A couple of years ago we wrote a short review of Mark A. Smith's off-road guide book. The short pocket guide was less than 50 pages long but included a variety of interesting and useful insights into the art of off-road driving from the man often referred to as the father of modern four-wheeling.
Mr. Smith recently came out with a newly revised pocket guide, still entitled Mark A. Smith's Guide to Safe, Common Sense Off-Road Driving, and this time its more than 80 pages have been augmented with a wide variety of photos and illustrations that make it easier for novice drivers to get a clear picture of what the author is trying to describe.
The guide essentially details driving tips that will make tackling the unpaved outback a safer and more enjoyable experience. Separate sections are devoted to such things as how to drive on hills and why not to drive sideways across them. Such things may seem self explanatory to the experienced four-wheeler, but for those new to the game, insights such as this can make all the difference in the world on the first time out.
The chapter on rough country driving is one of the most in-depth and covers just about every eventuality you can imagine. Tips on how to drive through snow and ice, over rocks and logs, across water and mud, are all presented in an easy-to-understand fashion. And in many instances, a variety of photographs show actual vehicles out on the trail, and include captions that explain what the driver is doing and whether it is appropriate.
Considering that nearly every vehicle you see out on the trail today is equipped with a winch, the chapter devoted to winching is timely. Novices aside, there are great many four-wheelers out there who do not understand proper winching techniques and who routinely use their winches in dangerous and irresponsible ways. This is a chapter that everyone should read.
The author begins by describing all the accessory tools used when winching, such as the snatch block, the tree strap, and the clevis pin, most of which are foreign terms to four-wheeling newcomers. For nearly every predicament, Smith describes the correct technique for getting you out safely and quickly, while doing the least amount of damage to your surroundings.
The guide closes with tips on what to take on your trips far from civilization and how to prepare your rig for the adventure.
If you're interested in learning more about Mark A. Smith and the insights he offers in his Guide to Safe, Common Sense Off-Road Driving, contact: Jeep Jamboree USA, Dept. 4WDSU, P.O. Box 1601, 2776 Sourdough Flat, Georgetown, CA 95634, (530) 333-4777, (530) 333-2844 (fax), www.jeepjamboreeusa.com, ISBN 0-o9658763-3-0.