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When S*** Hits the Fan: The Importance of Driver and Vehicle Preparedness.

We’ve all heard the joke “Lights before lockers.” It’s funny, and a little true. But a lot of folks haven’t stopped to think about the more serious side of it. Yeah, lights are important, especially when you do a lot of driving after dark. But let’s be honest, lights wont get you out of a hole, or make up for a lack of experience. Maybe your money is better spent on other things… Maybe…

It’s All Fun and Games…

We’ve all heard the joke “Lights before lockers.” It’s funny, and a little true. But a lot of folks haven’t stopped to think about the more serious side of it. Yeah, lights are important, especially when you do a lot of driving after dark. But let’s be honest, lights wont get you out of a hole, or make up for a lack of experience. Maybe your money is better spent on other things… Maybe…

This past weekend (November 9th 2019) I had the opportunity to tag along with the guys from NE-OVEX and Ridgeback Guide Service to Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) for Rovers on the Rocks (sponsored by Lucky 8). We were responsible for a couple of the challenges that Kyle over at Off-Road Consulting had come up with for the participants. I’ll get into the event details in another article, but for today, I want to discuss some on trail shenanigans that occurred and the importance of being prepared for those situations.

So What Had Happened Was…

If you have ever been to AOAA, you know that it is a massive property with an immense maze of trails crisscrossing the. And since it is an active mining site, sections are closed off and reopened from time to time. This means it’s easy to head down a trail and find a closed gate; which is exactly what happened to us on our way back to camp after the challenges had closed for the day. While turning around to backtrack and find a new route, the shoulder of the road gave out and one of the vehicles with us was pulled down into a very deep ditch with nothing more than the front tires on the edge of the roadway.

For the experienced group of guys with us, including Ron Harrington II (owner of Ridgeback Guide Service) and Ed Fermin (NE-OVEX). This was a “roll with the punches” situation that we were very quickly able to laugh about. @joey2wd, the driver who was sucked into the ditch, was able to crawl out after engaging the front locker. If he wasn’t able, we had all the recovery gear needed to safely extract the Jeep without harming the vehicle or destroying the trail and surrounding ecology. 

It Doesn’t Always End Well…

It got me thinking about the insurgence of new off-roaders and overlanders buying up extremely capable vehicles and hitting the woods. The above statement of “Lights before lockers” is funny, but we see it being true far too often. The scenario laid out above, though nothing big or concerning for our group, could very easily be devastating or even tragic for the unprepared and inexperienced newbies who have recently discovered the overland and off-road lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong: I love the fact that more people are finding this form of recreation. And there is nothing wrong with being a noob. We all started that way. But when we enter the woods unprepared, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

With that in mind, here is some free wisdom from offroad guide Ron Harrington II:

  • Know your build and the capabilities and limitations of your off-road vehicle. Just because you installed lockers, doesn’t always mean that you know how to use them properly or when to use them.
  • When you get in a situation for the vehicle to be recovered.  Know where and how strong the recovery points are. If you are using points on the bumper for recovery, but the bumper isn’t attached properly, then you are in for disastrous situation.
  • Know how to use your recovery gear.  Don’t be the guy opening his kinetic rope for the first time having never used one before.  Practice with the right knowledge of how to use it. If you don’t know? No problem, take a class with a professional. 
  • Know the limits of your experience.  It is OK to not have the experience or knowledge of a pro.  We all started somewhere, and were noobs too. Go out with experienced people, like a professional off-road/overland guide. You will learn so much from being with experienced, knowledgeable people with good attitudes. Pay attention, LISTEN, ask questions and learn from their experiences. Trail riding with inexperienced people or those with bad habits will not raise your game to the next level. Surrounding yourself with good people will get you there the quickest.

Our best advice to you? Find a highly rated guide or educator. At Backroad Ventures, we have partnered with some of the best in the industry and can help you find someone like Kyle or Ron who will take you out and give you the 1 on 1 instruction you need.

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