Canadians are lucky — we've got more outdoors per person than almost anybody else. So why not get out there and make the most of it? From lift kits to coolers, here are some ways to get your machine ready for summer off-roading.
When the going gets tough, the tough occasionally drive into things like bushes and branches.
A grille guard helps protect your vulnerable radiator and headlights. As an added bonus, it’ll turn your rig into a Mad Max extra — something that’s bound to keep Monday-to-Friday commuters from cutting you off in traffic.
If life is a highway, the most interesting parts are fifteen clicks up some rough back country road – a road you’re not going to tackle with low-profile street tires.
All-terrain tires come in all shapes and sizes, from more-aggressive tread patterns on OEM (original equipment manufacturer) sizing to big balloons for tackling mud and shale. If you’re going for a hike, you pick out your sturdiest boots: the same thing goes for your truck.
When you’re on the backroads, the more ground clearance, the better. OEM suspension heights are always a compromise (except for purpose-built trucks like the Ford Raptor or Jeep Wrangler Rubicon) so it’s time to get up in the air.
A full lift kit can be expensive, and there are plenty of options — consult an expert here. Pickup owners might want to investigate to see if a levelling kit will give enough of the advantages at a lower cost.
Compact trucks are great for day-to-day operations — they’re easy to park and not much bigger than a full-sized car. Trouble is, try to load up your dirt-bikes and you’ll find the standard bed length too short.
A bed-extender can help out here, allowing you to make use of your lowered tail-gate for extra acreage. Make sure things are fully secured, and away you go.
If the pickup bed or trunk is too small for all your camping gear, or if you’re eyeing the purchase of a boat or trailer, there’s going to be a hitch in your plans.
Towing setups range from simple ball-receiver to electric brake-controller systems. What you’re going to need is going depend on how much you’re going to haul. Looking for towing tips? We’ve got you covered.
Some trails are too-tight for regular trucks to pass. Set up base camp at the foot of the trail, and head on up in in a smaller-footprint ATV.
These range in size from scrappy little scamps to larger, long-distance machines. If you’ve got one in the bed or on the trailer, you’ll really be able to get out there and explore.
Sometimes, you’re gonna get stuck. Really stuck. Here’s where a winch can come in handy. When all the four-wheel-drive trickery in the world is still leaving your truck lodged in the much, a winch will help you clamber out.
Better yet, when your buddy gets stuck, you’ll be hauling his truck out, too, and then lording it over him around the evening campfire.
Mountain-biking is a growing sport, particularly the rough-and-tumble (literally) world of downhill racing. You’ve spent the money on a rugged frame and trick suspension — why not keep your bike secure?
Racks work best off a hitch mount for heavier mountain bikes, although lighter ones can be secured on the roof. Another option is to go with a padded tailgate cover and secure the beasts in your pickup bed.
On the day-to-day drive, you’re sharing the road with on-coming traffic, cruising mostly under streetlamps. Part of the reason you’re headed into the back country is to escape that ever-present orange glow.
Problem is, when the lights go out, your regular headlights are going to seem a bit feeble. Set yourself up with an auxiliary lighting system to help blaze the trail.
No camping trip is complete without supplies — amazing how just being outdoors can work up an appetite. Make sure you don’t forget to load up the cooler.
Better yet, make sure your cooler is cleverer than the usual pack-‘em-with-ice containers. Electric plug-in coolers can help keep your snacks chilled on the long drive out to set up camp.
Nothing’s worse than popping open the canopy on your pickup to find that all the stuff you need has slid right forward out of reach, requiring you to clamber inside. Even worse, maybe you don’t have a canopy and have to cram items in the cab with you, less they get picked up by unscrupulous types.
Here’s where cargo-organizers, gear-boxes and bed-covers come in handy. You can keep your loose items closer to hand, lock-up stuff you don’t want going missing, and secure loads for trip.
In the bush, nobody can hear you scream when you accidentally drop the tent-peg mallet on your foot. You’re on your own when it comes to first aid or emergency vehicles repairs, so you best pack an emergency kit with fluids, a folding shovel, extra fuses, etc. Make sure you’ve brought your off-road jack-stand along, too, just in case.
Canada’s a land of lakes, rivers and streams; however, you’re certainly not about to float your vehicle down them, unless you’re driving an amphibious assault vehicle.
Instead, take your canoe, kayak or paddleboard with you using a universal racking system. Once you’ve got the cross-bars mounted, you’ll be able to strap down whatever floats your boat.
Zip ties are, without a doubt, the connective tissue that holds the fabric of the universe together. There are a hundred thousand ways that a package of zip-ties can come in useful on an off-road trip, from securing loose items to stopping a rattle to makeshift body repair. Make sure you’ve got plenty tucked away in case of emergencies.
Any time you’re fording an old creek bed, or rolling through some serious potholes, you’re exposing the vulnerable underbelly of your vehicle to sharp rocks. You could puncture the oil-pan, bend the suspension — any number of pitfalls await.
Protect your rig and yourself with skid-plating: underbelly armour for your ride. Standard thicknesses are good for most applications, or go custom for serious business.