For those firmly entrenched in the sport of four-wheeling, it is often easy to forget that there are a great many enthusiasts out there who use their 4x4s in pursuit of other outdoor adventures as well. To the legions of hunters, fishermen, and family campers who enjoy striking out for points unknown, the four-wheel drive is an integral part of the experience.
For the millions of readers who turn to their pages every month for insights into hunting, fishing, and camping, Field & Stream has put together a guide on how to turn "a truck or SUV into the perfect hunting and fishing machine."
Author Slaton L. White, editor of Field & Stream, has been writing about vehicles for the magazine since 1987 and has considerable experience taking 4x4s into the outback and getting back out again. Like any good author, White consulted with some of the industry's leading professionals to produce a well-rounded look at the subject - groups such as ARB Air Locker, Superwinch, Uniroyal/Michelin, Alcoa Wheel, Draw-Tite, and Coleman. The extensive research, combined with the author's own impressive off-road acumen, has produced a solid overview of what it takes to build a reliable off-road vehicle.
Because the book is slanted heavily toward the four-wheeling novice who needs to be shown the ropes from the ground up, White takes his time laying down a very basic foundation. He starts out by discussing what you should be looking for when buying a new or used 4x4 and points out the pros and cons of trucks and SUVs.
The next 150 pages are devoted to just about every aspect of four-wheeling that can impact your experience outdoors. White examines suspension lifts, how to go about choosing the right wheels and tires, and what to look for in locking differentials and gears. Chapters about the best kind of lights to put on your 4x4 and how to operate a winch correctly may seem a little basic to more advanced four-wheelers, but this is what makes this book so valuable; it assumes no knowledge on the part of the reader, and so leaves no one behind.
Perhaps it is the sheer readability of this book that we found most pleasing. Rather than a dry technical manual that we had to force ourselves to slog through, we found The Sporting Vehicles Handbook both engaging and to the point. And while it may seem unimportant to some, we were thankful to find an excellent index at the back for a quick reference to the many topics that White covers.
As a four-wheel-drive treatise, The Sporting Vehicles Handbook is an insightful work that beginners will enjoy. If you are interested and want more information about The Field & Stream Sporting Vehicles Handbook, contact: The Lyons Press, Dept. 4WDSU, 123 W. 18th St., New York, NY 10011, (212) 620-9580, www.lyonspress.com, ISBN 1-58574-092-6.