December 17, 2014

Four wheeling in the glovebox

Australia-based Robert Pepper has produced the 4WD Glovebox Guide (ISBN 9781922131423), the title of which pretty well explains what it's all about – a 180 page compact ringbound book with card covers thick enough to use as a base for a high-lift jack. Well, almost. A paperback version is also offered; spend an extra couple of bucks and go for the ringbound one. This is by no means the first book of its type; the most notable was Ken Sibly's New Zealand 4 Wheel Drive Handbook (ISBN 1-1877251-24-0) published in 2004, now out of print and a bit large for a glovebox anyway. Another good one, from across the Tasman, was the perfect-bound Gregory's 4WD survival Guide by John Basham, published in 1998 (ISBN 0 7319 1107 5) and also out of print. Its text reflects the glory days of GQ Patrols and 4Runners – which is great if you own a vehicle of that general variety and can find a copy of the book.

Being newest on the shelf, Robert Pepper's guide is right up to date, incorporating all the newer 4WD systems and also a first class section on off road navigation, using the latest electronic devices. I thought the Guide might be mostly for people with "soft" 4WDs who wanted to see where that trail went. And indeed it is, but it's so much more, going into techniques that belong on the toughest trails. In a way, Robert Pepper has produced a paper version of Dr Who's Tardis – there's much more inside than there seems to be from the outside. He even goes into how to run a successful trip and, in a chapter called People, Fatigue and the Environment, how to manage people, on the basis that the weakest link may be the nut behind the wheel. This is all really good stuff that's rarely dealt with elsewhere. The thoughtful and well written text, clear layout, good diagrams and photos combine to earn this publication a big tick.

Anyone looking for a decent 4WD "instruction book" could probably even forgo Robert Pepper's larger and more expensive 4WD Handbook and just go with the Guide; newcomers will find it an excellent follow-up to the off road driving course they've just taken, while it'll serve as a good reminder/refresher for experienced drivers. The best way to buy is to go to Fishpond and order online. When this was written it cost $34.31 in Australian dollars.

4wdNewz will shortly publish a review of the heavily revised 4WD Handbook (our review of the first edition is here). 

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