Over the last few days, every local news outlet in New South Wales has been reporting on an impending heatwave, which is now starting to make its way through the state. Unfortunately, with most of the team just getting back to business for 2017, there are no trips planned in the immediate future. But it got us thinking about what should be considered when going bush in these sorts of conditions.
- Water, Water, Water – It’s our lifeblood as human beings and something we cannot survive without. Tip number one is obvious, make sure you’ve taken enough drinking water to provide adequate hydration for the time you plan to be away and then add a little to that tally for old murphy. A good rule of thumb is 4 litres per day per person, particularly if your travelling in hot conditions. This can be done in water jerry’s or bottled, just make sure that if you’re carrying non-drinking water it is labelled! Another great option from a survival perspective is an emergency water filtration system such as a Lifesaver Bottle; great peace of mind to tuck into the truck on every trip.
- Cooling Systems – Just as our bodies need hydration, your rig needs an adequate and fully functioning cooling system to run! It pays to give thought to the following:
- Mechanicals – Check your cooling system before you go on any trips. This includes inspecting your coolant level and quality. The days of pulling up to the tap and filling up with a hose are gone (and never should have been anyway!). With modern power plants consisting of various materials in their manufacture (think iron, plastic, aluminium, alloy etc), having the correct coolant is critical to efficiency and longevity. That’s right, they’re not all green anymore! so make sure you’re running the right formula. Once in a while, pop your radiator cap and warm the truck up from cold. When your thermostat opens, you will notice the water flowing as you look into the top of the radiator, which is what it’s supposed to do. At the same time wait to see if your thermo fans come on when up to temperature, if you have them. Clutched fan units are slightly more “set and forget”, but remember that as the clutches wear, they lose efficiency too. Finally, check your hoses for any signs of brittleness or leaks and keep a set of spares somewhere in your rig.
- Air Conditioning – Whilst this is a bit of luxury for some, when you have it, you rely on it. Make sure that you’re gassed up, your condenser fan is turning on when it should and it’s blowing cold air. Obviously you want to manage your in-cabin air re-circulation based on the conditions; keeping the dust out by pressurising the cabin and blocking the interior vents.
- Communications – This is a tip that’s not only important when travelling in extreme heat, but anytime we hit the dirt. When going seriously remote, take maps, appropriate communications tools such as an emergency beacon or satellite phone , and make sure you let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
- Be informed and prepared – Not to be a wet blanket, but check the predicted conditions and determine whether the trip is necessary or not. Consider who you intend to travel with; a trip with you and a mate or your partner will have different decision criteria than one with toddler-aged kids. Take basic safety gear including a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. In our opinion a quality first aid kit is a must for every truck that heads bush. Finally, in supplement to the water in point 1, always take a bit more food than you need. Compact food sources like protein bars don’t take too much space and can stave off hunger a little longer should you be stranded.
- Know your recovery options – Should you find yourself in a situation where you breakdown and you can’t limp your rig to civilisation, be aware of your recovery options. This is particularly important if you’re travelling alone. Your Club 4X4 policy comes with $1500 worth of off-road recovery cover (unless you chose to up the cover to $15k or $30k), but remember that you need to arrange the recovery. As such it’s worthwhile researching the companies that could recover you and keep their number handy should you need them.
So there you have it, not the most comprehensive we’re sure, but these are the basics. We’d love to hear what other tips you all may have when travelling in extreme conditions
Happy (and safe) Touring