Part I: Getting our H2 ready for 3,698 miles of adventure
(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.