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What We Learned on Ultimate Adventure 2016 #UA2016

Posted in Ultimate Adventure: 2016 on October 27, 2016
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Almost all tech story ideas we publish come from experiences we’ve had on the trail or in our everyday lives. We, like you, are four-wheeling enthusiasts. Also, friends and acquaintances have asked questions about four-wheeling and we had to dig and learn for a proper answer. Learning about how to make something work better, more efficiently, safer, cleaner, and more fun is one aspect of this sport that makes it great for us and you.

An alumnus of a UA from a few years back posted a question on Facebook that makes a lot of sense. He asked; “What did everyone learn on UA 2016?” This question and others of its ilk resulted in lots of fun and interesting banter.

We like that idea of learning from an epic trip like this and want to talk about it here. To get feedback, we asked the participants of UA 2016 to answer these three questions: What was your favorite part about UA 2016? What advice do you have for future attendees? What did you learn from the trip?

We got many answers and lots of information about what was fun, what wasn’t, what worked, and what didn’t. We can’t print everything we got because of space, but some of the ideas from our unofficial survey and from the original Facenook post are just too good not to publish (edited to protect the innocent).

Want to learn from Ultimate Adventure too? The best and only way is to apply to attend or plan your own trip with your pals. We promise you will learn and have fun at the same time.

Harry Wagner, Freelancer

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite part of Ultimate Adventure 2016. If I had to I would say Fordyce, but the whole trip was great. My advice would be to have your rig well sorted out prior to arriving, avoid making major changes or rebuilding things. Robert Keller is a great example of this with his reliable and capable truck.

Mike Ruzicka, Sponsor, Rugged Radios

The trails were amazing, and the people were awesome, but the one thing I enjoyed most about the trip was all the Chatty Cathys on the radio. The discussions were great; from Harry giving us history about the trails, naming all the different vehicles that have attended UA, to our in-depth discussion of Unicorn farts. All made for a fun drive through the intense heat and long road drives. Usually on long road trips like this you are forced to only talk with your co-driver, and this made it a much more fun as a group and a team.

Christian Hazel, Editor

This event has to be the “Ultimate,” not just because it’s in the name, but because there are a lot of copycat events out there nowadays. Second-best isn’t good enough, and each year should be better than the last. That’s my goal with UA: bucket list trails, epic travel days, and a super-enjoyable and seamless time for everybody involved. To do that, I’ve got to pay attention to participants’ suggestions, incorporate them where possible, be flexible where applicable, and remain humble enough to solicit and take advice before, during, and after the event. Reaching out to staff (Harry, Fred, Verne, David Hamilton, and others) during the planning stages paid huge dividends in the overall quality of this year’s event. At the end of the day, it is “4-Wheel & Off-Road presents the Ultimate Adventure,” not just a one-dude show. We have a deep pool of talent and creativity on hand, and I’ll keep tapping into it for the betterment of future UAs.

Trent McGee, UA Crony & Freelancer

I learned that the buggy's cooling system is solid, and that it's a lot farther from Buck Island to the staging area at the end of the Rubicon and back than I thought, and rougher. And I need to go back and do the rest of Fordyce one day.

Stephen Watson, Sponsor, Offroad Design

It’s hard to pick a favorite part, but the change of pace or “flow” of the trip this year was nice. Waking up on two separate trail days after camping and getting in the truck to go wheeling with the T-case in low, hubs locked, and tires already aired down was pretty cool. Normally we’re moving on the road more between trail days and wheeling. Two consecutive days on the same trail was cool. I had fun riding in Fred’s Ultimate Summer Camp Jeep a couple times, which makes me think we need to do co-driver swaps.

Robert Keller, Returning Reader, White GMC 1-Ton

My advice for future UA attendees is drive your rig a lot before you go. Daily drive it. Go on trips over 100 miles. That way you have confidence that it's road worthy, and any problems like leaks, cooling issues, or reliability issues should come up. Also, avoid last-minute major changes (even though I didn't listen to this). I installed an ORD Doubler right before I left; I got lucky. Second, when you pack, don't bother with a lot of cooking gear. In the two years I went I used some sort of stove twice, and I didn't have to. Aluminum foil and a fire or an engine will cook almost anything I bring. Which brings up this: Bring aluminum foil and tortillas. Overall this was an unbelievably fun trip that took me to places I might not have made it to. Everyone was so relaxed and prepared. There were no major issues, and we kept moving along. Christian, it can't be said enough: You did an awesome job this year and I'm sure you will do just as well or even better in the future. To all the cronies and staff, I'm glad you guys invited me back. Now if only there was a returning, returning reader, I could do it all again. I'm sure I'll see some you out on a trail somewhere. To those that I don't see, I hope that I do. Thanks, everyone, again for having me back.

Tom Boyd, Wacky UA Crony

Having more time to spend with the group in the evenings instead of on the road or trail until midnight was a nice change from other recent UAs. I enjoyed that. I learned that if you wear black in the desert it does not mean you will die, but you will go to the hospital with dehydration. Also, it’s not how far you travel on the UA that makes it the UA; it’s where you go that is most important.

Keith Bailey, Longtime UA Crony

To start with, at first I thought camping every other night was going to make the Ultimate Adventure into a somewhat Average Adventure, but it didn't at all. What it did was gave us more wheeling time—a big plus. The nights on the trail also gave everyone another chance for repairs if needed, or time to just enjoy the camping experience, cook, have a cold beer, use that chair that you've been hauling for 10 years and haven’t used. Also, setting up camp without a headlamp was another bonus for me. It added to the overall Adventure.

Fred Williams, Editor at Large

I learned you can get coffee anywhere.

Chad Roy, Invited Reader, Black WJ

My favorite part was getting to know everybody. It was a great adventure, and it was really nice to be able to sit with everybody and talk about it and just meet new people. My advice is to know your rig. Drive it, drive it, drive it! Be ready to find out what you are all about. If you’re not used to what the Ultimate Adventure is, be ready for anything (fun, people, breakage, experiences, and more). Overall it was a trip of a lifetime. Thank you to everyone for making it just that. I had a blast!

Jim Grass, Sponsor, Bubba Rope

In my mind the whole trip was an outstanding Adventure, from the heat and desolation of Isham Canyon to the indescribable mountainous region of the Rubicon and Fordyce Creek to the comradery of all the guys, it was definitely a trip I will never forget. Of course, the trails and the obstacles have to come first as most enjoyable. The education you receive watching each driver maneuver their vehicle is priceless and is something you can only learn by actually doing it. Second most enjoyable for me were the conversations, meals, and stories shared around the campfires at the end of the day. It was there in that relaxed atmosphere where you could open up, have some fun, and really get to know everyone around you. From Mike’s hotel stories to dodging Tommy’s water balloons, it was great! Going on this trip I learned that you will see and do things that the average person will never see or do—it was great! I am always up for an adventure, and this one is the best. Can’t wait for the next one!

Benjamin Mahin, Invited Reader, Black WJ

In regards to advice for next year’s adventurers, the simplest thing has to be: Don’t overestimate what your rig can handle. A vehicle that handles a long weekend of wheeling at the off-road park or a week with 35-inch or less tires in Moab is not necessarily ready for what the UA will put it through. Be humble in your ability, and use the vast knowledge that the others on the trip are happy to share with you. Try your best to enjoy every minute to the fullest because the trip is over so quickly. Oh, and don’t overpack. If you can, before the UA, load up all your tools and camp gear, and prerun the hardest trails you have locally just to show yourself how much things change with the extra load. Then after you see all of your flawed plans, tell yourself that you really should pack only what you need to survive and nothing else. You will be less than comfortable at points, but you will most likely survive and be happier for the experience.

Verne Simons, Tech Editor

I learned various interesting things. Don’t run a cast steel distributor drive gear with a billet cam (that was technically before UA 2016). Don’t take that line on the first obstacle of Isham Trail because your Jeep won’t climb out of the tippy spot even though you think you might. Keep Keith Bailey and 3 quarts of oil on hand to check that No. 8 cylinder after flopping the Willys truck on its side. Stay on the Rubicon longer than two days. Bring more fuel on the Rubicon. Stay on Fordyce longer than two days. The wedge obstacle on the last day getting off Fordyce is way harder than it looks and will bend the poop out of your rocker guard tubing.

Erik Cooper Rasmussen, Sponsor, Power Products Unlimited

What was my favorite part? Honestly, there really isn't an aspect to this trip that I didn't enjoy. Maybe the years of doing this have demented my perception of things, but when the week of ultimateness is over, all you do is look back and wish you were still in the thick of it. Hats off to the readers, up there for sure with the best thus far, especially Robert Keller—and not because he had a Dana 44 hub socket even though he didn't need one. I don't recall anyone saying anything negative at all this year except for me on the second day when I was getting the rental car. It was a great trip. The new-to-me sponsors were a blast to hang out with and fit right in with the group. As usual, I find myself thinking of what next year will be like and when I will start building the next UA rig. I'm thinking I'll start with a radio and just build around that. Booyah!

Wayne Lambert, Invited Reader, Green Chevy C30 4x4

My advice for future attendees of UA is to apply. When I applied I didn't think there was any chance I would be picked. I didn't think a 1971 Chevy that was obviously not hardcore (yet) would get a second look. So if you have a truck that's a tough platform and a reliable wheeler and you think you would like to go someday, fill out the application. Drive your rig a ton before the trip. I honestly don't go wheeling very often. I'd like to go more, but like a lot of people, work, truck projects, and life in general prevent it. But I drive the truck often, which is the key to keeping it reliable. I'm kinda forced to drive it. The truck doesn't fit in my garage and my neighborhood doesn't really get big off-road trucks. So having it up on jackstands and torn apart for more than a couple days isn't an option. Plus, we only have one driveway spot and you gotta keep the wife happy. Even if you aren't forced to drive your rig, you should. Take it to work, run errands, get it out on the highway. It’s the best way to find issues. It is better to burn the tires up on the road than to let them dry-rot in the driveway. We were lucky enough to have almost no mechanical issues on the UA, and I think that driving the truck weekly is the main reason.

Lonnie McCurry Jr, Sponsor, Skyjacker

We, the boys from Skyjacker, learned that that even though it’s a dry heat, it is still hot! We also learned that California has totally epic trails and amazing scenery. Pack a spare high-speed fan relay if you drive a JK (thanks again, Keith Bailey). Your ARB freezer-fridge can create static on your Rugged Radio when both are running on DC power. We also learned, thanks to Wayne Lambert, Robert Keller, the Super Dirty, Stephen and James Watson, and others, that fullsize trucks rock! We learned that "more cowbell" is a good thing with a little help from Cooper Rasmussen! As a rule on UA, you will meet a lot of great people, making new friends along the way.

Sam Gillis, UA Crony

Don't rely on electric fans as your only cooling system. Try to have a mechanical fan or at least a spare electrical fan in your parts bag. A 7,000-pound vehicle on a Dana 44 axle is asking for problems! When prepping for the trip, ask yourself, “What do I need to survive?” Not what is needed to live in luxury for a week. Do you really need a 50-pound eight-man tent, or can you get by for a few nights with a hammock or tent cot? Do you really need 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-inch crescent wrenches? Pack smart. Bring things that have multiple purposes such as Amsoil oil. You can use it in the engine, trans, transfer, and power steering system. Go through your tool bag and take out the tools you don't need. Pack spare parts you can't find at an everyday parts stores. Put grip tape on any area you stand. Good communications are a must. Everybody having a Rugged Race Radio on the UA was the bomb! My unofficial tips are: Don't build a Dodge 440 motor. If you do, don't use a cast steel distributor gear. Don't volunteer to go pick your buddy up halfway through the Rubicon trail. They call it Death Valley for a reason! Buddy up with the guys who have large rigs to store your stuff (if you don’t get caught)!

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