Tips for Over Landing

Some useful articles on doing it yourself
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Tips for Over Landing – Camping Holidays

1) There have been many enquiries of people seeking advice about mobile camping holidays which is also known as Over Landing, over long distances and crossing country borders. There are no fixed answers for these questions as there are always different strokes for different oke’s. 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 fully kitted 4X4.

2) 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. Asking opinions on which vehicle to buy, will give you as many varied opinions, as there are makes of vehicles, on the market. Each person purchases their specific vehicle for their specific needs and circumstances.

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.

3) On this route you will have formal, safe camp sites 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/holiday.

Fortunately most camp sites have a shop which will have most of your requirements if you have forgotten something at home, or there will be one a short distance from where you are camping. You may be fortunate to have had good weather for your stay, but bad weather can dish up it’s own set of challenges, that you will have to deal with.

Before you leave for your return 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, and the enjoyment derived from the occasion.

4) Once 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 and 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; the red meat will keep the longest.
Should you feel, that this forms part of your new lifestyle, 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.

5) 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 roads leading to other destinations, that you will not be able to access without a vehicle with high ground clearance. This will also lead to farm camp sites and trails, which you will not even be able to get access to, without a proper 4X4 with low range.

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 camp sites, 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, or at least easier.

6) By this time you should know, if you really want to do this type of exploring, or not. This is the time, that I would suggest that you invest in a proper 4X4; with low range, if you eventually plan on 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. People will tell you that you can travel from Cape Town to Cairo, in an ordinary sedan/bus. If this is what your intentions are, then go for it. It has often been done before, but there are many places in your own country, which you cannot get to in an ordinary sedan. Again, it depends on your priorities and what you want to do. It is important to know, what you want to do; and then to 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.

7) Should you chose to purchase an SUV, as opposed to an 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.

8) The next question that is often asked is, whether their vehicle should be chipped or not. There are many different view points in respect to this question; and it will ultimately be your own point of view, that will ultimately affect your decision. The vehicles from the ‘70’s & ‘80’s had enough power to get you from “A” to “B”, but maybe without the comfort or speed. Today’s vehicles are the same, but you may feel that you cannot get over the Pass without losing speed/gearing down, towing your six berth caravan, so you need your vehicle chipped for more power.

MY POINT OF VIEW, is that the more stress you put that engine under, will invariably shorten it’s life span, and you are not in the position to know, exactly when it will give up the ghost. I am fully aware of the fact that, technology has significantly improved, that some manufacturers claim, that they can increase the fuel/air mixture up to 34 times a second, but that does not alter the fact, that the more the engine is putting out, the harder it has to work.
The BIG manufacturers, employ the best minds to get the most power/reliability ratio from the engine developed by them, then every other backyard mechanic wants to put in a chip, to increase the power output of your vehicle. Yes, I have heard of some of these conversion/chips lasting more than 100 000 km, but I have also heard and read about those that have complete melt down inside 60 000 km. Your choice, do what you want to, after all, it is YOUR vehicle, but I would not do it to go far off the beaten track. For those that can afford it, you can do as you please. I could give a lot of “quotes” and examples, but this is not the purpose of this piece. I am giving MY opinion.

9) 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. A friend and I built our first Aluminium Canopies in about 2002, which were the first of their kind.

10) The best camping system is the one that you have perfected for your OWN 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.

11) 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, unwelcome 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, or leave camp.

12) 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 camp sites that you visit, will be filled with caravans and 4X4 trailers, that all have basically the same things, but with different configurations, which will all offer different degrees of difficulty, when it comes to packing up or unpacking. Remember, that these are expensive items, that each manufacturer has made according to his specifications, 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 system, that 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, than what you have, usually at a big loss.

Every trip you do should have at least part of that trip spent talking to other people in the camp site; 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, but your system must be able to adapt to any changes you want to make.

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. Do not forget the time and effort it takes to set up camp, as this WILL be an inhibiting factor, when it comes to how many times you will need to, or want to pack and unpack. Your system should not take longer than five to ten minutes, maximum, either way.

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 camp site for the few days, that you will be camping there, you will be limited in the places that you can go with your rig. This will also inhibit the ease in which you travel. Think of rock crawling, while towing. You have to experience each rock with the vehicle as ell as the trailer/caravan.

13) The time it takes you to cover the distances, between camp sites, 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.
14) 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, 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 and the space to transport these goods, remains the same. A blow up mattress does take less space when deflated, but you still need place to pack them in your vehicle and inflate these before use which is time and effort.

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. This will be more expensive, than the Clam Shell RTT; and is also heavier. By this time, you will have noticed, that every different item, has advantages, as well as dis-advantages. This is quick and easy; and may take less time, to set up, or take down, as the Clam shell, but is also more expensive and heavier on the top of your vehicle/trailer. They will also be a bigger danger for a roll-over of your vehicle (weight).

These options, all free up space inside the vehicle, for other camping equipment, or for clothing and foodstuffs. This is because the RTT, normally has 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 for the initial purchase, 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 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 axle 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 requirements are, before you decide to purchase. Everything you decide to include will push the price up, as well as the overall weight, of your camper. Remember that weight is your biggest enemy, as it can lead to damage and a bigger fuel bill.

15) 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 tents, mattresses and sleeping bags and pillows.

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, that 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/week-end. When setting up camp or packing up the next day becomes a schlep, 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 camp site. The more you can do without, the easier and cheaper your system will work out to be.

16) 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, to be 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.

17) 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 have 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 X 2 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 (about 10.5 M square). Normally 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 left side of the open road.

These awnings give a lot of cover/shade and can probably be set up by one person in less than 30 seconds and can be put away in less than a minute. 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, with an attached guy rope from which I can anchor each support pole to the vehicle. 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 last arm comes with an attaching strap which I attach to the back bumper of my vehicle on the right bottom corner. This keeps the awning firm in any type of weather.
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, so as to cause the material to tear, or to bend the arms of the awning. I have read that the new Ostrich Wing Awning, now come out with a Rain Kit, to prevent the rain from collecting on the roof, but have not yet seen this.

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 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. Rather have two Oz Tents.

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. I fold it closed when we go to bed or pack it away. This nylon, or rip stop, would 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 a friend, 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). Tony ‘phoned around for awnings and when mentioning this to the supplier, was not answered and sent the requested quote.

See all the different models, to make your own decision, by testing the strength of each one. See how each one sets up; and see how easily each fit into their travel bags. 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.

18) 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, as well as the same size lights in the arm of the awning just above my table, with the last arm fixed to the left back corner of the camper. This gives me light directly above the table, as a work light, or is used when eating at night. 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 camp site (This only draws about 0.1Ah of power from the batteries). The switch to put these lights “on”, or “off”, is situated at the base of the awning.

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. This serves to give a faint unobtrusive light around your camp site.
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 vehicle 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 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 next to 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 three 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.

19) 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. They can also assist you in climbing up a step too big for your vehicle to negotiate. These can cost you a few rand, if you make them yourself, or can cost you in excess of R 4 500 for a set of two, of 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 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 winter months.

20) A rigid 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 tow bar can join two vehicles together, making the vehicles 6X8, 8X8 or 8X10 if a trailer/caravan is being towed as well. With a tow rope, the first vehicle can assist the second vehicle, but with a tow bar, the second vehicle, can also assist the first vehicle, when the first vehicle, has no traction, so both vehicles, are assisting each other, to get out of a sticky situation.

21) 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 of available 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.

22) A seed net is normally a small inexpensive and worthy item to have with your camping arsenal. It can save you from potential engine failure. After good rains, the veldt blooms, with different grasses and flowers. The majority of these will eventually release a barrage of seeds. These are the culprits for the engine failure. When your vehicle passes over the plants, the ripe seeds shake loose and are then sucked into the vehicles radiator by the radiator fan.
The seed net should not just cover the front of the radiator, but also from below the radiator, as this is also a vulnerable area for the ingestion of seeds, into the radiator. The seeds are sucked into the radiator cooling fins, which then become blocked with the seeds, which invariably leads to your vehicle overheating. If you do not notice this, it will lead to engine failure. So do get a seed net and use it where necessary.

23) 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 across, 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, when it comes to size and design; 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. As I have already mentioned, my table is fixed onto the left back of my camper, but then not everyone wants to drill holes in their vehicle, to fit a table. Mine is a twenty year project; and I am very happy with how it works.

24) 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 and boots. 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.

25) The clothing you wear will have to be washed. The camp sites 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. You also do get 12V electric washing machines.

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 more, or you can be on the lookout for any biggish plastic bottle/container (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 camp site, 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.

26) Use this water to rinse out the clothing, which is then again wrung 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. Elaborate wash-lines are un-neccessary and take up space and add to your weight factor.

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).

27) A descent wash or shower is always welcomed after a long day in the saddle. At a formal camp site, 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 R3 000. They also use a lot of water for you to get a good wash. If there is no water at your chosen camp site, 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.

You can also use a spray bottle, which contained cleaning materials, to spray yourself with water, or to spray off a soapy mixture from your body, but the spray is very fine and cools quickly, on a cold windy winter night. You also need to be standing outside in the cold to do this, and is not my choice of a washing method, as EABS works best.

28) 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. Also remember that the ice bought along the way is usually made from the smallest ice blocks, that are sometimes even hollow, so they don’t last very long. This ice can also be made from water, which is not necessary the cleanest and many a stomach bug has been caught in this manner, i.e. the cylinders of ice purchased at Opuwo many years ago.
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 camp sites; when there are no open shops, to stock up on your provisions.
Home-made ice, will last much longer than bought ice, because you can make it with 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, you can just break these big blocks with a hammer, or any object harder than the ice, found lying around the camp site. 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 nice sized ice cubes.

29) 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. It is also bigger than the normal glass, so you do not need to top up as often (you see multi-purpose). Ice blocks left in the flask overnight will be partly melted, but will still contain solid pieces the next morning, but not in a normal glass. There will also be no condensation on the glass to pick up dirt and grit, when you put your glass down on the ground, next to your chair.

30) 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 the meat, a much longer shelf life, in your cooler box. I would not attempt this with chicken & fish.

You could purchase chicken, or fish, but braai this the first night after getting it. 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 the 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 that 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).

31) 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). Where your fridge/freezer is packed in your vehicle, will also add to it’s longevity or lead to it’s demise. Remember, the further back it is in the vehicle, the more it will shake rattle and roll.

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, remembering that two 50L units will be more power hungry, than the bigger unit and take up more space.

Do shop carefully and buy the best that you can afford, 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 dual battery systems, only hold so much power, in any battery that you may have fitted. Your consumption cannot exceed your available quantity of power, so you need to limit the times, your cooling system is opened and closed.

If you have a freezer, take out your meat (& ice for tonight) 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 frozen meat defrosts there, for the next 24 hours.

32) 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 around with you, or for which you no longer have space for, will be an expensive learning curve; and a waste of money.

33) 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 camp site, 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 3 ton 4X4 fast enough to start it, in thick sand (You will have bigger problems if your vehicle is automatic)?
If you are travelling alone, make sure that you can use the power of your additional battery, to start your vehicle in an emergency.

34) The manner in which 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; 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 there. 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 dis-advantage 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. 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.

35) 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, of the dual battery system, then it should 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, in the RTT, or camper, to provide the lighting of your preference, around your vehicle, or camp site. Extension leads can take lighting to where you braai, or to your camp table, where you will have light for your evening meal.

36) 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 will have to be, 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.

37) 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% 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 5 000. Recently, there are a lot more players on the market, so there are, more company’s, bringing cheaper models onto this competitive market. Do also remember the saying, you pay for what you get, so do a bit of research, before buying the best bargains.

38) The driving, to charge batteries, also uses up a lot of fuel, if you have to drive around in game parks, just 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.

39) 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 with beer and cooldrinks, 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 camp site and using 220V power to keep your batteries topped up).

40) 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 small/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.

41) 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 camp site as I have used up my seating requirement for the day. I do use it though if I get to the camp site early; and then enjoy the time relaxing around the camp fire.

42) 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 short 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, which 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 SWAMBO’s 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.

43) 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. The three legged potjie weighs even more, so is not the most practical to cart around, or to pack in your vehicle.

44) 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.

45) The next thing to look at is your kettle for your morning coffee or to boil some water in which to wash yourselves. Often people will use the cheap aluminium kettles, which they can put on the fire or use on gas. Great choice, but this must mostly be carried outside on the roof rack, but this is then easily stolen when parked outside the mall, or passing through busy towns/cities. They than buy a nice kettle for the gas and a cheaper one for outside. Still two kettles. Others use a bigger Jerry can, on the fire and a better kettle for the gas. Still two containers and bigger is not always better when over landing (weight).

The answer, get one kettle for gas, electrickery (induction stove) and fire. There are stainless steel upright kettles with a bigger, flat bottom, that forms a cone up to the spout, with a whistling lid, “nogal”. Quite pricey, but it will last you a life-time. What about the fire, I hear you say. Before use in the fire, coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of Sunlight dish washing liquid. Use as normal in the fire, but when you have finished washing your dishes, use the left over water to rinse the kettle, next to the camp site, where you would discard the water. The kettle will rinse off clean, leaving no suet residue on the kettle.
This can be done with any kettle, so do not need to buy the expensive one, but a stainless steel one, does clean easier. Having an induction single plate stove can then also be used to boil your water in camps which have power. You then do not need to cart an electric kettle with you, to use at these camp sites.
46) 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. We also use ours as an oven to bake bread as well, instead of the heavy cast iron bread baker. Use the dish washer liquid on this as well, even-though it will not discolour as easily with just coals below and on the lid.

47) 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 re-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 needs refilling, then start on the other bottle. You also mainly just use a single gas bottle at a time.

Two cooker tops, are also more easily packed in a gap in your vehicle, than a two plate gas stove, and will also weigh less. Your menu, will also tell you if you need the second cooker top, or not. If travelling with friends, each vehicle can take one cooker top, gas bottle; and share.

48) The braai grid should be a good quality stainless steel model, 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 (the tripod; not a home).

49) On one of our trips 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.

50) 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 camp sites 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. Also remember, that you have the baking dish, which can also easily be used, as a washing up basin; and will not be punctured, by any knife.

51) 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.

52) 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 and also cost nothing.

53) 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, or the carpets in your drawers, 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. The juice bottles with pop up lids are also nice for things like tomato sauce, chutney, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, olive oil, maggi sauce, sweet chilli and peri-peri type sauces. These I fit into a plastic container, so they stay together, up right and do not fall around.

54) 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 and can be used to heat/boil water after use.

55) 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. To prevent the eggs from scrambling in their shells, pack them as close as possible to the front wheels of the vehicle. The further back they are packed, the more likely they are to scramble in their shells. Pack at least in front of the back wheels.
56) 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.

57) 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 more than 20 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 side-wall and a third tyre destroyed about 450 kilometres further, also 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 km’s to where I could get a replacement Chinese tyre at the price of the top brands, back home, 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.

58) 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.

59) 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-lift jacking points.

60) 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.

61) The Hi-lift Jack, also works by lifting the whole suspension of your vehicle, before actually clearing the wheel off the ground. With after market suspensions, this can be quite high; and the higher it is, the more dangerous the situation becomes. If you just need to clear the wheel off the ground or out of a hole, you can get a Hi-lift Jack Buddy, which has hooks and straps, that hook onto the rim and lift the wheel, without first extending the suspension. If you want to use this to change a punctured wheel, you will need to cart a stand around with you to put under the axle, once the wheel has been lifted off the ground.
62) 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. Just save her the embarrassment, of stopping next to a kraal of local inhabitants. 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.

63) 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 Stasoft 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 pockets 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.

64) 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 camp site. 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.

65) Remember, that this packet, 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, or until you can find a suitable drop-off zone, after which you will still need to clean the bucket, so the plastic lining makes a lot of scense.

66) 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.

67) 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. 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.

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.

68) 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 prescribed medication.

Many of the places you visit, will not be visited/inhabited 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.

69) 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 plastic drums covered in truck tube, works well, the tube 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 bodies/dishes (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. This should then also be continuously boiled, for at least eleven minutes, if I remember correctly, to kill most of the bugs/viruses, that could be in the water.

70) The other thing that you may need, is, a 4X4 Community Radio Licence, for two way radio's, with their channel frequencies?
This makes your travels a lot easier for travelling together, to be able to stay in contact with each other on the road. Some places have a lot of dust, and if you turn off the main route, you may not see where your friends turned off. In that way you can loose your travel partners.

Having radio contact makes this a much easier process. It also helps for animal sightings, or warning each other against elephants or dangerous animals, where you may be or moving into. Will also warn each other about approaching vehicles on blind rises, or, through thick dust, on singe tracks, which you may not be aware of, approaching from the front (potential accidents). Can also make each other aware of facts, that you may be aware of, when passing through any given area.
Should you break down an isolated area, you can use the radio to attempt to call other people within range for assistance, if you are travelling alone. You will also be able to assist others in need of assistance, as they will be able to call you, if they have a radio as well.
When going out on club excursions, you can use these radio's to stay in contact with each other. If you have other members staying in your vicinity, you can call and speak to each other about meeting places or where they are and what they are doing.

If interested, the person that can help you do this and get it licensed and set up with the correct frequencies, is Eric Skeen. He is Family Dog on the 4X4 Community Forum. His telephone number is: 082 445 9174. His business is at: 19 Knowles Street, Klerksdorp. He is registered to do all the licensing of most of the Clubs, two way radio's.
To get the radio's it is a once off expense, then the licensing fees are about R10 a month, which get paid yearly. There should be threads on the Form dealing with this, probably posted by Eric on the Forum.

71) If you do not want to drill a hole in your vehicle, for the aerial, you can ask for a magnetic type mount, but then there is also the chance that it can get stolen.
The radio's fitted into your vehicle, are known as Mobile two way radio's.
I have a mobile mounted in my vehicle, and then have a hand held as well.
If my spouse goes to the shower, she can take the hand held with her, to call me if she needs assistance, in places that may have idiots wandering into the ladies, looking for trouble. The other places that we use this, is when she goes into a shop, and I stay with the vehicle, as the car guard, then I can call her, if I think of something else, or she can call me if she sees anything, to ask if I think she should get it.
Also good for helping each other over obstacles in the bush or on 4X4 tracks, by having direct communication with each other, instead of trying to rely on hand signals.

72) 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 flat bed, if you are far from everything.

This is another good reason to be travelling with a friend. You can then share things like tools, recovery equipment and cooking utensils, wood and spares, if you drive the same type of vehicle This will significantly lighten your collective weight.

73) 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 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 own cost.

74) 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.

75) 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, 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).

76) 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.

77) 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.

78) 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 enable you to blow hard enough, to put pressure into a tyre, to allow you to safely drive a 3 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 tyre spanners in your tool box as well, which is more weight).

79) 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.

80) 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, remove the excess sand around the wheels (also under the belly & diffs), and get your vehicle out of the holes in which it may be stuck, by first reversing a short distance, to compact the sand, before attempting to drive out, in a straight line.

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 unstuck. Also remember in thick sand, to keep your wheels in, as straight a line as possible, to get to where you are going and avoid side slopes, at an angle.

81) I have also noted, that some drivers are inclined to use their brakes and clutch, when descending down very steep and rocky declines. This is a dangerous practice, as the vehicle can very easily start sliding, and once is starts sliding, it is difficult to stop.
To stop the slide, leave the clutch, and slightly remove your foot from the brake, so that the vehicle is powered through all four wheels and compression, from the engine, straighten the wheels in your desired direction of travel, down the incline, and not across it.

Rather keep your vehicle wheels turning, but use the vehicle brakes to slow the process down as much as possible, without locking the brakes. This can cause the vehicle to stall, but this is better than getting into a slide. To start again just leave your vehicle in gear, release pressure on the brake and turn the key. The clutch should not be depressed at any stage.

82) If you do not know what to do in these situations, you must rather do a proper 4X4 drivers course, than try to learn from anything written here, as I am no expert, nor an accomplished writer, so may not make myself, as well understood, as I think, or would like to. Remember, that I cannot take responsibility, for anything that you read here, as these are just the way I do things, and are just my opinions, and what you should get expert opinions on.

83) 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 drunk pedestrians also use the roads, as a means to getting to their destinations.

84) 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 km’s of mixed driving, which includes low range. This distance will not be sufficient if it is only achievable on a flat tar road.

85) 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.

86) Deep water crossings should be avoided where-ever and when-ever possible. If this is un-avoidable, there is only one way to do deep water crossings.
Firstly, all windows should be opened in case you fall into an unseen hole and become submerged. Opening a closed window under water is almost impossible because of the pressure against it. Electric windows could also fail to function, if there is an electrical short.
You must be sure that there are no hazards in the water, which will stop your vehicle,
and will cause it to drown.
2nd gear low range works best under most circumstances, realizing that circumstances change according to conditions. About 2 000 rpm will give you enough power and a constant speed,
but ease into the water, increasing power and speed, as the level rises, to the 2 000 rpm.
Keep this constant which will cause a bow wave to form in front and around your vehicle.
If water gets into the engine compartment, you run the risk of breaking the fan and wetting and damaging electrical components.
A "solid drive" fan is a definite no-no with water crossings and should be disconnected while doing such a crossing if there is any chance that the water is deep enough to reach the fan. You will damage the fan and very likely the radiator as well. Viscous fans are more forgiving and are hardly problematic if you keep the revs down.
Don't be afraid to let the cab and the bin fill with water in deeper crossings .... the vehicle will have less flotation and allow for better traction, but this will then also affect the bow wave you have formed, as you will be going too slow, so is only applicable if the water is below engine level and the vehicles breathing apparatus.
Constant smooth driving will keep your engine dry and get you safely through the water.
Do not underestimate the the power of running water, which can push your vehicle off course and also effect the bow wave you have formed, causing your vehicle to turn sideways, roll and flood.
Where ever possible, avoid water, as your diffs, electrical implements, wheel bearings, wiring and many other things can be affected and damaged.
Golden rule is avoid crossings deeper than axle height, if you can, so as to save your vehicle and bearings. After any crossings deeper than axle height, you should drain the diffs, gearbox and transfer case at the earliest convenience, to check for water contamination and replace the oils if contaminated.

High level breathers definitely help to prevent contamination.
The other thing to remember is, while you have a good bow wave going, you will not have water entering your open windows, even if the water is above the line of the bottom of the window. The water will keep the bow wave around the front as well as the sides of the vehicle, and not enter the cab of the vehicle. It is more likely to enter through the holes in the floor boards of the vehicle and below the doors. This is even more likely with flowing, rather than stagnant water.
Once the vehicle stops moving and you lose the bow wave in deep water, the water will enter every where, that it can get into, and will flood all parts of the vehicle.
If this should happen and the vehicle dies, do not under any circumstances attempt to restart the vehicle again, as it will incur major engine damage, so get towed out, drain all the lubricants (and possibly fuels), remove the plugs and turn the engine by hand to get excess water out, before filling up all the lubricants again. Water is not as big a problem, as mud or very muddy water is. Mud chokes the airflow that is needed to keep the alternator cool, as well as the radiator and mud/muddy water is also not good for the bearings, so avoid it wherever possible.
87) Driving in mud is another of my pet fears. You can get horribly stuck in deep mud, as it sucks your vehicle down and holds is in a firm embrace which is difficult to be extracted from. The same danger to electrical and moving components of your vehicle, from water, also apply to mud which is a lot more abrasive so will also effect the vehicles braking system, more than clean water would.
Driving on a hard slippery muddy surface can be negotiated with a certain amount of success, by using your brakes or the vehicles hand brake. This is very delicate driving experience and needs a lot of practice, especially when using your normal foot brake, as your left foot is inclined to try to jam the brake pedal through the floor boards, as this foot is used to tramping the clutch in this fashion.
The easiest for me is to use the heel on my accelerator and my toes of the right foot on the brake.
This is easier barefoot than it is with a pair of boots, as you have a better feel, without wearing a heavy pair of boots.
To get this right, you must brake just hard enough, to stop the wheel spin of the accelerator, but not hard enough to get your vehicle moving without wheel spin. This is much easier achieved, using the hand-brake of the vehicle, as it is controlled with your left hand, doing one thing, instead of your right foot, doing two things at once.

88) 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.

89) 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, for 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.

90) Most people do not want to spend less than three or four days at any specific camp site. This is mainly because they are not geared to move camp on a daily basis, or because it is too much work to move camp daily. That is why it is important to decide from the beginning, how you want to spend your time. Sitting in one place or moving to different places of interest.

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 schlep.

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 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

91) Fellow Travelers, as everyone has said, there are a lot of things to look into when purchasing a caravan.
Many years ago we started our camping expeditions, on the golden beaches on our ample coastline. This was the boy’s fishing week-end away where we roughed it, sleeping on the open beach with little or no cover, on the back of the light delivery vehicle or just lying on the sand, in a sleeping bag or blanket. If it started raining we could climb into the front of the vehicle or sleep under the vehicle.

In the beginning there were very few 4×4 vehicles available, so VW Beatles were used and ordinary LDV vehicles. This was not a problem as there were always many more able bodies than vehicles around, so getting stuck only required a push from the fellows sharing the vehicle and fuel costs. These were always loaded to the rafters with fishing gear, food, drinks and able bodied fishermen.

92) The solution to the problem was towing a trailer of some sorts. Those days, there were only really the Venter trailers, with 10”, 12” or 13” wheels which were considered huge at the time. Without 4×4 this was also problematic and the weight to power ratio was just not enough on a two wheel drive vehicle, so this option was only available to the 4×4 owners.

93) About the same time the woman’s libbers were aggrieved about always having to stay home with the children, which were also getting big enough to want to venture out beyond the garden walls of the suburban home. The outings became more family orientated, so less able bodied men to assist with the pushing duties. The women wanted the outing but were not happy or capable enough for pushing. The necessity arose for 4×4 family vehicles.

94) Again, space for everything was at a premium, so the trailer and big enough cooler boxes to support the whole family, was factored into the equation. The smaller wheels with the smaller footprint were always the problem until a friend, Tony, built a trailer with 15 inch wheels to match his D/C Cruiser. Incidentally, this was a first for both types of vehicles that we knew about. Others first laughed at his efforts, but soon another fellow, Garry started manufacturing these for sale in the Border area of the Eastern Province. I also ended up with one of these galvanized chassis trailers and aluminium inserts in the galvanised sides.

95) Louis and I already had RTT’s at this stage and were planning another trip into Namibia to fetch a couple of Kudu and a Gemsbok. To save costs we would use my D/C LDV for us and our spouses on which my RTT would be fitted to the top of the D/C. He would use a ground tent. In the meantime I built a lid onto the open trailer, which could lock and which would hold the luggage, as the buck/venison would be loaded into the back of the canopy of the LDV.

96) When everything was finished I looked at the set-up and decided that I would build load bars onto the roof of the trailer. These would allow my RTT on my vehicle, for the RTT to be fitted to the top of the trailer, when we went fishing, which would cut out a big portion of the wind resistance on the roof of my LDV, when I used it on the trailer. This would also allow Louis to fit his RTT onto my trailer when we went up to Namibia to fetch the buck/venison, thus eliminating the sleeping arrangement in the ground tent for our trip into Namibia. We would thus both be able to use our RTT’s up to Namibia.
Here is where the first 4×4 Camper Trailers that we know of, was born.

97) The trip up and back caused a big stir, from other campers and caravanner’s, we had met along the way, as the possibilities into this mode of transport, were evident and far reaching. The lid of the trailer could be opened to reach baggage inside the trailer, but this entailed lifting the RTT on the lid, with the lid, so needed an extra set of hands to do this. There was a bar to hold the lid up while rummaging in the back of the trailer. The back could be accessed without lifting the lid, but it was difficult to access things towards the front of the trailer without lifting the lid, just through the back hatch.

98) These trailers were already built with two Jerry Can Holders behind the mud guards of the trailer wheels. I did not have Jerry Cans, as I had already built long range tanks into the LDV, so built two aluminium boxes, that fitted into these holders with lockable lids, into which we could pack clothing or groceries. 20L containers of water could be carried inside the back of the trailers, as well as large cooler boxes, also first made by Tony, who is a refrigeration technician, from cut down, chest type deep freezes. The trailers also had a lockable fitted aluminium nose cone; and a bar on the front of the trailer, from which lighting could be hung for night time fishing.

99) This was removed from my off-road trailer as the RTT opened up over the front of the trailer, the same as it was on the D/C 4×4, as this allowed me to move the LDV, or trailer with the RTT opened. This was so that, we could move out to a fishing spot, or a game drive, with the opened RTT, allowing it to dry en-route, or at a close destination. There is also a very real fire danger in camp-sites and busy caravan parks, where gas, paraffin and other fuels are used for all sorts of things. When touring or camped, on the beach or river bed’s, floods are a very real threat, or high water marks at high or neap tides. These are the more positive reasons for having the RTT opening forward over the respective vehicles, as opposed to the sides, or back of the vehicles, where the ladder is anchored onto the ground, so that the vehicles could be moved at a moments notice, without first closing up the RTT.

100) These trailers were also manufactured with gas bottle holders which were fitted to the “A” bar on the front of the trailer. This prevented loose gas bottles rolling around in the back of the vehicle, trailer, or being a missile on the roof rack. The bottles were anchored with double nuts through the foot of the gas bottle, and stood in a tight fitting ring, for better stability.

101) The trailer configuration was used locally on fishing trips in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, when accompanied by the children or another couple or fishermen, for the convenience, but was never utilised in other over-landing trips, north of our borders, after the trip to fetch the venison, due to the fuel bill, caused by the extra set of wheels, behind the tow vehicle.

102) The extra set of wheels on the road will use more fuel on your vehicles economy index, than when not towing, with added problems like broken axles, collapsed wheel bearings and pulling extra weight over bad roads, mountain passes or thick sand.

Realistically, the towing of an extra set of wheels on the road will add 25 – 30% on your fuel bill. The extra set of wheels, will also make towing, a lot more difficult over rough terrain, or deep sandy tracks/roads. It will also put extra stress on your drive train; and you should then also service the tow vehicle more often, because of these parts needing to work harder than normal.

103) When reading on the caravan forums, you will also see that, wood rot is a very real problem when it comes to wood rot in the walls of conventional caravans. I have spoken to a lot of seasoned caravanner’s, about this cancer in their caravans. One has a meter which measures humidity in caravan walls. He went around to all the caravans in a big caravan park, where he offered to give each caravan a free test, so that owners could see what was transpiring in the walls of their caravans. He informed me that every single caravan he tested had humidity/dampness in the walls of the caravan, which was the progression of wood rot in the caravan walls.

104) One of the Forum members spent a bit of money on a 4X4 Caravan which ended up being scrapped because it was full of wood rot, that he did not know about, when he purchased it, so this is a definite problem. He then tried to fix the problem, but it was beyond repair. This was an expensive learning curve. The caravan was bought as is, at what was believed to be a bargain price.

There were a number of pointers given by Eric and others, as to where to look for wood rot and where it mostly starts, but wood rot also usually originates from around the window, doors and from the joints on the roof, as well as through the floor, where water often collects when a caravan is parked and rain/dew and collects and then seeps in through these joints causing the wood rot. When the caravan is parked and it gets damp, the water does not normally run into the caravan body.

105) When the sun comes out the next day, the body of the caravan heats up, causing expansion, and the dampness from outside is actually sucked into the body of the caravan. The next evening the air is blown/pushed out with contraction, but the moisture remains inside, causing the wood rot. The longer this persists the worse the problem and the wood rot will get, to the point where total disintegration occurs.

106) 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. The authorities are starting to realise, that this is a cash cow that can be milked, so there is already talk of mobile weigh bridges, that are being taken to road blocks, so that caravans and vehicles can be weighed, to see that they are operating within legal weight and licensing parameters.

107) If you speak to a seasoned caravanner, you will see that they also look at purchasing caravans that do not have pop up roofs, 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.

108) These full sized 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 camp-site and need an EB licence to be towed legally. It would also require a bigger vehicle, with a stronger engine, to tow the bigger heavier caravans.
109) Remember that the caravan can not weigh more than the tow vehicle, unless it has run in brakes, or the tow vehicle is fitted with electric brakes. If the caravan or trailer is more than 750 kg’s, then by law it must also have run in brakes, to make it legal on our roads. The caravan is then also not allowed to be heavier than the tow vehicle. These bigger caravans are then also more difficult to handle and move around. 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).

110) This sounds like nonsense, but you will soon realize that your capabilities are slowly diminishing with every passing season. Fortunately this can be managed at a price. There are now caravan movers, which work off 12 V batteries. They are very pricey, but are value for money, when the owners are consulted. If you can afford the bigger caravan, you should be able to afford the mover. Like owning a big engined performance vehicle, if you can afford it, then you should not be worried about the fuel consumption.
111) This is the reason why smaller caravans, with pop up roofs, are also becoming more popular. The size also allows you to be able to tow them with smaller engined vehicles. These vehicles are cheaper than the big engined counter parts; and thus more affordable to younger couples starting out in this mode of holidaying; and are lighter on fuel.
Like everything in life, the bigger the schlep, 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, even more difficult because of the run in brakes which brakes the caravan when reversing uphill.

112) 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.

113) 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. They are small and light and can be towed with a small inexpensive vehicle which is lighter on fuel and less expensive to maintain.

This however does limit you to where the home on wheels can go, without causing major structural damage, through travelling off road, or roads with abundant corrugations. These will shake a normal on road caravan to pieces. The cupboards are made of pressed wood which are screwed, or stapled together. The flex in the side walls is such that the screws/staples eventually have so much play, that they are no longer have purchase in the pressed wood, causing the cupboards to eventually just fall apart.

114) 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 everywhere, unless you are not too worried about damage. These caravans are built in the same manner as the on-road caravan, with the exception the chassis/body of the caravan is stiffened, thus minimizing the body sway movement. These caravans are thus also normally much heavier than the normal on-road caravan, so would then also require a stronger engined vehicle, to tow the caravan.

115) The alternative is the newer fibre glass caravans which are lighter and smaller, but also not cheaper than a conventional caravan. The big plus with these caravans is that they are not as susceptible to wood rot, as a normally built on road caravan. The Sherpa/Panthera range has a gravel road-er which has the configurations, of a two berth caravan.

There is now a newer model that is a bit bigger than the Tiny, which has just been developed, the Sherpa Rambler. These caravans 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. If not done properly, these can leak water/dust.

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. I am sure with time they will also improve on their product.
The Skipper type caravans are also a popular option, being small and light and suitable for young or old.

116) More and more off-road caravans are flooding the market which is made from other metals, some of which do not have a lot, or any wood in their construction. These are normally more robust and not susceptible to wood rot. If this is the route you wish to go, then go and do your homework; and research the different models and makes thoroughly, as they are all expensive, without exception. A mistake in your decision can cost you dearly.

There are many different makes and models out there, with new configurations coming out almost daily, but basically they all have the same features, just in a different configuration. Some have more features than others, but again, the more features you get, the higher the price as well as the weight of the caravan.

I settled for a Bush Lapa Geitjie. They only made two of these. I have one and the other is in Jo'burg.
Why the Bush Lapa Geitjie. We have a camper and were looking for something that can you just open and close, which is how our Camper works, without having to fold out sections, for beds or anything else.
Main reason is Baboons & Monkeys, destroying many of these if you are not around to stop the destruction.
The Geitjie has a double bed in front with kitchen & 90 L Fridge/Freezer on right hand side at the back of the caravan. This is not ideal, as the most expensive electrical item is then bouncing around at the back, at the bumpiest part of the caravan.
The left side is mainly clothing cupboards to the back door, which opens out against the spare at the back.
To set the caravan up, all you do is unlock and un-clip the roof clips and lift the roof, then open & clip the back door into place.
Set-up complete, if you do not put the corner steadies down.
Here I also cut the handles off the winding section of the corner steadies and welded wheel-nuts onto the round-bar.
I now use an electric drill to wind the steadies up or down.
I also made and fitted an aluminium table behind each wheel, onto the side of the caravan, which just un-clip and fold down.
These are much quicker and more firm than loose standing tables. The drinks do not go flying if you bump the table.
The gas struts to assist in pushing up the roof, which is the size of the full caravan, were situated inside the caravan canvas.
This made it difficult to pull in the canvas, when closing the caravan, because it just pulls against the struts,
so does not sufficiently pull the canvas in. I moved the struts to the outside,
where they should be, if you want your set-up to work properly.
The caravan also has only three 12 V power points on the left back corner.
I have fitted an additional double power point, to the other three corners of the caravan.
These can now be used for lighting points, electric jacking points, as well as electric drill points, to change tyres/rims.
You get an electric percussion drill or something like that, which spins before connecting, to loosen tight wheel-nuts.
These are obtainable from Adendorff, as well as the two ton electric jack.
The caravan was purchased as a lounge sitting area, out of the elements,
with the bed only being used for guests, as we have a bed in our camper.
The caravan is now kitted the same as my Camper, so only the door and roof are opened to set up camp;
Sorry, also need to take out the chairs and open the fridge for the cold ones.
I have also had an awning made, which would only be put up if the kids and grand kid come visiting. The caravan was purchased solely as a shelter for long term camping and is not used for over landing.

117) When making your decision, look at shelves as opposed to drawer systems. This is less space in the drawers, more weight in the manufacturing process and more expensive to make.
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. Some people opt for a light trailer with the bare minimum and ground tents for the children. This saves on weight and the bigger engined vehicle, is not necessary to tow a heavy caravan or trailer.

118) 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/caravan. Remember, with ground tents, you will need mattresses, pillows, sheets and blankets/sleeping bags. The alternative is a RTT on the vehicle or caravan, whichever is the most practical, for the children, to supplement what you have on/in the tow vehicle.

119) If you do not know what to do in these situations, you must rather get expert opinion, than try to learn from anything written here, as I am no expert in anything, nor an accomplished writer, so may not make myself, as well understood, as I think, or would like to. Remember, that I cannot take responsibility, for anything that you read here, as these are just the way I do things, and are my opinions, and what you should get expert opinions on.

Good luck, safety first & enjoy your towing travels...
Last edited by Haboob on Wed Jan 23, 2019 4:51 pm, edited 7 times in total.
HABOOB means "Dust Storm"
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LR4WD, Lockers, Crawler Gears
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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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Top Web Wheeler
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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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Real Name: Andy
Club VHF Licence: HC103

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).

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


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.
It's not about waiting for storms to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.
And be yourself ..... everyone else is taken!
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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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Monster Truck
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Thanks Edge. :thumbup:
MUD........GLORIOUS MUD!!!!!

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

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Monster Truck
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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...
HABOOB means "Dust Storm"
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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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