Streettalkph was fortunate enough to be included in the Black Rhino and Yokohama 4wd Experience last April 21. Meetup was at the Home Depot Parking lot at 6 am. Watching those 4wd vehicles roll in was a sight to see. Big tires, high clearance and auxiliary lighting makes any person drool. These were not the rugged run-of-the-mill rigs, but more of the newer models, detailed to the hilt. Its show and go indeed!
Arriving at Jungle Base Firing Range & 4×4 Center in Tanay after a 2 hour-long trip, the participants were welcomed by Mr. Sam Liuson, head of Concept One Wheels and official dealer of Yokohama AT tires. He expressed gratitude for the everyone’s participation even though they were to subject their vehicles to a short but harsh trip.
The trail was short, so to speak, about less than 3km only, but it might as well been 30km. It took us 2 hours to complete the trail, with a river crossing to boot! The rigs were literally crawling on the dirt, with potholes as deep as 2 feet. Our vehicle was stuck with an uphill crevice, which we weren’t able to get out of, not until Jhay-Fox Javier, the instructor, told us of a sidewall maneuver for the MuX. The all-terrain tires have tread on the sidewalls to get traction from trail walls. Needless to say, we got out of that rut with ease.
“Techniques and Fallacies”… Do’s and Don’ts (What we learned at Jungle Base)
As an amateur-off roader, I have minor experience in mud trekking. Years ago, I owned an Isuzu KB 4wd with the puny 1.9-litre diesel engine with 4-speed manual. I used that exploring the rice paddies across my grandmother’s house in Bataan. Mud puddles everywhere, I taught myself how to cross foot-deep mud and small uneven hills, and I told myself that I was an expert already. How wrong I was!
What I thought was basic knowledge was disproven that day at Jungle Base, but thanks to able instructors, Kit Aragon and Jhay-Fox Javier, I am now more confident in crossing that rough and rocky terrain! Here’s what we learned:
- Listen to the instructor’s briefing. Especially if you are new to the terrain. They’ll give you a complete rundown on what to expect. Tight turns, ascending or descending, steer properly, keep your thumbs outside the steering wheel.
- This is not a race. Tread lightly and always expect the unexpected. It is a slow but challenging trip. The trail will change abruptly, from dirt, to rocky, then to muddy, and then slippery mud, then water.
- Buddy System. Always have a buddy with you. If unsure about a terrain, he or she must get down to the trail and guide you steer the vehicle. He can spot any unseen protruding rocks or wood that may damage the vehicle, and can see the best traction option. The instructors were out there, guiding all rigs go through the path.
- Slow but sure. Use the 4wd in Low. Do not rev the engine unnecessarily, or go faster than needed. This is not to lose traction, especially on rocky terrain, but also save the vehicle from unnecessary damage. It’s being punished enough already.
- River Crossing. Fortunately for us, there are markers in the river that served as guides for us beginners. The driver was told that running the engine above idle is the best way to cross. Too much power can dig up the rocks and silt, causing the tires to sink.
- Tilt Recovery. When vehicle is tilting on one side, steer and go towards the tilt to counteract the roll. Again, do not panic.
- When in doubt, stop. Enough said.
Right gear and equipment
Having fat tires and increasing height of the vehicle does not automatically make your vehicle an all-terrain warrior. Sure, these would help if you already have them, but it takes more than that. Here are the essentials:
- Right vehicle: Your pick-up, SUV, ATV, must be a certified 4wd vehicle. Most trucks that are running today are not even 4-wheel drives. Ordinary 2wd pickups that were only fitted with big mudder tires, auxiliary lights and rollbars are nice to look at, but that’s it. Don’t even think that you can join the big boys in their quest for mud paradise.
- Elevated air intakes (or snorkels to you mortals) are not necessary unless you want your cabin submerged in water. But it’s nice to have just in case.
- Winch. The winch is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in a 4wd vehicle. This is the only thing that can get your vehicle out of deep mud or water if traction fails. Tires and engine do have their limits, and when that time comes, the trusty old winch will pull you out of there, pronto. You can even help other vehicles who are also stuck in mud. Also, shovels and traction boards are a must.
- Tires. Pick the best tires in terms of durability and traction. Too skinny or too wide tires can affect your vehicle’s performance. Consider your vehicles, size, engine and height.
YOKOHAMA GEOLANDAR M/T G003 rubbers, fitted on Black Rhino rims are the best mix so far. Various sizes are available, depending on your requirements.The Yokohamas M/Ts mounted on Black Rhino rims provided excellent traction over dirt, rocks and water. You can pick your own combination to fit your rig.
Adventure Kings Philippines offers all gears necessary for outdoor sport. Here are some necessities:
Off-roading and camping need not be uncomfortable. Proper equipment are available to make your trip enjoyable. It can be an educational and fun family affair, especially for the kids. Here are some things that you may need, depending on your requirements.
- Tent and Canopies that install atop the vehicles.
- Auxiliary gas tanks.
- Vulcanizing kit and extra long jacks
- Power generators, Coolers, air pump
- Proper Lighting
Don’t get me wrong. Off-roading is fun, when done right. Bravado, Machismo do not apply here. The course can be too technical, so the best approach is slow but sure. Take the family and friends with you for an absolute fun outdoor adventure.
Many thanks again to Wheel Gallery, Yokohama Tires, Adventure Kings and Jungle Base. We will be back!
Words and Photos by Earl Manalansan