Don’t Get Caught Off-guard Cruising from a Base Camp

Base Camp A base camp allows you to bring lots of extra "comfort" gear that you do not need to take with you each day.
(Click picture for a larger image.)

As you prepare for your next 4WD excursion, I’m sure you put a lot of thought into what to take. Naturally, that depends on what types of trails you’ll drive on and what destinations you expect to visit. Included are some thoughts about recovery and survival.

But, once you’re started your journey, do you still think about safety and survival? Specifically, if you’re traveling from a base camp, have you given much thought to what if?

Cruise vs. base camp

Once off-road, trips tend to fall into one of two categories, cruise and base camp.

With a cruise, you drive to new destinations each day, and set up camp each night.

A base camp, on the other hand, involves setting up camp in one spot. Each day you head out on the trail, and return by the end of the day. The advantage of a base camp is that 1) you can take more stuff, including “comfort items” and gear which you leave it in camp, 2) you spend less time breaking camp each day which translates into more time on the trails (or sleeping in), and 3) you have more options for trails since most gear is at camp, resulting in a lighter and more nimble vehicle.

You could use a combination, of course. That’s common for multi-day events.

Base Camp A base camp allows you more options for trails since most gear is at camp, resulting in a lighter and more nimble vehicle.
(Click picture for a larger image.)
With cruising, you have all your gear with you during the day. So all your backup planning is reflected in the gear on board and you really give it very little more thought. You can camp where ever the day ends, you can change travel plans and go in a different direction, you are not limited on how far you travel away from camp, and are not concerned about theft of gear left behind. I haven’t experienced theft, but it’s a possibility.

The drawback to setting a base camp is that your vehicle normally doesn’t contain much gear during the trips away from camp, including survival needs. You are returning later in the day, and don’t expect to run into problems, especially any that could keep you over night. But it can happen.

On a trip to the mountains several years ago, my group encountered really heavy snow. Battling drifts and stuck vehicles, we were running late and were hours from the base camp. Most of the vehicles were lightly packed.

Fortunately, we made it back to base camp late that night. While it wouldn’t have become a life-or-death situation, I’m sure a number of folks in our party would’ve been quite miserable had they been stuck in their rigs overnight.

It’s not just snow and cold you need to worry about. Desert conditions can be deadly, especially in the summer.

As you prepare to leave for the trail each morning, ask yourself, “Do I have what’s necessary to survive, even though I have other vehicles and people with me? Do I have the basics to survive the night or the typical 72 hours it takes for someone to rescue us?”

At a minimum, you should have:
  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Blanket or sleeping bag; both if room allows
You should consider leaving these basic items in your vehicle year-round. Regardless of where you live, you could get stuck somewhere overnight, or longer.

Always remember this important rule of off-road driving: The more remote or difficult the trail is the more you take with you. Act like NASA and be redundant. In your gear, anyway. I keep an extra blanket, sleeping bag and pair of Sorels (with dry socks) in my vehicle at all times. In addition, I always pack a satellite phone. That backs up my two-way radios and cell phone.

And never go out alone. A seemingly simple trip could turn nasty, as noted above. A base camp is a great way to explore the outdoors. Just remember that things could turn sour. Weather can change in an instant. A vehicle could break down or get stuck. Any number of factors could upset your plans, forcing you to settle in for the night right there. If you choose to use a base camp for your next 4WD trip, remember to pack some survival material in your vehicle. You just may need it one night.

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Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures

Did you miss the previous articles?

Some Upcoming Events

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The 2014 schedule of events (as we know them today) has been populated on the web site. Since we are planning these events anywhere from 5 months to 17 months in advance, there are times when we have to make some adjustments. Next year we are bringing back the Wine Safari. New in 2014, will be several months when students (particular those traveling from out of town) can sign up for a 3 day block of clinics to maximize their travel. The 3rd day will be the Monday following a Getting Started and Advanced Beginner weekend. The third class will offer either a Winching Clinic or a Tire Repair Clinic.

You will notice we are kicking off our back to the desert season with a class in Borrego Springs on October 18th. This is a Friday and allows you to combine it with the OAUSA Borrego Fest weekend. Check their website for details. We will have monthly clinics in Borrego Springs until April next year.

October is a great time for an adventure to Death Valley. We have schedule a 4 day trip for Oct 25 - 28.

And it is not too early to sign up for the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad Adventure just after Thanksgiving.

Our new stock of Winch Bandanas arrived last month. We now have Red, Orange, Blue, Green, Gold, and Natural.

  1. October 12 Getting Started Off-Road - LA:

  2. October 13 Winch Clinic - see below for more details

  3. October 18 Getting Started Off-Road - San Diego:

  4. October 25 Death Valley Adventure

  5. November 02 Getting Started Off-Road - LA:

  6. November 03 Advanced Beginner Clinic- LA:

  7. November 16 Getting Started Off-Road - San Diego:

  8. November 17 Sand & Dunes - Borrego Springs

  9. October 25 T&T (Tonopah & Tidewater) Railroad Adventure


Winch Clinic October 13, 2013

Winch Class Example

This one day clinic starts with the basics. If you are considering installing a powered winch on your vehicle, or have one already but need training to learn how to get the best from it and do it safely, you need to take this class. The one day course covers: safety related issues, basic operation of the winch, simple and complex riggings, stuck assessment, winch capability, and minimizing environmental impact. This is a hands on class. By the end of the day you will be safely rigging some complex recoveries. More Details...

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Winch


Death Valley October 25-28, 2013

Death Valley

This is a 4 day trip on the back roads in Death Valley. We will drive the Panamint Mountains, drive past Badwater Basin (lowest spot in North America), visit Chloride Ghost town, Titus Canyon, check out Ubehebe Crater, Teakettle junction, The Race Track & Lippencott Mine Road, camp at the Warm Springs and leave via Steal Pass up to the high meadows, then take Dedeckera Canyon down to the Eureka Sand Dunes. All four days will see some light to moderate 4-wheeling. Much of the trip is quite remote with random or no cell service.
Check out the details and sign up on the website: http://www.4x4training.com/Adventures/Deathvalley.html

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Deathvalley


T&T Rail Road Adventure in November

Death Valley

Our goal is to cross through Johnson Valley, enjoying what it has to offer, and making our way North along the old Tonopah & Tidewater (T&T) Rail Road bed to the Rasor OHV, Afton Canyon and the western edge of the Mojave Preserve. On the way we will skirt the Rodman Mountain Wilderness and cross I-40. This adventure is 2 days of scenic, historical, light wheeling and a night ( 2 if you prefer) of primitive camping under the stars. We can plan a Dutch Oven pot luck for our evening meal.
Check out the details and sign up on the website: http://www.4x4training.com/Adventures/TTRailroad.html

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#TTRailroad

New Stock - More Colors - Winch Recovery Bandana

Winching Recover Bandana
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We have our new stock with many new colors (Red, Orange, Green, and Blue) on hand. The Bandana is packed full of useful information and is a quick reference in the field when no DVD player is available."

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready!

Pick up or order the Winching DVD too! There is no substitute for hands on training. If you can, sign up for one of Badlands Off-Road Adventure’s Winching Clinics.

Warning – the Bandana and DVD are not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment that is used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in both the Winching Recovery Bandana and the "Basic to Advanced Winching and Recovery DVD" at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

Winch Recovery Bandana Order Button

Order a Basic to Advanced Winching & Recovery DVD too!

Winch DVD
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I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2013, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

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