Sunday, May 27, 2012

Comparison Analysis of Spidertrax versus Imported Wheel Spacers

Spidertrax just published another update to their blog with a story about the importance of buying parts from reputable manufacturers and the differences that can be found between domestic and imported parts, even when they're advertised as being identical quality.  They use their wheel spacers as an example.

The article is well worth reading - enough so that 4Wheel Drive Magazine (one of my favorites!) has published it not once (September 2010) but twice (July 2012).  But above and beyond the materials difference between the two wheel spacers is the obvious machining differences: only Spidertrax's spacers are both wheel- and hubcentric, which is of critical importance for both strength and preventing wheel vibrations.  Spidertrax's spacers are also double-anodized for corrosion resistance.

Readers of this blog will recall that I put a great deal of thought into the decision I made regarding what tires and wheels to choose for my own Jeep because I am unwilling to make sacrifices with my Jeep - I want nothing but the best.  I ultimately found that the original Jeep wheels combined with Spidertrax's wheel spacers was truly the best option.  To date, I have put about 3,000 miles on them in daily driving, road trips, sand dunes, snow and ice.  I've rotated them once as well (properly bringing the spare tire into the rotation) and I can report that the OEM wheels with Spidertrax Wheel Spacers and Treadwright Guard Dog retreads with Kedge Grip have had no vibrations, death wobble, or any other negative behavior.

When the difference in price between the top-of-the-line wheel spacers and imitators of unknown quality is so little, why take chances?  Spidertrax's products are of a known quality with independent analysis to back it up.  They have proven to be popular- and reputable-enough that they have just released another size to choose from: 1.75 inches to push the wheels out a bit further than the 1.5 inch size that I installed on my Jeep.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Preparing a 4x4 Backcountry First Aid Emergency Kit

Some of the most important gear you should bring on any 4x4 trip is a good first aid kit.  I'm not talking about a handful of band-aids; I'm talking about a kit that can help you and your companions survive a long, slow trip back to civilization when an injury happens in the backcountry.

Expedition Portal has a well-written article about first aid kit considerations.  I agree with their suggestion to build your own first aid kit that meets your needs rather than simply buying a generic preassembled kit, but I think it's best to start with a decent kit from a company like Adventure Medical Kits and customize yours from there.

I like to have a very complete kit that contains not just basic first aid medical supplies but also some supplies for more severe injuries as well as basic survival and search & rescue tools.  I prefer to call my enhanced first aid kit an Emergency Kit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May/June Issue of JPFreek Adventure Magazine is out

One of my favorite offroad magazines, JPFreek, happens to be free!  And they just released their May/June 2012 issue.  You can read it here.

This issue covers the Xplore Jeep Wrangler, synthetic winch line, trips to the deserts of Anza Borrego National Forest/Ocotillo Wells and Joshua Tree National Park, a 12-volt refrigerator comparison, a camping equipment review, a vehicle recovery tech article, and continuation of an overland adventure through Iceland.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jeep History Video Montage

Here's a Jeep promotional video from 2002 with a bunch of great classic footage of military and civilian Jeeps from throughout the brand's history:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Expedition Portal Reviews the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Expedition Portal and their companion magazine Overland Journal understands the needs of off-roaders, especially those who aren't just building dedicated rock buggies or mud boggers but rather do-everything, go-anywhere, street-friendly off-roaders.  A well-rounded vehicle is one that gets you where you need to go, without requiring many customizations to meet a baseline level of capability.

Their review of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited reached the same conclusions I did and clearly explains what sets the Wrangler apart from every other vehicle in the North American market.

The article is a great read with some terrific photography, but don't miss their YouTube video review:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Richard Hammond Loves the Jeep Wrangler

Richard Hammond is one of my favorite automotive journalists ever.  He's most famous for his role as one of the three personalities on the best television program of all time, ever: Top Gear.  He was recently interviewed by Wired Magazine's Autopia in which he revealed his top 10 favorite American cars.  Grouped in among such classics as the 1969 Dodge Charger, the 1968 Ford Mustang, and the Corvette ZR1 is the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, about which he quips:
I dismissed it at first; I thought it was going to be awful. But it's fabulous, and got me thinking about the Wrangler in general: It's a retro car and you could knock it for that, but you know what? It works, it's competent, it's efficient for its size. You can still take the doors and the roof off, and that still makes you feel good. And if a car can do that, who cares how fast it goes around a corner at the Nürburgring?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon versus 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

What an odd review!  The Fast Lane Car recently compared the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon against the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan crossover.  Going into the review, at least they knew that these are two entirely different vehicles with vastly differing abilities that are at opposite ends of the SUV spectrum.

I think they did a pretty decent job of demonstrating that while each vehicle performs well as expected in their intended environments, each one offers some surprises in their abilities when driven outside of their intended environments.  The Jeep proved to be surprisingly quick on-road, while the Volkswagen performed well off-road for a faux-by-four.

MotorWeek's Review of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

MotorWeek has been around forever, providing informative but rather dry video reviews of just about every car and SUV they come across.  Their review of the 2-door 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sahara is worth watching, if for no other reason than seeing the vehicle from another perspective.  After their usual battery of track tests and regular roads, they splashed through some puddles and pretended like they were 4-wheeling.  Like almost all other media outlets, their review of the Wrangler was quite favorable.

Motor Trend's Review of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler

Motor Trend is one of my favorite car magazines in spite of the fact that they don't do much with 4x4s and SUVs, and when they do, they rarely take them off road.  It's therefore quite surprising to see such a good video review of the refreshed 2012 Wrangler not only on asphalt, but also on the Rubicon Trail.:

Jeep Wrangler: Power Within

Jeep just released another terrific new commercial for the Wrangler and the full line of Jeep SUVs.  Well worth watching: