4x4 How important

HowardH

Adventurer
A question for those with experience. Just how necessary is four wheel drive in an expedition camper? How often have you used yours?
 

PhulesAU

Explorer
It depends on where you want to go. Terrain and weather cannot always be planned for, But can be over come with the right gear. it's like the old argument "if you don't have it and need it , nothing else will do" my 2 cents
 

canter tourer

Adventurer
You will be very limited to where you take it without 4x4, whilst most occasions do not require 4x4, the added traction and security of it places less stress on the truck and the nut behind the wheel.

I cannot use mine on my farm without 4x4, as it will not negotiate the hills I have in 2wd, either going up, or down, but especially going down, it's no fun having the back end overtake the front end!
 

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SkiFreak

Expedition Leader
On a slightly different tact... most people that buy or build an expedition camper invest quite a bit of time/money in that vehicle. The added feeling of security of using four wheel drive on a dirt track can not be overlooked. The same could be said for driving on any challenging surface, like mud, snow or sand.
Also, in Australia there are quite a few roads/tracks that are designated as 4x4 only, so not having 4x4 can limit where you can go.

Personally, I see 4x4 in an expedition camper as a mechanism to get you out of trouble, not something that allows you to drive around like a rock crawler.
 

gait

Explorer
nothing is ever essential, however, lots of things are useful, like 4wd. Extra clearance and entry/exit angles more useful. The exhaust retarder was really useful (don't leave home without one).

Our "expedition" was 34 countries from Malaysia to Europe and back. The 5km of "difficult dunes" in SE Morocco (I know they were difficult because it said so on the map) were easy with 4wd and would have been impassable in 2wd.

The tracks in Mongolia were generally 2wd, except the very occasional 4wd bit. If it had rained 4wd would have been essential.

The east of Albania needed 4wd a couple of times.

Water across a track leaving a flooded Murray River in Aus needed 4wd and clearance - ranger in Landcruiser coming other way reckoned he'd had a bit of difficulty but "you'll be alright in that".

Hard Knott Pass, gradient 1 in 3, in English Lakes District on wet weal. There's an awkward corner on the west side. 4wd gave us reliable traction to shunt a couple of times downhill - trying to reverse uphill in 2wd would have been hairy.

Sweden driving on the half formed track through 200m of soggy landslide debris needed 4wd, but if we'd waited a day the road would have been clear.

Awkward hill in Morrocco at north end of Plage Blanche that's known for stopping people needed 4wd.

Times through Russia and Ukraine when we camped in woods that would have been inaccessible without 4wd. And the couple of lunch stops where we learned how greasy black soil can be.

Plus the many campsites where we were able to push the boundaries a bit, with 4wd in reserve to help get us out if we pushed too far.

We also carried snow chains for mud and anything else. Its been suggested that chains and 2wd provides more extra traction than 4wd. We had 4 chains which we didn't use. We had maxtrax which we used twice.

In retrospect we think our travels would have been a tad constrained without 4wd. More constrained without clearance and good entry/exit angles.

Basically though, as others have said, it depends what you want to do with the vehicle.

Having said that it was surprising where we got to in a 2-speed automatic Holden sedan (with 6 cyl 186 motor and 400,000 miles on clock) around Aus in 1978. Unstoppable.
 

geo.greg

Observer
its kinda like medical or car insurance, you wont really understand how important it is until you need it. (guess it all depends on where you go)
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
In 40 yrs of driving I've not had a 4 wheel drive for a short 1 1/2 yr period. Having said that it's a lot like having a spare tire, completely useless until you actually need it, and then a godsend. The absolute best and safest use for 4-wheel drive? Go everywhere you want to go in 2 wheel drive and then when you cant go any further put it in 4x4, turn around and drive back out. Otherwise it just allows you to get in deeper before you get stuck.
 

Aussie Iron

Explorer
Personally, I see 4x4 in an expedition camper as a mechanism to get you out of trouble, not something that allows you to drive around like a rock crawler.
Now you are spoiling all the fun, But yes it is possible to go fairly extreme if you want too.

Go everywhere you want to go in 2 wheel drive and then when you cant go any further put it in 4x4, turn around and drive back out. Otherwise it just allows you to get in deeper before you get stuck.
Don't quite agree with that as a lot of time you need to use 4WD to get where you want to go. But you do have to know the limits of you and your vehicle capabilities.

We haven't been stopped yet from getting where we have wanted to get to and in saying that a lot of people don't want to go as extreme as us.

Dan.
 

westyss

Explorer
I use it all the time and was the reason I went with the fuso as opposed to staying with our two wheel drive westy, for us it is about getting into those hard to reach camp spots so simply put, Mandatory!

Hey Gait, do you have a trip report anywhere of your trip? would like to see that!
 

gait

Explorer
thanks. I came back a bit crook, just finished rebuild (repair of sub-frame after it cracked in Mongolia so everything dismantled) and set off on a trip yesterday.
 

Tazman

Adventurer
In 40 yrs of driving I've not had a 4 wheel drive for a short 1 1/2 yr period. Having said that it's a lot like having a spare tire, completely useless until you actually need it, and then a godsend. The absolute best and safest use for 4-wheel drive? Go everywhere you want to go in 2 wheel drive and then when you cant go any further put it in 4x4, turn around and drive back out. Otherwise it just allows you to get in deeper before you get stuck.
Words of wisdom. 4 wheel drive allow one to get stuck further in the outback. Not unnecessary and used daily but it can get you into a predicament.
 

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Aussie Iron

Explorer
Words of wisdom. 4 wheel drive allow one to get stuck further in the outback. Not unnecessary and used daily but it can get you into a predicament.
Well then You better stay on the bitumen. I believe you have no sense of Adventure. I run nearly all dirt roads in 4WD as it is safer and better for the vehicle.

Dan.
 
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