Planning overlanding trips, vehicle maintenance and upgrades – Winter 2017

Winter is rough time for overlanding in Washington state. Especially in these years when we get a significant snowfall in the mountains. The snowfall depth levels are over 100% of usual across the major passes. Which is big plus for the diminished risk of forest fires this coming summer but is a negative for the likely delayed opening of the PNW National Forests due to minor glaciers covering the roads. It wouldn’t be surprising if it wasn’t until May before some popular wilderness areas are open.

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A good way to put off the craving for exploration is to redirect those energies towards planning future runs, getting some maintenance of my vehicle accomplished and to install upgrades.

Planning Future Runs

Planning and project management becomes useful in this regard, mostly because the longer the run, the more supplies are required to have a fun time without the worry. I’ve been meeting with my usual trail buddies to see what the goals are for the season. Going over how many day runs, overnighters and longer expeditions could realistically become reality for each of us sets expectations and enables a more efficient use of everyone’s time. Personally, I want to push out to further remote areas on multi-day expeditions than my last few years. North Cascade Mountains, WABDR, Nevada, San Diego deserts, Baja Mexico, Eastern Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, British Columbia and so on. Obviously, these would require multiple days of travel, time off work, food-gas-water logistical considerations and robust gear kits. Next steps are to prioritize the runs and to set in stone some dates on the calendar.

Vehicle Maintenance

If you can stand the cold, winter is a great time to get various vehicle maintenance done. I picked up some Carhartt R01 overalls that will help with the cold and be useful if there is some mandatory trail fix in a muddy situation. I’ve upgraded my engine oil and filter to Amsoil. Did a thorough cleaning inside and out. Topped off the fluids. Added a push button on/off switch to the rear USB charger. Checked torque on important bolts. Added my customized parts to my vehicle insurance. Whittled down the weight of the tool, spare parts, and kitchen kits.

Vehicle Upgrades

Warn manual hubs installed, (Warn part # 29091 for 2000-2004 xterra’s)

Unique 297‘s steel wheels installed

D-RUN fog lights installed, bought used from a cool kid in Portland off of NW Overland.

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Upcoming upgrades

Tire carrier and bumper, HARDCOREOFFROAD, waiting on delivery, needs installation

Herculine the sides along the body work curve

HD Tie adjusters, needs installation

Calmini Idler Arm Brace, needs installation

Upgraded Bandit 4×4 idler arm bushings, needs installation

Replace centerlink with Detroit gear and axle centerlink, needs installation

Upgraded MOOG tie rod ends, needs installation

Using the available free time in the off-season to plan runs, perform maintenance, and install upgrades on the vehicle pays off once the season begins since more time will then be available to explore. Soon enough, the snows will recede and the overnight temperatures will stay above freezing; it will be time to hit the trails.

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