The Explorer

The Second Issue

ADVENTURE              CAMP             GEAR             LIFESTYLE

"Stage zero" getting your vehicle adventure ready

by: Steve Hagopian

For many, the appeal of Overlanding involves researching and adding accessories and gear to your vehicle, allowing you to get further off the beaten path while making your campsite experience that much more comfortable.  A simple online web search using your vehicle make & model, and the term “overland build”, will reveal several examples of great accessory ideas.


However, before you get started with your wish list of add-on’s that are sure to generate interest and questions from your neighbors, friends, and folks at the gas station, be sure to tackle the most important aspect of your Overland vehicle, RELIABILITY.   The more confident you are with the reliability of your rig, the deeper into the wilderness you will be motivated (and confident) to explore.   It’s one thing to have upgraded wheels, tires, suspension, and the latest wiz-bang roof top tent, but if you can’t reliably get to your destination, then what’s the point?


Many vehicles used for Overlanding are not new, may be out of warranty, and frequently have 100,000+ miles (160,000 km’s) on them.  Most vehicle brand’s selected for Overlanding have a reputation for reliability and durability, here’s looking at you Jeep JK’s, Toyota 4Runner’s & Tacoma’s, Land Rovers, and everything in between.   Regardless of a brand’s reputation, diligent maintenance is a must to ensure you get another 100,000+ more miles of enjoyment!

Some of the basic areas of maintenance to confirm before your next adventure are:

-Tread depth and age of your tires

  • Just because there’s lots of tread left, doesn’t mean it will be a reliable tire.  Try to keep the age of your tires to 4 years or less.  Fresh rubber always works better than old dry-rotted tires that a prone to cracking and all-around poor grip.  Most tires have a 4 digit date code on the sidewall.  The first 2 digits indicate the week, while the second 2 digits indicate the year. For example:  1317 (13th week of ’17)


  • Pad thickness

  • Rotor thickness (and not warped)

  • Properly adjusted parking brake

  • Brake Fluid (should be flushed every 2 years, regardless of mileage)


  • Oil - check level and change more frequently vehicles that pull a trailer, and/or see off-road use

  • Coolant – check level and change per vehicle manufacturer specs

  • Transmission – check level (if applicable) and change even if it is so-called “lifetime” transmission fluid

  • Brake Fluid – check level and should be flushed every 2 years, regardless of mileage


  • Battery connections and health of battery

  • Lighting – check all bulbs and carry spares

  • Always keep a basic tool kit that meets your vehicles needs



So Get Out & Explore with a reliable vehicle that allows you to enjoy more miles of adventure travel, and less time sitting in the garage getting repaired…or worse yet, broken down in the middle of nowhere!

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon

49.88657   -114.52012

Nothing warms the soul like a hot cup of coffee  next to a warm fire on a crisp snowy morning in the mountains.

- Cappy


Traction aids

The camp chair is one of first pieces of kit... oh who am I kidding, let's talk about "traction aids". Most offroaders and overlanders know them has Maxtrax, the world's leading traction aids. But for the budget friendly buyers, there are other products available on the market. I've used the Smittybilt Elements Ramps for a few years now and I am very pleased with them. Traction aids have other uses other than aiding getting out of a sticky situation, they can also be used to level your rig, stacked to create a ramp or as you can see in this picture, to keep your camp chair from sinking in the deep snow and tipping your beer.

scenic map

Map Apps

We often get asked which map app we use for planning and logging our trips. All 3 rigs are equipped with the Scenic Map Western Canada app by GrangerFX on our iPads.  Although the app was $13.99 Cdn to purchase, it included all free maps of the western United States we needed for our Overland Expo West trip we did in 2017. An iPad with 3G compatibility is required to enable the GPS feature but a 3G card is not required. A 3D topo map with coverage of the entire world, the map is streamed directly from Apple's servers and cached on your device for use when there is no cell coverage. Satellite image overlays add breathtaking detail and realism to the maps (tap preset 2 or 4). You can use them as you travel to see what is hidden from view at ground level. This takes moving maps to a whole new level. Your tracks can be replayed with video like controls to speed up, slow down, pause, restart or skip to the end. You can display existing tracks while recording another if you want to retrace your route. When online, you can automatically create a route from your current GPS location to any other point on the map. Tracks can be received from or sent to other apps in GPX format. GPS recording stops automatically after you have remained stationary for some time or you can choose to manually stop tracking by tapping on the top track in the Tracks view.

overland friends

While planning our trip to Overland Expo West in 2017, we reached out on social media for any suggestions on where to camp off grid in the United States. Maurice from Big Sky Overlanding in Montana quickly responded and a plan was in motion. We met Maurice and his wife Peggy in Kalispell where we loaded up with groceries after crossing the border. A 2 hour drive later, Maurice had us camped for the night at his favourite camp spot next to a beautiful lake. The next day, he invited us back to his place and gave our rigs a quick wash before continuing South to the Overland Expo. This truly shows how amazing the Overlanding community is. If you're ever driving through Montana, be sure to connect with Big Sky Overlanding in Missoula.

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • White Instagram Icon

Big sky overlanding

Canadian Jeep Girls Go Topless Day. Saturday May 12, 2018

Carstairs, Alberta. Visit their Facebook page here.

Upcoming Events

410 Expedition Limestone Mountain Campout Weekend

May 25-27, 2018

If you're interested, please email Cappy for details.


new logo concept blk.jpg
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon