Getting ready for a 3,000 mile Mexico ride

Riding a 250-cc Honda NX to Queretaro, Mexico (just north of Mexico City) will really challenge my packing and organizing skills – but I think I’m finally getting there. With an iM2400 Pelican Storm Case bolted to the rear rack, I have room for my Macbook Pro, a Canon G10, and power bricks and charging gear in a waterproof, tough and lockable carrier. The Wolfman medium Expedition Dry Duffle holds all my clothes in a cool Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder and a small Pack-It Cube (these are amazing – I wrote about them in 2008 on a safari in Kenya), plus a toilet kit, extra shoes, very light sleeping bag, and a sweater (it’s not packed full in this picture). I’ll use a dry bag on top of the Storm Case for lashing down soft items like liners or extra gloves. The Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag is perfect for my small travel purse from Overland (of course), my iPhone, and a map (in a clear holder on top). I’m also trying out the new First Gear Monarch jacket for women and their TPG Escape pants – they are fantastic so far, and I plan to really give them a workout. It’s really nice to have gear cut especially for women but tough and serious, too – and not pink! I won’t be leaving for Mexico until after Overland Expo.2010, so I’ll get to really hone the setup in the meantime. – Roseann Hanson

Correct website for Brooks-Range

In my recent update on outfitting our Royal Enfield Bullet EFI (Winter, 2009), I let an incorrect website address slip by for Brooks-Range, which makes the excellent ultralight tarps I mentioned. Here’s the link (the address in the magazine should have a hyphen in between “Brooks” and “Range,” not a period):


Surplus aluminum sand ladders

Charter subscriber Allen Padgett was kind enough to write and inform us of a source for military surplus aluminum sand mats (PAP): Colemans. The item number is 251401. Price is $75 (plus substantial freight, one would imagine), for an 18″ by 10′ section. Sounds like a good potential for a group of friends to go in on to save shipping. Each 10-foot section could be cut into two usable five-foot lengths.

Availability is limited.

Hunting with the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

I seem to have become a magnet for snowstorms—or maybe it’s the long-term Wrangler that’s attracting them. First the entire northern Great Plains got slammed with a where-did-autumn-go blizzard just as Roseann and I headed for Alberta to teach a conservation seminar (even native Montanans were complaining), then the White Mountains in Arizona received two feet of snow just before I drove up for an elk hunt. The upside is, I’ve had excellent opportunities to get a feel for the Wrangler’s handling on icy and/or snowed-in roads.

Roseann and I try to eat as much wild game as possible, to minimize buying into America’s current industrialized and inhumane method of raising beef, pork, and other domesticated animals. So I was pleased to draw an elk tag this year, after two years of striking out. However, when I arrived in Springerville/Eagar in central Arizona’s mountains, I found the area I’ve hunted before totally snowed in and inaccessible. On my first try to get as far as possible up the Water Canyon Road toward the Big Lake area, I pulled out a stuck Toyota belonging to some local kids, then on the way down came upon a Ford pickup that had slid off the road and was within inches of tipping off the edge, held by a strap across the road to a tree.

So it wasn’t just my desertified imagination that conditions were iffy. Nevertheless, the Jeep felt secure in four high. It’s way more stable than my FJ40, thanks largely to nearly two feet of extra wheelbase. The BFG Mud-Terrains applied themselves well as Snow-Terrains. I’ve been genuinely impressed at the ability of the Wrangler to handle long freeway drives comfortably, while retaining four-wheel-drive capability unbeaten by anything else available in the U.S.

Although I snowshoed into the higher areas south of Eagar and found a few tracks, it became clear the elk had moved out. I found a lower wintering ground that was mostly clear of snow, and located several herds, almost all cows, matching my tag. Two days later—the last day of my season—I got close enough to one group of 12 to safely single out and kill a smallish one. It was very late in the day, so I had some work ahead. I field dressed the elk, stashed the quarters on a snow bank to cool (hoping the numerous coyotes, ravens, and bald eagles hanging around expectantly would leave them alone), loaded the backstraps (the choicest cuts) into my rucksack, left my Surefire Lumamax shining on low on the carcass as a locator, and walked the mile and a half back to the Jeep to retrieve the $12 plastic toboggan I’d bought for this eventuality. Two trips later, and 9:30 PM, I’d finished dragging everything out. So we have at least a year’s worth of all-natural elk meat in the freezer—I’m very satisfied.

Prime-time Television Episode Features Overland Journal

Overland Journal was selected by Pangolin Pictures and the SPEED Channel for their prime-time television series Dangerous Drives, which will be broadcast to 78 million households worldwide.

Overland Journal will be featured in episode 12, which was produced in December 2009, and documents the testing procedures Overland Journal staff use to evaluate vehicles and equipment. “Overland Journal has a reputation of conducting the most exhaustive and abusive equipment testing in the industry, which piqued SPEED Channel’s interest in following along on one of our trips” says Scott Brady. For the testing, Overland Journal’s Publisher, Scott Brady and Senior Photographer, Sinuhe Xavier traveled through 500 miles of Utah backcountry testing American Expedition Vehicle’s (AEV) Brute and new Hemi powered Jeep Unlimited in the worst snow condition recorded in 40 years. The route ascended to over 8,000 feet, where the team encountered 40 inches of snow at the summit, requiring winching and progress at times measured in feet per hour.

In addition to testing the AEV trucks, Scott and his team were evaluating tents from Nemo Equipment, clothing from Arcteryx. Exofficio and Mountain Khaki, Lightforce lighting, BFGoodrich tires, ARB suspension components and rack/awning combination, and recovery equipment from Viking Offroad and Warn. Scott’s vehicle was the popular Overland JK, built by the Jeep Skunkworks team with components from AEV, ARB, Adventure Trailers, Equipt Expedition Outfitters and Mobil1.AEV Trucks | The Overland JK | Sinuhe\'s trusty Land Rover

Why Fool Around?

Why Fool Around?

When it comes to first-aid, the term “wilderness” means any place more than an hour away from definitive medical care. It’s not that hard to find yourself in a situation like this, especially considering the backcountry and remote travel that we so commonly enjoy. It not only makes sense to be trained for such an event, it’s a responsibility. Would you embark on a challenging 4WD or moto trip on dirt roads in the backcountry without a spare tire/tube, tools, or food and water? Of course, not. So, think about the poor logic of being unprepared when someone gets hurt or becomes unresponsive without warning or explanation and you can’t call 911. What would you do? The decisions you make can mean the difference between life and death, or perhaps the difference between a full recovery and lifelong disability.

Wilderness First-Aid course materials
Wilderness First-Aid course materials

In the classroom
The classroom at Overland Training is never boring

CPR Training
Kate demonstrates CPR

Thanks to Overland Training and Remote Medical International, I just renewed my certificate for Wilderness First Aid, or WFA (commonly called “woo-fa”) and CPR along with fifteen fellow overlanders. Over a three-day weekend, Janet Peterson and Kate Earle taught our group how to assess a scene and get to work quickly on helping those in need. There is a definitive protocol to follow that literally uses the “ABCs” to help you keep thinking straight, even after the adrenaline kicks in. The course offered through Overland Training includes CPR (with AED instruction) and some vehicle-focused scenarios. The class is super fun, easy to understand, and will educate you on how to be a better-prepared adventurer. So, why fool around? (WFA?) Get trained!

Treating hypothermia

The Overland Training medical kit
The Overland Training medical kit

Chris Marzonie with the infectiously fun (pun intended) and tremendously talented instructors, Janet Peterson (left) and Kate Earle (right)


Overland Training

Ibuprofen: Hydrate before you medicate – some very practical info from Janet Peterson

Camels at Altitude – An adventure rescue blog entry from Kate Earle

Farewell, National Geographic Adventure

I remember first hearing about the National Geographic Society’s new magazine, Adventure, and rolling my eyes at what seemed to be an obvious attempt to steal market share from Outside, where I was a correspondent. But the two coexisted peacefully for a decade, and I even wrote a few gear reviews for the upstart. So I was sorry to hear of its demise, or at least its transformation into an unrecognizable web presence.

But who knows: Perhaps disgruntled NGA subscribers will find themselves looking for a replacement magazine, a high-quality publication dedicated to worldwide, environmentally responsible travel and adventure. . .


Four Wheel Campers visits Overland Journal

Over the last several days I’ve spent some time camping in the desert and driving the backroads with K.C. O’Connor, marketing director for Four Wheel Campers. We ended this portion of his trip with a visit to Overland Journal headquarters where K.C. had a chance to show off the latest iteration of the new Overland version of their camper product line to some of our staff.

K.C. O’Connor discusses the new Overland camper with Overland Journal’s Design Director, Stephanie Brady.

The Overland edition has a full compliment of features and upgrades that are tailored to the traveler who will be away from towns and developed campgrounds for extended periods, traveling self-contained with a desire to live comfortably in remote locales. Some of the features include a low-mounted water storage tank, dual Odyssey deep-cycle batteries, solar power, power management, hot water heater and shower system, and a 12VDC refrigerator (as opposed to the traditional 3-way design).

Publisher Scott Brady talks to K.C. about the new features.

L to R: Chris Marzonie, K.C. O’Connor, Scott Brady

Four Wheel Campers offers a full range of pop-up and hard-sided campers for many different trucks. For more information: (800) 242-1442

Overland Journal publisher sees the bacon.

Scott Brady, the publisher of Overland Journal, recently had an eye opening experience with English food. We were on our way north out of London to visit some overland companies. We had set off very early, and by the likes of 8am we were famished and ready for some relief. Stopping in a small town off the motorway provided no obvious place for refreshment. The town seemed hardly awake and, grim morning that it was, we had to stop and ask for help. The only people we could find were a group of construction workers, and a particularly portly gentleman was happy to direct us to a local establishment for an ‘English breakfast’. To be fair to the English (I am one) English breakfasts can be stellar; this was not one of those. The fried bread had that slightly rancid taste accompanied by pure grease and no discernable flavor. Sort of like eating pressed lard. The sausage was similar to the fried bread; tasteless and greasy, though it was hot. The baked beans were from a can, so they were at least edible and the bacon was passable at the time. Twenty minutes later we both felt like we needed to visit the hospital. My insides were coated like the bottom of a frying pan the day after cooking a pound of bacon; that white congealed grease requiring a scoop to get rid of. Take away lesson was not to rely on large construction workers for dining advice and the parting comment from Scott; “I need to get my stomach pumped!”

Scott & Bacon