Archives for category: SKILLS

Here’s a beautiful video showing how a Damascus steel knife is hand forged. The blade gets folded and hammered flat over 300 times. The sheath is handmade too. Gorgeous video.

I’ll admit I didn’t know there was more than one way to lace up a hiking boot. This video shows techniques for really locking the boot to your ankle to prevent heal chafe, as well as different lacing styles for people with high arches or flat feet.

My feet are slightly different sizes so I love the idea of getting a more custom fit depending on how I lace up. Good stuff.

WCXC on Pinterest

Although I haven’t been so great at keeping on the blog lately (though I will be changing that), I have been good at keeping my Pinterest account up. And through a fluke of nature (which was Pinterest recommending one of my boards to new users), I now have over 20,000 followers. Whoa.

If you like your overland, off-road, camp, and adventure information in bite sized chunks, check out my Pinterest page. I have boards on camping, truck mods, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, Skills, and a bunch of other stuff too.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you’ll probably dig it.

Here are all of the WCXC boards.

And here are all of the pins.

It’s a bit ’80s, but there’s some good stuff here. The video covers pretty much everything: how to cross muddy slopes, ditches, water fording, hills, v-shaped gullies, towing, driving ruts and rocky terrain. All of the sections are done by two Defenders, one doing the right thing, the other the wrong thing.

As an added bonus, the video shows what has been selected in vehicles’ transfer case and transmission via a little Atarti-style graphic.

The other day I posted about enduro riding techniques. This post is all about adventure riding skills. One set of resources is the video viewer above. It contains an entire playlist of 26 videos on adventure motorcycle riding brought to you by Offroad Fanatic, which seems to be the YouTube face of South African driver development school, ADA.

I’ll also add a throttle control tip that I learned from former AMA national champion, Rich Oliver, who runs Mystery School, a training facility in central California. Hold the throttle like you hold a screwdriver. This will give you greater precision and enable you to roll the power on in finer increments. It will also force your elbows out and up, which will give you better control.

All the videos in the above playlist are listed (with links) after the jump. So you can either use the list as a guide and skip through videos in the viewer above or use the links to open the videos individually in new browser windows.

Btw, I spent a couple of days at Mystery School a few years ago and found it well worth it. Read the rest of this entry »


On a recent trip, my friend Greg and I figured out something interesting about driving over bumps. If you preload the suspension by briefly applying the brake right before the bump, and then get on the throttle to power over the bump, it really smooths things out and makes the bump less jarring. Motorcyclists will know this move well.

Briefly braking right before the bump compresses the suspension. This is called “preloading.” Then immediately getting on the throttle, as the front tires go over the bump, shifts the weight towards the back of the truck. This lightens the front end and the front suspension rebounds, helping to lift the front tires over the bump. Moving the weight toward the back also preloads the rear suspension. Keeping the throttle on as the rear tires go over the bump keeps the rear suspension taught. This is what you want, as an unloaded rear suspension would otherwise rebound as the rear tires clear the bump causing and uncomfortable bucking motion.

The above picture oversells it a bit. This doesn’t have to be a wheels-in-the-air maneuver. Just shifting the weight a bit is enough to make a difference.

Give it a try the next time you’re out on the trail and encounter a berm or some other relatively smooth obstacle. I bet you’ll notice a difference.

How to use a fire steel. There’s a bit of art to it…


On our recent trip up to the Snow Mountain Wilderness in the Mendocino National Forest, my friend Greg and I tried a couple of variations of a long fire. Two benefits of a long fire: a) it uses long logs, so it lasts longer, b) you can cook on it by laying the logs close together at one end to support a pan, or by just using a grill grate.

I previously posted about a basic long fire and a standing long fire. We wanted to experiment with an elevated long fire though, since we thought it would throw off more heat than the basic version and be easier to set up than the standing version (since that one requires bracing the upper log). The version above, made with three 8-inch diameter x 5-foot long longs, lasted about 2 hours before it was pretty much done but threw off a ton of heat and burned well.

The version below, made with two 10-inch x 5-foot logs, lasted about 3 hours and was about two-thirds burned through before we added more wood. It was a nice, mellow, long-lasting, low-maintenance fire.

A long fire can be started in two ways. You can start from scratch by filling the length of the gap between the logs with a variety of kindling (from thin to thick). Or you can do as we did by building a more traditional campfire, letting it die down, then spreading the coals in to a long row, then setting your long fire up over the coals. We then put wrist-thick logs into the coals to get the fire going.

One tip: if you flat-spot the ends of the logs before you stack them, you won’t have an issue with burning logs rolling off your campfire as things burn down and inevitably shift.



I found this post on the blog Wandering the Wild, which gives ideas on camping food. This post is geared toward hikers but is also helpful for overlanders interested in no-nonsense provisioning. I like the way they pack everything in space-saving Zip-loc bags as well.

I’ve found dried soups (just add water and heat), canned goods, and single-serving, shelf-stable milk very handy for simple cooking on the trail. Except for cold beers, it’s not that difficult to travel without a cooler.

Food, Wandering the Wild


If you’re into changing your own tires, and gratuitous cleavage, check out this post. It shows how to break the bead or your tire with your Hi-Lift jack and mount your new tires on your wheels.

Home Tire Swap, Jp Magazine