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  #1  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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Question Not what I want, tell me what I NEED.

When one gets into the overlanding game, imagination and stories from others can easily convince you that you need, taking bikes as example, an all singing, all dancing enduro or Beemer with the bells and whistles. Having bought it you get to the farthest point on the map and admire you achievement only to have your reverie interrupted by some bloke riding up on a C90 with all his kit in a Tescos jute bag... He may have taken longer, and had a few more hurdles, but the end result is the same.
(No disrespect to enduros, BMs or C90s..)

My point is that I know very little about what conditions are like down on the ground in places like Africa and Siberia; two of our dream destinations.

So I start to imagine situations where a Unimog with a month's supply of food and fuel is the only way to go!!

However my wife, being a substantial subsidiser of any future purchase, prefers something more low key. She quite likes the idea of a 4x4 van like a VW Caravelle, or Toyota Hiace, with a decked out interior.

These may have the space and the 4x4 traction, but have less ground clearance, less punch, and no funky snorkels.

Vague, I know, but I mean things like:
Do I need 20 inches of ground clearance?
Do I need a snorkel?
Do I need a winch, or bull bars?
Etc

What should I not do without in my vehicle of choice in order to keep most routes open to us?
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  #2  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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You are very right to ask the question. A lot of people want to be prepared for all eventualities and there's nothing wrong with that but there is a 'trip fever' which takes over, fueled by forums and kit sellers.
Having 4x4 in Africa is going to help in the sand and the mud but in poor terrain a standard 4x4 fails pretty quickly, especially if overloaded.
NB there is nothing to winch off in the sand - a 10 ton truck needs a big tree to winch off.
In snow and ice I would prefer a robust 2 wheel drive with snow chains than a 4x4 with road tyres.

My first question to you would be :-

Do you want to live inside the vehicle campervan style of do you want to camp with the vehicle (roof tent etc)?

You need to ask just how much serious off road

A 4x4 van kitted out as a camper for an extended trip around Africa is not going to be able to do 400Km dune crossings in Algeria so you may well need a big truck but that's not exactly low profile. It will also be very expensive
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  #3  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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Why don't you arrange to see some peoples setups?
4x4 people are always ready to show off their mobile homes.
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  #4  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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Hello!
We are back from one years trip to Africa in our Caravelle Syncro. You dont need a winch. Sandladders we dont have or need. Snorkel yes most for the dust. You can see on our pics how I have made it. We sleep inside all the time. Ground clearance is enough with a Syncro.
www.swedenafrica.blogspot.com
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  #5  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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i've been looking at videos of people's trips so I can actually see what state the roads are in.

Interesting


you tube is your friend.
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  #6  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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What you do need is:-

Some offroad driving practice - 4x4 is only as good as the driver.
Get hold of a copy of The Vehicle Dependant Expedition Guide by Tom Sheppard - you won't beleive what you dont know.
Develop a light foot - wheel spin in sand, mud and snow will result in vertical decent and every second spinning will take several mins digging - spin your wheels in a unimog and your going to be digging all day especially if you get stuck using difflocs.
Buy a shovel
A small trip (couple of weeks) in a small camper van to see if you like it.
If you want to keep the size down there are various 4x4s with pop tops or if you want to convert it your self then something like this might be the answer as you will get full 4x4 freedom.

Chris Scott prepped a merc 190 and took it to Morocco - search around his site for a good writeup.
I would have chosen a 300TD but it made it.



more random thoughts later
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  #7  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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There are always situations that will stop you I can think of only one truly unstopable vehicle , and that is the "knight" made by the russians , but it is not really viable as a overland camper (too wide etc) . Even a unimog wont cope with some of Russia/siberia . Conversely its possible to go round the world on a moped (done a few times) , what you have to ask is in view of where you wish to go how hard or easy do you want to do it . This has to be tempered by cost/benefit which only you can answer.

I would suggest that 4x4 is a considerable help when the situation arises, and carries not too great a penalty . Likewise certain extras winch, snorkel, etc can have their uses . There is however a lot of bling out there and problems are created by having so much bling that the vehicle is running at max weight or more which is a big nono.
probably one way of tempering the "Ferenghi" tendency is to decide on a set up that you think is what is the minimum you can cope with and ask for constructive opinions JMHO
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  #8  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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You need a snorkel because that helps to keep the dust out of your airfilter and is useful when crossing water. Main benefit is for the dust though.

You may need (or hopefully will never need) a bull bar in Africa (and other countries where there are stupid goats/sheep/cows around). Hitting animals is a real possibility and a bullbar should limit damage to your vehicle.

If you don't use a 4wd, then a winch might be more usefull than if you had a 4wd. Chances are that you might get stuck easier, but then you should be able to get out of most situations without a winch. You'll be surprised what you can do with a 4wd with the right technique.

Low range gears are generally a good thing.

We travelled alone from Oz to Cape Town and went to pretty remote places. We decided to get a winch (never used it) and a highlift jack (never used it) and lots of other recovery gear, which we did use, but to help other people. Most of it comes down to technique and a bit of common sense.

Ground clearance is good, but not essential. It will limit you a bit to where you can/want to go, for example, we went to some lakes to the west of Olgii in Mongolia. There were lots of big round rocks on one of the roads which wouldn't have been possible in a 4wd campervan without potentially breaking something. We even had a few moments with good clearance.

Personally, I think that you don't really need good ground clearance in sand for example, you need good traction. Ground clearance becomes more of an issue when it gets a bit more technical.

I'm sure there will be someone else to contradict my thoughts though...
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  #9  
Old 12 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
When one gets into the overlanding game, imagination and stories from others can easily convince you that you need, taking bikes as example, an all singing, all dancing enduro or Beemer with the bells and whistles. Having bought it you get to the farthest point on the map and admire you achievement only to have your reverie interrupted by some bloke riding up on a C90 with all his kit in a Tescos jute bag... He may have taken longer, and had a few more hurdles, but the end result is the same.
(No disrespect to enduros, BMs or C90s..)

My point is that I know very little about what conditions are like down on the ground in places like Africa and Siberia; two of our dream destinations.

So I start to imagine situations where a Unimog with a month's supply of food and fuel is the only way to go!!

However my wife, being a substantial subsidiser of any future purchase, prefers something more low key. She quite likes the idea of a 4x4 van like a VW Caravelle, or Toyota Hiace, with a decked out interior.

These may have the space and the 4x4 traction, but have less ground clearance, less punch, and no funky snorkels.

Vague, I know, but I mean things like:
Do I need 20 inches of ground clearance?
Do I need a snorkel?
Do I need a winch, or bull bars?
Etc

What should I not do without in my vehicle of choice in order to keep most routes open to us?
Good question, after your last one didn't work out - it took very little time for your well defined question, with the list of considerations, to become another thread about Toy LCs!

You keep asking them please, because we are thinking very much alike.

I have looked back in various threads here over the past few days and there are a few that relate to vehicles other than the Toy variety.

By the by, the rider on the C90 will probably have less hurdles than those on the latest big bikes
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  #10  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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FWIW, my suggestion is to go for something 4x4 eg LR or LC because the 4x4 configuration brings with it stronger construction and, therefore more durability over bad roads, than you would get from the average campervan.
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  #11  
Old 14 Jan 2012
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Vans?

Although I have a 4x4 you have to balance the above against the less complex nature of a basic van conversion. I.E. a Transit / Sprinter type as long as you avoid the newest Euro 5 complex engine management with traction control, stability control..........MB parts in particular are available everywhere, either second hand or direct from Germany (at a cost of course)

More space, usually more comfort, speed and economy. Our 2.5TDi T4 will cruise all day at 140kmph and still get 7.6 litres/100km.

You can make them a little more rugged. Snorkel, AT tyres even a limited slip or locking diff.

All depends on your criteria and expected usage I guess.

BTW I know someone who’s selling an absolutely immaculate VW T5 4Motion 174bhp van. I’d be tempted if I had the money (£10kish I think) but they are pretty complex and possible not as robust as the more basic T4.

Russ
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  #12  
Old 14 Jan 2012
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The most useful thing you could perhaps take is a set of bridging ladders/waffles. They will help if you get stuck in mud, get over a ditch you can't cross, in sand and make a useful table, jacking pad, something to lie on when you're under the car in the rain.
Sand ladders are a waste of space, so are winches. I like to have a hi-lift as they have a couple of different uses, but they are also heavy and a potential death trap.
Snorkel good for dust as mentioned, and probably water from time to time.

Try and keep yourself light and you avoid difficulties in the first place. Nowhere is that remote these days, and even if you find you have got yourself in the cack, someone will be along sometime - just make sure to keep a few tinnies in the fridge so you don't go thirsty in the meantime.

Also fully kitted up 'expedition' vehicles with badges and aluminium bling all over don't half attract a lot of attention - not always the right sort either.
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  #13  
Old 16 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eightpot View Post
I like to have a hi-lift as they have a couple of different uses, but they are also heavy and a potential death trap.
Am curious re the death trap comment (apart from learning the hard way to keep all your body parts clear of the arc of the lever) - could you elaborate?
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  #14  
Old 17 Jan 2012
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they can be a death trap if you do this:

hilift farm jack auto jacking fail (or proving Roy wrong and winning a bet) - YouTube

getting back to OP, you can get most vehicles most places, but using something with 4x4 and ground clearance will make all the difference in soft sand, slick mud, rocks and snow - with the right tyres......... and will give you more options to get further off the beaten track.

If you are not planning a hardcore desert crossing then as mentioned a Tdi van, be it 2wd or 4wd is a good way to go for space, economy and ease of fitting it out for sleeping in, there is always a compromise!
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  #15  
Old 17 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gipper View Post
Wow - can't believe it didn't break the back window on that LR!!

But yes - these things need to be treated with a lot of respect. Luckily I only had to use mine in anger once, for changing a wheel.
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