Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill. 

Tom Severin

Complicated Issue? - Trail Spacing!

Bunch up when stopping on the trail to take pictures.

Four wheeling, especially when multiple vehicles are involved, requires teamwork to be successful. Everyone must be on the same page for the trip to come off without a hitch—or as flawlessly as possible. Something as basic as vehicle spacing can affect parts of a trip. 

They were strung out in Gohler Gulch wash in California one summer day. It was a large group, some 10 vehicles of various types. At one point the group reached a particularly challenging patch. 

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Tom Severin

Driving Off (road) into the Sunset

Great sunset unless it hinders your visibility.

It was a beautiful day in the San Bernardino Mountains. Clear blue sky, light breeze, warm temperature. A perfect day for four-wheeling on the 2N17X trail. This is a tough one—it’s rated black diamond. We were nearing the end of a long day of four-wheeling. We had encountered a lot of obstacles on this trail, and we were tired. 

At about 4 p.m., we were climbing the final hill. Beyond that was an easy route to the highway, and a relaxing evening at home. This was no run-of-the-mill hill, though. 

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Tom Severin

Resolve To Cook With a Dutch Oven


Just about anything you can cook or bake at home can be offered at the camp site in a Dutch Oven. 

One topic that consistently is of interest to four wheelers is the Dutch oven. No matter how much is written or spoken about this handy camp stove, people just eat up the information. I discussed Dutch ovens rather thoroughly in “Tickle The Taste Buds With a Dutch Oven.” However, that was some time ago. 

The new year is now upon us. With many 4WD folks setting New Year’s resolutions, I decided to add one of my own. Unlike those involving diet and exercise, this resolution is sure to stick. If you’re not already using a Dutch oven, I encourage you to start. They aren’t expensive or difficult to work with. You’ll enjoy learning a new skill—and savoring your dishes at the camp site.


What kind of Dutch oven to buy

Dutch ovens come in many sizes, as measured by base diameter. Start with a 10” or 12”. Make sure it’s made of cast iron—aluminum ones are harder to control the heat —and labeled a camp Dutch oven. A camp-style stove comes with feet and a lid with a rim around the edge. These features are crucial when using charcoal or wood coals. Camp-style ovens generally are bare metal; enameled ovens are designed for home use. 

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Tom Severin

Impressive Base Camp Selection

Base Camp
Very nice level, sheltered camp at 10,000 feet in the pines with lots of room.

Because many 4WD excursions last two days or more, there’s usually the need to select a campsite arrangement. You can elect to go with a base camp, or set up camp at a different location each night (what I call a cruise or a moving camp).

Another option is a hybrid variety. This is handy for really long excursions, say in excess of seven days. Use a base camp for a few days, then a moving camp for other days in your trip.

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Tom Severin

Fire Below!

Skid plate - Aftermath of the skid plate fire that nearly destroyed a Jeep Unlimited.

Jim and his buddy Tim were doing a pre-run on permitted but seldom-used trails in the vicinity of Tonopah, Nev. back in August. They stopped to check the map and both noticed the smell of burning grass. They did a 360 inspection and found nothing. Wildfires blazed in the Sierras, but were too far away to be the source for this odor. They resumed their drive.

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