Tips for Over Landing

Some useful articles on doing it yourself
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Haboob
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:54 pm

Tips for Over Landing - Camping Holidays
There have been many enquiries of people seeking advice about camping holidays which has become known as Over Landing. There are no fixed answers for these questions as there are always different strokes for different okes.
There have been many different people from different back grounds that have cycled through many countries throughout the world, but they are a very special breed and are proof that over landing can be done with the bare necessities or a full kitted 4X4. The most important thing that you will need for a camping holiday would be a vehicle to get you from A to B. The vehicle that you are currently driving is the best vehicle for the job at hand. Most vehicles have a certain standard of reliability and can get you to where you want to go without too many problems. If you look after your vehicle it will look after you.
You purchased your current vehicle for what-ever reason, so must be happy with your purchase as it was ultimately your choice. When you purchased your vehicle you bought it to fulfil a certain role. If the routes you plan to drive with your vehicle do not differ too much from those that the vehicle was originally intended for, then you will not have problems with your vehicle getting you to your destination. This is at least a starting point for you to hone your camping skills and to see if you like this type of lifestyle.
On this route you will have formal, safe campsites with hot and cold water and probably trees for shade and plenty of other amenities that they may have to keep your days filled with many things to do and see. What this will teach you is that camping can be hard work with a lot of planning to make sure that you take all you will need for your getaway and packing to get you to your destination, where you will again have to unpack, set up tents, make beds and get things in a semblance of order for your night out/week-end/long week-end.
Fortunately most campsites have a shop which will have most of your requirements if you have forgotten something at home. You may be fortunate to have had good weather for your stay, but bad weather can dish up its own set of challenges that you will have to deal with. Before you leave for home you will then again have to pack up, get home where you must again unpack and wash and clean everything before going to bed totally exhausted. This can be a very satisfactory experience or one or both of you will decide that this is hard work and not for you. Your decision will be based on the weather and friends with whom the week-end was spent.
If you have done this a few times you will soon see what you need to cart with you and what you can leave at home. This will make things easier for you, but this is still a learning curve for you, so do not invest in expensive equipment just yet as you have more than enough at home to get you started and to keep you interested. Speak to experienced campers to learn from them, so as to see how other people do things. Pack your kitchen goodies in boxes to keep them together and use a cooler box with vacuum packed fresh meat for your braai. The chicken/fish must be used the first night and the red meat will keep the longest.
Should you feel that this forms part of your life then you will start looking at doing this more often and for longer periods of time, like going to one of our game parks or seaside holiday resorts. There will be shopping areas close by to these places where you can top up your expendables. This will also serve to get you away from your immediate surroundings and enable you to see new places to break the monotony of your small living quarters.
The more you travel the more you will want to see what is over the next hill. This will also make you realise that you are not adequately set up to do this type of travelling without too many hassles. Seeing the beauty of new places will encourage you to go for day drives to new destinations. The odd piece of gravel road will take you to new destinations which will show you other destinations that you will not be able to access without a vehicle with high ground clearance. This will also lead to farm campsites and trails which you will not even be able to get access to without a 4X4.
You can travel to many destinations in any normal vehicle, but you will see that there are many in-accessible destinations to which you cannot get to. You will also meet people on your travels and in your campsites that are widely travelled and will tell you about many places that you have not even considered visiting. They will also most probably be kitted out to do this type of travelling. Look and learn from them and see what you can do with what you have to make your travels trouble free.
By this time you should know if you really want to do this type of exploring or not. I would suggest that you invest in a 4X4 with low range if you eventually plan in moving into the bush to explore places not often visited by others. A normal high clearance vehicle will get you to most places, but you will have places that you will not be able to get to and once you start leaving the black stuff and travelling on roads not suited to normal vehicles, will be the day you regret not purchasing a proper 4X4.
If you already have a high clearance vehicle then stick to this until you can afford to go to the next stage, but do not purchase a high clearance vehicle to start your gravel road excursions with that is not a 4X4 with low range. It is important to know what you want to do and then systematically work towards it; otherwise you can spend a lot of money on things that you will not need later on without proper planning. Remember that the better you are kitted the better and more hassle free the experience will be.
Should you chose to purchase an SUV as opposed to a LDV, then remember that you will hear every little rattle in that vehicle, which will drive you nuts. Do not entertain the notion that you will pack everything so efficiently that there will be no rattles. These vehicles are very nice people carriers and all purpose vehicles and can be loaded quite efficiently, when used as over landing vehicles, but heed the warning about the rattles and your packing skills.
If you purchase a vehicle with low range that is also a light delivery vehicle, then you will have to start off by kitting it out. Most people will purchase a canopy so as to be able to lock equipment in the back, as protection from those that believe in affirmative shopping. The normal fibre glass canopies are normally first choice as they are normally cheaper than aluminium canopies, but this will be your first mistake. Even if you do not plan to use the vehicle as an over lander, the aluminium canopy is far superior with side doors enabling you to get to equipment stashed behind the cab in the deepest recesses of the canopy.
The best camping system is the one that you have perfected for your particular situation. The more you do this thing the more experience you will gain and the more you will see what system works for you. Touring can be an expensive learning curve as camping equipment is very expensive. The best advice that I can give you is to start small with what you have, without laying out money for the best and most expensive equipment you can find in the 4X4 stores that are shooting up all around the country.
More often than not, people start off with a big layout of equipment and then find that this is not as romantic and exciting as they were led to believe by articles and brochures. Just look in the outdoor magazines how many caravans, trailers and camping equipment is being sold at a fraction of the purchase cost by people who have only used it once, twice or thrice.
Start off in good spring/summer weather for one night camping at a site near your home, with what you have or with borrowed or rented equipment. Should this go according to plan and you and your family have enjoyed the experience, then try a two night stay for your next expedition and then increase it to a long week-end. Somewhere along the line you will meet up with camping challenges like strong wind, rain or both, noise of thoughtless campers, unwelcomed guests trying to relieve you of your camping equipment, clothing, food, etc. This will be the test of your sense of humour and how you deal with the situations that you find yourself in. Make a habit of it to lock everything away before you go to bed.
These situations will be enough of a learning curve to see if you want to take these trips to the next level. You will also start seeing that the packing and unpacking becomes a problem that will make you wish for something easier. The campsites that you visit will be filled with caravans and 4X4 trailers which will all offer different degrees of difficulty when it comes to packing up or un-packing. Remember that these are expensive items for your wish list and have not been tried and tested by you. If you can then hire or borrow before you buy, but look and see what others have and how they work before buying. Don’t think that the first one you see is the best and easiest because it looks better and easier than what you have. Remember that once you buy, you will be stuck with whatever that may be until you manage to sell it and purchase something better that you have seen, usually at a big loss.
Every trip you do should have at least part of that trip spent talking to other people in the campsite and viewing their equipment to see what works for them and seeing if it would suit your situation. Watch new arrivals at the site and see how effective their system is and how much time they spend in their preparations, before they are able to relax or go fishing. You must compare this to your situation and what you eventually want to do with your set-up. You must have an idea of how you wish to spend your camping holiday.
Do you want to go somewhere and camp for two or three days while you explore the area you are in, before moving on to the next place, where you will again camp for two or three days until you have to return home or do you want to go and spend your whole holiday at one destination. This will greatly influence what camping equipment you will need for your camping holiday.
The third alternative is to travel every day and to spend every night at a new destination. This is true over landing and suites those that quickly get bored seeing the same scenery every day. If this seems to be a tiring alternative, just travel shorter distances in a day which will make your mode of travel cheaper and should not tire you out. Remember that your biggest over landing cost is your fuel, so the less you travel a day the less your costs are.
If you want to spend the whole holiday in one place or want to spend at least a few days in a place before moving on, then you will probably want to get yourself a camping trailer or caravan. Remember though that although you will be more comfortable in your campsite for the few days you will be camping there, you will be limited in the places that you can go with your rig. The time it takes you to cover the distances between campsites will also be greatly extended and the difficulty of your travels will also be increased substantially. Just a small thing like trying to find a parking for your towing combination in a busy town or city you are passing through, for someone to pop into a shop to purchase bread, milk or any other provisions becomes a nightmare for some and just another challenge for others.
If you get to like the camping, then you can start making decisions about your accommodation. A cheaper ground tent will be smaller and lighter but will not last longer than a heavier canvas tent. It will also be necessary for you to purchase mattresses and blankets. Your mattress on the ground will not be well insulated on the ground during our colder months. An air mattress will be the worst for insulation, then you also risk it getting punctured during a camping trip and you end up on the hard cold floor of your tent. You may then want to purchase stretchers to keep your mattresses off the ground. Each item costs money and the costs just keep escalating. A blow up mattress does take less space when deflated but you still need place to pack them in your vehicle.
The alternative and more expensive option is a roof-top tent (RTT). This fits on top of your vehicle and has enough space inside when closed up for your foam mattress which is included in the price of the RTT. The normal RTT is a bit of a hassle to put up and take down (especially for the older folk), but now there are the new Clam Shell RTT. This is much quicker and easier, but then the cost is also a bit more than the normal RTT. There are also Electrically Operated RTT’s, but I have only read about these and cannot vouch for their functuality. This will probably be more expensive than the Clam Shell RTT. These options all free up space inside the vehicle for other camping equipment or for clothing and foodstuffs. This is because they normally have enough space for all your sleeping gear (mattress, blankets sheets or sleeping bags and pillows.
The last option is the camper which is the most expensive option, but is the easiest to use with packing and storage space for all you camping equipment, foodstuffs and clothing. Be aware that there are also many different makes of campers out there and like with everything, there are better ones and those that are not as strongly built. Chip board as found in the road caravans will most definitely not last on gravel roads or 4X4 tracks. Campers are also built on a double cab configuration all the way up to a double axel truck. Naturally bigger is more expensive and even on small configurations you can have many fancy things that can be built into every nook and cranny. You must just decide what your needs are before you decide to purchase.
These are the decisions that you will have to make, before laying out a lot of your hard earned cash or committing yourself to any particular camping lay-out. If you are able, then rather rent or borrow or go with friends who are kitted, but look at all the different options.
I once did the passes of the Eastern Cape with a friend who is an experienced camper. He had spent many a week-end or holiday on the beach fishing with his family and friends and camping was really not a problem to him. The whole family got involved with setting up camp on arrival and the same happened when packing up to leave. After we did the Passes together, he looked at camping and over landing in a completely different light. Before he had his tent up I was lighting the fire and putting on the potjie for the evening meal, while they were struggling with mattresses and sleeping bags.
He decided right there and then that he would set himself up in a similar fashion and to give him credit he has done a self-build camper, in which he has put a lot of thought. The camper he built is practical; easy to operate and incorporates a lot of new innovations that make setting up camp a breeze in any place which he would find himself in.
The same applies to your camping set-up. The easier your system works for you the more likely you are to want to get out into the wilds. The longer your set-up takes to put up or pack away the less likely you will be to want to move to another destination every day. When setting up camp or packing up the next day becomes a schlepp, the less likely you are to want to do this daily. It is not the system with the most goodies or drawers that make it the best, but the system which has the least work to get you comfortable in your campsite. The less you can do without the easier and cheaper your system will work out to be.
When it comes to your vehicle and your camping equipment, remember that weight is your biggest enemy. It is a fine balance between what you need or what is nice to have to assist you in keeping out of the trouble that you may find yourself in. There are many items that you can do without until you find yourself in difficulties, and then you will need them to get yourself out of trouble. You also only have a limited amount of space in a vehicle which you will be using for over landing. Even with this limited space you will find that it does not take much, to over load a vehicle. Every little thing that is added/loaded, adds to the vehicle weight problem.
When it comes to Awnings there are also a lot of different options on the market. Canvas is longer lasting but heavier and breathes, so if you touch the awning when filled with water it will leak where you touched it. In my opinion rip-stop or even the lighter nylon will be lighter and not leak as canvas would.
The normal pull out or fold out awnings often require two people to be able to put these up. These will normally give you between 2.5 to 3.5 metres of shade on one side of your vehicle. Most of these need support legs & guy ropes enabling them to stand up and can be a bit of a hassle to pitch, but are normally the more affordable of the awnings.
The next group of awnings are the 270* Awnings. These normally cover the better part of two sides of the vehicle. The left side and the back side of the vehicle. The left side of the vehicle is mainly used for camping in our neck of the woods. The main reason is that if you should need to stop for a quick brunch, then everything is ready and available on the side of the vehicle that is away from all the passing vehicles passing on the right side of your parked vehicle on the open road.
These awnings give a lot of cover/shade and can probably be set up by one person in less than a minute and can be put away in less than two minutes. This is a clever design which is quick and easy (my type of camping). I have heard that they can be problematic in the wind, but I have attached three rings at the end of each of the support arms. If there is a wind or I see that there is a storm brewing, I just attach a guy rope and tent peg, anchoring each support pole to the ground. These are small light items which do not take space and are quick & easily set up if bad weather is making an unwanted appearance.
The other hassle that these awnings may present is the collection of water on the roof of the awning. The water which collects on the roof must continually be pushed up from the bottom to get it to flow over the end of the awning. If this is not done then the water will eventually fill up to such an extent to cause the material to tear or to bend the arms of the awning.
For this reason alone I would not get sides for the awning as this water that collects would have to be continually be dispersed during the course of the night so it would not be suitable to set up as a sleeping area. It also becomes work to zip the sides on and off and to anchor the bottoms’ to the ground. I previously had an Oz Tent which set up very quickly, but if you used the side panels to add-a-room, then it started becoming cumbersome by the time you had to zip on side panels and put up poles to support the weight and guy ropes for the add-a-room, then it becomes work and time consuming, which is a hassle that I would rather not have.
I have the Ostrich Wing Awning with the lighter nylon cover and it works great for shelter from rain/sun and even assists with keeping warmth in, if there is no wind. The rain however does collect on the roof and must continually be pushed up from the bottom to get it to flow over the edge. I fold it closed when we go to bed or pack it away. This nylon and rip stop will also not get mouldy as quickly as canvas would if closed when still wet.
When looking for an awning, you must buy the strongest unit on the market. A few months ago I was shopping in Port Elizabeth for 4X4 goodies with First Geer (Tony) where we came across a Batwing awning which was very frail and not capable of standing up to anything beyond a very frail sneeze from a little ol’ lady with chronic lungs (In defence it was an old awning and the newer one could be vastly improved).
See all the different models to make your own decision by testing the strength of each one. Push up & down on the arms of the awning and this will give you an idea of the rigidity of each one. Bearing in mind that the wind will be more likely to blow it up, thus bending the arms in an upwards direction. I only put guy ropes on mine when the wind gusts or I see a storm brewing.
I have also put three little LED’s at the end of each support arm in the awning which assists for light around the camp. These lights fit into the inside of the U-tube and the wiring runs inside this as well. There are just three small LED’s inside each arm of the awning which are then protected in this groove/channel and shine down around the circumference of your campsite (This only draws about 0.1Ah of power from the batteries). The lights I have in the top of each door in the camper aid in attracting insects into the kitchen and camper, so the reason for putting lights into the arms of the awning which now gets used for the lights at night and also then assists if there is dew in the air (warmth). The awning being quick and easy to open or close poses no problem or hassle to do this.
When I stop to camp I always try park with the vehicles nose into the wind/rain or with the wind blowing over the right door. This helps to block the wind from the side that we camp on. With a storm brewing I will also always be looking at pushing the nose of the Hilux into the bush for added protection from the elements. With the prices of awnings all being so competitive, I would really not worry about considering which one is the bargain or value for money. When you are in the price range for a particular item, then buy the one you want otherwise you will always regret the weaknesses of the bargain you took. Buy the best and live with the weaknesses it MAY have. Even if you need to save a month or two longer for what you really want.
The awning also assists in Lion country as shelter from above when parked next to a krans/river bank. I park the left front bumper against the bank with the left door open for SWAMBO for safety. I then open the table which folds down from the back fender behind the back wheel. I sit at the back in the opening of the back door which opens out along the back right side of the camper effectively extending the length of the camper on the right side. The left back side of the camper is parked about two metres from the krans/river bank. The fire is then made between the camper and the bank/krans, assisting in cutting off access from the back of the vehicle.
Should a Lion come waltzing down the right side of the vehicle and around the back door of the canopy, he will find a very smelly un-appetising supper sitting there, from pure fright. Really hope this never happens, but travelling alone there are not many other options of forming a laager. It is worse when parked on the flats with the exception that you can keep checking for shining eyes approaching in the night. These are absolutely awesome awnings, but as I have pointed out they all have their strengths and weaknesses. You must make a decision on which is the best suited to your needs.
Sand Tracks are another item that you can cart around with you that add weight to your over landing vehicle. These can assist you in getting unstuck in sand or mud. If you have a solid type then they can also get you over narrow gullies that may block your route. These can cost you a few rand if you make them yourself or can cost you in excess of R 2 500 for a set of two for some of the better known brand makes. Some can be rolled up like tank tracks or mats to take less space and can be made from various different types of materials which have different advantages and weaknesses. You even get some that are similar to sand bag pockets which are sewn together and then filled with sand/gravel/stone or grass to get you out of a situation. You can decide what & if you need these and where they would be able to fit in your rig if you purchased them. Snow chains would probably fit into this category if you were planning to visiting the colder parts of our country during the colder winter months.
A tow bar or tow rope or both can also assist in many different situations. The bar will be the best if you need to tow or be towed over rough terrain for many kilometres. The advantages over a tow rope are countless for this application, but a tow rope can be used as an extension to get you away from mud onto firmer ground, when recovering another vehicle or if you need to be towed a short distance on better roads. In an emergency a tow rope is better than no tow bar.
The biggest and most expensive is not necessary the best when it comes to your equipment. Drawer systems are a big seller and they really do work well, but some of them are very heavy (weight problem again) and each drawer is usually covered and lined with carpet and then is also mounted on rails inside another box. This all adds to the weight and also takes up space. Where possible use shelves which are cheaper to make, take less space (more space for packing) and weigh considerably less. Preference is again a key factor on your decision and what you will have to do without to compensate for the extra weight.
Should you decide on fitting shelves for your kitchen or grocery area then you will find that by packing everything loosely onto the shelf will cause a lot of Chaos, so make sure that you first visit a plastic warehouse type of shop and plan the size of your shelves by the size plastic containers that can fit into the planned shelves. In this way you will not have any wasted space and your groceries and utensils will not be strewn all over your kitchen area. Most people start off with ammo boxes but these are big cumbersome and also have a lot of wasted space by their design to enable them to carry heavy items.
Tables are an expensive item and an aluminium table can probably set you back in the region of 2 to R 3 000. Before going out and buying the first table you come acrodd, first get by with the tailgate of your vehicle or the bonnet. You can cover these with a piece of cloth or plastic if you are worried about scratches until you have decided if it is a must have item in your arsenal of camping paraphernalia. In the meantime see what other people are using and where their tables are packet away. See how stable they are and if this is what you want, then buy the best you can afford if it is going to be a long term investment, or if you are handy, make your own which will cost you less than half the price of a bought unit.
When it comes to over landing then many people take a set of clothing for every day. Others make the journey into a survival course and see how many days they can wear a set of clothing. The easiest way is to be aware of the weather conditions you could be experiencing and pack accordingly. I live mainly in shorts, t-shirt boots or slops. I take about three sets of clothing with a thin jacket, thicker (warmer) jacket, track suite pants and a pair of long pants with a matching shirt for going out in or for cold weather.
Take what you have in your cupboard, but if you start doing this thing long term, then invest in quick drying travel clothing, normally a type of nylon mix of fabrics. You also get pants which have zip off legs in the same quick drying material. Unfortunately the people making this type of clothing have not yet got their wardrobes in bush colours, so you will get black, dark grey, navy, bright blues (bad colour for tsetse flies), bright green, red, orange, purple and white. Not very clever colours for over landing when everything you touch is covered with a thick layer of dust. These clothes are also very expensive to be wearing in the bush, but they are practical and make for easy camping.
The clothing you wear will have to be washed. The campsites in well organised parks can and do have washing machines and tumble dryers. Some are ridiculously expensive to use, so if you do not use a Laundromat from home go out and buy your own washing machine for your over landing expeditions or find one in your garage or on a nearby dump site as you will find that many get discarded.
The expensive way is to go out and buy a Sputnik Hand Washer at your local caravan dealer. These are quite expensive, probably in the region of about a grand or you can be on the lookout for any biggish plastic bottle (about 20 L), which will hold at least 10 – 15 L of water with a big lid, so that you can get your clothes in and out of the container with ease. This is the ideal sized washing machine for between two to four people. If you do not have a similar container lying around at home, then you can purchase a similar container from boat places (normally yellow container with a red lid, but it is not the colour or make that is important).
After a day’s travelling, we put about 5L of water, scooped from a river or any available cleanest source, into the container (just enough to cover the next day’s washing) and add a cold wash washing powder. After our shower or wash, our soiled clothing is put into this container and dunked into the mixture.
The washing/clothing is left there to soak overnight. With the next day’s driving, the clothing gets sloshed around in the plastic drum for the duration of the drive, which is normally a full day’s wash for the clothing. When we stop at our next chosen campsite, the clothing just needs to be removed, wring out the water from the washed clothes, throw out the dirty water from the drum, and add the next day’s water to the drum. Use this water to rinse out the clothing which is then again rung out before the washing is hung out on the nearest fence, tree or if no suitable place is available I will string out a clothes line we carry with us for this purpose or just hang the washing up under the awning if there is nothing to attach the clothes line too.
Your washing will not dry easily during cold winter days, especially close to the coast where there is high humidity. You will probably be stuck with half dry washing when you are ready to close the day off with a few sundowners. We have solved this by fitting wash lines under our bed on the inside of our camper, as it is not always safe to leave your washing out overnight. It may even be wetter the next morning if left out when you wake up, than it was the night before, when you went to bed (that’s if it is still there).
A descent wash or shower is always welcomed after a long day in the saddle. At a formal campsite, this is not a problem, where there are ablution facilities with a shower or bath. You will see plenty of portable hot water gas showers for sale in off road stores. These can cost in excess of R2 500. They also use a lot of water for you to get a good wash. If there is no water at your chosen campsite then you will have to cart this water with you. Every litre of fluid you cart with you, weighs in the region of a kilogram (diesel is fractionally lighter but we are not here to get technical or argue every point). These are soon sold by their owners, so if you plan on buying one, then get a second hand one far cheaper than a new one out the 4X4 store. This is not recommended because of the weight factor.
The easiest route is to purchase a litre of Elizabeth-Anne’s Baby Shampoo (EABS - No, I am not a rep and do not have shares in the company) from your local supermarket. You can then boil/heat a litre of water in your kettle on the fire. This is then emptied into your collapsible washing up bowl or any other plastic tub (A 2L cool drink bottle cut 2/3 of the way up works just as well (cheap). Add cold water, but keep as hot as possible, as a small amount of water cools quickly. Get undressed with your spouse/partner behind your vehicle in the bush or out of site so as not to scare the neighbours children. Dunk a wash rag/cloth in the hot water and wring out. Add a good dollop of EABS to the wash rag and rub the EABS into the rag. Take it in turns to wipe your whole body (hair included) with the rag adding EABS if & when necessary. Rinse the cloth out and wipe the EABS off your bodies with the same rag. Rinse and wipe until all the EABS is all removed from your body.
You will feel refreshed and as clean as you feel after a hot shower at home. After a long day in the bush it will really feel like this – try it, it really works. This is a lot cheaper and lighter than a portable shower and you will not need a big drum to heat about ten litres of water for a shower. This will free up space and weight for other more important goodies that you may need on your trip
The drinks always present problems in the bush, as most enjoy them well chilled unless you drink a good quality red wine, but for bush monkey’s, as our children call us, that is like feeding strawberries to pigs. To start with, you can easily get by with the cooler box you use at home, that is used to go to the local cricket game, braai or visit to the beach or fishing trip for the day. Ice is obtainable at most places along the tourist routes (you can pay enough for a small King’s ransom at some places for ice, but this is still cheaper than the money you will have to lay out for a good 12V fridge or fridge/freezer) so the cooler box can be topped up and meat and drinks, bought as needed along the way. Be sure to know when there are Saturday afternoon, Sundays or Public Holidays when you arrive at your destination where you are expecting to top up with meat or drinks or you could find yourself eating bully-beef and drinking diet cokes at your next two or three campsites when there are no open shops to stock up on your provisions.
Home-made ice will last much longer than bought ice. The reason is that bought ice is usually made with much smaller blocks which melt quicker that ice blocks made in bigger containers. You can freeze big blocks of ice in any suitable containers at home long before you leave on your trip. Should you need smaller ice blocks for your drinks, and then you can just break these big blocks with a hammer or any object harder than the ice found lying around the campsite. Alternately you can purchase the biggest ice cube makers you can find at your local super market. The silicone ones are expensive but some of them make a nice sized ice cubes.
I have also got into the habit of using a small flask as a drinking mug for my sundowner. The ice lasts longer as the flask is double layered, you get no condensation on the sides of your glass/mug and the outside temperature does not drop making it uncomfortable to hold in your hand and because it is bigger than the normal glass you do not need to top up as often (you see multi-purpose).
If you have planned properly you could organise ahead by ‘phoning or mailing ahead to the places you are expecting to pass through and put in meat orders for which you can pay up front and have the butcher vacuum pack & freeze meat for you. This will give it a much longer shelf life in your cooler box. I would not attempt this with chicken & fish. You could purchase and eat chicken or fish on the braai the first night after getting it, but I would not keep it past the second day if it has not stayed frozen. The less the cooler box is opened and closed the longer it will remain chilled. Take out more than your beer you are about to drink (while the cooler box is open, take out something for swambo to drink and take out the braai meat for the night at the same time). I use little six pack cooler boxes in which I then place four beers and a small packet of ice (the ice is pre-packed in small packets for daily use before I leave home, so there is no scratching. I just remove one packet. My mug with any ice that may have been left over is placed in the mug, before it is put back into the freezer when I am finished with it. It thus starts off cold and may just need to be topped up with ice before the next sundowner).
Should the camping experience be growing on you and the family and you decide to invest in a better solution, then a good idea is to look into a fridge or fridge/freezer. Most people start with a 50L week-ender or something similar, but down the line end up by getting another, to supplement the first one which is more often than not, not nearly big enough. One 95L fridge freezer is CHEAPER than 2 X 50L models (they will also probably take more space and draw more current than the one 95L unit). Yes I know that in theory if the 95L packs up you have nothing, but if one of the 50L units pack up you still have the other for back-up. That is why we are not splitting hairs and arguing every point – make your own decision with your particular circumstances in mind. Do shop carefully and buy the best that you can, otherwise you will be disappointed.
These are very expensive items, as is everything you will be investing in, to go on your over landing adventures. Remember that the bigger the fridge/freezer, the more expensive it will be and the more battery power it will consume. You will always have to be aware of your power consumption that you are using as your extra battery systems only hold so much power in any battery that you may have fitted. Your consumption cannot exceed your available consumption, so you need to limit the times your cooling system is opened and closed. If you have a freezer, take your meat (& ice for tonight) out the freezer for the next day. When you get the beers and meat out your fridge for tonight, place the meat from the freezer, into the place from which the meat was removed, in the fridge. This will help to regulate the fridge temperature and cool the fridge while the meat defrosts there for the next 24 hours.
You also need to plan your set up to be able to accommodate your camping fridge and all the goodies that you think you will need to accompany you on a trip. This is why I keep advising you to be sure of what you want to do before laying out the money to set yourself up. Buying items which will later not be practical to have or are too heavy to cart with you or for which you no longer have space for will be an expensive learning curve and a waste of money.
The dual battery system will be necessary to power whatever fridge/freezer combination you choose, otherwise you will, sooner or later find that you are stuck somewhere with a flat battery and unable to start your ride for the next part of the journey. This is not too much of a problem if this occurs in a busy campsite, where you will always find a friendly camper ready to assist you. Out in the bush and travelling alone a flat battery can spell DISASTER. How do you push a fully laden 2.5 ton 4X4 fast enough to start it, in thick sand (You will have bigger problems if your vehicle is automatic)?
The manner you load your ride will also determine how stable your ride will be on the road. Roof racks will free up additional loading space, enabling you to carry more and thus further overloading your vehicle. Be sure to pack the heavy items as low down as possible and if you need to load the roof rack, then pack the lightest items here. This will greatly reduce your chances of experiencing a roll-over.
I have placed my 2nd & 3rd batteries below my load bin, to make my vehicles centre of gravity as low as possible in my camper. The disadvantage of this is that these two batteries are difficult to get to for maintenance reasons or when they need to be replaced. This however is not an everyday occurrence and has freed up the normal space for the 2nd battery which is now used for the mounted compressor. The advantages of the low down batteries are a much lower centre of gravity and the batteries now operate in a cooler environment under the vehicle without the heat from the engine compartment which does not make for happy batteries.
You will need lighting for your evening braai and to spread or make toasted sandwiches. Your torch or head light will work for most instances or until you are set up for longer and more serious expeditions. You can even purchase the cheap LED lighting solutions that work on pen light batteries, which you can stick to the side of your vehicle or hook onto the roof rack of your vehicle or on the branch of a nearby tree. These work very well and are very energy efficient when compared to the older globe models.
Should you wish to go to the next level the dual battery system must then also be able to accommodate your lighting system. This is fairly simple by using small LED lights or small/short strips of LED lights. These are then stuck in your tent or onto the openings of doors and in RTT or campers to provide the lighting of your preference around your vehicle or campsite. Extension leads can take lighting to where you braai or to your camp table, where you will have light for your evening meal.
All the lighting and size of your fridge/freezer will determine how much battery power you will be using. You need to also be able to charge camera batteries/laptops/cell ‘phones, etc. Some of these will need an inverter to get them charged and the more sophisticated your equipment is the bigger the inverter is that you will need. The bigger the inverter the more battery power you will need. This all uses more power and it may now no longer be enough to just have a second battery, especially if you have a rest day built into your trip itinerary, where you have no 220V power point, to top up your power in your second battery.
Your charging system will also need to be looked at. Most alternators will charge at about 13.7V or 13.8V which will take about eight hours of driving to get your battery charged to about 90-95% full, through a Solenoid to a deep cycle battery. DC/DC charges are more efficient charges which will charge your deep cycle battery to 95% in about 3.5 - 4 hours while travelling. This is in less than half the time at a slightly higher charge rate than your alternator will charge at. These chargers will also be more effective when using solar power. The biggest problem here is the exorbitant costs of these battery charges with the best known being the most expensive and now retailing at over R 4 500.
This also uses up a lot of fuel if you are driving around in game parks to charge your battery(s) which do not have fuel pumps to top up your fuel supplies. How you use your fridge/freezer will also greatly effect power consumption. The more the cooler is opened & closed the more power usage will be experienced. The hotter the outside temperatures are the more this will affect power usage. The colder the cooler is set is also going to affect the amount of power you use.
I have heard a camper complaining about his inferior fridge/freezer which runs all the time and thus uses a lot of battery power. When I checked I found that his cooler was set at maximum coldness. With the ambient temperatures being about 35* (degrees) in the heat of the day and his cooler set at about -25* the implement was expected to get the inside temperature at about 60* below the ambient temperature.
Remember that the harder the cooler has to work the more power it will consume. The hotter it is outside the more power your cooler will consume. Try and keep the environment around the fridge as cool as possible which will decrease your power usage. The more windows you have in your canopy, allowing sunlight (heat) into the back where the cooler is working, the harder the cooler will have to work to keep its contents at an acceptable level.
See the difference between the inside of your car parked outside the mall on a hot summers day, compared to the closed boot, which has no windows. The boot will probably be at least 15* cooler than the inside of the car. You are working your cooler to death and burning unnecessarily high amounts of power to get your drinks cold.
To cut down on power usage I will for example take my meal out my freezer for the next day & place it into the fridge. This will assist the fridge in keeping temperature. I will at the same time as taking meat out, take ice out of the freezer for our drinks. This I place in a small cooler box in which beers or cool drinks are also placed with the ice. This keeps the drinks cold and helps to preserve the ice for longer. When the cool drinks are taken out the fridge, the meat which was placed in the fridge the day before, for tonight, is taken out the fridge and the frozen meat for tomorrow is placed inside the fridge. No warm cool drink or beer is placed in the fridge at this stage as it will use valuable battery power to get these cold, when they will only be used sometime the next day. In this way the fridge and freezer is opened minimally, thus conserving battery power. The next morning before we leave to continue our journey, we will top up the contents of the fridge, so that they are cooled whilst the alternator is charging the battery or when the solar panels are charging the fridge if we are stationery (This will make no difference if you are parked at a campsite and using 220V power to keep your batteries topped up).
Just being parked will not assist your batteries to be charged and driving around to charge them uses precious fuel. This is where you will have to invest in Solar Panels which are also expensive and will also add considerable weight to your over landing vehicle. These panels will also be most effective if you face them directly (90*) to the sun. This will mean that you must continually move the solar panel throughout the course of the day, to keep them pointing 90* towards the sun.
The size of the Solar Pane and all relevant fittings will determine how much energy it will be feeding into the battery. A medium sized cooler would need a solar of about 80 w and the bigger coolers would need double this size solar panel or 2 X 80w panels. I have chosen to use an extra solar panel to assist in charging the batteries. I use an extra 85 Ah semi-deep cycle battery (This can be used in an emergency to start the camper) with the 102Ah deep cycle battery, as I do not take the panels off my roof. I would rather park the vehicle on a slight slope to assist in getting the panels facing the sun as close to 90* as the slope will allow. This also has the disadvantage of parking the vehicle in the heat (sun) which affects the power consumed by the cooler. Fortunately I do not have windows into the canopy section of the vehicle. The best way is to park in the shade and place the solar panels in the sun, where they can be moved periodically to allow them to work optimally.
A comfortable chair is also essential if you do not want to make do with a tree stump or rock, especially if you spend a few days in one place. After driving a full day I seldom use my chair at the campsite as I have used up my seating requirement for the day. I do use it though if I get to the campsite early and then enjoy the time relaxing around the campfire.
All your implements used, must where-ever possible, be multi-task implements which can do more than one thing and must be used more than two or three times on a trip to make it worthwhile to cart it with you on a trip. If anything is only used once or twice on a trip then you must ask yourself it is worth-while carting it around for thousands of kilometres, just for the sake of being able to say that you have such an item. This all saves on weight and fuel used to carry the heavy vehicle from place to place (More weight = more fuel).
An example of this is a knife must be able to spread bread, cut ripe tomatoes and be used as a steak knife. If you have a table knife, paring knife and steak knife or a different knife for every eventuality, then you will run out of space and be carrying excessive weight in your vehicle, which is sure to lead to breakdowns. Victorinox is a good Swiss knife which makes a knife with a broad rounded blade instead of a point. There are handles of just about every conceivable colour to match your colour scheme. This is a well-known knife manufacturer and should hold its cutting edge for a long time. They sell for about R120 and are the type of knife that I looked for a long time before finding the ideal knife for the job at hand.
I am not trying to tell you that if you take one or two extra knives with you, will result in your vehicle being overloaded, but if you can cut out as much weight as possible, you will be less likely to have bearing/suspension failure caused by excessive weight (cut down on weight where-ever you can). Weight is the biggest stumbling block for any expedition. Use an aluminium flat bottomed potjie as an all-purpose pot in place of a cast iron pot which weighs three times the amount of the aluminium one.
All purpose pots that are light, take up little space and have lids that can also be used as plates can be sourced from our Indian friends. These pots also have no handles and can be found in stainless steel or aluminium. They can be purchased in sets of three or five or individually. The different sizes fit into the next size up, so carrying up to five pots with you only take as much space as the biggest pot and lid. These will fit inside your flat bottomed pot with a frying pan (not really necessary with all the pots) inside a flat bottomed pot bag.
The next item that most of us have is a type of bread bin in which we can keep our fresh bread, rolls or buns. These are normally plastic and can only be used for this purpose. We use this daily as not many people stick to their Banting Diet whilst out in the wilds on an over landing trip.
A stainless steel baking dish can be used for the same purpose, but then it can also be used as an oven in which to bake, roast or as a warmer drawer. The stainless is easy to keep clean and takes up the same amount of space as the bread bin and can multi task.
Like-wise, two small gas bottles are better than one big one. The smaller bottles can be used individually or together with a cooker top for each. Get used to using the same one every time if used alone until it gets empty, then you have the other one to use in emergencies, until you get to a place where the first one can get filled. Then you use the second one until it is empty, and so on. In this way you will never run out of gas as you mainly use the bottle most used until it is refilled, then start on the other bottle.
The braai grid should be a good quality stainless for easy cleaning and should be able to fold up. It should only be as big as what is required for your circumstances and can then be used as a support for your baking dish when it is used on the fire. A fold up tripod is another useful item which takes up little space and is handy to have where there are no rocks around to support for your braai grid, potjie or baking dish. Your expeditions will tell if you can go without this. If only used occasionally, rather leave it at home if you have one.
On our last trip we did not have an extra pot in which to warm up our tomato gravy for the pap & sous we were having for our evening meal. Improvisation was all that was left to do to rectify the situation, so I cut the top off of a two litre coke bottle and warmed the sauce in the plastic coke bottle on the fire which did the job.
The remains of the coke bottle were burned on the fire after the completion of our meal. Plastic cool drink bottles can also be used to boil water to do the washing up after a meal. While there is liquid in the bottle, it will not burn or melt, but do not let the flames of your fire reach to the top sections of the bottle which are not protected by the liquid with-in.
A wash up bowl is another item which is inclined to take up a lot of space. A plastic wash up bowl of about 20 X 30 X 12 cm is the ideal size in which you can do most of your washing up. If you have any similar sized plastic container it can be used as a washing up bowl. This size is not too big, so it will not use excessive water which you will have to cart with you if you camp wild. Fortunately most campsites have water that can be used for washing up, even if you are in the sticks. If you need to buy something to do the washing up, I suggest you look at something like those canvas type folding up wash up bowls.
These are square with dowels which fit into the top seam to give rigidity to the sides. They come in about two different sizes so choose one to suite your application/needs. Be aware that a sharp knife or a knife with a sharp point can puncture these bowls, so do handle with care.
Should you need a cheese grater, potato peeler or any similar kitchen type utensil, look for something small and light but make sure that it works well and does what it is supposed to do. It is one thing to struggle at home, but in the bush you do not have the luxury of back up implements, so get good stuff that works.
Cups need to be plastic or stainless. If stainless then look for double walled mugs, otherwise hot liquids consumed from the cup will burn your lips as they do with tin/enamel mugs. Melamine will be stained by your coffee and tea so will always appear to be dirty. This can be cleaned with jik if you already have these, but then you need to cart a bottle of jik around with you.
Should you need to cart jik or any other liquids with you then I suggest you decant them into 500 ml cool drink bottles or any other strong plastic bottles. If we stop for a cool drink on a Saturday’s shopping or grocery shopping, we wash and collect the bottles. These bottles are then used to decant jik, dish washing liquid, vinegar and even coffee, sugar & powdered milk or fresh milk can be stored in them. They are stronger and stand up better to chafing on bad or corrugated roads.
Where ever possible try and avoid using any glass, any hard thin brittle plastic bottles or cardboard cartons in which milk is sold, as these crack and leak easily on bad roads which shake your load up badly. You will know what I mean if you have had milk leak into you rig. Should this get soaked up into carpets or anywhere into your rig, will give off the worst smell and make living around your vehicle very unpleasant.
Chemists can supply you with bigger pill plastic containers which have nice lids which screw on nicely and can be used for the storage of things like jam, syrup, honey, peanut butter, mayonnaise, chutney and any other sauces or preserves that you may wish to take with you. Beers should preferably be purchased in tins as these can also be crushed to cart away from your bush experience and are also a lot lighter and take up less space when crushed after use. 2L cool drink bottles can be used to decant your spirits of choice, if this is what you drink.
Some roads are bad enough to scramble the eggs inside the shells. When breaking the egg out the shells to fry, you will see that they are scrambled like a rotten egg. If it smells okay then it’s good enough to eat.
When touring we have started purchasing the flavoured coffees packed in packs of ten to a box. We normally travel for about 23 days X 2 packets every morning = 46 packets in 5 boxes. The four extras are if we have visiting guests over for a cuppa at coffee time when we get up for coffee and rusks in the morning. We also take along four or five different flavours so do not get tired of one particular flavour. These flavoured coffees have coffee, sugar & milk in a single packet. Some makes also come without sugar for the sugar free brigade.
A single spare wheel is sufficient in most case scenarios, as long as you also have a good tyre repair kit to use if you should get unlucky and get an unforeseen extra puncture. This will enable you to fix the puncture along the way. To enable you to get to fix a problem, will necessitate you to cart along more equipment that you thought would be required. A hand or foot pump or a compressor pump which is also a lot less hard work involved, but a lot more expensive. Here again bigger is better but still more expensive than smaller.
When travelling way off the local tourist routes you will need to carry an extra spare wheel with you on your adventures. During about fourteen years of over landing I have had a blow-out, a tyre destroyed from a big cut on the side wall and a slow puncture. The fifteenth year saw me losing two tyres within twenty kilometres of each other, from cuts (not fixable) on the tread and a third tyre destroyed about 450 kilometres further with a side wall cut.
You will not realise how this eats into your confidence when you are driving alone very far from the normal tourist routes, until it happens to you. After the third lost tyre I had to drive over 300 kms to where I could get a replacement tyre as I was not prepared to go further into the bush without a second spare. I then had to return to continue my journey, but had to cut out two days driving, which will have to be driven again on another future trip.
Your tyres and the pressure in them are very important, but if you are not a competition driver, then just buy the best that you can afford as you should not be doing anything extreme whilst over landing. You should drive carefully, especially considering that you will be loaded much heavier than your normal sedan. Your vehicle will probably have a much higher stance so your centre of gravity will also be much higher so be aware of a possible roll-over. You only have one life so preserve it.
You will also eventually get to places that seem a bit small for your vehicle to fit into. With nowhere to go you will either have to continue or do a three hundred point turn. I have this situation in my drive way and need to drive into foliage to make a turn. This will also be the case on some of your adventures. This can damage frail plastic bumpers, so before they get damaged, take them off and sell them to a body shop (they fix or replace damaged parts). The proceeds can then be put towards buying good after-market bumpers which should also have recovery points and high jacking points.
Now you will also need a high lift jack which has many different uses. It can be used to jack up the vehicle to change a tyre or to get the beading off the rim to fit a tube to a damaged tyre. It will jack you out of mud or to get your vehicle out of deep sand so that you can fit sand tracks under the wheels to get momentum to get you going in soft sand or mud. It will also help to free your wheels in running water when your vehicle is being sucked into the sand under the water. Here the sand tracks or packed stones will assist in getting you out.
Many people struggle with toilet facilities when camping in the wilds. Believe me there are different situations for every occasion. Especially affected are the ladies who must try and maintain a certain amount of modesty and dignity. Whilst in the vehicle it is easy as the driver must just pull off the road in such a way that the vehicle does not stand parallel to the road. The front of the vehicle should be closer to the road surface than the back of the vehicle. In this way the back of the vehicle obscures the left side (passenger side) of the vehicle, whilst from the front the passenger side is obscured by the opened front passenger door. Your spouse now has a private cubicle in which to relieve herself. This is obviously not as easy if you have hitch-hikers or friends in the same vehicle, but this is what happens when you travel with an entourage.
I have also seen little buckets being used in roof-top tents or in ground tents, so that people do not need to leave the safety of their tents in the wee-wee hours of the night. A Sta-soft bottle is a far easier option as it is not rounded at the top. The flat shape makes the bottle comfortable to use by males and females. The bottle must be trimmed off near the top just above the handle and then can be used in a kneeling position or kneeling and crouched forwards. In this way you can stay under the blankets on a cold winter’s night and it saves the long scary walk to the ablution block, especially in Lion country, where the camps are not fenced.
Most tents have a pocket in which valuables can be kept and these bottles fit comfortably in these pockets. If there are no pockets, then make a plan for a pocket as you do not want any spillage during the night. The next morning the bottle is emptied in the ablution facilities and washed out with boiling water left over from morning coffee and a bit of dishwasher. This keeps the container clean & fresh. Take care to trim the bottle carefully as any sharp points can cause a painful injury to the nether regions.
The number two’s is a different story on these trips, but a preferable time is to train yourself to go straight after morning coffee whilst you are in a campsite. Emergencies on the road will be dealt with in the same way as you currently deal with them and at night you will have to keep an emergency small 5 litre bucket lined with a good quality leak proof plastic packet which can be closed and knotted after use and discarded at a suitable site. Remember that it will not be able to be destroyed completely by fire, so look for a long drop. Do not omit the plastic packet lining as the contents of the bucket will not be for those with a weak stomach, after being jolted around in a 4X4 on bad roads/tracks in the heat of the day.
Another important item is a descent comprehensive medical aid bag, in which you should have all medical prescriptions as well as prophylactics for malaria (some of which must be started at least a week before you enter a Malaria area), medication for diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, headaches, antihistamines and any other sicknesses you may suffer from. You will then also need an array of plasters and bandages that will suffice for any & every eventuality. Think of burns, pulled muscles, broken bones and dehydration. You must be prepared for any and all eventualities.
Remember that you may be hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest medical facilities and the road conditions may be such that it could take you three or four days to get there. A first aid course will only put you in a better position to assist you in dealing with different circumstances with which you may be confronted on your travels. Read medical articles in magazines and most outdoor magazines have a bush doctor section. Something that you have read may save your life or that of one of your party members.
Do not act like a cowboy/hero. Jumping off your vehicles roof can easily result in torn ligaments and broken bones if you land awkwardly. You will have to endure many hours of pain and discomfort if you are far from a qualified medical practitioner and prescription medication.
If you enjoy a good relationship with your local GP, you may get a course of all purpose anti-biotic to use for stomach ailments or respiratory tract infections. These do have expiry dates, so he may allow you to return these after your trip if it was not necessary to use them. There is nothing that puts a damper on your holiday quicker than sickness or an injury. Many of the places you visit will not be visited by people with the same hygiene expectations that you have. The locals will have a much tougher tolerance or immune system than you may have. They live on water that will give you the runs with-in three or four days.
Beware of chicken & fish on an expedition if you do not have a reliable freezer. You can get very sick. Steak or beef products are your safest bet if well cooked. Do have tinned food or pastas/rice (which are a lot lighter, but you will also need a good supply of fresh water to cook the starches) for emergency rations.
Water is a very important commodity that will keep you alive in an emergency situation. You should work on about 5L per person per day, especially during the warmer months of the year. Beer is a good alternative but will speed up dehydration in an emergency situation. 20-25 litre drums covered in truck tubes works well and the tubes assist with the prevention of chafing through on rough tracks. 50L of water should be sufficient for a three week trip if used sparingly and only for human consumption or if you find yourself in a place where there is no water for washing (seldom the case). This water must not be mixed with or topped up with water found locally in the sticks somewhere, where its origin is questionable. In an emergency rather use other containers to decant this water into and used only under the direst circumstances if this is for your survival.
Spares and tools are another important factor to consider as these are also items that weigh a lot. Take only spanners/tools and spares that you are MOST likely to need. You cannot take a spare engine, gearbox, alternator, starter and diffs with you. Take things like fuses, coolant pipes, nuts & bolts and wheel bearings for a front as well as a rear wheel with you and the tools to fit the spares you take with you. You will not go anywhere without wheel bearings. You will not even be towed away without these and it will be very expensive to be fetched with a flatbed if you are far from everything. This is another good reason to be travelling with a friend.
I think that the majority of us cannot afford to go on an organised tour for our yearly holiday. A lot of the people who can afford it, still make the decision to rather go on these holidays with family or friends as an organised tour can work you out to more than two thousand Rand per person per day, depending on how far you travel in a day and what your fuel costs work out to be.
To be fair the Tour Operator is trying to make a living out of his business and needs to be covered by insurance and must have done his homework in respect to the area which is covered by him. He must be able to know the route and needs to know many facts of the history and fauna & flora of the area.
He must know where the game or points of interest can be found in the area. He needs a licence to operate and must have a back-up crew to do the cooking and setting up of tents where the overnight stops are planned. Tour groups will also have at least two to three rest days over a 10 to 12 day touring holiday. On the rest days there will be places for you to visit which will be at your cost.
You will still have these costs when travelling on your own, but you will not be paying in excess of R 2 000 p/p/p/d for this privilege.
The more research you do into a trip area, the more likely you will be to see everything that you can in that specific area. What you have missed out on seeing when you get there, can be added into the trip the next time you pass through that specific area, as you will probably not get to it, due to your trip schedule. Should you prefer to do it when you realise that there is something additional to do in that area, then you can cut the time off the last few days of your trip. I would not do this, as this will be a stepping stone to your next trip, so you can see this place with a stopover to your next adventure in the area which may be further up the line, so you will have something to see there or a place to stay that you have not previously been to. A new place is a new adventure.
You do not want to be travelling the same routes every time you go on holiday so you plan on taking different roads to get to your next destination. The further you travel from home the more often you will travel certain roads which then get travelled early mornings until late at night to get to where your new adventure will be starting. If you can travel a new route every time, then it will be a new adventure every time you leave home.
Once you feel that you have gained enough experience, and then you can travel far and wide. The places in between will be stepping stones to the last place you saw along your previous holiday.
The more you travel and experience, the more you will want to see. You will want to drive more river beds and mountain passes because of the beautiful scenery & vistas that you will encounter along the way. The further you travel from your comfort zone the more careful you have to be. This is where the experience learned from previous trips will reap benefits to you and your travelling partner(s).
If you travel alone in far off places that are eventually off the tourist routes you will eventually have to make decisions at what you will attempt or what you will have to by-pass. The further off the normal tourist routes you are, the less you can afford to do anything that can cause damage to your vehicle, which will be your lifeline out the area.
You can travel in places where you will not see another soul/vehicle for two or three days. This is where you travel slowly and assess every situation clearly before you make a rash decision. This is especially the case when you travel alone with your spouse, as you will have no back-up from a friend or travelling partner.
Obviously the more driving experience you have the more you will be prepared to try on your own, as you will have more experience in knowing your capabilities, in what you can do and what your vehicle capabilities are. You will however still be in the position that you will not have the safety net of assistance, if you get yourself into difficulties. Whatever situation you get yourself into will be your sole responsibility to get yourself and your family out of.
When driving on soft sand, dunes, river beds, gravel roads or rocks will all make it necessary to drive with different tyre pressures. This will probably over work your smaller compressor pump (or yourself if you have chosen a hand or foot pump) which will cause it (or you) to pack up when it is needed most. Travelling in convoy or with a friend will always give you the assurance of back-up when it is needed, but not even SWAMBO’s anger at your stupidity will be able to blow hard enough to put pressure into a tyre to allow you to safely drive a 2.5 ton 4X4 on (Okay I know about filling the tyre with grass and other suitable debris to get you out of a situation but that is for the advanced course and you will then also have to have wheel spanners in your tool box).
Your tool box should also contain enough spanners to get you out of difficult situations, but not to the extent that you would have to do an engine over haul in the bush. You should have spares to cover the basics and just enough to sort out the most likely things that could go wrong. This will include things like all your filters, belts, wheel bearings and fuses. Under body protection will prevent the need for additional lubrication unless your vehicle is using or leaking this. This should however be rectified before taking the road, away from your comfort zone.
While we are busy with the advanced course, remember that sand is much more aerated during the warmer hours of the day than the early morning hours when the sand is colder. The important thing is not to panic when you get stuck. First let your tyre pressure as low as the situation requires without the danger of de-beading the tyre from the rim (this will make your problems worse than they were when you got stuck). This should allow you to drive out of most situations, if you have not dug yourself into a hole (Make sure that your vehicle is in 4W/D and low range, if you have managed to get properly stuck and remove the excess sand around the wheels and get your vehicle out of the holes in which it may be stuck).
Momentum is key for getting yourself out of thick sand. Should the sand be too loose to get yourself out, then set up camp before you dig yourself in if not already too late for that and you should be able to drive out the next morning. This should be no problem if you are properly kitted for bush camping. Then you can spend the rest of the afternoon getting yourself dug out of your hole by removing excess sand from your intended direction of travel as well as behind your vehicle. The next morning, first reverse back a short distance on your tracks, then drive forwards gaining momentum and speed until you are un-stuck. Also remember in thick sand to keep your wheels in as straight line as possible to get to where you are going and avoid side slopes at an angle.
Rock sliders are very handy to have if you start driving off the beaten tracks as they can save your vehicle from damage when you find yourself in a sticky situation. Do not drive after dark as this is a dangerous time of the day to be moving around. Animals are often not seen until it is too late and pedestrians also use the roads as a means to getting to their destinations. Your vehicle should also be able to get to at least double the distance of the normal tank, especially when driving further away from civilisation. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to do at least 1 000 kms of mixed driving which includes low range. This distance will not be sufficient if it is only achievable on flat a tar road.
Recovery equipment and a tow bar or tow rope is good to have when travelling in a group. When travelling alone you must learn recovery techniques that will get you out of trouble. I am not advocating travelling alone as this could have dire consequences for yourself and your family should things start going wrong, so always be aware of the risks especially when far away from help. If you can afford it then a satellite ‘phone is a great tool for getting you out of a difficult situation, but if you could afford it you would probably not be running around the wilds on your own anyway.
Just having a bit of bush savvy will get you out most situations and you must also at least know in which direction you should be going if your GPS or compass are not working. If you are lost, then knowing which direction home is or to the nearest town will help. Drive in that direction, taking the most used road, in that direction you are going, at every intersection you encounter. Using this method you will eventually get to a tar road which will be signposted to get you to where you want to go. Technically then it is impossible to get lost as long as you have enough fuel in your vehicle and drive in the correct direction.
Sorry for going off the subject, but when you start something like this it is difficult to draw a line on what to say and what to leave to other people who would be more qualified. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not trying to portray that I am the expert on anything, but there seems to be a need for a certain amount of guidance from people out there that want to get out into the bush. I am just telling you what I have learned and what I perceive to be correct. Anyone out there with more or better ideas is free to add to the document for people seeking information on kitting a vehicle, over landing and driving tips.
What I am trying to portray in this article is that there is not one set of rules when it comes to kitting yourself out for over landing. This depends on how you want to kit yourself out or how you can afford to kit yourself out. You can travel on a bicycle with the minimum of kitting or you can have the most expensive vehicle and kit available. If you are going to just travel tar or good gravel roads you will not even require a 4X4 vehicle, but if you are going to travel off the main tourist routes then you will need a 4X4 with low range. The more experience you build up will give you a better idea what you will need for your particular circumstances and the better you are kitted for your particular needs, the easier it will be to set up your camp and take it down again. The less work involved the more likely you will want to do this again before it becomes too much of a schlepp.
This has already gone way past what I intended, but the mods can maybe put something together that incorporates all the facts without adding all the opinions or comments/disagreements, so that this thread can be given to a new member that is looking for information on how to go about setting himself up for over landing, bush etiquette and assistance with driving situations that he may find himself in.
It is also difficult to think of everything, but I am sure that this should be a good start for people who intend starting off in this form of travel. Just remember that any decision that you make/take will be your responsibility. The above information used has worked for me, but may/may not work for you. I therefore cannot take any responsibility for any decision made by you. This is just a guide to give you ideas on what you can do if you choose.
• May you have many happy and safe travels…

Trailers/Caravans Included
Guys, as everyone has said, there are a lot of things to look into when purchasing a caravan.
The article, “Tips on Over Landing” also has a few point mentioned about extra wheels on the road using more fuel, with added problems like broken axels, collapsed wheel bearings and pulling extra weight over bad roads or thick sand.
One of the Forum members spent a bit of money on a 4X4 Caravan which ended up being scrapped because of wood rot, so this is a definite problem. There were a number of pointers given by Eric and others, but wood rot also originates from around the window and from the joints on the roof, where water often collects when a caravan is parked and rain collects on the roof and then seeps in through these joints causing wood rot.
Because caravans are often parked for extended periods the wheel bearing grease often gets hard and this leads to failure of the bearings.
Caravans these days are built with so much luxury that there is very little weight that can be added after you have packed in the caravan awning, tent, chairs, etc. Once you start loading the water, food, fridge, drinks, etc. you are already over loaded which is then a danger to yourself, your family and other road users.
If you speak to a seasoned caravaner, you will see that they also look at purchasing caravans that do not have pop up roves, as these often do not work well, are cheaply made, the cloth/canvas rots and is a place for monkeys/baboons to enter into your home on wheels.
Often caravans do not fit into conventional garages and caravans that are big enough to be comfortable enough are often so heavy that they are difficult to tow, manoeuvre around a campsite and need an EB licence to be towed legally. This becomes more problematic the older you get and from the day you purchase the caravan you are on a downward trend (You are getting older every day and weaker). This sounds like nonsense, but you will soon realise that your capabilities are slowly diminishing with every passing season.
Like everything in life, the bigger the schlepp, the less often you will want to manhandle the monstrosity that is (hopefully) parked under cover. Also remember that if you have a steep uphill or downhill into your property makes the getting in and out of the caravan more difficult.
What is the Solution?
Kit your vehicle out, as everything you have in your vehicle will be there when the children have flown the coop or if the vehicle is upgraded you have all the kit for the next vehicle. This will ensure that you have a complete camping set up for you and SWAMBO when you experience the empty nest syndrome, so just need to sell the goodies used by the children, if they don’t leave with full arms carting all dads stuff away.
A cheap pop up type of trailer which has beds and a few cupboards for the children’s accommodation is a very realistic option; is easy to handle and has nothing to interest the four legged pests that enter camping sites.
The other option is the gravel travel, caravan, but this does not exclude the wood rot problem, and they also, although built more robust, cannot be taken anywhere, unless you are not too worried about damage. These caravans are also normally much heavier than the normal on-road caravan.
The alternative is the newer fibre glass caravans which are lighter and smaller, but also not cheap than a conventional caravan. The Sherpa range has a gravel roader which has different configurations of a two berth caravan. There is now one that is a bit bigger which has just been developed but the name slips my mind (It could be the Sherpa Leisure).
These caravan are lighter than the conventional ones and would be easier to manage and would also not have the wood rot problem. Fibre glass is also a materiel that has been around for many years and just about anyone would be able to fix any type of damage, should the need arise. The only problem that I have seen, is the quality of their “add a room tent/awning”, which I do not personally like and think that this can maybe be sourced from another supplier should you feel the same about their product.
This does not change the loading capabilities of the caravan, so it goes back to what I said about properly kitting out your vehicle for over landing/camping and then having a small caravan sleeper as back-up. This will also assist with an extra fridge/freezer and packing space for the children.
Again see the article on tips for over landing/camping which will assist in kitting out your vehicle and then it can also assist with kitting out the caravan/trailer/sleeper van. I also want to again put out the warning about weight when you make your decision of kitting out your vehicle/trailer. Good luck & enjoy your travels…
Last edited by Haboob on Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:47 am, edited 5 times in total.
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HABOOB means "Dust Storm"

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Baasvark
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Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:38 am

Thanks Edge for some well thought out advice!

What may be common sense to you experienced guys is worth gold to those of us who are still green.

Much obliged!
Aint it ironic that "Common Sense" aint so common after all...

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ChrisF
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Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:33 am

Thanks Edge.

Long read, but filled with so many valuable tips !!

You are truly sharing a lifetime of experiences.

Thank you.

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Mud Dog
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Real Name: Andy

Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:11 am

Edge spoke of "Indian pots" packed into an aluminium flat-bottom pot. Herewith some pics to show what he's talking about (the stainless pot lids can also be used as plates).

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When your road comes to an end ...... you need a HILUX!.

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Life is like a jar of Jalapeño peppers ... what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.

Don't take life too seriously ..... no-one gets out alive.
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4x4BEES
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Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:28 pm

Brilliant read oom Edge.

So much info and very well put out. :thumbup: :thumbup:

You should sell it as an article for a 4x4 publication :laugh2: :laugh2:

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swartvark
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Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:01 am

Thanks Edge. :thumbup:
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MUD........GLORIOUS MUD!!!!!


Your friendly VW salesperson......(with a passion for SFA Hiluxes)

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Haboob
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Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:46 am

Thanks for the feed-back.
It is difficult to gauge what the toughts are if no feed-back is received.
Should anyone have any questions then I will assist where I can or anyone else who has answers, then they can assist.
This will be the only way in which we can learn from each other...
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Stef
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Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:08 pm

Tx Edge, good read (although I haven't read through it all yet)
Not new to camping but looking fwd to some lekke tips for long trips :thumbup:

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