My first 4×4 was by default as we had launched a locally produced Double Cab out of a factory in Port Elizabeth. The back section was made of fibreglass with a steel load box. These were the early days when manufacturers were trying to get tooling to go into full production as the demand was there for various specifications for fleets and the leisure market showed the beginnings of growth. I acquired the vehicle and spent time with friends honing a curriculum and presentations for training.
Our CEO offered my services to a friend who wanted to run a course and the rest is history. At the same time, I learned winching techniques as well as vehicle recovery.
Fast forward to part of the launch activities for the Double Cab, we ran a competition offering a trip to two luxury camps in Botswana. The budget was tight, given the price of the lodges so we drove three vehicles up to Botswana.
The hotel in Maun had given us a cut-off time of 1900 to check in to ensure that we would retain our rooms. Not necessary as when we arrived the hotel was virtually empty. Needless to say, we collected our guests the next day and headed into the bush, we left our vehicles and caught a plane to our first stop. The trip was a success and we got some amazing publicity.
However, we learnt numerous lessons as it was our first overland trip.
We packed badly! Our main item which contained water, cold drink and biltong/droe word was a simple cooler box strapped in place with two bungee cords. The meat items were confiscated at the first “foot and mouth control post. Our luggage was on the rear seat of each vehicle. A big mistake as we had to put our bags in the load box of each vehicle when we collected everyone at the airport. So we learnt about dust. A tonneau cover does not help.
After a debrief on returning to Jozi, we realised that we had neglected numerous items that we should have packed and were lucky,
- No tyre repair kits.
- No tools other than those supplied with the vehicle.
- No recovery equipment.
- No proper jacks.
We did have ample water and snacks and when we collected our guide in Maun we felt a lot more comfortable.
Since then I have learnt the importance of proper packing and because I change vehicles regularly I can not look to a fixed drawer system and do not favour a roof rack.
So what did I do?
- For short trips I acquired a waterproof bag which I can secure in the load box, this contains my luggage and that of any companions.
- For longer trips, I have a few waterproof trommels/boxes which have handles so that I can secure them.
- My fridge tends to be secured on the back seat making drinks and snacks easily accessible.
- Cameras are in their bags and looped around the head restraints, this keeps them safe and ensures that they will not be loose in the cabin.
- For securing items in the load box I now use a cargo net that ensures that nothing will move around no matter what the circumstances.
- If I have too much space I use a cargo bar to secure things.
- And never forget ratchet straps as well!
- One of the most useful items is the “Wolf Pack” Their only shortcoming is when someone does not open all the catches before removing the lid. the rear-catches snap but spares are readily available. I plugged all the holes in the base of my wolf packs and have even used them with water and soap to do a load of washing when I travel.
Whatever you do please pack in a fashion that everything is secure and unlikely to move and check it regularly. This also helps from a security perspective