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Tom Severin's Bubba Rope Tips

Let someone know where you will be and when you expect to return. This applies to all trips, not just those in challenging areas. People have been known to get stuck or lost in relatively easy terrain. Should something happen and you’re unable to leave the area or call for help, your friends or family will know to contact authorities.

Always have at least one other vehicle along. This ensures that you will have transportation out in the event your vehicle becomes stuck or damaged and can’t be fixed there. Plus, the extra vehicle means additional manpower to help with problems.

Pack survival gear. Even a Sunday drive on the beach can turn sour. Pack the proper gear to get you through the night and to handle medical emergencies that may occur.

Tie everything down inside. Your gear will go flying if you roll over or lay the vehicle on its side. Loose items become missiles which can injure and kill anyone inside.

Everyone wears a seatbelt! You and your passengers will get jostled around quite a bit on many of the trails. Plus, the possibility for a rollover or crash exists at any time. The big rock you suddenly hit could cause you or your passengers to go flying out a window. Make sure everyone is belted in.

Arms and legs must remain inside. Many trails run through narrow passageways. Arms or legs hanging outside can get torn off by trees, cliff walls, or rocks just outside your vehicle. If the vehicle begins to tip your instinct is to put your hand out. There is no way you will be able to stop a vehicle this way. Roll your windows up if you can’t control the urge. 
Also, make sure no one holds onto the roll bar. Their fingers will get smashed in the event of a roll over. Hands can also be injured if you drive under low-hanging branches.

Quit if you become tired. Four-wheeling requires the utmost concentration. Any letdown can lead to an accident and perhaps death. If you feel fatigued at all, pull over and rest, or let someone else drive. Do not force it.

Lock it down. When driving off-road, you are seldom on level ground. Make sure your vehicle will not roll away from you. When you stop, put the vehicle in park, apply the emergency brake, and turn off the engine.

Do not hang on a vehicle. If the vehicle gets stuck in a precarious position, do not try to pull it down or otherwise tip it by hand. And absolutely do not climb on the vehicle. Use the proper tools and techniques, and always be a safe distance away. A vehicle can and will crush you if given the chance.

Treat winches, ropes and high-lift straps with respect. The straps, clevises, and other pieces are under extreme tension when in use. Inspect all parts before using, and stand clear while you are trying to recover a vehicle. A failure in gear or rigging can be lethal to you and by- standers.

Why your spouse should learn to drive. If something happens to you, your wife could drive out. Chances are, the training course will teach her how to overcome most of the challenges she’ll face on trails. Even if you’re out cold, she should be able to drive you out or at least get you to an extraction point.

Learning to drive off-road entails mastering new skills. It involves unusual terrain, special driving techniques, and different equipment—like standard transmissions. Experiencing all these while under the watchful guidance of a trained instructor builds confidence.

Take a course from a trained instructor. Off-road skills are put to use in the city during bad weather, such as a snowstorm or heavy rain. In aftermath of an earthquake or tornado, there could be sinkholes or debris in the roadway. Drivers need to negotiate around those obstacles. That’s standard procedure in four wheeling. Someone who has taken a 4WD course is better able to handle these difficult stressful situations.

Why your spouse should learn to drive. The best spotters are also good drivers. Having gone through a 4WD course, your wife will be able to read the trail as well as you, providing you a valuable second set of eyes. Downside—If your wife starts to enjoy off-road driving, you may end up the spotter. But that’s OK, right? On the other hand, your wife may still just want to sit and enjoy the ride. Encourage her to get behind the wheel on occasion to keep her skills sharp. One more catch: You may end up buying another 4 wheel drive vehicle just for her!

Always have an extra driver to spell you. Driving off-road, as you know, is very demanding. Fatigue can set in after just a few hours. It’s comforting to know that a skilled driver can take over if needed.

Why your spouse should learn to drive. Fishing buddies are great, but you can’t beat having your spouse along. You experience the adventure together, share great memories, and really bond while outdoors.