What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trailhead?

12:42 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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So often, just driving to the trail head can be a challenge even before you begin your hike and camping trip. Driving in the snow, or on an unpaved road can be difficult or impossible to do in a 2WD car or truck. I consider my SUV and my (auto-related) emergency supplies to be an important part of my gear, so I am posting this in the Gear Selection thread.

What do guys drive now? How do you like it and what have you driven in the past? What emergency gear do you carry in or on your car or suv?

Post photos please! Mileage and any cool stories would be great too!

I'll start.

In the past, (my first new car) I had a 1993 Jeep Wrangler (4x4, 4.0L V6) and LOVED IT!

Here I am with the Jeep with the hard top (for fall and winter driving) , I also had a soft top too that I put on each spring. It was great driving down to Florida so many times with the top off! The doors were removable too! Despite terrible reviews on Consumer Reports, my Jeep was very reliable and served me well for 9 years.


Jeep.jpg
This photo was taken in October, 1992. Check out my baggy (poser) acid-washed Levis Jeans LOL!  I was also wearing my beloved Vasque Sundowner boots I bought in the late 1980s.  Epic boots, made in Italy at that time. Zero break- in period and they felt like bedroom slippers, so I wore them all the time! Unfortunately, now they are made in China and no where near what they used to be. I now wear the Italian-made Zamberlan Vioz GT boots and LOVE them for the same reasons as my old Vasque's. Here they are with the bright red laces.
Zamberlin.jpg

So, I digress, and now back to cars.  In 2001, I sold the Jeep with 125,000 miles in great condition and very few repairs during the 9 years I owned it. I was growing tired of driving a stick shift in Atlanta traffic, so I replaced the Jeep with a 2000 Land Rover Discovery 4x4 with an automatic transmission. A great LOOKING suv with a great 4WD system and INCREDIBLE stock Harmon Kardon stereo, but otherwise was pure JUNK!!! Incredibly unreliable and ALWAYS was in the shop! SOOOOOO glad I sold it in 2006!! It did have a V8, but was terribly underpowered and I think it was an old Chrysler engine that Land Rover used in the Discovery.  Go figure.

Here is the Land Rover with my Westies....Sam at the wheel and Maggie riding shotgun.


Land-Rover.jpg

Currently, I drive a 2007 Toyota 4Runnner, 4.7 Liter V8 with Full-time 4WD I bought brand new. The BEST SUV/car I have ever owned BY FAR!! The V8 is incredibly powerful!

I LOVE having full-time 4 Wheel Drive! If I get into a situation where I need it, it's already in 4WD! Now, I have 160,000 miles on the clock, and she still drives like the day I bought her!! Gotta LOVE TOYOTA!!!!

Legendary performance and reliability!

I have friends who live near Kruger National Park in South Africa. They tell me that there are still alot of Land Rovers used for photo and hunting safaris there and across all of Africa, BUT, if your Land Rover breaks down or gets stuck, it's ALWAYS a Toyota sent out to rescue you! No surprise there!

Here she is right after a detail in November, 2015 near my home in Atlanta, GA.
4Runner-1.jpg

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Here is one from Carver's Gap on the TN-NC border in February, 2015. Effortlessly cruising around on the mountain roads without my snow chains on!! My tires are the Michelin LTX-AT2s. Incredible tires to say the least!  I have 80,000 miles on them and the treadwear is just now down to 60%.
4Runner-3.jpg
I always carry emergency supplies in my 4Runner especially if there is another person in need I really enjoy helping!

I have food, water, a first aid kit, jumper cables, road flares and 20,000 lb capacity tow straps, snow chains, and a spare set of snow chains in case I break one or someone else is in need.


cables.jpg

snow-chains.jpg

Post up your rides and your emergency road gear!!!!!!  Let's see them!

6:46 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

2011 Toyota FJC 4x4

20150608_180606.jpg

8:50 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?


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Most trips are done on the scoot unless there is snow on the road or I need to carry other people. This is an early May trip with a late season winter pack including snowshoes. Just because there isn't snow on the road doesn't mean there isn't snow on the mountain :)

9:50 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Ford escape hybrid.  34mpg.

10:12 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I like pickemups. 2002 Ford F-350, last of the 7.3 diesels.

Long bed extra cab, gets 24 mpg.

It is also my shuttle vehicle for boat trips. I have hauled 7 people, 3 dogs and two rafts for a week long trip in it. I sleep in the back with a canopy often.

12:17 p.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

1997 Honda Accord with 220,000 + miles ....amazing all the places I've taken that car...for those that have been and know what I mean: I drove that car up to the top of Wachesi mountain in the Upper Bald Study Area.  some slight rock crawling is necessary in a couple places.

may not last much longer though, it's starting to $300 dollar me to death

1:46 p.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

i don't live in a very snowy place now; swap 4 snows onto a Toyota Prius, and it handles well in light snow.  wouldn't want to see an unplowed road with more than 4 inches - very limited ground clearance.  when i head up to the northeast to hike in the winter, i borrow the Honda pilot.  my parents and sister have owned 3 different generations of pilots.  with off-road tires, i have never gotten stuck.

my previous favorite for off-roading was an old (rollover) ford explorer.  not heavy on options, rode on a truck frame rather than unibody.  equally happy with tires deflated on beaches, dirt roads, mud, and snow, again with aggressive off-road tires, chains just in case. i never got stuck in the explorer.  having spent some quality time in a Hummer H2 with someone else driving, i think that is an excellent offroad/snow vehicle.  

i think people underestimate the value of good tires and experience driving in the snow or off-road. 

2:54 p.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Either my '14 Kia Soul or my '98 Honda Civic. 

In 2012 I sold my 34 year old '78 Totyota HiLux pickup with 20R 4 banger.  It had 434,000 miles.  The buyer changed the oil in my driveway then drove it off.  It just wouldn't die.  Body had some rust but the chassis was safe.

In 2014 I gave away my '91 F-150 with 300CID inline 6.  America never made a bad inline 6, but the miles per gallon were horrendous.

 

11:53 a.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

In the West, when someone says you need to chain up, that usually means all 4 wheels.  Hunting trips and hauling horses are hard on vehicles.  I could never get by with a Honda.

1:51 p.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I love seeing all these sharp looking SUVs and Jeeps and all the rest and love the idea of having one at a Tennessee trailhead for 3 weeks as I leave it sitting for your casual redneck to shred or torch.

I came out on one trip and found this---


TRIP%20129%20157-L.jpg

Point is, what's the best backpacking car?  Something with a locking gas tank, lexan windows, lock on wheels and looks trashed otherwise.  A beat up piece of crap looking thing.  Or a Toyota four wheel drive pickup with a dog cage in the back. 

5:55 p.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Walter is right. New Mexico is notorious for trailhead bandits. People have beater cars they can leave for several days. California is bad around Redding. I usually leave my truck somewhere it can be watched even if I have to pay for river trips.

7:10 p.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I use my 99 F150 with 220000 plus miles, in SoCal lots of Border patrol people which gives me some comfort but the truck is paid for years just want to get to trail head, also wife will drop me off and leave, don't know who is more excited.

7:26 p.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Getting dropped off is definitely the ideal scenario for me personally on a long backpacking trip.  There's no point in sitting in camp on Day 12 of a trip and worrying about my car.

7:50 p.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I've fallen pretty hard for Subarus after watching my dad buy a used 2001 Forester with 150K miles, passing it down to me at nearly 250K miles, and me selling it due to a long-distance move and no need for the extra car at almost 350K miles. I have no doubts that old Forester is still on the road.

A year after selling the Forester, we sold the Honda Civic Hybrid we had (not a mountain car, that's for sure) and bought another used Forester. 

This one's a little fancier than the last (heated this and that, automatic everything, etc.) but it still does the job driving through unplowed snowy roads, soft, soggy roads in the spring, etc. 

8:06 p.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I drive a Haro "Escape" to  the trail head. Know hat that is? Get back and tell me if you know the make and model of this vehicle.

9:12 p.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Mostly-my 98 Ford E-350 van with 260,000+ miles on it. In it I can carry pretty much more than I'll ever need and sleep in it too

12:20 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I love it, Gary. Pedal power all the way!

The Haro Escape is a decent hardtail mountain bike. Kinda heavy compared to many on the market today, but I bet it's pretty durable. 

I rode a Haro many moons ago. 

2:13 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Thanks for all of the interesting replies guys!  Keep 'em coming!

I agree with several of you about "trailhead bandits." I never even thought about that in the 1980's when I'd park my car for 3 days and camp.  In fact, I knew most people around those areas were honest people like me and would not touch my car.

My, my how times have changed.  You never know about people.

2:16 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Tipi Walter said:

I love seeing all these sharp looking SUVs and Jeeps and all the rest and love the idea of having one at a Tennessee trailhead for 3 weeks as I leave it sitting for your casual redneck to shred or torch.

I came out on one trip and found this---


TRIP%20129%20157-L.jpg

Point is, what's the best backpacking car?  Something with a locking gas tank, lexan windows, lock on wheels and looks trashed otherwise.  A beat up piece of crap looking thing.  Or a Toyota four wheel drive pickup with a dog cage in the back. 

 Very true Tipi. I do think often of buying an old "beater" with a million miles that no one would would even think of stealing, stripping, or breaking into.

2:18 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

rob5073 said:

2011 Toyota FJC 4x4

20150608_180606.jpg

 Nice ride Rob!

2:21 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Tipi Walter said:

Getting dropped off is definitely the ideal scenario for me personally on a long backpacking trip.  There's no point in sitting in camp on Day 12 of a trip and worrying about my car.

 I agree.  I think alot of the break-ins are fueled by people desperate for drug money.  Cars parked in a remote area with no security or police around are an easy target I'm sure.

2:25 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

KiwiKlimber said:

I've fallen pretty hard for Subarus after watching my dad buy a used 2001 Forester with 150K miles, passing it down to me at nearly 250K miles, and me selling it due to a long-distance move and no need for the extra car at almost 350K miles. I have no doubts that old Forester is still on the road.

A year after selling the Forester, we sold the Honda Civic Hybrid we had (not a mountain car, that's for sure) and bought another used Forester. 

This one's a little fancier than the last (heated this and that, automatic everything, etc.) but it still does the job driving through unplowed snowy roads, soft, soggy roads in the spring, etc. 

 Everyone I know who drives a Subaru LOVES them and drives them with a ton of miles (like you) and has no problems! Cool to hear of people putting so many miles on one car with no major issues.

2:35 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

ppine said:

In the West, when someone says you need to chain up, that usually means all 4 wheels.  Hunting trips and hauling horses are hard on vehicles.  I could never get by with a Honda.

 I always thought it would make the most sense to put chains on all 4 tires since I have 4WD.  However, it is clearly stated in my owner's manual and confirmed by the Toyota dealership and online reviews that it is not a good idea to put chains on the front tires, because of a very real risk of damaging the ABS and ripping the break lines out. 

6:43 a.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

When I lived in Colorado and a chain law was in effect due to snow/ice , on paved surfaces, it meant 2wd vehicles must have either chains or cable chains or if in a 4wd vehicle, the 4wd must be engaged.  Off road, however, is different though, but I would never put chains on the front wheels. 

Thanks Lee.  Now that Toyota has stopped making them, the value hasn't dropped on it the last few years.

11:37 p.m. on January 2, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

In the 1970s it was easy to hitchhike to the mountains, hike a loop and come out somewhere else.  Getting a ride in the backcountry with a pack on was simple. I used to hitchhike back to my truck after day trips in a canoe. Now it is not so easy.

3:28 a.m. on January 3, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Me thinks even a basic 4wd is overkill for most recreational pursuits.  Like carrying oxygen to hike up a 10K' mountain.  Granted there are activities where 4wd vehicles are necessary, but it proper vehicle handling skills will go a long way otherwise.

I've always used 2wd myself, frequently to the dismay of those camie-commandos types loitering around the trailhead, admiring each others' shiny hemi monster-trucks and survivalist transports, each with the all important pseudo, brass ones dangling from the trailer hitch.  I have only been stuck once in fifty years - bottom clearance on an Aerostar minivan, and I self-extricated using a stag I pried out of the nearby ground. 

It really comes down to knowing proper driving skills and exercising good judgment, so you don't have to resort to a special purpose vehicle just to go on a hike or ski trip.

Ed

6:49 a.m. on January 3, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Over the past 10 years I've gotten everywhere in these. The Jeeps get me to more places, but with chains I've gotten both pickups over some pretty gnarly "roads." (They were both 2WD.) And with a lot more room for people and gear, not to mention the back seats being easier for dogs to get into, the pickups were more practical. I wish I'd never gotten rid of the '91!

I've never parked and hiked other than on day hikes. Any time I'm out overnight I get dropped off and picked up, unless I'm planning to camp out while 4-wheelin'. 

2000 Jeep Wrangler.
4-wheelin08-08-10.jpg

1988 Ford F350.

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1990 Jeep Wrangler.

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1991 Ford F350.

CFEBE422-A2E0-4800-8A16-F638220BA2D6-149

2006 Jeep Wrangler.

EC7213BD-F366-4B61-B8EB-660EDC265DB3_zps


9:53 a.m. on January 3, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I drove 4WD vehicles for a living, company ones, personal ones and rented ones. I got stuck a hundred times with no one around to help get unstuck.  4WD just helps you get stuck in worse places. 

I only had to walk out once after breaking the front axle on a Jeep Wagoneer at 11,000 feet.

11:35 a.m. on January 3, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Ed is right - driving skills are the most important factor. Over the years, I have driven 2WD (front and rear) in all sorts of conditions, rarely getting stuck. I did get stuck in NE once in our VW Kampwagen when the rear wheels broke through the ice into a stream. I put the chains on, rigged a pulley, and got out pretty quickly.

On the argument about where to put the chains - One definite rule is that the chains go on the driven wheels. That means rear for rear wheel drive and front for front wheel drive. There are conditions when you put chains on all 4 wheels for 4wd. Note the 18 wheelers who put "full chains" on in certain conditions - this usually means all drive wheels and the outside wheels on the trailer. It gets more interesting for a double or triple trailer setup.

As far as what vehicle I use to the trailhead - whatever vehicle I have at hand.

One thing to reinforce that was mentioned above - keep your valuables out of sight or not in the car. Plus, be very wary when putting stickers in the windows or on the car. Putting a sticker that says "Member of Super Trail hikers" or "Super Climbing Expert" is equivalent to saying "I have expensive gear in herebreak in and take it" I have seen the results of such stickers in every western state and most of the New England and Deep South states. 

1:40 p.m. on January 3, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Getting to most trailheads is easy. They are on roads that are more or less maintained.  Driving cross country or on old mine roads is a different story.

It depends a lot on where you live.  I have a million acres of BLM in my backyard.  Anyone that thinks 4WD is overkill, either lives in the East, or doesn't get out much.

We were out doing the Christmas Bird Count yesterday. The high was 26 degrees and even the good dirt roads were iced up in spots. I had difficulty in 4WD several times and needed to rock the vehicle out. Some people live in a different Universe.

1:51 p.m. on January 4, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

 My husband and I take his 2011 Subaru Outback everywhere. It gets really solid gas mileage, has AWD, and a ton of room for all of our gear (and friends and our dogs sometimes). We have taken it on three long-distance road trips (from SC to Snowshoe Mountain, WV, from SC to New Hampshire, and from SC to CO, WY, MT, UT, and back). (Knock on wood) It has made it up every trailhead attempted so far.

6:19 p.m. on January 4, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

I own a 2011 Jeep Wrangler 2 door.  I love driving that thing and have modded it quite a bit (lift, lockers, tires, etc.).  The only problem is, once reaching the trailhead, I want to keep driving!  :-)


Jeep.jpg

12:31 a.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Phil....I need that 1991 f350! It's a diesel model correct? you got some nice toys there I don't think my apt management would let me have that many vehicles. 

5:52 a.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

ppine said:

"..It depends a lot on where you live.  I have a million acres of BLM in my backyard.  Anyone that thinks 4WD is overkill, either lives in the East, or doesn't get out much..."

 

We get out plenty, but MOST of us do not travel any significant distances on tracks under the circumstances you describe. There are probably more than one million privately owned 4wd vehicles currently driven in California.  I would be surprised if more than 10% have ever seen ice or off-road use; and also surprised if more than .1% (one in a thousand) ever saw a track that a capable driver couldn't negotiate with 2wd. 

That said it seems not even 4wd can help some people, based on witnessing So Cal freeway drivers in the recent rains...

Ed  

6:22 a.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

In the areas I frequent a small hand saw is the most useful thing I carry for accessing "remote" trailheads; this is the land of blow downs. Many of the forest lands here use old logging roads and those often go through second growth forests but the hemlock die-out from the wooly adelgid has created quite a mess in the Southern Appalachians.

4WD or AWD would be nice but I would be satisfied just to have a vehicle with a higher ground clearance.

Ashleigh, I have been looking at the Subarus, but man, even the used/ high miles ones are very expensive.

 

11:02 a.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Patman said:

Ashleigh, I have been looking at the Subarus, but man, even the used/ high miles ones are very expensive. 

 Patman, while I'm not saying Subarus are the end-all-be-all, they have treated me VERY WELL over the years. I think of their higher cost as an investment. Good gear/tools simply cost more, right? 

As previously stated, I had a Forester that I sold at nearly 350K (and still in great working order), and now have another Forester that doesn't flinch at icy roads, snowy conditions, mud-pit laden logging roads, etc. 

My earlier '01 Forester that my father handed down to me was a prime example of what a Subaru is capable of. Part of my father's job for many years was to plow the city streets where he lives in the Great Lakes region (where snow is often measured in feet, not inches). It was common for him to get called in at 3 or 4 a.m. to plow the streets before the rest of society woke up. Before plowing, he first had to drive his Forester several miles over the unplowed roads to get to where the plow trucks were parked. Not once did that Forester get stuck. Granted, he knows how to drive. 

I'm sure someone not as skilled could have got stuck, but with a little bit of driving know-how, as well as paying attention to when tires need replaced, Subarus are awfully good at getting from point A to point B, no matter the condition. 

4:15 p.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

JimDoss said:

I own a 2011 Jeep Wrangler 2 door.  I love driving that thing and have modded it quite a bit (lift, lockers, tires, etc.).  The only problem is, once reaching the trailhead, I want to keep driving!  :-)


Jeep.jpg

 Nice ride!  I like the winch too!

4:23 p.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Just no way I'll ever consider a car, Subaru or not, an investment.  A tool, yes.  Many perform that function well.  An investment, no.  Non-vintage non-collectable cars perform that function very poorly.

4:31 p.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Now THIS is they type of sign that gets me excited when I'm driving out in the boonies!!

I saw this sign after driving down a dirt road for over 20 miles off of the main highway in northern New Mexico. Unfortunately, I was driving my rental car (2WD) so at this point, I decided to be wise and turn around. Oh, how I wish I had been in my 4Runner!!!

Img0721.jpg
 

5:17 p.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

A few responses here say that having 4WD is overkill. 

Well, I am just a big fan of overkill when it comes to certain things, my SUV being one of them. Most of the time I don't need 4WD, but I like that it's there and already engaged when I do need it. It also has a V8. A smaller V6 (or even a 4 cylinder) would be fine with alot of people, but I'm a car guy and I just LOVE the power, torque and sound of a V8.

When I camp, if the coldest predicted temps during my trip are around 0F, then I'm taking my -20F bag, it's a no-brainer. I don't need to worry when I go to sleep, if I am going to wake up at 3:30am freezing my tail off because the temps went much lower than predicted. I often winter camp in my Northface VE 25 tent. It is a very expensive, hard-core, expedition tent often used on Everest, K2, Annapurna, etc.  Is a VE25 overkill on most of the trips I use it for? Yes, absolutely, but I like the peace of mind KNOWING, it can handle ALOT more than what it will likely see on my trip. 

 

 

7:44 p.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

tracker clayton 2 said:

Phil....I need that 1991 f350! It's a diesel model correct? you got some nice toys there I don't think my apt management would let me have that many vehicles. 

 Yep, they were both diesels. By far the best pickups I've ever owned - simple, reliable, good power and fuel economy, and the '91 was like a Caddy inside. Later this year I think I'm going to start looking for another of the old Ford diesels. 

7:56 p.m. on January 5, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Lee Patterson said:

A few responses here say that having 4WD is overkill. 

Well, I am just a big fan of overkill when it comes to certain things, my SUV being one of them. Most of the time I don't need 4WD, but I like that it's there and already engaged when I do need it. 

 

 

What 4WD does, that a lot of people overlook, is give you enough control that you can go slowly, instead of having to rely on speed and momentum to get over rough ground or through a foot of snow. Driving slowly, in return, gives you better control when turning or braking. 

12:59 a.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Phil Smith said:

Lee Patterson said:

A few responses here say that having 4WD is overkill. 

Well, I am just a big fan of overkill when it comes to certain things, my SUV being one of them. Most of the time I don't need 4WD, but I like that it's there and already engaged when I do need it. 

 

 

What 4WD does, that a lot of people overlook, is give you enough control that you can go slowly, instead of having to rely on speed and momentum to get over rough ground or through a foot of snow. Driving slowly, in return, gives you better control when turning or braking. 

 Good point Phil, I have not thought about it that way before.

I like your Jeeps!  Reminds me of mine!

5:58 a.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Phil Smith said:

What 4WD does, that a lot of people overlook, is give you enough control that you can go slowly, instead of having to rely on speed and momentum to get over rough ground or through a foot of snow. Driving slowly, in return, gives you better control when turning or braking. 

Anyone relying on using speed to get through a sketchy patch of track is engaging in poor judgment, as momentum can quickly turn against you, or dissipate and leave you mired down. 

I have made my way using a deliberate pace with 2wd pick up trucks on any route I am willing to cover by means of a motor vehicle.  I guess anything rougher I would prefer using a horse over a wheeled motor vehicle.  But there are those who find it great sport to drive such stuff.  Me, well I don't do motor sports at any speed.

Ed

12:33 p.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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A truck is a tool to get people from place to place. Learn how to use one properly. The skills are not innate and have to be learned, usually through some trial and error.

Learn to get out and walk when you get to a rough spot. See how wet it is and how soft it is. Carry equipment like chains, a shovel, handyman jack etc.

People that haven't been stuck a lot, haven't gone anywhere. It is like riding horses. If you do it a lot, you will been on the ground some of the time looking up.

I am amazed at the amount of hyperbole on this thread. This is supposed to be an outdoor crowd. Maybe most people hike in parks. Maybe most of the roads are paved and the dirt ones have signs warning them of rough and impassable roads.

12:44 p.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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I was hunting in South Dakota years ago on private ranches out by the Cheyenne River. One afternoon we had an intense rain storm. 
We got stuck on a flat road in a 4WD truck with chains on all four wheels.  The soil was pure bentonite, the stuff they use for drilling lubricant. We had no choice but to wait for the road to dry out a couple of hours later.

Conversely, I once went over the North Cascades Highway in WA in February at night in a snow storm in a VW Beetle with studded snow tires.

Overkill in an off-road vehicle is impossible.

8:16 p.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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ppine said:

"...Overkill in an off-road vehicle is impossible."

Yes, you can never make anything too dead.  Overkill is impossible.

But no, you can have overkill in a ORV, for instance I have seen folks with Humvees do significant damage to dirt double track, due to the wide body and long axles not fitting preexisting tracks.

And yes the vast majority of us do not drive tracks that cannot be negotiated by 2wd.

And yes, there are occasions where big muscle such as a  Humvee is warranted, such as going off track, cross country over rough tera.

But all these opinions and advice need more context.

--------------------------------

I guess the main issue is what audience are we addressing.  I see four categories of sportsmen in the context of this thread:

  • Folks who vehicles rarely, if ever, see dirt.  They prefer 4wd just in case days of end arrives, or simply they just like the sense of power and authority they feel behind the wheel of their monster trucks.  But their truck serves mostly as an extension of their personality - they like the look.  We all know who I am talking about, let's not belabor this group, many of them never ever see anything more rugged than a ski resort access road.  Ironically they represent the largest demographic of 4wd owners.
  • Folks accessing conventional, typical, trailheads.  They may end in dirt, but they are adequately graded so bottom clearance is not a concern, are not steeper than 20%, the road bed is composed of materials that offer traction most of the time, and do not cross water exceeding 12" depth.  This is the kind of track that most people with access concerns deal with, and is as rugged as most will ever care to negotiate with a four wheeled vehicle.  Thus 2wd should suffice, but some prefer the 4wd option under the belief it precludes using snow chains.  But for many in this demographic resorting to a 4wd too often provides a false sense of security, that frequently leads to still getting in trouble, albeit further into the woods where assistance is more difficult to provide.
  • Folks who traverse rough ungraded terrain, be it via a double track route or trackless route.  Bottom clearance is an issue, the soils may not provide good traction, portions of the route exceed 20%, and water or mud may exceed 12".  Think ranchers, hunters in remote destinies, lumbermen, miners, professions whose office is the backcountry, etc.  I am betting there are only a few of us that fit this category, and they know their transportation requirements are unique, and probably would appreciate if the rest of us would not attempt to follow in their tracks, regardless of what we drive, and regardless that digging us out is what some do as part of their job.
  • Motor sportsmen who look for diving/terrain challenges.  They are thrill seeking, hydrocarbon gearheads.  They take their vehicles over, versus around obstacles, and often their choice of destinations is driven by difficulty of access.  There are probably some of these here on this forum, too, but deep down inside they know their hobby is outside the scope of this forum - camping is secondary to this agenda.

Ed

10:11 p.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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I like to take my Nissan Titan to base camp and then ride my Polaris Ranger 900 XP to into the really difficult places.  Using the Ranger saves a lot of wear and tear on the Titan.


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10:18 p.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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My buddy from last weekend.

2003 Ford Escape that refuses to die.

But given the fact I work from home, probably 3/4 of the 65,000 miles have been racked up driving somewhere to hike.
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10:51 p.m. on January 6, 2016 (EST)
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I drive a 2005 4Runner V8 (love this vehicle) for all but the tough trails, where I take my 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (lifted on 35" tires).  That covers me.  Would like a truck with a standard bed that I can put a topper on and sleep in, but it may have to wait. 

1:14 a.m. on January 7, 2016 (EST)
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My 2001 Subaru Forester with 228k miles on it. Calif license plate SIERAMN.

2:09 a.m. on January 7, 2016 (EST)
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You guys all have such nice cars.  This is mine.  I carry a tool box, a tow strap, the shop manual and money to rent a car if this one dies.  What can I say; it gets 36 mpg and I can sleep in it. 

6:48 a.m. on January 7, 2016 (EST)
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Thanks for posting Lee! 

I've been a Honda guy for years now (but also really like Toyota's and have been eyeing a number of great looking forerunners around these days). My wife and I currently get everywhere with our 2008 Honda Element. Not the biggest payload and certainly not as much clearance as some other SUVs, but super short wheel base and real-time AWD gets us places where much higher clearance vehicles with longer wheel bases can't get. Pretty good on gas (especially compared to many of the ones we were checking out at the time, including the Nissan Xtera), and way quieter on the road than a jeep.

We love it!


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7:44 a.m. on January 7, 2016 (EST)
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I drive a 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X. It's designed to be an off road vehicle with features such as off road lights, tires, and shocks. Lots of tie-down attachment points for bungee cords or rope. Does not come with those tubular running-boards so it fits better between large rocks. Like most vehicles, the floor pads are extra. That's good-I bought a set of weather tec floor pads. Highly recommend those.

My 9-ft. kayak completely fits inside after I fold down the back seats, although with the kayak inside, there is only room for the driver, no passenger.

The front passenger seat folds flat, but when folded, it is not level with the folded rear seats and cargo compartment, so sleeping inside the Xterra is not all that good. Bring your tent.

Not sure what model year they eliminated the sun roof, but I'm glad they did. It was an irritant because the sun shined in around the shade, and after a handful of years, it began to leak water, especially in the car wash.

It's my 2nd Xterra, my 1st was the 2001 model year which was under powered, but in 4WD-low it could go anywhere. My 2013 has plenty of power and the manual tranny has 6 forward gears. The total gear range is the same so there's less change between gears. Allows you to select the gear that best matches the terrain. Does not have an attachment point for a supplemental 5-gal gas can. I'm considering adding one, although with a 22 gal gas tank, it's got a good driving range.

Small complaint is that the CD player only accepts 1 CD. Guessing that's because it comes with satellite radio.

Unfortunately, 2015 is the last model year for the Xterra. If you want one, better head for you Nissan dealer now.

9:54 a.m. on January 7, 2016 (EST)
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I had five (5) Ford trucks in a row.  For over 30 years, nothing but Ford trucks, usually putting a quarter million miles on them before trading.

Last year it was time to trade again and I was about to buy my 6th Ford truck.  I started thinking to myself,  "I shouldn't go through my whole life never having tried anything else."
So, I went out and on impulse bought a JEEP Grand Cherokee.  Now, a year later I really miss having a truck! 
Chances are 70% I'll be driving another Ford truck by springtime.

12:17 p.m. on January 7, 2016 (EST)
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Beware of anyone that says 

"I can go anywhere in 4WD low." No you can't.

Years ago I went to visit my folks in Seattle for Christmas from Wyoming. They had some big snow dumps, and snow removal in Seattle is terrible.

Several of the neighbors dropped by and mentioned that they had trouble getting back up the hill to the neighborhood. I told them I would go with them and see what the problem was. Several of them were trying to make the hill in deep snow in low range. They had too much torque and were spinning their wheels. I told them to try high range, and they had no problems from then on in the neighborhood.

Remember these words

4WD just allows you to get stuck in worse places. Sometimes the smart thing to do is park and get out and walk.

5:33 p.m. on January 7, 2016 (EST)
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I use a low-clearance GMC Envoy. The most challenging drive I have taken it was on the south end of Joshua Tree - Berdoo Canyon Road. Definitely worth doing, but not a very impressive feat. I did need to redo the front suspension a bit early at about 110k miles due to abuse.

11:10 a.m. on January 8, 2016 (EST)
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When it was just me I had a Subaru Wagon that I took everywhere...that was a great car. 

Then when it was me and a large dog I had a Jeep Cherokee. I had it for over 15yrs and never got stuck. 

Now with a family and kayaks I have a Honda Ridgeline. For me, it's the perfect cross between a truck and an SUV. My 'offroad' driving is primarily on gravel and dirt roads in all four seasons. The AWD is great and there is adequate ground clearance. 


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One addition I made this year to my kit is an emergency battery charger. Technology sure has come a long way. 


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8:29 a.m. on January 9, 2016 (EST)
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We use a 2014 Subaru Forrester and sometimes 2010 Prius to get to trailheads.  Depends on the trailhead.

9:42 a.m. on January 9, 2016 (EST)
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I drive a 2001 Ford ranger (4wd) or a 2002 saturn take your pick..One trailhead is only 10 mins from the house...But I use the Ranger more for work vehicle and hauling with the trail club....

11:26 a.m. on January 11, 2016 (EST)
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I drive a 2004 Wrangler Rubicon. Sometimes the trailhead is the beginning of the adventure(OHV areas)! Just always remember to stick to off roading's Leave No Trace rule: Tread Lightly and stay on designated trails.

For 99% of my favorite hiking trails a car would suffice and 4WD is not necessary.

Before the Jeep I was strictly a Toyota enthusiast, having 6 different 4Runners and 4 pickups. The 4Runners were wonderful with all the space for gear and room left for a 85lb German Sheperd Dog.
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12:34 a.m. on January 12, 2016 (EST)
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I've been seriously looking at a bobbed deuce highly modded. 4 doors,linex,and may do the suv like model or a truck bed I'm just not sure. I know I can clear 54inch tires so if I build this beast I should be good to go anywhere.

9:33 a.m. on January 12, 2016 (EST)
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LNT is a nice goal with a vehicle but hard to execute.

9:44 a.m. on January 12, 2016 (EST)
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Here's mine. I call it the Arctic Fox, a '79 Toyota Hilux. It's the longbed, and it's got a 2nd-gen 5-speed swapped in. It goes where I want to go.
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12:40 p.m. on January 12, 2016 (EST)
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My current trailhead car is a 1998 Toyota Tacoma 2WD. I formerly had a Toyota Corolla wagon car. It went to the Yukon for canoe trips six times. Years ago, I had a Land Rover SWB 88(1970). It was a great truck. However, the issue with 4WD is that if you HAVE to put it in 4WD and you get stuck, no one else can get you out. Many years ago, I climbed with a friend that had a Sprite and I had a 998 Morris Mini.  Those cars were excellent dirt road cars because they were narrow and could negotiate very tight places. You really don't want a fancy car or SUV for trailheads here or northern Canada because it might not be whole when you return. In Washington there are many cases of plain vandalism For skiing these days, I have a Delica, photo attached.

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3:00 p.m. on January 12, 2016 (EST)
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Ppine, I must agree Leave No Trace is hard to execute in a vehicle. I'd say more like impossible... I was referring to the off roading version of LNT; Tread Lightly.

Pillowthread, that Toyota is awesome!!! IMO, the Hilux is an iconic vehicle and yours looks like a fine example.

 

1:08 p.m. on January 25, 2016 (EST)
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For years I drove an old 1994 F150 XL with over 100,000 km on it. It was a basic 2wd. We had to wait for winter when the ice road is open as our community is rather isolated. It takes two or three days to get to Whitehorse. My wife and I would sleep in the back. 
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Driving south.
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Having breakfast. After driving on the frozen ocean being on the land gives one a feeling of security.

11:05 a.m. on January 26, 2016 (EST)
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My uncle, Alaska Bob used to work on the North Slope in the oil business. He told me a story of driving a sno cat with an Inuit friend of his 220 miles over the pack ice. They had two vehicles for safety and one of them broke down. They cannibalized the front axle on one of the vehicles at put it in the other one at 40 below.  He also mentioned the relative comfort and safety of travelling on land.

11:57 a.m. on January 26, 2016 (EST)
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Last summer, after saving for years, we purchased a new F250 Super Duty Crew Cab. The 4 wheel drive makes all the difference in the world and the extra room allows us space to store our gear. Even so, it's a long way home without any support along the way.


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The sign above is at the start of the Dempster Highway, a 736 km all gravel road to the Arctic, just outside of Dawson. The sign reads:

Notice

There are no emergency medical services on the Yukon section of the Dempster Highway "Drive with Care"


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Sometimes, just getting to the trail head can be an adventure.

12:48 p.m. on January 27, 2016 (EST)
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There have been comments here about 4WD and putting chains on all four wheels. One thing that is important, is which system is on the vehicle. Cars like Subarus and other AWD vehicles use a viscous coupling for the system. Standard 4WD, such as my Mitsubishi Delica, use a direct gear with no limited slip differentials. In such systems, it is important to ensure that the road surface will allow the tires to slip a bit. Driving on dry, wet pavement or even mixed dry and snow will strain the drive because the gearing between front and rear is different. In these systems, the front wheels are geared slightly taller to allow the front wheels to pull. As I mentioned earlier, 4WD is a great system, but if you are on your own, and you really need 4WD, you should consider where you are going. Breaking a tie rod(which I've seen happen) or breaking a half shaft(which I've done) is a pretty bad thing if you are on a rugged road. Your rescuers will need just as stout a vehicle. 

North, it is awfully nice up the Dempster, but only Eagle Plains for gas.

7:50 a.m. on February 7, 2016 (EST)
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A Mazda 3 it's excellent on gas

9:36 a.m. on February 7, 2016 (EST)
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chandne said:

I drive a 2005 4Runner V8 (love this vehicle) for all but the tough trails, where I take my 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (lifted on 35" tires).  That covers me.  Would like a truck with a standard bed that I can put a topper on and sleep in, but it may have to wait. 

 I'm 6'3" but I can sleep in my 2007 4Runner fully stretched-out, if I am diagonally accross the back cargo area and have the back seats folded down. 

10:33 a.m. on February 7, 2016 (EST)
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Thought about putting a camper shell on the ford..But with work I have to be able to put finished pieces of concrete in the bed...So No shell.:(

2:18 p.m. on February 7, 2016 (EST)
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I rented a truck with a camper once in Anchorage. It is possible to drive all of the paved roads in the State in a week, and a bunch of the dirt ones.

8:32 a.m. on March 8, 2016 (EST)
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Subie Outback

3:20 p.m. on April 2, 2016 (EDT)
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When I had my scion Tc I would always be late getting to the trailhead.

Not anymore :)
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12:40 a.m. on April 3, 2016 (EDT)
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I love off road builds. I still think when I move I'm doing a bobbed deuce or a humvee with a engine swap but the land cruisers have always been a vehicle I've wanted. The deuces just have so many possibilities and can be had cheap and with low miles and maintenance has always been done and most have just been driven short distances on military bases or one base to another. The newer ones have the Cummings turbo diesel with Allison transmission which is a winning combo some even have the central tire inflation system while nice in the humvee the system tends to fail but I've only seen this in the civilian models,it's easily removed and fixed as its usually a bent tube. I've done several 4runners and trucks, ford broncos, blazers, jeeps,ect. There is just something satisfying about building a off road beast.

11:12 a.m. on April 4, 2016 (EDT)
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Next up is a trip north to an isolated wildlife refuge on the Oregon border.  It is open rangeland with a lot of antelope, mule deer, petroglyphs, wild horses, and petrified wood. Any place the truck is parked will be a trailhead.  There is a lot of snow in the Sierra and it will take until June for most of the trails to open.

3:53 p.m. on April 5, 2016 (EDT)
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Easy roads when gas is expensive: Ford Focus

Hard roads when I can afford gas: Ford Excursion

8:07 p.m. on April 5, 2016 (EDT)
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Re: What car/suv do you guys drive to get to the trail head?

Lee Patterson said:

Tipi Walter said:

I love seeing all these sharp looking SUVs and Jeeps and all the rest and love the idea of having one at a Tennessee trailhead for 3 weeks as I leave it sitting for your casual redneck to shred or torch.

I came out on one trip and found this---


TRIP%20129%20157-L.jpg

Point is, what's the best backpacking car?  Something with a locking gas tank, lexan windows, lock on wheels and looks trashed otherwise.  A beat up piece of crap looking thing.  Or a Toyota four wheel drive pickup with a dog cage in the back. 

 Very true Tipi. I do think often of buying an old "beater" with a million miles that no one would would even think of stealing, stripping, or breaking into.

 Hell that won't work either had the oldest beat up piece of junk john boat at my pond even had a hole in the bottom of it that i had to plug when i used it. my brother watched it go past his house on a golf cart thru the woods. The'll steal it just for the metal in it. Damn kids took my hammock too another time. One day i'm gonna put on my pack head into the woods track them down and give them a come to JESUS spanking or maybe just scare the heck out of them    

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