Category Archives: Overlanding

Rampage Rear Sport Rack

Ouch! We were told a 5-day chest or ARB fridge would fit...not so

Ouch! We were told a 5-day chest or ARB fridge would fit…not so

DISCLAIMER: One of the things we pride ourselves on is HONEST feedback. It is purely based on our experience alone. I’ve lost sponsors and partnerships through honesty. My position is to give our audience what we feel are fair evaluations of gear we test. If it’s on my rig- I HIGHLY recommend it for yours.

 

We don’t usually dislike a product so quickly on this level. We are careful to select products from several weeks if not months of research. We make it a habit to talk to other users, check out the blogs, and even speak to sales or customer service reps about the product before we pull the trigger and throw it on the rig, put it in a pack, or try it on the trail.

 

With that said, we were finding little about the Rampage Products Rear Interior Sport Rack. We were looking for a way to better organize our gear in the back cargo area of our 2013 JK. The plan was to keep our 5-day ice chest under the rack along with other bulky items such as tool kit, chuck box, and Scepter 5-gallon water jug. We looked for details and dimensions from sellers, distributors and even the manufacturer. When we inquired a rep about it and relayed our expectations the response was, “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

Even one of my smaller chest would not fit. I don't know of any Jeeprs that don't throw some kind of cooler in the back for suds and grub...

Even one of my smaller chest would not fit. I don’t know of any Jeepers that don’t throw some kind of cooler in the back for suds and grub…

It was a problem. I have four ice chests and not a single one could go under the rack. Even when we put the rack into the upright position, then the ice chest could not fit in length-wise. Space wasted…
For someone who isn’t toting an ice chest and simply need a better way to organize sports gear, groceries, etc it’s a good concept. The storage rack features a fairly sturdy steel tray that mounts in the rear cargo area. Putting it together wasn’t that difficult and I did it in about an hour with no drilling required. One of the things that made it slightly difficult with my soft-top and impossible on a hard top is the tubular brackets that go on the roll bar.The Allen bolts faced outward and I had to remove the rear window on each side to get to the bolts.

The concept is awesome and installation was super easy...just a little more thought around design and beefing up some of the movanle parts and this rack would be on the top of our "buy-it" list

The concept is awesome and installation was super easy…just a little more thought around design and beefing up some of the movable parts and this rack would be on the top of our “buy-it” list

The concept of moving the tray out-of-the-way when not in use is unique in this model. On the bottom of the tray are two spring clips and a single gas strut allowing the rack to tilt forward providing easy access to gear located underneath. One problem though is the hooks don’t fully engage and a simple run around the block after installation and several attempts to adjust proved to be a waste of time. The thin bar at the bottom would create an annoying rattling on dirt roads.
I had even thought about the possibility of placing the ice chest on top of the rack and quickly dismissed the idea when I realized I would have five days of food and drinks rocketing towards all passengers in the case of an abrupt stop. The only bolt-down points are on the roll bars and it does not tie into the body or the frame at any other point.
If this was for a grocery-getter or soccer mom Jeep I wouldn’t hesitate to put it in. It does help to organize suburban adventures on Saturday morning and payday grocery runs. It does provide a bit of security and for photographers wanting to store gear out of sight it could be a benefit.
We paid $240 for our set up and thankfully the company we ordered from is going to allow us to send it back based upon the product not meeting the expectations we outlined.

Again, the concept is great, and other gear we have from Rampage has fared very well to excellent. The major disappointment here is based on the initial expectations not being met. Show me a Jeep guy that at some point doesn’t throw an ice chest full of grub and suds in his rig for a few days of fun on the trails.

 

Teraflex Tailgate Table

094The Teraflex Tailgate Table has been on my wish list since I saw Roger Mercier of Overland Frontier fixing breakfast at the Overland Expo using a drop table like this. This is the perfect accessory for any Jeep enthusiast needing a spot to make a quick sandwich, poor a glass of wine for your “glamping” companions, or even repair an RC car on. I used mine for a cooking surface for my two-burner stove, however I’m not sure I can recommend this due to the proximity of grease, fire, gas cans, and the rest of my rig. For everything else kitchen related, it is perfect!

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Carl using a hose clamp to prevent the bit drilling too far

029 041The install took about 45 minutes. For the most part it is simply placing the pattern on the inside of the tailgate and DETAILED drilling. On my 2013 JK I had to ensure that we didn’t hit any of the spot welds and also be conscious of the degrees of metal thickness. The right side of the tailgate has more sheet metal than the left. Also our drill spot on the lower left was half thin and half double metal. This caused the drill bit to walk a bit and tried to “egg” the hole instead of a neat circle. Fortunately I had Carl helping me and being the master of machinery he is, immediately detected the problem. He finished out the last hole using a die-grinder at low-speed.

You should also be aware that if not careful- your drill bit can punch through the inside wall and leave a dent in the exterior wall. Teraflex has a highly informative video out there demonstrating how they did the install and specifically point this out. Recommend you check out their video as well. We didn’t have a tool to prevent the bit from going through- so we used a hose clamp around the bit. Worked like a charm!

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We had to pre-crimp some of the Zert nuts to get them to grab traction on the tailgate

One issue we found on the thinner part of the tailgate wall was the Zert nuts getting enough traction to mushroom out. Zert nuts are similar to a rivet, except once installed they will accept a bolt or screw to hold an item in place. We pre-crimped the nuts so they would grab traction on the thinner part of the wall. If you do this—it is a VERY MINOR crimp. Try installing per instructions first.055

Once the nuts were in, it was just a matter of bolting the table onto the four nuts, doing some minor adjustments to the cable, and then off to make a sandwich.

Teraflex does have a cutting board available and I recommend ordering your multi-purpose table with one. I’m watching every dime right now to get ready for our Oregon/Washington/Canada trip and Washington Overland Rally trip and even though they are not expensive, I opted to not to get one and use our cutting board out of the trailer. Wishing I had bought one now and after the rally will put that on my “to-buy” list.068 072

The rack will hold a stove and as mentioned above but for me,  I’m not keen on this idea. My first real meal came Sunday afternoon in the mining country of the Boise Mountains. I was making Tri-tip burritos using my two-burner stove and cast iron. My stove is a bit odd in the way it set up with portable propane bottles, and I wasn’t comfortable with the way it sat on the rack. Not the fault of the rack, I have an odd-set up is all. Tri-tip does have a moderate level of fat on the underside. While testing I had a small grease fire and even though nothing was damaged, looking back, with fire in close proximity to my Trasharoo and Rotopax gas can, I think I will move the stove to a safer location.

096In my second testing along the Snake River on Monday, the table was perfect for dicing tomatoes and cutting lettuce for my special back-country finger sandwiches and wedge salad. It also made a great platform in the evening as I was conducting a wine tasting complete with assortments of cheese. No I have not lost the rugged edge; I was simply providing my wife and sister-in-law with a weekend of back-country luxury.

The well entertained ladies in the back country– Good lunch, warm fire, and me performing survival tricks!

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The Tailgate Table allowed me to prep all kinds of snacks and meals for these ladies in the back country…including a wine tasting! Now I just need a rack and awning for some shade!

This is a well thought-out product and a must have for any Jeeper. Contact Teraflex.com or Quadratec.com to order yours!

 

 

 

Idaho Scenic Byways

DCIM100GOPROThis is the time of year to hit the scenic byways of Idaho. These are great one-day and even multi-day trips that most vehicles can handle. If you have been a steady reader of the blog or the podcast, you know we love to hit these 4-wheel adventures. Idaho has so much to offer.

When researching, make sure your first stop is to http://www.visitidaho.org/scenic-byways/ where you can order your free travel guide. While the guide lacks many of the details to plan out your trip, it does give you enough of a view to pull out the map and do some planning.

Go Prepared

While some trips don't require this much recovery gear, trips on backcountry byways requirs that you go completely preparred

While some trips don’t require this much recovery gear, trips on backcountry byways requires that you go completely prepared

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But before you head out- think of how you pack for the trip. Remember Idaho’s byways range from rural to remote. Be sure you have any emergency gear packed for the trip such as first-aid, good communications, extra water, tools, etc. Some of these byways skirt alongside backcountry areas so help will not always be a phone call away. If you have a breakdown or other emergency- you need to be prepared to stay for awhile. In my other article I briefly outline what we take on trips such as the Owyhee Backcountry Byway, one of the most remote byway trips in Idaho.

I keep a road atlas with me to do over-the-hood planning while on the road. They are great for reference along the way

Shutter Bugs

253No matter where you start out from, there are great options for awesome scenery. Be sure to pack your camera and if you are really a shutter bug, pack those once-in-a lifetime lenses you rarely pull out. This last winter I had my dad along Sawtooth, Payette River, and Western Heritage byways where he had opportunity to shoot pics of Antelope, a young brood of Sand Hill Crane, and a few other hard to get close to animals. In addition, great scenery abounds on the byways so packing a tripod and a wide angle is a must. Pack extra batteries, throw in a dust cloth for the lenses, and maybe an extra memory card. There are even opportunities for the iPod photo enthusiast so keep your car charge handy.266

Soak in the Sites

  IMG_6040 Stop off at the small museums, wineries, and state parks along the way. There are great stops along the way like Craters of the Moon National Park along the Peaks to Craters Byway or Huston Wineries along the Snake River Byway. Most have great mom and pop diners for lunch, keep cash on hand for some of the better stops. Better yet, throw in your own picnic. We usually throw in lunch for the day and stop for dinner or start off with breakfast in a non-chain dive. IMG_6043I love driving but need a break from hours of windshield time. I like to find an area where we can park and either pull out sandwiches or I can do a quick burger or two on one of our portable grills. I even throw in a few lawn chairs to relax in.

Journal It

Capture moments along the way and post in the journal

Capture moments along the way and post in the journal

DCIM100GOPROThere are 30 official byways in Idaho. I recommend creating a special journal for the adventure, and log each one with thoughts to scribe, postcards, pictures, museum tickets, etc.

 

Sometimes we will take a few days to do one or more byways- and camp along the way. This is where our home built Explorer box designed by Compact Camping Concepts is a huge benefit.

Sometimes we will take a few days to do one or more byways- and camp along the way. This is where our home-built Explorer box designed by Compact Camping Concepts is a huge benefit.

For more information checkout the article just released from Magic Valley Times-News http://magicvalley.com/lifestyles/recreation/scenic-byway-adventures-adventure-guide/article_8f53f418-d7d0-11e3-aaf4-001a4bcf887a.html

In addition, I have a few write up on my own byway tours at AdventureIQ.com including these two…

https://adventureiq.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/465/

https://adventureiq.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/touring-the-owyhee-back-country-byway/

And if you see us on the road out there-stop and say hey! We just might have a sticker or two for you!

Our Trailer Build in Pictures

Last year a buddy of mine and I built my expedition trailer. While I still need to do a full blog article, I thought I should at least share the pictures of the build…based on what I could find on my hard drive…so here you go– more details to follow.

Not in any order–random pics I found

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Axial SCX-10 Review

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Most times when traveling for business, I find myself stuck in a town without transportation independence. I have rented bikes, taken taxis and buses, even purchased a moped to get out and see the sights. But for a Jeep guy who is often stuck in a hotel room, well after venturing hours, the immobility is hard to take.

Enter the world of RC cars. I have traveled fairly extensively with my 1/16 scale and 1/38 scale rigs. Taipei, Korea, Shenzhen, and Glasgow have all become speedways and crawling courses for my various rc toys. I have found the best way for me to stay out of the troubles is to have something to keep me entertained. Having small rigs to play in a hotel rock garden or a race at a local hobby store on club night is a great way to pass the monotony of travel.

My newest passion has been he Axial SCX 10 Jeep JK. I wanted to test this rig for several reasons. First is that now we own a new JK, I wanted something to emulate my 1:1 ride. The second, I wanted to review a true crawler. While my 16-scale Summit has been modified to play in a few local parks, noting beats a real scale crawler.

I have also wanted to find a way to get the adventure crew back outside to both the trails as well as our own backyard. I believe strongly that a family that finds common outdoor activities builds up better protective layers when storms arise. Having a soon-to-be middle school daughter, I wanted both solid insulation for the coming foul weather, as well as make opportunities for time together. As for our matriarch, we just need to get her outside in less stressful environments.

For the sake of testing, we went two distinct routes. Melissa’s rig is a “Ready-to Run” SCX 10, meaning you pull it out of the box, put AA batteries into the radio controller and NiMh or LiPo batteries on the rig, and you are ready for fun. Axial makes solid products and they are truly ready for the trails strait off the shelf.

We did a few minor modifications to Melissa’s crawler though. First, we swapped out the 27T motor for a 55T motor. To make it easier to understand, lower turn = higher top end/less torque
and conversely, higher turn = lower top end/more torque. I wanted the ability to help her control her speed since crawling is more finesse that bashing through stuff. One of her frustrations was always wrecking her Traxxas Slash. Even with a slower motor, she was wrecking it.

Moving to a 55-turn motor decreased her speed, and gave her the torque she needed for crawling obstacles. It also eliminated the full speed/ 90 degree turn and flip syndrome as can happen with many high-speed RCs. We also swapped out her controller for a higher grade one from Spektrum. The controller Axial makes is awesome, but I had an opportunity to get her one at a steal so I couldn’t turn it down. The stock Axial is a 2.4 Ghz high quality controller. I resold it within 48 hours.

With my rig, still using the SCX-10 platform, we bought a kit. Even though, I have put a few kits together, based on time available and experience, I decided to let Troy Dewey from Team Dewey Hobbies put mine together. He built a great mini-version of my 1:1 rig. I also put in a 55T motor. With the kilt you need to supply all of your own electronics. If this is your first crawler, I recommend going with the RTR versus a kit, since you will want to be out there playing right away.

Its hard to think of this as a toy at times. You can quickly get sucked into a hobby that no one else understands. The realistic looks and upgrades can quickly turn into an obsession. I hate to think of how many hours I have wasted, errrr…reinvested into thinking of accessories alone.

The SCX-10 has phenomenal handling, and with the differentials locked, can climb more than you would expect. The suspension consists of four oil filled coil-over shocks, with dual spring rates, attached to front and rear four- link suspension. Like its 1:1 counterpart, the spring rate on the RC is preset pretty low, which helps to stabilize it when on the trails or crawling over objects like rocks or wood pallet based obstacles.

The absolute coolest thing about the SCX-10 Wranglers is the ability to upgrade ands add accessories. Like 1:1 Jeeps, a true Jeeper can park next to another Jeeper and the two rigs will be completely different. Performance upgrades such as tires or shocks and scale cosmetics like bikini tops, camping gear, roof, racks and working lights make any rig truly yours as you add custom options. Companies such as Rugged Ridge and Poison Spyder have rallied behind this rig to make scaled replicas of their primary products.

Mission to Atlanta

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MOre than a home–its a gateway to the Sawtooths

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Mission Accomplished! Brad and his very sweet mother standing in Atlanta! I know I do trips with just me and my pup- but I really enjoyed having them along.

Atlanta was the first Idaho ghost town we went to shortly after moving to the gem state in early 2005. I have hunted the area with friends, taken several trips in the winter and early spring “trying” to get to the town, and have flown in there with a fellow pilot a few times. This last weekend I had a chance to take a good buddy and his mother out with me. She has lived in Idaho her entire life and has never seen it…so this mission had a purpose.

Placed on the head waters of the Boise River, Atlanta was founded by John Stanley’s prospecting party when they discovered gold in the area somewhere between 1863 and 1864.  The Stanley team had come through Bear Valley and the Stanley Basin before striking over to the head of the middle fork of the Boise. Though Idaho was not directly involved in the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers named the load “The Atlanta” after the Civil War battle of its namesake.  In 1865, the streets of Atlanta City were laid out and by 1867 it had a Post Office. Still working today is the Hydro-electric dam, though the aerial tramline used during a period of re-growth from 1904-1912 is no longer there.

IMG_0640From its beginning, the highly remote location of the Atlanta lode made difficult to develop the district and to bring in the necessary equipment. However, the extremely high-grade ore available in quantity in made it easy in 1868 to interest a large number of British investors in the area. Through this investment, technical equipment and expensive machinery was brought in, increasing attention to the Atlanta lode.

Before major operations ended in 1953, Atlanta produced some 18 million dollars ranking it as Idaho’s major hard-rock gold producer. Periodically through the years, several investors have looked at mining the area, even using chemically dependent strip mining.

IMG_0615Atlanta is about 100 miles from our base camp in Meridian and 60 of that is on the barley improved Middle Fork Road built to solve the transportation problems of the mine. The road includes loose gravel and sand, shale rock and miles of washboard that will rattle any fillings you have in your teeth. This is the only access in the winter and the road becomes treacherous with ice and snow.

From Boise, we take Highway 21 to the Lucky Peak turn-off, which becomes the Middle Fork Road. You skirt along both Lucky Peak and Arrow Rock reservoirs, the Middle Fork of the Boise River, and see dramatic scenery from high desert plains to Ponderosa Pines. You can catch glimpse of Elk, Deer, Antelope, and Moose. Be sure to use caution of the road due to oncoming traffic, loose rocks and soil, and on occasion, deadfall on the roads.IMG_0621

The other route is to drive past Idaho City and over Moore’s Creek Summit. Here you can take the Edna Creek Road. Take a solid set of maps, use an app such as Topo Maps for the iPad, and check where you are often. Roads and tails change names and while going straight on one road, it can change names with a slight curve. An example is how coming out of Atlanta, turning on Swan Hold, becoming the Owl Creek Road, and then eventually after a few other detours you are on Edna Creek. Granted, all different roads, just be aware that a single road does not take you on a single shot to your intended destination.

IMG_0644Take plenty of water with you, shovel, hi-lift jack, repair equipment and tools, and your survival pack. I have been stuck overnight in this area and if you are far enough back in, help is not going to be driving by. A licensed HAM operator with long-range gear can hit Schaffer Butte for comm. Since cell phone service can be up to a 60 mile walk if you break down. These roads on summer weekends are populated with all kinds of recreationist, on Sunday evening in early May, you won’t find help passing by. As for fuel, Going Lucky Peak/ Middle Fork Road, your last chance for gas is on I-84 and Highway 21. If going Edna Creek, top off in Idaho City. HIGHLY recommend at least an extra two-gallons of go-juice. On another note, be aware that there are active mining claims on this road. Please do not mess with the equipment, and don’t start turning rocks or soil looking for “stuff”. Last, don’t look like a typical yuppy tourist. These are hard-working folks that live up in the area. Don’t be a geek, you ruin it for the rest of us.

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Hard to see, but those are prospectors down there working their claim.

We enjoy taking our time to stop for pictures of wildlife, historical relics, and scenery. A good hearty picnic lunch and even dinner can make it a great trip.

3 Horse Ranch

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Smoked trout made this a great experience!

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With a tasting room that is open and friendly- you feel right at home to ask questions about the great wines they offer

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Continuing our dirt road love fest

So let me start of by saying I am not a wine expert. Except for very special occasions I really don’t drink alcohol. I enjoy brewing beer- but about 99% of that goes to friends who say I do a pretty good job at it. So to understand the world of wine is a stretch.
Combining our quest of finding dirt road destinations and my desire to do something “fancy” for my bride, the 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards was an automatic choice. I wanted to let Melissa feel like a princess for the day. I wanted her to have the option of coming out of hiking boots and shorts, put on same make-up, discard her baseball hat, and feel pretty. With me in my Mountain Khakis and a t-shirt, we decided on a tour of the west valley wineries. 3 Horse was selected for three reasons…open on Sunday, had a food menu, and of course it was on a dirt road.
IMG_0596I had never been to a tasting room, and upon learning this, we were given a great education on how tastings work and what to expect. I immediately liked the fact that we were not belittled since we both were new to this experience. The tasting room isn’t stuffy either, it’s like hanging out in a friends well done kitchen while they prepare a meal and entertain.
The tasting included a small snack of smoked trout and cheese with a baguette. We sampled several wines and were encouraged if there was not something we like, to pour it out. Each wine was explained in very non-technical terms. For fun, we were taught the how and why to swirl the wine in our glass.
The winery is located just outside of Eagle, Idaho where they take full advantage of the growing conditions and incredible soil content. They are even certified as organic. Very friendly and proud of their product- you can quickly learn about how it is made and the best ways to serve. This is a must-do for you and a date.
For more information checkout the website at http://www2.3horseranchvineyards.com/press/ and of course we will do a podcast- and perhaps we can get them for an interview.

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Organic vineyards cover the dusty landscape on the way to the tasting room

The Bridge Between Detroit and Us

“I’m just as upset as you are, believe me. Davenport! Get Mr. Griswald’s car back and bring it back here! Now I can get you the wagon, there’s not problem there. The problem is that it might take six weeks. Now, I owe it to myself to tell you that if you’re taking the whole tribe cross-country, the Wagon Queen Family Truckster… You think you hate it now, wait ’til you drive it.” – from Vacation

I’m trying to work through this one. There seems to be a social gap and a marketing gap between the geeks with CAD in Detroit and those of us who love adventure. I few days ago I was reading an outstanding article from Expo and since, been combing some of the older automobile adds. Toyota, Land Rover, and Jeep at one time were focused on getting you to the last frontier in their vehicle.

jeep ad 1When recently searching for our new expo rig, I was more often than not at the lack of gusto most rigs had. Even our new Wrangler has its own share of plastic and lack of ability to add commo and nav gear inside the cab. Land Rover looks more like Grocery Rover, and though I like Nissan and Toyota’s XTerra and Tundra, all seem to be more fit for urban adventures than multiple weeks in the back country.

My YJ is fairly easy to repair in the back country even with several points hard to reach- and it is far more difficult than older FJs to do field repairs.

With outdoor recreation on the rise, owners willing to spend on after market upgrades, and the term “expo” becoming more mainstream, one would hope the geeks with the slide rules would give us something that we can easily upgrade and take into the back country.

Touring the Owyhee Back Country Byway

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Rock’n the red JK on this one. Answered lots of questions about the winch and other gear.

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Be mindful of private property. Most land owners are friendly, but remember, this is home- and for most for over a hundred years. Be polite and ask for access.

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Great photo ops out here

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Stone cattle chute- only one I have ever seen made from stone

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Post Office in (defunt) Fairly Lawn, Idah

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a real “two-holer”

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Post cards- most from the 1930-1950 in the outhouse

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You are going to get your off-pavement fix with this trip

This last weekend I was able to finally get Melissa and her camera gear out to the Owyhee Uplands Back Country Byway. Abby and I hit this road last year on the Idaho Overland trip with Beau Johnston from Living Overland. On that trip I saw a million photo opportunities so I knew I had to get her back out there.

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Taking a lunch break with the group and listening to the history of the Owyhees from people who have seen it in some cases more than 50 years.

Locally known as Mud Flat Road for its impassibility when rain and snow make the terrain an absolute mess, is the primary
access to central Owyhee County. An area rich in history has something for every overlander wanting a day or two of exploration. Off the byway, there are multiple trails to explore, and though most people do it in a few hours, we prefer either an all day trip with lots of stops or a multi-day trip to fully absorb all there is in the area.

There is really only a small window of travel. As mentioned earlier, rain makes the road slick and due to the terrian, it takes several weeks to dry out. In the summer, the heat can become unbearable for many. When Abby and I passed that area last July the temps in the shade were at 108.

We started our trip in Jordan Valley, Oregon which is about an 90 minutes from our base camp in the Boise area. Another route is from Hwy 78 near Grand View, Idaho. If you love off-pavement travel like we do, you will get mostly gravel and dirt road. You will also get the thrill of crossing back and forth over state lines a few times. There is about 90 miles in Idaho and 15 miles within Oregon.

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You are alone for the next 120 miles- be sure you go with the right gear. We help back country travelers get ready for trips just like this

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Carry a spare tire, fuel, jack, and other roadside repair equipment with you. Also, a Trasharoo helps with picking up trash along the way from the other morons.

As we say in all of our workshops and seminars, prepare for adverse situations. You are alone out here. There are no services, cell phones are out of range, and even our testing with the 2m HAM set up proved that we were alone. This makes a great case for carrying a SPOT GPS unit with you. Top off your rig with fuel in Grandview or Jordan Valley, carry 3-5 gallons of water, your survival kit, and if possible and extra gallon of two of fuel. We also carried a full tool kit along with extra hoses and belts.

IMG_0380We were incredibly fortunate to have “Frankie” along on our trip. Third generation rancher in the area, at 95 years-old has more life in her than most people. Through her we were entertained and educated about some of the small historic details including a trip to the school house in Cliffs, the old post office in Fairy Lawn (both now defunct towns) stories of moonshiners, wagon train contracts, the people she knew in the area, and even games played as children.
Please be aware that there are many parcels of private land along the Byway. Please respect private property by having the right maps and equipment to avoid trespassing.IMG_0366

This is a great trip and recommend it for all regional overlanders. Make sure you checkout our facebook page to see when we are going to be out there again or exploring other regional areas as part of Project ROVE. And as a small reminder, remember, we do workshops and seminars to prepare you for safe back country travel.

We will be doing a full podcast on this trip soon.

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School house at Cliffs, Idaho, a now defunt town

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Do You Really Need A Winch?

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IMG_0302We just picked up an awesome winch from Warn. Since that point I have been asked a multitude of questions about it- especially in our outdoor preparedness workshops. The biggest question is— “Do you really need a winch?”
Most know that we are not rock crawlers- and going down trails steeped in mud are not planned. We have also found ourselves stuck on the most basic of roads with our 2wd vehicle. So here is a basic outline of why I feel we need a winch and perhaps some guidance on making your own decision.
We do allot of solo travel, so there isn’t the advantage of someone else yanking us out, digging us out, or even pushing us out. Its usually me and the pup or the family. A few years ago we were faced with an all-night adventure when our truck broke through a thin sheet of ice and we were high-centered in a rut. Think 5500 elevation in December….now think Sunday evening with no-one else on the backroads…now think sub freezing temps during the day. A winch and a pull pal would have saved the day….and night.
Since we travel alone in many cases, we don’t have the advantage of another rig to be an anchor point either. When we do though, most rigs we travel with don’t have winches at this time. So we have to be set up for self rescue, even if there is another rig. I addition, many times we are in the desert where the largest anchor point is a sage brush. Here we have a choice of another rig or what I soon hope to add to the arsenal, a pull pal.
When we were in living in New Jersey, we got to witness what happens to a rig at high tide on the beach. We had just come off a shipwreck dive and decided to hang-out on near the jeddies and see if we could snag a few lobsters. As tide came in, we noticed a pick-up had sunk its-self in sand. Within about 20 minutes, the water was over the bed of the truck. A winch and an anchor point would have saved the truck.
The last reason is not so much getting the vehicle stuck in soil, more about having objects obstructing your path. Last spring we had some pretty wild wind storms. Some of the largest ponderosa pines on one of our favorite trails came down in several sections. Our camp site sat between multiple falls of very large pines, most you could not even get your arms around. A winch, chainsaw, and good recovery bag makes a long wait for rescue an exciting challenge.
As we were looking for a winch, we were often tempted to buy one from a discount store or even go with a light weight winch. After attending several workshops and seeing both how dangerous a small winch can be or how a discount winch can fail when you need it, we settled on a WARN Zeon. From what I have been learning in multiple workshops, the Zeon is everything we would want. Based on an aluminum block to keep it light, a 10,000 pulling capability and 100’ of Spydura synthetic rope this is a must have safety measure. An added plus, its made here in the US and not in a sweat factory in China. All wiring is inside and it has an ergonomic control switch that plugs into the winch. We felt that for the capability and reliability that price was not going to be a factor in the decision to put this on our rig.
The last thing to consider is making sure you get good training. Winches can kill and maim. Learn to use the winch and any tools that go along with it.