Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Jeep Wave

The Jeep Wave is a sacred tradition amongst Jeep owners, carried down through the generations from its origin with our military servicemen.  Camaraderie amongst soldiers carried over to civilian Jeep owners after the war, and as the respect and mystique surrounding the Jeep brand grew over the years, Jeep owners became a prouder bunch.

Since the very beginning, Jeep owners have been a breed apart from typical motorists.  Jeeps are driven by people who care about more than just a comfy ride and ergonomic controls; Jeeps are about fun, durability, and individuality.  Jeeps aren't just transportation appliances, they're toys.  We recognize other Jeep owners as members of an informal club of cool kids - when we see another Jeep coming our way, we can be pretty certain that its driver is someone with whom we'd get along well.  Hence, the Jeep Wave.

As the popularity of Jeeps and the vehicles they inspired has grown, the Jeep Wave has expanded to include other worthy offroad vehicles.

Before I became a Jeep owner, I built several very trailworthy Suzukis, Toyotas, and military vehicles.  I have always waved at well-built 4x4s, but now that I'm a Jeep owner, I wave at every Jeep I pass no matter how modified it is.  Sure, soccer moms aren't very likely to wave back, but that's not the point.

This YouTube video caught my attention as it discusses the Jeep Wave:

Not all offroaders drive Jeeps, but all offroaders are Jeepers who share the love and appreciation for our sport and the wonderful people who partake in it.  When you pass a nice 4x4, shoot your hand out the window and flash a smile - you never know whose day you'll make! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jeep JKs in BFGoodrich's Playground Earth

BFGoodrich came up with an entertaining short film advertisement for their Radial All-Terrain T/A-KO tires entitled Playground Earth.  They set up a series of five different extreme outdoor sports, and in place of a baton the teams passed a single set of tires from one vehicle to another to demonstrate how these versatile tires are designed to handle just about anything thrown at them.

Of note to Jeep owners is the fact that two of the five short films featured the Jeep Wrangler JK, one in short-wheelbase 2-door form and the other in long-wheelbase 4-door form.  You can watch the videos on BFG's website, or as a series posted below:

2013 Cantina for the 'Con

Lining up for the world's most delicious tacos!

Every year, the Rubicon Trail's biggest fundraiser Cantina for the 'Con gets bigger and more fun.  Numerous local and distant companies sponsor and exhibit at the event, while the Rubicon Trail Foundation cooks tacos and holds a gigantic raffle to earn money to be put towards keeping the trail environmentally-healthy and open to the public year-round.

This is an annual fundrasier for the 501(c)3 Non-Profit Mission: To enhance the future health and use of the Rubicon Trail while ensuring responsible motorized year-round trail access. Rubicon Trail Foundation advocates for your continued motorized access to the trail and surrounding public lands.

Rubicon Trail Foundation's website has a Cantina photo album.  GenRight Offroad also put together their own photo album from this year's event here on their website.  Bower Motorsports Media made this video of the event:

BFGoodrich's 2013 Outstanding Trails Winners

BFGoodrich® Tires, in collaboration with Tread Lightly! ® and United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA), today announced the winners of the  2013 Outstanding Trails program.  Nominated for uniqueness, terrain type and enthusiast following, the trails selected for this year’s program are:

    Dutch John Trail at the Uwharrie National Forest in Troy, North Carolina
    Kansas Rocks Recreation Park in Mapleton, Kansas
    Truckhaven in Salton Sea, California

Since its inception in 2006, The Outstanding Trails program has been dedicated to the responsible use and preservation of off-road trails. In the last eight years, Outstanding Trails has recognized more than 30 off-road trails throughout the country and has awarded over $115,000+ in grants in support of trail conservation efforts.

“The legacy of the Outstanding Trails program is a great source of pride for BFGoodrich,” said Duane Thomas, brand communications manager for BFGoodrich Tires. “We’re grateful for the efforts of the many four-wheel drive clubs and their volunteers for working with us in our quest to help maintain some of North America’s most beautiful trails.”

BFGoodrich Tires 2013 Outstanding Trails

During the course of the year, BFGoodrich Tires will be at club events associated with these trails to highlight the uniqueness of each location, educate off-road enthusiasts on the responsible use of the trails and present a $4,000 grant to each club to assist in the preservation of trail access.

Friday, December 20, 2013

CORVA Gives the OHV Community a Victory for Ocotillo Wells SVRA

Sacramento, California (December 13, 2013) - CORVA won an important victory this past Thursday. Earlier this year, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed suit against California State Parks to stop current operations at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. CORVA consulted with their attorney, Jesse Barton, and at his recommendation filed for intervenor status in the Superior Court of California. CORVA's demurrer supported State Parks and alleged to the court that the suit filed by PEER had no legal viability and must be dismissed by the court. Judge Timothy Frawley ruled in favor of State Parks and CORVA on December 12th, 2013 and upheld the right of State Parks to continue operations at Ocotillo Wells SVRA in the same manner enthusiasts around the state have enjoyed for over 30 years.

In a community that has seen so many attacks against off-road recreation, CORVA is very pleased to share this victory with all motorized enthusiasts in California. Thanks to our attorney and with the support of our members, CORVA is dedicated to striking back and hitting hard when off-road recreation is attacked. Court procedures allow PEER to refile their complaint within 20 days if they find additional arguments to be considered, and should that occur CORVA and our attorney stand ready to file another court action to ensure this suit is permanently stopped. We ask for everyone's support to continue our proactive strategies by joining us at www.corva.org and donating to our legal fund.

For over 40 years CORVA has been dedicated to keeping public land open by advocating of off-road access, educating off-road enthusiasts, and representing off-road interests with governmental agencies. CORVA has worked tirelessly to defend all types of off-road and off highway vehicular recreation including the initiation of many legal efforts aimed at protecting the rights of off-road to access and enjoy the deserts, mountains, and coasts of California.

You can always make a donation to help keep us there,
"On the ground and running!"

Do that by clicking here: Donate to CORVA

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rebel Offroad's JK Wranglers at Moab 2013

Rebel Offroad is one of the fastest-growing Jeep Wrangler JK aftermarket companies, and they've been hosting a number of awesome trail rides around the country.  One of their favorite playgrounds is Moab, Utah and they've put together several videos from their trips there.  Their latest one shows a wide range of built Jeeps on some of Moab's most famous landmark trails from 2013's Easter Jeep Safari:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Brazilian Jeep Wrangler - the Troller T4

The Troller T4 is a Brazilian-made offroad vehicle "inspired by" the Jeep TJ and JK Wrangler.  It is a fiberglass-bodied, turbodiesel-powered, Dana-axled jeep that fills a giant void that Jeep themselves have left wide-open in the Brazilian market.

Before you dismiss this vehicle as nothing more than a cheap wanna-be like the notoriously crappy Chinese knockoffs, you should understand that the Brazilian market demands tough vehicles.  The T4 is built with solid components, engineered for extreme offroad abuse, can be upgraded with offroad equipment such as lockers and lift kits, and has competed in the Dakar Rally.  The Troller T4 may not be the real deal, but it's a worthy Jeep replacement nonetheless.

Ford of Brazil seemed to be sufficiently impressed with Troller that they purchased the company in 2007 and have continued development of the brand's offroad vehicles.  As Fiat/Chrysler continue to expand the Jeep brand into foreign markets, it will be interesting to see what trademark conflicts may arise in Brazil and Africa where the T4 is manufactured and sold.

This first video shows the T4 in action off-road:

And this 2nd video is a Brazilian TV commercial for the Troller T4.  It uses actual news helicopter footage from the massive December 2009 floods in São Paulo:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Fight to Save Tahoe National Forest

I've written before about the ongoing fight to save Tahoe National Forest from the anti-access faux-environmentalists, and it's time to give an update on this precedent-setting issue of The Public versus Big Government:

Pacific Legal Foundation is representing outdoor recreationists in the case Friends of Tahoe Access v. United States Department of Agriculture.  As expected, the liberal activist District Court judge sided with the government land (mis)managers, so the planned appeal process is already under way, with hopes that this can be taken all the way to the Supreme Court so that every American can eventually be assured of their right to enjoy responsible access to all non-Wilderness Areas of public lands.

An example of the misinformed (or propagandizing) liberal media can be found in this article by the Tahoe Daily Tribune.  The article is so heavily laced with inaccuracies, untruths, and bias that I felt compelled to share it along with a response to the article from a resident of Tahoe National Forest:
[This article is] yellow journalism at its finest. Nevada County and other rural Sierra Nevada community citizens, you'd better listen up as this affects us all. Quick Cliffs Notes of the Tahoe National Forest route closures and then I will get on to the gross inaccuracies portrayed in this article from the Tahoe Daily Tribute:

-In 2012 the US Forest Service gated and closed off 90% (800+ miles) of the existing routes in the Tahoe National Forest after finally implementing a 2005 Travel Management Rule that the Forest Service had promised outdoor recreational enthusiasts would not close many, if any roads or trails.

-In July of 2012 the Pacific Legal Foundation sued the Federal Government for illegally closing 800 + miles of roads and trails in TNF and preventing any form of vehicular access to these roads, many of which have existed upwards, and over 100 years with no negative impact on the TNF.

-Nov 2013 Judge John A. Mendez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California sided with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, supporting their closure of 90% of TNF.

Now, onto the [article's] inaccuracies:

•"....and denying Friends of Tahoe Forest Access in its attempt to preserve and expand access for off-highway vehicles."

-Incorrect. We are trying to PRESERVE the existing, 50-100+ year old routes still remaining in the TNF. We are not seeking to EXPAND these trails whatsoever.

•"The Wilderness Society, the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups joined the lawsuit as an intervenor and argued through their attorney, Greg Loarie, that there is no way to adequately protect a forest while allowing motor vehicles to travel all over the forest without restriction."

-Incorrect. Slimy wording, at best. Obviously these environmentalists have never been to the Sierra Nevada, or they would understand that beyond the established roads and trails, penetrating the Sierra Nevada "without restriction" in a motorized vehicle is no easy task, if not impossible. We (The Friends of Greenhorn, Friends of Tahoe National Forest, etc) are absolutely not advocating to "travel all over the forest without restriction", in fact it is against our core mottos of TREAD LIGHTLY and STAY ON THE TRAIL. To suggest we are suing to preserve the "right" to trash nature wherever we want is cowardly and immoral, and shows the true integrity of organizations like Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. Not to mention if these roads were not maintained largely by forest users, they would disappear back into nature in a matter of years.

The rural communities of the Sierra Nevada rely on outdoor recreation year round to survive. In the spring, summer and fall, camping, hunting, fishing, boating, mountain biking, four wheeling, ATVing, bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, etc etc provide vast amounts of income to our communities. In the winter, skiing, snowboarding, innertubing, snowshoeing etc etc get us through until the next season of outdoor activities begins. With 800 miles of roads closed to motorized travel, access to favorite camp sites or fishing holes is reduced to non-motorized traffic. This directly affects families with small children, the elderly, and the disabled, as well as anyone else that doesn't want to be restricted to KOA campgrounds to enjoy nature.

Driving down existing dirt/rock roads surrounded by millions of acres of pristine forest is not harming anything.

Half of you grew up with me in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. We all got to experience the beauty of the Sierra by exploring the winding trails that penetrate deep into the woods as we grew up and as adults. Imagine a future where under the guise of "saving the planet", your children and grandchildren cannot even explore our own backyard. That is the future we are headed towards if we do not continue to fight these massive public land closures. This is our backyard, people, and radical environmental organizations are pressuring the Federal government to close as much of it down to keep people out of nature once and for all.

Keep public land open to the public. Immerse future generations in nature by taking them to nature and instilling the desire to enjoy, preserve and protect, not gate and exclude. As John Muir once wrote in a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908:

"I am anxious that the Yosemite National Park may be saved from all sorts of commercialism and marks of man's work other than the roads, hotels, etc., required to make its wonders and blessings available. For as far as I have seen there is not in all the wonderful Sierra, or indeed in the world, another so grand and wonderful and useful a block of Nature's mountain handiwork."
John Muir's letter to President Roosevelt

Public lands should be accessible to ALL nature-lovers, not just to a select group of elitists for which we've already locked up over 14% of the State of California within the boundaries of our Wilderness Areas.  Recreational opportunities within remaining National Forest land should be open to all Americans.  Motorized recreation is the primary means by which families, the elderly, and the disabled can reach our backcountry, yet every day we find more and more gates and signs erected by our land (mis)managers.  The Pacific Legal Foundation is working to ensure that public lands are preserved FOR the public, instead of FROM the public.

Trash on the Trail - Pick it up!

Anywhere people go, you can find trash that they've left behind; it's unfortunately human nature.  Not everyone who visits our backcountry areas are litterbugs, but it's everyone's responsibility to haul out more than they brought in.  Most responsible 4-wheelers automatically pull over and pick up any trail trash that they happen to come upon.  In fact, it's such an expected behavior that a Trasharoo is found on the back of most trail rigs these days:

My Rubicon Trail Foundation special edition Trasharoo
Accidental littering still happens, and there will always be "bad apples" who leave trash behind, so trail trash will always be a reality.  Unfortunately, trail litter is some of the ammo that the anti-access people use to get public lands closed to everyone but hikers, so we must remain vigilant about keeping our trails clean.  I continue the tradition I was taught as a Boy Scout to always leave any campsite or trail spotless, no matter how messy it might have been before my arrival.  I keep two bags in my Trasharoo (one for recycle materials, the other for trash) and I never pass by any trash I spot in camp or on the trail.

One of my friends recently posted on Pirate4x4 a good lesson to share with kids, litterbugs, and trail-closure people regarding the reality of trail trash.  I've reprinted it here:

Here is my take on the Trail Trash issue, whether it be Rubicon, Fordyce, Slick Rock, Greenhorn, or Johnson Valley:

NO ONE who comes to this forum can claim ignorance. Facts are we have been resting on OUR Laurels. Education never stops. EVER. We all have to continue to pull together to keep the trail clean, in good shape, and functioning.

I had a friend tonight (MC guy) complain to me about his cohorts. How the trails were looking trashed.

I've always said - "It's like being a Mom (or Dad), and mopping the kitchen floor. You scrub that floor, pay particular attention to the corners, under the cabinets, you pull out your good, HD floor cleaner tech and kick some azz on that dirt. You take a moment to stand back and admire your work, it looks clean and sparkly, 10 seconds later the boys come in from outside, spend 5 minutes getting a snack and heading to the living room to play video rock crawling. You turn around after the very brief whirlwind of activity is over, your kitchen floor is TRASHED".

What do you do? Do you go online and air the very same dirty laundry that everyone else in this world experiences, or do you pick up your mop and DO IT AGAIN?

You calmly - with a smile on your face, grateful to have a kitchen floor to mop - pick up your swiffer wet jet and DO IT AGAIN

My point is - even if you spent the time to educate your torrid teens/pre-teens, you're never going to stop needing to MOP THE FLOOR. It needs to be done daily whether you think so or not.

Regular attention needs to be paid to all our trails. ALL OF THEM.

Like I also said to my MC friend, you don't clean/maintain that trail for only yourself, you do it for the dumb jerks who you didn't get to educate, you do it for the criminals, and you do it for the responsible folks. You just do it because YOU want to ride again.

Please let's take the narcissism out of why we do what we do and JUST DO IT.

Friday, November 22, 2013

AEV Jeep Wrangler Wins the 2013 Australasian Rally

Back in September, Team Lerner Reina and their American Expedition Vehicles-built Jeep Wrangler JK 231R took on one of the toughest endurance motorsport races in the Asia-Pacific region, the Australasian Safari.  Similar to the Baja 1000 and the Dakar Rally, this is one of those races where it's an achievement to even cross the finish line.  Their awesome driving and navigational skills, along with a reliable and capable Jeep, meant an outstanding finish.  Here is a summary of their outstanding performance:

• 100% Safari Finisher - Their AEV Wrangler was the ONLY production vehicle to finish 100% of the Safari
• Fastest Safari Female - Amy Lerner
• Winner Production Class A1.2
• Winner Overall Safari Production - Their AEV Wrangler had the best performance of ANY production vehicle entered in the Safari
• Winner of the Dakar Challenge - This earned Team Lerner Reina an entry spot in the 2014 Dakar Rally

Tricia and Amy are both awesome competitors and fantastic role models.  The capability and durability of the Jeep Wrangler and the AEV suspension is exactly why I chose this combination for my own backcountry adventures.  Check out the video below for footage from the 2013 Australasian Safari.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saving the Sierra Nevada from the Frogs and Toads

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana sierrae)

Cute little frogs and toads are the "poster child" for a huge push to lock the public out of massive blocks of public lands.  But don't blame the frogs; it's not their fault.  It's the anti-access faux-environmentalists who are the problem, as usual.

The innocent little Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs and Yosemite Toads are simply the latest tool being used by the anti-recreation groups in their ongoing efforts to lock the outdoors-loving public out of public lands, as a stepping stone of the U.N.'s Agenda 21 social-engineering program.

Defend Rural America has organized a lot of information regarding this issue and its implications to residents of California, but this threat extends to all Americans.  The red areas on the following map are zones in which people are to be essentially locked out per Agenda 21 and the "environmental" movement.  The largest swath of closed land encompasses the Sierra Nevada mountain range:

Agenda 21 Map of California and Nevada
Now look at the following map of the proposed frog & toad "critical habitat" and how nicely it matches the biggest chunk of Agenda 21 land in California shown in the above map:

The frogs' proposed "Critical Habitat" encompasses the entire Sierra Nevada mountain range
It's not just a few "deranged crackpots" who are worried about this very real threat to America.  As the government strips more and more liberty from the citizens they're supposed to serve, resistance continues to build and people are speaking up on Internet forums and in newspaper editorials.  This is really a case of Big Government versus the little guy.  Very few city dwellers are aware of this growing problem, but the rural citizens who make up the vast majority of the State are reaching their limit of tolerance for the federal government's land (mis)management policies and are calling for more local input because they're stuck dealing with government intrusion on a daily basis.

Thankfully, rural communities are finally organizing and responding to this federal government nuisance.  For instance, in this video El Dorado County Sheriff John D'Agostini speaks up against this proposed takeover of his county and the lives of the people he's been elected to serve and protect:

U.S. Congressman Tom McClintock is one of the few Congressmen left who actually serves as a representative of his constituents.  He gave a speech entitled The Real Endangered Species: The Sierra Nevada Hard Working Family was delivered on the House floor and aired on C-SPAN:

If the residents of and visitors to the frog's habitat were actually responsible for the decline in population, then perhaps it could be argued that we need to further regulate human activities in the forest (that is, if we decide that it is right to place the needs of the frogs ahead of the needs of humans).  In this case, however, the population decline is predominantly due to an African frog fungus that was inadvertently introduced long ago, not from today's recreational activities.  It's also not just these 3 species of Sierra Nevada amphibians that have been impacted, but over 400 species all around the world.  So why the big sudden push to throw the public out of the Sierra Nevada mountains?

The future of outdoor recreation in America?
Because this debate isn't about science or indisputable facts: the self-proclaimed "environmentalists" are clearly using the declining frog and toad population as the "crisis du jour" to advance their anti-human agenda, just as they've done countless times with the spotted owl, the sage grouse, global warming, global cooling, lead bullet bans, the milk vetch, dust, erosion, the Keystone pipeline, etc.  They use every tool in the drawer to force the government to erect gates and post signs closing the public lands that our tax dollars have paid to manage as "Land of Many Uses."  Ironically, it's the true environmentalists - the citizens who live, work, and recreate in nature - who are being punished with this "environmental" agenda.

If you enjoy being able to access Mother Nature, you should be very afraid of the U.N.'s Agenda 21 and the anti-access faux-environmentalists.  Please help fight to keep public lands open to the public!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Ruined the Forest Service?

Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt, 1907
The Forest Service has a long history and a noble beginning.  Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the United States Forest Service, used the simple and proven laws of economics within the free market economy to develop a self-sustaining system.  Using proven scientific methods of forest management, and backed up by the natural managerial interest in long-term profitability, Pinchot oversaw a long, successful means of sustainable management.

With every system comes critics, and in this case environmentalists wanted less "commercialization" of our natural resources.  Nobody wants to see our forest lands turned into an industrial wasteland, but Pinchot's system ensured it was in our public's and our national resources' best interests to be sustainably utilized.  This was further ensured by 1960's Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act, which more specifically mandated equal protection for our renewable resources of timber, range, water, recreation and wildlife for the maximum benefit of people and the environment.

Then something different happened, and as anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with the Forest Service in the last few decades can tell you, the agency has become the poster child for bureaucracy, ineffectiveness, waste, incompetence, and mismanagement.  One may reasonably argue that this describes every government agency, but the Forest Service is a special example.  The U.S. Forest Service has suffered the fate of a horribly misguided social experiment.

Christpher Burchfield's book The Tinder Box: How Politically Correct Ideology Destroyed the U.S. Forest Service details how the U.S. Forest Service was destroyed by a socialist experiment in human resource management instituted in 1981.

Available from Amazon
Read the book's eye-opening reviews on Amazon, many of which are written by former and current Forest Service employees.  Or read the thorough review by Don Amador, a trusted OHV recreation and management consultant:

Jeep Wrangler Copper Crawler

SEMA always has countless outrageous show vehicles that, more often than not, are completely over-accessorized.  As a result, a more realistic, more restrained show vehicle such as Mopar's Jeep Wrangler Copper Crawler really stands out from the crowd.

Autoblog reports favorably on the Copper Crawler, and includes a number of good photos from the SEMA show floor.

AEV on the Rubicon Trail

American Expedition Vehicles tests their vehicles and offroad components on a wide variety of terrain.  They're based in Michigan and Montana, but that doesn't stop them from traveling to far corners of our country on super-fun "research and development" trips.

The following videos were produced by an AEV customer who joined them on a Rubicon Trail run.  You can watch a full complement of AEV Jeep Wranglers, including the Brute Double Cab, make easy work of the world's most famous 4x4 trail:

Upcoming Jeep Models Include a Baby Wrangler?

News about Jeep's new-product schedule continues to leak out.  Fiat/Chrysler have ambitious plans for the Jeep brand, with a big focus on increasing European sales.  Unfortunately, it seems that plans are to continue offering more street-oriented, Jeep-branded AWD cars rather than heavy-duty, truck-based SUVs that emphasize offroad performance.

Of note to readers of this blog are continued reports that the Wrangler will be redesigned for the 2016 model year; a pickup truck variant of the Wrangler continues to be a possibility, and a diesel and a new 8-speed automatic transmission are planned.  Let's hope and pray that a proper 3-pedal manual transmission is still offered, not to mention the requisite front and rear solid axles and low-range transfer case.  From Automotive News:
Jeep will re-engineer the Wrangler, probably for 2016. Its styling likely will change little, but the Wrangler will get Chrysler's eight-speed transmission and an optional diesel engine. It will also shed pounds. A Wrangler-based pickup is being considered if production capacity can be found.
Other news includes a "baby Wrangler" that will be built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X.  As the Wrangler has continued to grow larger over the years, the demand for a smaller, more fuel-efficient 4x4 has grown.  As much as I would love to see a "baby Wrangler" that's close in size and offroad capability to a Jeep CJ or Suzuki Samurai, I'm begrudgingly willing to bet that the Italian connection (and our federal government's incessant meddling in the automotive industry) will result in a Wrangler-looking faux-by-four with an independent suspension setup based on the aforementioned Fiat.  From AutoGuide:
The new vehicles will be designed primarily for regular road use with better ride comfort – a tall change from Jeep’s traditional of rugged, off-road vehicles. The new subcompact crossover will be built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X and the American automaker plans to take advantage of the booming crossover market by selling around 150,000 units annually worldwide. Its styling will be similar to a baby Wrangler and will appear in North American dealerships next year.
It sounds like there's still some hope that the Wrangler may retain the heavy-duty features that make a Wrangler a Wrangler.  Unfortunately, there's little indication that any other future vehicle that wears the Jeep badge will ever be true to the brand's heritage.

Family Four-Wheeling

Ask the so-called "environmentalists" what off-roading means, and they'll paint a pretty ugly picture.  This false image is backed up by anyone who's watched a TV program on "extreme sports" and seen sanctioned offroad competitions held on private property.  People who do not partake in four-wheeling generally have little to no clue what Jeeping is all about.
". . . you just can’t beat enjoying the natural world around you."
Jeff Haley has written a great little article on OutdoorX4 that perfectly explains what off-roading means to the vast majority of people who actually partake in the sport.  He gives a good accounting of what to expect for newbie families just starting off in this family-oriented sport, so that everyone can have fun and stay safe.

The primary reason most OHV users get into motorized recreation in the first place is out of their love for exploring Mother Nature.  None of us want to see the environment damaged, and nobody wants to see the anti-access groups succeed in getting the public locked out of public lands.  This article provides some sound advice for parents who want to get their children on the right track early in life:
"You may also want to teach your family about a certain aspect of conservation of the environment and the resources that you are enjoying to make this not only an enjoyable experience but also a respectful one."
This is a don't-miss article that's well worth the read.  Keep public lands open to the public!

Teraflex Trail Review: The Rubicon Trail

Teraflex attended the 2013 Jeepers Jamboree on the Rubicon Trail and produced a terrific video that really exemplifies what makes the Rubicon Trail (and offroading in general) such a wonderful experience.  This video documents this year's Rubicon trip, interviews old-timer Mark A. Smith to get some background on this event's 6-decade-long tradition, and shines the spotlight on the fact that we all must join together to fight against the anti-access faux-environmentalist groups to keep this (and all other) public land open to the public.  If you watch one video on the Rubicon Trail, make it this one:

Jeep Wrangler Wins 2013 SEMA Hottest 4x4 SUV Award

Every year since its inception, the Jeep Wrangler has been awarded the SEMA Award for Hottest 4x4-SUV.  2013 marks the 4th year in a row, and there isn't any sign that the Wrangler's popularity with its owners and the aftermarket is waning.

To read about last year's win, click here.  You can watch SEMA's video announcing the Wrangler's win for 2013 below:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Warn Brute Jeep Project Vehicle

Warn has always been a leader in top-of-the-line offroad accessories for a full range of vehicles.  Their project vehicles not only exhibit, but also demonstrate the strength and durability of their parts, since these vehicles go on to see real-world use and abuse.  Their latest vehicle has pushed the envelope even further than usual, since they decided to build the ultimate Jeep Wrangler JK: an AEV Brute Double Cab.

Warn's 2013 Brute, before aftermarket upgrades
I've written about the turnkey high-end Brute Double Cab from American Expedition Vehicles before, but Warn decided to go their own path, by starting with a basic "bone stock" Brute and build theirs up from there using a broad selection of parts from across the aftermarket.  The folks at Warn must have good taste, because they used many of the same top-of-the-line parts I have on my own Wrangler, including the Warn Stubby Rockcrawler Bumper and Reid Racing Highsteer Steering Knuckles.  They chose to equip their Brute with a Warn Zeon 10-S Winch, which based on my own experience with the Warn M8000-S Winch on my own Jeep, is more than enough to pull their Brute out of any sticky situation.

Reid Racing's JK steering knuckles during the front axle's assembly

The finished vehicle was shown at the 2013 SEMA show, but not after Warn had a chance to test it out on the trails.  They produced this short video preview of what to expect from Warn's latest and best-yet company vehicle:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Could the New Wrangler be Emasculated with Independent Suspension?

2008 Jeep Renegade Concept - an independent suspension Wrangler?

Automotive News has rocked the 4x4 industry with a brief article in which they provided clues to the future (2016?) revision of the Jeep Wrangler.  They interviewed Mike Manley, the Jeep brand's head honcho, and he provided no guarantee that the next-generation Wrangler would still be equipped with the coveted solid-axle drivetrain.  The Jeep world has been turned on its head with this possibility.

Simply put, a Jeep Wrangler without a proper pair of solid axles is sacriligious.

With the exception of the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen, every other dual-solid-axle 4x4 has been abandoned by its manufacturer in the United States.  While marketing folks will attribute this sad trend to the quest for a smoother ride and better handling on-road, everyone knows that the Wrangler's popularity is due to the fact that it has always bucked this trend.  Jeep understands this fact better than anyone after having sold 194,142 Wranglers in 2012, set an all-time sales record in 2012, and based on an 11% rise in sales through September, 2013, they're projected to sell roughly 220,000 Wranglers in 2013.  Earlier this year they celebrated the production of the 1,000,000th JK Wrangler.  Clearly, there are a staggering number of people who don't want a sissy faux-by-four:

2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition - a real Jeep

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jeep Music Video - Lee How "High Roller"

Well here's something you don't see every day: a music video in which a group of lifted Jeep Wranglers are the stars.  I've never heard of Lee How before and this is certainly not my kind of music, but overall it's not a bad video.  It's a refreshing change from the stereotypical urban rap.

BlueRibbon Coalition Commercial

BlueRibbon Coalition has created the above commercial advertising their efforts to preserve recreational opportunities and access to the Great Outdoors with their fight to keep public lands open to the public.  They represent ALL forms of responsible outdoors recreation: 4x4 exploration, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, snowmobiling, hang-gliding, motorcycling, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, canoeing, and all others.

If you haven't yet joined their organization or donated to their cause, you really ought to consider doing so - they're working every day to fight the efforts of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and all other anti-access faux-environmentalist groups to lock you out of your public lands.  BRC is the most powerful pro-access environmental organization in the world, and they need your help to keep public lands open to the public!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jeep Wrangler JK vs. Nissan Patrol GU

The Nissan Patrol, like the Toyota Land Cruiser, Suzuki Samurai/Jimny, and Land Rover Series/Defender are known around the world for being the toughest and most capable 4x4s available to the Average Joe.  Jeeps have traditionally been top of the heap in America, but with so few of them exported to other countries, there have not been many direct comparisons against foreign benchmarks.

Until now.  With the introduction of the JK-series Jeep Wrangler, many more have been sold overseas than any other model Jeep.  And since Fiat's purchase of Chrysler Corporation a few years ago, the JK's exports have grown substantially as Fiat works to make Jeep a global brand.  The Jeep brand - and the Jeep Wrangler in particular - is finally getting a chance to prove itself in places and against vehicles it's never before faced.

The following videos were produced by some Australians who have had fun putting a new Jeep Wrangler JK with a mild 2.5-inch American Expedition Vehicles suspension lift and 33-inch tires up against some Nissan Patrol GUs in real-world trails and obstacles.  The differences in offroad ability are substantial - and note that this Jeep is a Sport model, not the high-zoot Rubicon edition with the additional offroad equipment that further sets the Wrangler ahead of its peers.

Jeep Turns 72 Years Old Today

In honor of the Jeep's 72nd birthday, Yahoo Autos published a historical article on the Jeep's history entitled August 1: The Jeep was born on this date in 1941.

The following video shows some of the Jeep's promotional footage from the 1940's:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jeep is America's Most Patriotic Brand

Since today is Independence Day and American pride is in the air, it's only appropriate that I take this opportunity to share a recent article by USA Today covering the 25 Most Patriotic American Brands.

In a survey conducted by the branding research firm Brand Keys, the Jeep brand tops the list of most 'patriotic' brands, beating Coca-Cola, Levi's, Disney, and Harley-Davidson.  From the article:
"As marketers traditionally operate on the Independence Day theory that a patriotic, flag-waving call-to-emotion will motivate consumers to behave more positively toward their brands, we wanted to see which brands actually led when it came to that particular value," says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys.
Jeep has a model named Patriot, but when most people think of patriotic Jeeps, the Wrangler is what usually comes to mind:

Spice Up Your Summer with Off-Roading

Portland, Oregon's KATU media outlet has an outdoors adventure and exploration section of their website in which they explore a variety of topics.  Part of their "Spice Up Your Summer" series covers the offroading opportunities in the Tillamook State Forest.  The reporter rode along with Andy Lilienthal and Chad Schroll from Warn Industries, an Oregon company that makes the world's best electric winches - recall that I chose the Warn M8000-S winch for my own Jeep.  The reporter wrote about the sport from a beginner's perspective since this series of reports is intended to draw new people into the sport.

I was pleased to read how much good information on trail responsibility was included in the report.  This goes a long way toward debunking the myths that the anti-access folks perpetuate about OHV users tearing up the land and being poor stewards of the forest. A quote from Andy in the article:
"It's not just pedal to the metal, 'yee haw!' kind of stuff.  There are a lot of stereotypes, but the vast majority of people that are into this are courteous, respectful, they clean up after themselves and they realize that you stay on the trail - you leave minimal impact. We look at it as a way to get out to nature and see these places that are amazing."
The article even discusses the Tread Lightly rules of outdoor recreation - kudos to the reporter for writing an educational article instead of just a "fluff piece!"  Of course, the readers' comments at the end of the article include a number of ill-informed critics' malarkey, but anytime OHV access is discussed, the faux-environmentalists come out of the woodwork to disparage this form of recreation.

At any rate, this is a great article that's well worth reading.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jeep Wrangler: The Official Vehicle of Summer

Jeep has produced the above 1-minute commercial proclaiming the Wrangler to be The Official Vehicle of Summer.  The entire video is shot on location on the Rubicon Trail, clearly demonstrating why the Wrangler is the ultimate summer vehicle - there is no more fun road on Planet Earth than the Rubicon Trail.

What's so significant about the Rubicon?  Why does Jeep go to the effort to test all their Trail Rated models on the Rubicon before releasing them to the public?  Why does Jeep name their top-of-the-line, most offroad-capable model ever the Rubicon after this trail?  Is the Rubicon Trail really that significant?

Yes it is.  There's a lot more to the Rubicon than most people know, and it is a fascinating history.  You can own the world's most definitive coffee table book written by historian and Rubicon property owner Rick Morris: Rubicon Springs and the Rubicon Trail: a history

I first met Rick and his father at Rubicon Springs at the 60th Annual Jeepers Jamboree.  Getting to hear directly from the two of them tales about the Springs, the Trail, the constant access battles with our government land (mis)managers, and the geologic prehistory of this national treasure was fascinating.  I had to own this book, and I have very much enjoyed reading it and studying the countless old photos.

If you plan to drive the Rubicon Trail for the first time, I highly recommend going with a group - this trail is not just a day-trip for the novice.  Even with a group, I advise you to pick up the 4-Wheeler's Guide to the Rubicon Trail.  It provides obstacle-by-obstacle information on the trail so even newbies know exactly what to expect at every turn, which will help you get the most from your adventure.