so that geocachers can go searching for them with the use of a GPS receiver. It is a fun thing to do and people benefit from being outdoors looking for containers with completely useless toys like we used to get for free in a box of Cracker Jacks. People record the location by coordinates of degrees of longitude and latitude. I have done some geocaching to learn how to use the device, and was out with a friend of ours who is an enthusiastic geocacher who looks for caches everywhere he goes. In this case we were in Big Bear for the Fourth of July and we had to take a break to look for buried toys.
I primarily use my GPS to locate my game cameras which are left in position which take pictures of anything that passes in front of the lens. I have taken a lot of pictures of coyotes, road runners, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, ravens, and a tortoise. The cameras can be set on video with sound, or on still photography, and have IR night vision. I leave them in the shade for a week. Most people think there isn’t much going on out in the desert, but would be surprised to find the amount of wildlife there is at night. I have two game cameras and place them together, one set on still and the other on video.
I locate cameras where people are not likely to be near enough to find them. Sadly they get stolen or maliciously damaged but I haven’t experienced any problems like that. I record the coordinates of camera locations so I can return and find them. The GPS also records the route one walks or drives and it shows on an LCD screen as a dotted line on a topo map, known to GPS users as a “bread crumb trail” or a “snail trail” so it can be followed to the exact location. They are very accurate and can record within inches of their target. They can also aim nuclear weapons, which is one of the purposes the military has spent the billions of dollars on the system (constellation) of satellites. They are also used by truckers, police agencies, ships, airplanes, first responders, etc. Depending on the brand and model, they show distances, compass, speed, altitude, water sources, local businesses, streets, roads, points of interest, etc. Some include CB radios and cameras. A GPS would be very important if anyone is lost or needs help with car breakdowns. One never knows when we may come upon an accident scene, report a fire, or any illegal activity. I have brought my GPS on an airplane and watched the map on the screen at 450 miles per hour. The flight crew has told me not to use it.
When I am out in the desert I leave a copy of my GPS camera location at home so I can be located if I am not home for dinner. I am frequently out beyond cell phone range, so I have a satellite phone and can reach nearly anyone on planet Earth and have tested it to and from Hawaii and Alaska.
I recently acquired a GPS tracker/locater which can find my location on a smart phone or computer monitor. It emits a signal every 30 minutes, which flags my location. I would prefer one that police use for surveillance or ankle bracelets, or biologists use to tag bears, whales, mountain lions, or bighorn sheep. I have not found one online and assume they are not available to the public or are too expensive. Like I mentioned earlier, technology is rapidly changing, so I expect to see something like that on the horizon.
I recommend getting a GPS with topo maps of North America. There are several brands and grades of GPS receivers. I have had Garmin and Magellan and they are available for about $200 on up, and are worth it for your safety and help navigating to a desired destination. Try to find one that you can carry with a strap, lanyard, or carabiner so you can keep your hands free for a walking stick, note pad, etc. Always bring extra batteries. I recommend lithium batteries as they last about twice as long as alkaline batteries
Four years or so ago I finally bit the bullet, paid the big bucks, and bought a new ARB Refrigerator/Freezer. In the thirty-seven plus years I have been off-roading all over the Western deserts; second only to my Tacoma, bar none, it is the second best investment in off-road equipment I have ever made!
I ordered it from Amazon. The fridges are price-fixed so shopping for a lower price may net you a buck or two savings, but it’s not worth the effort. The significant benefit of ordering from Amazon is you will have NO Sales Tax, Free Shipping, a 30 Day No Questions Asked Pre-Paid Return Shipping warranty. If there are any genuine problems (NOT likely, mine’s been bullet proof!), not just not liking the color!?
I ordered mine before the Tuesday night shipping deadline, paid for One Day Delivery, received it Wednesday evening, and left for Panamint Valley (Mahogany Flats/Telescope Peak actually), Thursday afternoon! It was mid-August; 120°+ on the Valley floor, and while my trail mates were running into Stove Pipe Wells to stock up on ICE every other day wasting considerable time, gas and money, I was relaxing back in camp without a thing to worry about! These coolers really work and are worth every penny you will pay for one in convenience, time and money!! Not to mention no more sloshing melted water,
SOGGY sandwiches or lousy ruined meats and veggies!
One caveat: you cannot have cold beer and frozen ice cream at the same time, they are not a refrigerator AND freezer. They can only be set as one or the other. They only have one compartment, and the temperature you set: 28°F, 32°F, 42°F, whatever, will be the temperature you will have. Having said that; there is one possible work-a-round, suggested by one of the ARB Tech guys. If you really need to take along some ice cream bars or ice lollies you can try setting the cooler at, say, 28°-30°; laying them at the very bottom of the cooler and covering them with a thick Styrofoam pad, and putting the rest of the food (beer) on top of the Styrofoam. They suggested that just may allow the upper part of the cooler to rise/remain slightly above freezing temperature? I haven’t tried it so I
It’s worth mentioning the ARB Customer Service and Tech’ guys up in Washington State are a great bunch of willing and helpful guys!
I’m not going to elaborate more.
If I can answer any specific question,
– “Coop” Cooper. Big Pine
Have you ever left a light on too long, or maybe left the CB on something else that drained the battery down so low that you would not have enough juice the next morning to start your vehicle? If so, this article is for you.
The Battery Brain is a gadget that disconnects the battery from everything when the battery gets low, but leaves enough in it to start the vehicle. You have to pop the hood and press a button on the small box that fits between the battery and the connector for the rest of the vehicle to reset it. There are enough links on the Battery Brain that it will fit any vehicle. There is also a more expensive model that will reset with a pushbutton inside the vehicle, no need to raise the hood. I have one in the Tacoma that carries my Pop-top around. I guess Marian must have left something on….
To do a Martin is to get stuck while deviating, for no apparent reason, from a well-marked, solid road; it is not to be confused with a Perko, which is to get stuck while on an imaginary road or a Lawrence, which is to get stuck on no road at all.
This picture shows a typical Martin
[Note the Desert Explorer in the foreground, anxious to help
the hapless victim,
showing no concern for his own well-being
or potential damage to his vehicle,
especially the clutch]
Here is a great tool, introduced to us by Chuck Kalback, that makes letting the air out of your tire a breeze! No more looking for a twig to press on the valve stem, check remaining pressure with a tire gauge, back to the twig, back to the gauge, etc. Best of all it is one you can put together yourself with very little expense.