You’ve just finished telling your friends about your latest wheeling adventure, complete with prolific arm gestures, impressive body language, graphic details, and your overall thoughts about the entire exploit. Dead silence. Then someone says, “pics or it didn’t happen.” Pics, you ask? That’s so three years ago. You got video. High-definition, kick-butt, can-almost-taste-the-dust video.
It wasn’t always this way. It used to be unusual to see video being recorded on the trail. Back in the day, we were the oddity (more than usual) when we showed up at the Telluride Rotary 4x4 Tour in Colorado with a rented VHS camcorder (it was one of the giant ones that rested on your shoulder and made you look like you worked for a television network). We were the only ones videotaping at obstacles, and even still, cameras were a rarity because this was prior to the widespread availability of cell phone cameras. We had several requests for copies of the tape, which we gladly provided after we figured out how to wire two VCRs together and waited for hours while the copying took place.
Nowadays, it’s common to see 4x4s outfitted with forward- and rear-facing waterproof high-definition cameras suction-cupped to the body or glass of the rigs.
A few years and a huge technology jump later, we returned to the Telluride Rotary 4x4 Tour with a Kodak DC50 digital camera at a time when digital cameras were a brand-new thing. The DC50 didn’t take video, required a cable to download, was held like a pair of binoculars, and was relatively large. But at least it was expensive. At the time, it was a cutting-edge piece of hardware that left people (and us) in awe. The filmless camera was quite the conversation piece as we used it on the trails to gather photos.
Technology waits for no one, and nowadays it seems everyone is packing a cell phone that can take a mega-megapixel photo or razor-sharp high-definition video. Often, we’re on the trail, standing between the crowd and an obstacle “working” and we’ll look one way and see a 4x4 doing its thing. We’ll turn the other way and scores of cellphones are pointed at the action. It’s an exciting time. It’s also an embarrassing time when we fall on the rocks and 75 people get it on video.
But now, the wheeling world has entered a new age where technology unrelated to vehicle performance has infused itself into off-roading. It’s probably the most exciting time yet for reliving our off-road adventures, and it’s the incredible growth of vehicle-mounted cameras. We see ’em at trailrides and events all the time. Nowadays, it’s common to see 4x4s outfitted with forward- and rear-facing waterproof high-definition cameras suction-cupped to the body or glass of the rigs. We’ve succumbed to the tech and run a small forward-facing dashcam in our Power Wagon all the time. It powers up when the truck starts and shuts off when the ignition is turned off. It has recorded our most heroic off-road moments—and our most stupid mistakes. And we just returned from driving a ’15 Ford F-150 that was equipped with cameras that allow a 360-degree view of the truck. Recording capability isn’t available on the system yet, but we see it coming. Soon, we may be able to check an option box that will outfit a 4x4 with the technology that will allow us to record everything that goes on in each direction as we wheel using factory-installed cameras.
Nowadays, video is on a tear, and the phrase should be “video or it didn’t happen.” Which leads us to this question: If you use a dedicated video recorder when you go wheeling, what kind do you use? Is it mounted inside or outside of your rig? Do you run more than one video camera? Where are you most likely to use the footage: social media, your club’s website, or just for personal use? What is the most amazing footage you’ve captured? Or, do you think recording video of off-roading is stupid? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about it.