Nestled amidst the red rocks and canyons of Sedona, Arizona sits a small building flanked by shiny Jeeps. What could be easily mistaken for a simple Jeep rental service is actually a comprehensive off-roading resource known as Barlow Adventures. Founded by Nena Barlow, her eponimously named company does rent Jeeps, but they also provide guided trips in Sedona, Moab, and on the Rubicon trail, as well as provide off-road driving instruction. Certified by the International 4wd Trainer Association, Nena and her team of highly skilled instructors provide clients with a fun and comprehensive overview of driving and recovery techniques.
Call it a field-trip, playing hooky, or a good old boondoggle, the Expedition Portal team traveled to Sedona to take one of Nena’s courses, and despite our many years of driving on dirt, we all walked away having learned, or relearned, several important aspects of safe and effective off-road driving.
A typical course at Barlow Adventures is often a one-on-one scenario, although we decided to gang up on Nena and her trainer Pete. The two of them have an infectious love of off-roading, something that they’re quick to refer to as “Jeeping,” especially as two Land Rovers rolled into her lot. After a round of coffee and a few introductions, we set to business and took time to review the day’s agenda.
Their training starts as all good training should, with step one: How to plan for a day on the trail. Pete walked us through their version of the basics which centers around where to go, what to bring, and the other smart details all off-roaders should know. We then went through some basics, taking the opportunity to learn to plug a tire before hitting the trails just west of town.
Once out on course, we reintroduced ourselves to the importance of the little things like how to hold the wheel, what posture in the driver’s seat is ideal for all-day driving, and even how to best place a foot on the accelerator. We quickly moved onto proper tire pressure, wheel placement, line choice, and all of the seemingly insignificant details that comprise proper driving techniques.
As the monsoon clouds gathered overhead we returned to the Barlow Adventures main office to review the principles required for safe and effective winching and recovery. All of this taking place with the beautiful views of Sedona all around us.
For many overlanders, myself included, driving skills are just accrued through experience, but that often leaves gaps in what should be base skill sets. Even a short day of what might seem like rudimentary training can produce insight into ways to improve the experience. As an added bonus, it was a fun way to spend a day in a beautiful setting.
To learn more about Barlow Adventures and to sign up for rentals, trips, or instruction, visit: Barlow Adventures