Tag Archives: outdoors

Nothing Routine

Another kid is out there this morning. Somewhere possibly worried. Possibly hurt. God forbid, dead.

I am amazed when I walk into a room and whether its a bow-hunting club or a troop full of Eagle Scouts, how there are so many survival “experts”. I am equally blown away by the idea that a weekend camping trip or day trip to the woods is somehow safe. In addition, how the four letters P.A.R.K. some how makes a trip so innocent.

The facts are simple people. We are not at the top of the food chain when we go outside. The lives we lead, sitting with our @$$3$ on a couch playing video games, watching the latest episode of “Naked and Afraid”, or browsing the fridge for our next meal does nothing to get us ready for when things go wrong. Even worse, the self-proclaimed “experts” (atv guys, hunters, hikers, etc.) are more likely to wind up in a body bag or as a minimum, a SAR statistic because they first of all, have increased risk due to exposure, and second have developed a huge ego. Sorry guys, the numbers speak for themselves.

In cases involving kids who get lost or are in a survival situation, they are more likely to rely on training they have BEEN AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN. This is why all of our workshops require hands-on training. We have documented cases where kids we have trained have used our information in real-life scenarios and not only waited out the situation until rescue, were able to provide a calming impact on adults.

It is simple people. We not only need basic instruction in the outdoor survival disciplines, but an on-going diet of training and practical simulations.

See the article that prompted this quick write-up

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Authorities-seek-teen-missing-after-camping-trip-5603681.php

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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.

 

SCX 10 Mods

Our first weekend with the rigs...pre-modifications

Our first weekend with the rigs…pre-modifications

There is nothing like pulling your new rig out of the box for the first time. It’s like a new-born. It even smells new. So many unknowns, especially if you are new to the RC adventure world. Like parenting, there are so many opinions out there. So many directions to take your rig.

My first piece of advise, just drive. Go have fun. As you see the need or things break, then replace the parts. Go to any hobby shop or RC event, and just like in raising kids, you get advise. I have a hard time over-looking the advise-giver’s screaming brat as I grow old of the spontaneous Parenting 101 class.

Other accessories like sand ladders not only look great, but also useful to the scale experience.

Other accessories like sand ladders not only look great, but also useful to the scale experience.

I have been asked to share modifications and upgrades I made to my SCX 10 Wrangler. While Melissa and Abby went the route of RTR (Ready-to-Run) I opted for a kit. I was not interested in a used rig since 1) every owner wants what they put into it-and they are never worth the asking price and 2) I specifically wanted a fantasy version of my new 1:1 JK Wrangler.

 First, I built, well had lots of help building, OK, Troy from Team Dewey built my ride from a kit. But I did help. OK, I stayed out-of-the-way mostly. He let me do the body and put some stickers on…and the shocks…

 We ordered my rig as a kit and I provided the electronics. Originally it had a Traxxas ESC, which has now been upgraded to a Castle Side Winder 3. The upgrade was based on the need to run 3S LiPo batteries. Using 3S has had its own love/hate relationship. I like the Castle since it is both waterproof and programmable. I can set everything from LiPo cut-off to braking power.

 The Vanquish LED light-bar requires 3S to run. The ESC was really designed for 2S, but held well on 3S. The lights require 3S and provide enough illumination on the trail that I really don’t need a headlamp when doing night adventures. I have also used the lights on my RC to sift through the camper at night. It is seriously bright.

 Another 2S/3S battle I fight is with my winch. I use the RC4WD Bull Dog. This winch has been debated to no end, specifically from the guys who crawl. I was advised against it, specifically from a local Treasure Valley shop that also earned my distrust on so many other issues. The winch is designed to run on 2S, a direct conflict with my 3S battery selection needed to power the lights. So I use a BEC from Castle to power the winch. The BEC draws power directly from the battery and places it into a usable power source for winching. RC4WD now has a new WARN winch that will handle 3S. My hopes are to get one soon to test. I really like my RC4WD winch.

Drive stock until it breaks. By then, you will have a better idea for your needs

Drive stock until it breaks. By then, you will have a better idea for your needs

Why the crawling communities shy away from the winch is beyond me. All three of the AIQ rigs have one and we have yet to have any issues. They pull well, easy to use, and look great. I had push back at one point that it will lift only 6lbs. My rig weighs in at just over 6lbs. I cannot think of a situation where I would need to lift my entire rig up at 90°. If I did, well that’s what pulleys are for. I drive scale trails in scale conditions. The day I find an obstacle that is a 4x the height of my rig that I have to winch strait up, I will start doing it in the scale world. I am in this to keep it real. I don’t take my 1:10 rig over tree stumps.

Speaking of weight, that seems to be the first question I get from comp crawlers. To be honest, I don’t know, nor do I really give a rat’s hind quarters. It seems like there is some kind of weight envy out there, like these guys convert the weight of their rig to penis length. Okay, I come in at over six, but I’m happy….with rig weight that is…

 For the power plant, I started out with a Thunderbolt 55T motor. I moved to a 35T because I wanted more speed on the trail and still have torque when I needed it. My wife and kiddo still have 55T on their rigs, and this summer I want to see how the rigs perform when running wide open on trails. Heat could be an issue as they drive wide open to keep up speed.

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I have tested a few wheel and tire combos since getting the rig. Right now I am running RC4WD Super Swampers and very happy. They work great in sand, snow, rock, and gravel. When they get wet, they get super sticky.  I have minimal wheel weights from Axial up front. Again, the comp guys swoop in for the attack…but I don’t run wheel weights on my 1:1 rig…I mainly have weight in the front of the 1:10 to simulate the weight disbursement of my 1:1. Running bead-lock wheels are from Axial.

The RC4WD winch sits happily on top of a RC4WD shorty bumper for the JK. It mimics the Rugged Ridge bumper on my 1:1 JK. Abby and Melissa are also using bumpers from RC4WD, but all three of us chose different styles.

At the heart of all that tugging power is a Pull Pal land anchor. Both Melissa and I have one. (Abby keeps saving up for one, but never gets there…) I have tested 4-5 other land anchors and the most happy with the Pull Pal.

On the back I have added a dual gas can rack from DS Pro. They build great stuff. It will also hold two shovels but they either fall out or break on a roll. No big deal, I moved the items into a new location. The team from DS Pro is awesome and they really back up their products. The stuff looks and funtions well.

I replaced my sliders with an aluminum set from BPC. I won these at a G6 and love them. The only downsides have been 1) they don’t come with compatible screws to attach the sliders to the chassis, and the Axial screws are too short to bite and hold in place and 2) The angle you have to get the driver to engage the screws is impossible to get at. I will run them until I get a custom set. I have the Castle ESC and my water-proofed radio receiver servo-tapped to each one.

Speaking of Radio, I use a Spectrum that I bought used from Troy. It has a programmable channel that I operate the winch from. I have it tied to a lanyard, which stays clipped to a D-Ring on my day pack.

 This week I did add aluminum C-Hubs in the front from Axial. Testing…testing..testing…

 As for Servo, I have an unknown servo I rebuilt a few years ago. When it dies, a Savox water-proof unit is going in.

 Accessories include ice chest, shovels, Hi-Lift jack, sleeping bags, etc. I change this stuff out often, including a few rafts and canoes. I swear by my sand ladders from DS Pro and an MaxTraxx. I also use a yank strap that I made for getting others unstuck. I get asked how many scale points I rate….who freek’n cares! Other great items are from Awesome Action RC and Scott Anthony.

What I place on the rig depends on my groove. Taking extra batteries– add a few fuel cans… Eating lunch on the trail- throw on the ice chest- My 4-legged buddies hanging with me as I hike- yep- I even have a scale Trigger-Dog!

The crawling crowd around her scoffs the RC4WD winch, but my little rig is on the trails nearly every day and has not seen any issues to date. Here it is "winching-down" a fellow G6er

The crawling crowd around her scoffs the RC4WD winch, but my little rig is on the trails nearly every day and has not seen any issues to date. Here it is “winching-down” a fellow G6er

 The whole thing is powered up with a flick of a huge switch in the back. The light bar also has its own power switch. Everything is double water-proofed with Plasti-Dip.

Three G6s and hundreds of hours on the trail, pretty happy with my rig

Three G6s and hundreds of hours on the trail, pretty happy with my rig

The important point is get out and enjoy your rig. At the end of the day it is a toy. Be thankful that you live someplace where you can get out and simply enjoy the outdoors and you have the means to purchase a simple hobby.  Don’t get wrapped around the axle (no-pun intended) on brands, weights, points, etc. It’s about the experience.

Get out and adventure!

Get out and adventure!

Expedition Leadership Simulations

Nerd Alert!
Disclaimer….this methodology may be out of scope of what you may have considered for leadership development in adventure based activities….in addition…. I am not a true gamer. I was such an outcast in high school that the science club one shoved me in a locker and I was even turned down for a date by a girl who played French Horn…

I digressed from the start…

The past few years I have been using a self-modified version of Dungeuns and Dragons to teach leadership, decision making, communication, and expedition planning. Without going into the technical aspect, I have seen tremendous success in all of these areas.

Most adventure participants have a fairly decent grasp on their technical disciplines. Its when we bring a team together in place them in diverse and situations we see how well they can work together and communicate to successfuly resolve the situation.

In the simulations I have participants build on a multude of skills they either pocess, or the skills of their character. Since we have introduced Emergenetics into our Expedition Leadership coaching and workshops, we are not only able to see how thenparticipants prefer to act (through their character) but also to act OPPOSITE of their profile through their character. This provides them with a safe enviroment to test the waters of a preference or skill they do not pocess. For example, someone who scores with preferences of structure and analysis will ease into the technical aspects of the game. Hit Points, Armor Class, Skill Test, etc are easy for them. Developing a back story for their character, nearly impossible for some.

For nearly five years now we have been using this as another approach to build leaders as well as bringing teams together. While I may not have all the discipline of a game master (the guy who guides the game, acts as a referee, and essentially works to facilitate the adventure), I’m doing well enough to get teaching points across and facilitate the development of the participants….helping them transfer knowledge and skills from catacombs to camps.

For more information on our workshops, please visit our facebook page

We would enjoy it if you would kindly give us a “like” over there….

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Maps…I Love Maps

There is something about maps for me. A graphic representation of the earth’s surface as seen from above. The blue, green, red, white, and black depictions. The topographic features that look so odd until you know how to read them so well you begin to depict body features as contour lines… Yes I need help.

I remember as a boy looking at a puzzle map given to me. It was while I was sitting at the breakfast counter in Tempe and looking at the jigsaw cutout of Idaho with a skier in the middle that I made the decision to move to the state. I was six and then thirty-odd years later I followed that dream. When we would travel on the road I would look at the map to see where we were going on road trips. I had postcards of maps. I loved those maps at roadside stops with the little star depicting, “YOU ARE HERE”.

In the military I would learn land navigation and how to look at terrain in terms of tactical advantages. I became very good at the art and skill of using a 1:50000 scale topo map, the compass, and the protractor. I was so good I taught it on a regular basis, was selected to compete in orienteering races, and show new officers how lost they really were.

Before the days of geocaching we would use maps for similar games. I still pull out a map every now and then and go looking for the geeky treasures with old school map and compass.

I collect all kinds of maps. Old maps, foreign maps, aviation maps, underwater survey maps. I have maps from just about every travel….well most. I even have maps of places I have never been to….but will some day. As a student pilot I would comb over aviation charts (not maps) and dream about all the travel I would do by plane. Idaho to Texas is still on the list as well as a coast to coast trip in a single-engine Cessna….time and money being the only barriers right now.

There is something about spreading out a sheet of roads, gulches, hills, and valleys that is not present with a gps. There is something lost by navigating by an in-car system of printing off directions from google or mapquest. The personality of the terrain disappears. We get caught up in “getting there”

Tonight I have a new Benchmark Series map of Idaho. I’m looking directly at an area I plan to do some exploration in. I’m also seeing places we have already been to and my thought is, “holy wow…I didn’t know that was there….” as I saw that the son of Sacajawea is buried a few hours from us.

I often wonder where we should go for our next grand adventure. I have done topographic analysis of the trail that goes from west to east in the Highlands of Scotland, conducted map reconnaissance of the Trans-American Trail, and spent hours in study of the Appalachians.

Looking at a fresh map of my own state makes me realize we don’t have to go far. There are so many things to explore in our own part of the world. Though we may put hundreds of miles of dirt behind us, the trail head for the next adventure begins only 5 miles from my door.

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