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Creature Comforts for Winter Wheeling

When you’re winterizing your 4×4 for snow camping and extended journeys there are usual suspects like traction tires, chains and antifreeze to combat cold weather. Before the holiday crunch closes in it’s a good idea to take care of these truck and Jeep parts and accessories you’ll need for the long winter months. There are also out of the way items that may seem like afterthoughts, but can go a long way in the battle against frigid winter cold. Here are five of them that can make a difference whether you’re out on the trail or going for your daily drive.

Floor Mats

Winter weather usually has its way with floor mats – temperatures fluctuating greatly from sub-zero to toasty warm can harden and crack hapless mats. Enter WeatherTech’s All-Weather Floor Mats, featuring specially engineered resin with sculpted contours to trap seasonal snow, ice, slush and mud. The customizable rear mats can be trimmed to fit nearly any rig and the accessories come with a 3-year guarantee against defects in materials or workmanship.

Mats tend to have a problem staying put and WeatherTech’s anti-skid ridges stop them from shifting on the floor. They retain their form without coiling in cold climes and sport an anti-stick finish to shield them from undesirable elements. The finish makes cleaning these mats quick and effortless and they come in tan, grey or black to match any interior color.

Seat Covers

smittybilt-gear-seatcoversSeat covers make great companion pieces to floor mats and help protect in the wintertime when more mud, hot beverage spills and transporting of seasonal equipment takes its toll on vehicle seats. Smittybilt seat covers include its G.E.A.R. line, XRCs and Neoprene, a synthetic rubber that maintains flexibility across a wide temperature range.

The G.E.A.R. line of seat covers sports pockets and storage compartments galore to hold gloves, hats and assorted winter gear and supplies. XRC seat covers were recently made available for CJs and YJs and they combine comfort with durability to protect seats. Breathable Neoprene seat covers give an extra layer to shield seats and are custom fit for various Jeep Wranglers.

Wipers and Wiper Blades

Your 4×4’s defrosting abilities and windshield wipers are two of the most vital exterior accessories during the cold months of the year. Rain, snow, sleet, ice and condensation all conspire to obstruct your view. The basic function of windshield wipers is to bead water so it’s easily expelled from the glass surface.

PIAA uses silicone rubber in their wiper blades that coat windows with invisible silicon that goes a long way toward repelling water. Silicon rubber boasts double the durability of conventional rubber and PIAA offers wiper refills on their Super Silicones and Aero Vogues.

Amber Fog Lights

Pro-Comp-Amber-Fog-LightsThe debate over whether amber/yellow fog lights make a difference in misty conditions rages on in the 4×4 community. The wavelengths of amber fog lights are specially designed to filter out the blue part of the color spectrum and make vision easier in challenging conditions. These lights penetrate better than white lights because they don’t reflect off of fog water droplets as easily, cutting down glare.

For winter conditions like flurrying snow and thick fog they should be low mounted and aimed straight ahead or slightly down. Ideally, these lights are aimed in a wide pattern to be most effective.

Batteries

Winter is all about extreme weather and the Odyssey Extreme Series Battery is designed give you peace of mind when you’re wheeling far from civilization. With plates composed of pure virgin lead, they pack double the power and triple the lifespan of ordinary car batteries.

Whether you’re starting your 4×4 in harsh weather conditions or coping with emergency situations, having a reliable battery is a must.

Author David Beran is a copywriter for 4 Wheel Parts.

Portable Solar Panels for Camping

Camping is a lot of fun, but in the 21st century it is hard for many of us to go without our electronic gadgets. We know that the batteries will never last for the whole trip, and we therefore fret about being without our electronic gizmos while we are out in the woods. Luckily, there is a smart solution for this problem. You can enjoy all of your electronic devices for the duration of your trip when you bring along portable solar panels for camping.

Take Power with You Anywhere

One of the best things about portable solar panels is that you can take them with your anywhere. Because they are so lightweight and portable, you can hike with them deep into the backcountry. You can set up your campsite with all the electronic gadgets you need for your camping trip.

For example, most of us use digital cameras to take our photographs these days. The only problem with digital cameras is that the batteries can run out quickly. Instead of having to buy a whole bunch of batteries to take with you on your camping trip, you can make the much more environmentally responsible choice of using portable solar panels to recharge your batteries.

Another way you can use them is to charge your GPS device. A GPS device is very handy to have with you when you are camping. You will never have to worry about getting lost when you have GPS guidance to help you navigate your way through the wilderness. When you bring along a portable solar panel to charge your GPS device, you never have to worry about it running out of power while you are deep in the woods.

The Eco-Friendly Choice

One of the most common ways people keep their electronic devices running when they are out in the woods is to bring along a lot of spare batteries. This is not the environmentally sound decision. The manufacturing of batteries is not the most eco-friendly process, and they are a nightmare to throw away due to their toxicity.

Instead of adding to the waste that is clogging our landfills, you should make the eco-conscious choice to charge your devices with solar panels when you are camping. This will allow you to only bring one battery along for every electronic device you bring with you. It will save you the hassle of packing a ton of batteries, and it will ease your conscience by allowing you to make the environmentally friendly decision.

Harness the Power of the Sun

Using the sun to power your devices is the smartest decision you can make. It is good for the environment, and it assures you that you will always have all the power you need while you are out in the woods. Whether you want to charge your phone, GPS device or portable DVD player, you can get all the energy you need with portable solar panels for camping. They are the smart choice for campers everywhere.

Author Andrew Womble writes for RealSmart.co.au. You can find him on Google+

The Best Hiking Trails in Europe

For those with an adventurous spirit, hiking can be a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful landscapes, scenery and beauty of the world around you, whether traveling in a foreign country or exploring your own. While hiking on mountains with a vast view of the ground below, or on beaches, deserts or beautiful countryside’s, it is easy to lose yourself in the beauty of the present moment. Anyone who loves hiking should visit some of the best trails in Europe; its diverse climate, history, ecological life and landscapes make it perfect for those of any preference. Anyone interested should check out these amazing European hiking trails.

The Pindos/Vikos Circuit: Northern Greece

By Bogdan Giuşcă

By Bogdan Giuşcă

Located in northern Greece, the Pindos mountain range offers incredible sights for even the pickiest hiker. The Pindos/Vikos circuit allows hikers to experience the beauty of historical stone villages, which are perched along the sides of the mountain range, as well as the unique and beautiful ecological life found in northern Greece and Albania. Anyone looking to complete this circuit in its entirety should be aware of its 58 kilometre length, making it up to a seven day hike for avid hikers.

Additionally, outside of the main trail one can find a variety of smaller shepherd’s trails that offer stunning views of the sprawling mountain range.

Hadrian’s Wall Path: Northern England

hadrians_wall_mapHadrian’s Wall is rich with history and stretches close to 76 miles from start to finish. Designed by Roman emperor, Hadrian, this wall was an effort to retreat and consolidate forces by creating a powerful permanent 14-foot high boundary to deter the near constant attack from the barbarians from the north. While most choose to not hike the entire trail, there are a variety of paths that are exceptionally beautiful which traverse volcanic rock ridges as well as the scenic moorland and lakes.

For anyone planning a trip to this region, the most attractive and historically rich paths can be found between Cilurnum and Walton.

Monte Rosa Circuit: Switzerland

By Wikipedia user Ingiro

By Wikipedia user Ingiro

Anyone who loves the climate and beautiful mounts of the Alps will thoroughly enjoy this high altitude and strenuous hike. This hike boasts beautiful mountain and valley views along with distinct ecological life that varies by altitude. The entire circuit should only be attempted by the most skilled hikers as it is nearly a two-week hike; luckily, there are a variety of portions accessible by car for anyone but the most dedicated hikers.

The Great Volcanic Ridge: La Palma, Spain

By  Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

By Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

This hike takes one through the scenic La Palma, a volcanic mountain island, in Spain. The beauty of this hike comes from the extreme effects that local volcanic eruptions have caused over time, creating unique plants, rock formations, craters and outcrops. This hike has no designated length, so one can visit more prominent and unique areas quickly, making it great for the preferences of anyone

All of these hikes are a fantastic way to get out and view the beautiful and historic landscape of some of the most fascinating countries in Europe; however, before choosing any one trail, be certain to prepare the proper equipment and hiking gear in order to ensure an enjoyable and safe time. When you go on hiking holidays, make sure you take the right footwear and comfortable clothing!

Author James Richings is a 25 year old traveller from the UK who writes for directline-holidays.co.uk. Follow him on twitter @richings_james.

The Best Places in Britain for MTB Enthusiasts

Do you love mountain biking? Do you love camping? Why not combine the two? If you have a passion for both activities then you look set to find this guide a helpful hand on your way to enjoyment in the outdoors! A day on the trails followed by a good old knees up by a campfire and a bit of grub sounds great….sounds like paradise.

Editor’s note: This post is so appropriate considering our recent article on Thomas Hiram Holding who pioneered the camping movement in England and was particularly fond of bicycle / camping adventures.

This guide will help you find mountain bike destinations that are surrounded by great campsites. The detailed guides of each MTB site should help you decide which is for you; after that, finding a campsite is easy!

Dalby Forest

By ShareMyRoutes.com

By ShareMyRoutes.com

Dalby Forest, Yorkshire is home to the 2010 XC Course of extreme difficulty, only to be taken on by highly experienced riders! Followed up by a large range of extreme and hard trails, the forest tests your ability to hover off the brakes when spinning corners. With lots of beginner trails, Dalby Forest is a good choice if you want somewhere where all members of a mixed ability group can take part. The centre also boasts a nice bike park with jumps and a pump track. The Forest is home to plenty of camp sites which welcome cyclists. The majority of campsites are close to the bike park!

Cannock Chase

By Wiki Commons

By Wiki Commons

Cannon Chase offers an array of difficulties for you to try your MTB skills on. Starting with novice courses, then up to the more testing trails; “Monkey” and “Follow the Dog”, the latter is a complicated one-track ride which includes technical trail features. Maintained and built by volunteer group “Chase Trails”. For those with advanced skills, there is the option of the Stile Corp Bike Park placed just a short journey away from the main centre. Made up of black grade components, this ride has been given an “extreme” difficulty that only the best can achieve! Cannock Chases campsite which is mainly viewed as a good destination for MTB riders is great for couples and families looking to go riding!

The Forest Of Dean

By UK Forestry Commission

By UK Forestry Commission

The Forest of Dean provides a large range of trails for the more gifted rider, all the way down to beginners. There is a centre which sells and rents mountain bike wear and equipment for you to use. To the rear of the centre can be found a myriad of single tracks hidden in the trees. Interwoven with these tracks are the Verderer’s and brilliant Freeminers Trail. There are also challenging downhill trails for expert riders, certainly not for the novice. If you would like to travel further away then there are miles of natural track running across the large forest expanse with amazing views of the Severn River as it makes its way to the sea. Camping at the Forest Of Dean is not hard to find with the two main campsites being within a short distance of the cycling centre. Both Bracelands and Christchurch Campsites provide you with more than adequate pitches and are within touching distance of the forest itself.

Afan Park

In the Brecon Beacons is the relatively new Afan Park, formerly a mining area, the area has now been changed into a site for mountain bike enthusiasts. The park has an array of trails for novice’s right up to more serious riders. There is a trail for everyone; starting at the Rookie Trail all the way up to the gargantuan Skyline Trail measuring in at a huge 46km. There are six main trails so there is lots to be getting on with while you get there; with camping available you can make a real weekend of it! The Park offers on site camping at a competitive rate of £3.30 per person per night. There are facilities on site which can be easily accessed, including hot showers and toilets.

Bike Park Wales

Placed in the South Wales Valleys, this centre is full of brilliant natural features and terrain. An exciting MTB centre for all riders, the park has a big array of trails ranging from twisting, slow descents suitable for all levels of mountain biker all the way to extreme downhill trails with massive jumps, drops and technical features to challenge the gifted and talented. Just 5 miles away from the park is Garwen Camp site which accommodates for campers very nicely. The family run site is used to putting up cyclists and watching them cycle off to the park for a good days riding!

Author Rory Owen writes at http://www.TGStore.eu/blog.
Be sure to checkout his articles and the TG Store MTB gear.

Two Footwear Overheating Solutions for Cross Terrain Hiking

A guest post by Mike Smith from Hi-Tec UK.
Specialists in walking boots and tactel socks.

When setting out for a day’s hiking, you are often able to work out which is the right footwear without too much deliberation. As long as the terrain of your planned route doesn’t change too
much, you will only require one pair of hiking socks and one pair of walking shoes. However, some hikes may involve a variety of terrains, from easy walking through grassy fields, to clambering over more challenging rocky ground. Such a situation is more likely to arise if you are going on a hike that is going to take days rather than hours. Of course, a solid pair of walking boots will be able to handle all types of terrain. Yet, if hiking in warm weather, walking boots can cause your feet to overheat. As your feet perspire, it can make walking uncomfortable and even cause soreness. So, what can you do to overcome the problem?

Take Two

The first and perhaps most obvious option, is to take along two pairs of footwear. If you are likely to experience extreme terrain, then it is advisable to take walking boots to provide support to the ankle and sole areas. You could then pack a pair of walking shoes, which can be worn when the trail is less demanding. Of course, there is the weight factor to consider. Taking a pair of sandals can help keep your backpack weight down, whilst being the ideal solution on especially warm days. Be sure to avoid fashion sandals and source out a specially designed model that is suitable for hiking. These sandals should be comfortable, well-cushioned and manufactured from wicking materials to keep your feet dry.

hi_tec_shoes

In instances where you will encounter mid-difficulty terrain, you can further reduce the weight of you pack by taking walking shoes and your sandals; leaving your boots at home. Whichever two footwear models you decide to take, do not overlook the weight issue. Whilst your backpack may seem manageable when you try it on at home; you will soon feel the extra weight once you set off on your hike. Try to shed as much weight form your pack as possible, without leaving yourself short of the essentials.

Midway Approach

hi_tec_tactel_socksIf you don’t like the idea of taking two pairs of footwear, or simply can’t shave enough weight from your pack to make it a viable option, then you could instead opt for taking only walking shoes. This, of course, means that you will have less support around your ankles and soles when you reach the rougher terrain. To counter this, you should be wearing walking socks, which will offer some support to these areas.

In addition, you could also take along a pair of insoles, which can be added into the walking shoes as required for additional cushioning. Just remember to adjust your laces accordingly to make a little extra room for the insoles, or you may end up making your feet sore. Whilst the insoles will add a little weight to your pack, it is only minimal. In terms of the overheating issue, you could try a strong antiperspirant, such as Dove or Rexona. Just remember to get a little one can so that you can squeeze it into your backpack without losing too much room.