(Editor's Note---This is part one of a three-part series documenting the adventures-and misadventures-of Four Wheeler Technical Editor Sean P. Holman and Senior Editor Ken Brubaker as they 'wheeled an '05 Hummer H2 SUT 3,698 miles from California to Illinois. Their nine-day, nine-state journey included camping and an off-highway foray each day.)
Dwight D. Eisenhower said; "In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." As we cobbled up our nine-day plan for H2our De Force, Dwight D's words hung like a guillotine over our heads. We knew that even with the most intricate planning, we were ultimately at the mercy of the road and we were just along for the ride. After all, who knows what drama lurks on a rugged stretch of Montana dirt road 80 miles from the nearest town, or miles up an isolated trail in the Idaho high country? Nonetheless, we would've been remiss if we didn't try to anticipate every eventuality. We did our logistical homework, and we did it well in advance of our launch date.
What follows is a detailed overview of some of the latest and greatest products from Coleman, Hummer, and Garmin that we took with us on our steroidal road trip. We analyzed the importance of each piece of gear we brought and abandoned any item that wasn't deemed crucial to the trip. Every inch of real estate in our H2 was crucial, so if an item didn't serve a functional purpose, it wasn't invited. The same went for the vehicle mods. Absolutely no useless frou-frou bolt-on junk was allowed on our Hummer H2 SUT. Only items that improved its performance saw the end of a wrench.
We're big fans of GPS technology, so naturally we put it to work on H2our De Force in a big way. Sure, old-school paper maps can help you get where you want to go, but they can't compete with the stunning capabilities of the new crop of GPS-based electronic navigation systems. One of the coolest new gizmos is the Garmin GPS 10. It includes a Bluetooth-enabled, waterproof GPS receiver that receives the satellite signals. It wirelessly transmits the GPS data to your laptop or pocket PC. The GPS data integrates with the included nRoute navigation software to create high-tech moving maps just like those found on the navigation systems in high-end luxury cars. The software also allows you to do a zillion things like automatically calculate a route, look up addresses, attractions, and services. We also used Garmin's MapSource topographical map software, which in addition to highways and roads show things nRoute doesn't, like terrain contour, topo elevations, summits, and hiking and snowmobile trails. The best part? Garmin's GPS 10 is a screaming deal with a price point of under $300.
Take one look at us, and it's obvious that we've never missed too many meals. To ensure that we continue that trend, we packed along Coleman's trick Cooking Station table, new-for-'05 Perfectflow Instastart stove, and Camping Drip Coffeemaker. The folding Cooking Station table offers separate cooking and food prep surfaces, an additional rack shelf for underneath storage, and a reinforced table; the Perfectflow Instastart stove has two 22,000-Btu high-performance adjustable burners, matchless lighting, and a Windblock System that shields burners for maximum heat; and the Camping Drip Coffeemaker sports an easy-fill reservoir, removable swing-out filter basket, and an easy-pour 10-cup decanter.
Good flashlights are a good thing, and Coleman hooked us up with a pair of their Floating 4D Spotlights and a pair of their Graphite Flashlight Combos. The weatherproof spotlights emit a strong pencil beam of bright white light courtesy of a Krypton bulb and each Graphite Flashlight Combo comes with 2 AA and 2 D flashlights that are built to survive almost any condition. They have a patented shock-absorbing bulb and battery suspension system and they're adjustable from spot-to-flood beam.
Whether we're sitting around camp using our laptops, eating a gourmet meal from a can, or attempting to humor each other with bad jokes, we'll be dry no matter what the weather, thanks to Coleman's new-for-'05 Geosport Shade. This neat shade sets up in minutes and stands 95 inches tall. A ceiling vent is integrated into the design of the shade to reduce heat buildup or wind lift and it includes a rainfly, guy lines, and stakes. We're also packing along Coleman's new-for-'05 58-quart Xtreme cooler. Coleman says it can hold 75 cans plus ice and it can keep ice intact for up to 6 days at 90 degrees F. As a bonus, it features 2-inch-deep cup holders, two-way handles, and a channel drain for no-tip draining. The cooler will come in handy should one of us screw up and cut off a finger or limb-at least we can throw said item on ice until we can get to a hospital and have it re-attached.
We'll be lighting up camp with the Coleman Northstar InstaStart propane lantern. At full power we'll need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen because this is Coleman's brightest propane lantern and the output is truly remarkable. It features InstaStart ignition and an easy-to-install string-less Insta-Clip tub mantle. It also comes with a handy hard case that protects the lantern from damage during travel.
Brubaker will be snoring in a Coleman 10x8 Sundome tent. This tent sets up in mere minutes, can sleep up to four, and has a height of 70 inches. It has a huge mesh vent for truly impressive ventilation and a rainfly to keep rain or dew out.
Holman will be dreaming of another helping of yummy canned beef stew in Coleman's new-for-'05 Crestline four-person tent. It features a Variflo adjustable venting system, Cool-Air port, and power cord port. Both Coleman tents will be firmly affixed to terra firma via genuine Coleman tent stakes.
We don't expect to get a lot of sleep during the nine-day H2our De Force, so what we get has got to be good. We're packing along two new-for-'05 Coleman sleeping bags-the Granite and Colossal. Both are king-sized, have 5 pounds of Holofill 808 fill and a cotton flannel liner. Both also boast ComfortSmart technology (this means it's guaranteed to keep you comfortable), a Comfort Cuff (surrounds your face with softness), and Thermlock (reduces heat loss through the flannel liner). To further ensure our comfort we each have a ComfortSmart Quickbed twinsize airbed. These shockingly luxurious tall airbeds have ComfortSmart coils and a soft suede top to enhance comfort. We'll air them up in seconds using either Coleman's battery-operated Deluxe Quickpump or 12-volt Inflate-All Quickpump system, the latter of which can inflate everything from airbeds to car tires.
Sometimes, when you're wheeling in the middle of nowhere in a heavy stock truck, there are times that you might find yourself stuck-oh-so-hopelessly stuck. Yes, even a team of Four Wheeler magazine editors can be mired so successfully that no amount of pushing from their bratwurst-like muscles is enough to free the rig. So, to mitigate any opportunities for fate to leave us for dead far from home, we hooked up with Hummer to get our hands on the Hummer/Warn XD 9000i genuine accessories multi-mount winch, which was installed by Cerritos Hummer in Cerritos, California. Not to give too much away, but we actually had to use it-several times.
When trying to make time crossing the country, it was inevitable that some of our travels would take place at night. Knowing the dangers of deer season in the northern states, and not wanting to be out on the trail without auxiliary lighting past sundown, Hummer also hooked us up with their roof-mounted off-highway light kit, which really aided in night-time driving maneuvers. More importantly, they helped us to pick out deer lining the highway ahead of time to avoid serious collisions. These 55-watt auxiliary lights are 6 inches in diameter and can be independently aimed, so we pointed two ahead to complement the brights, and angled two toward the sides.
The Hummer H2 SUT already has a smooth and comfortable ride on the highway, but feeling it is a tad soft in the rough stuff, we convinced Hummer to send us four of its Rod Hall genuine accessory reservoir shocks, also installed by Cerritos Hummer. These monotube, remote-reservoir shocks feature IAS valving and extra oil capacity for cool runnings. We noticed no loss in highway comfort, but benefited from a more firm and controlled ride off-pavement, and best of all, these shocks never faded, even when the H2 was fully loaded in an area filled with miles of undulating whoops. These shocks are definitely a worthwhile upgrade for the Hummer H2 SUT.
Ken's 5 Pre-H2our Rules/Goals
1. Don't kill Sean
2. Don't break the Hummer
3. Ignore bug splatter on windshield
4. Exhibit an irregular, non-linear driving style
5. Don't kill Sean
Sean's 5 Pre-H2our Rules/Goals
1. Don't kill Ken
2. Don't break the Hummer
3. Verbally analyze bug splatter on windshield
4. Exhibit a smooth, linear driving style
5. Don't kill Ken
You can read about H2our De Force as it happened by logging onto www.fourwheeler.com/h2our. Each evening following a stellar day of adventure, Holman and Brubaker dug out their laptop computers, found a site with Wi-Fi (or not) and uploaded a diary and photos of that days adventures.
It's game on next month as Holman and Brubaker officially hit the road. In Part II of "H2our De Force," they flee the wildfire-infested hills of Hollister, California and blaze north and east into the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Will Holman and Brubaker wimp out on camping and get suites at the Four Seasons? Will one of them suffer a head injury and go on a mini-California crime spree? Will the powerful Pacific Ocean attempt to swallow up the Hummer? Can two dudes travel together for nine days without killing each other? Next month, we'll answer these riveting questions and more!