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Winter Wheeling For The Win! - Trail's End

Posted in Whoops on November 20, 2014
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If you had to choose between winter or summer wheeling, which would you pick?

We asked you that question on our social media sites back in June, and as of press time, 115 of you commented on that question on our Facebook site. The vast majority of you that directly answered the question chose winter wheeling. Surprised?

The reality of winter wheeling depends on what region of the country you live. Wheelers in the southern U.S. think of winter as a time when temperatures moderate and they can wheel without battling bugs, heat, and dehydration. Scott Plude (all names are printed as they appear on Facebook) said, “Gotta love the winter wheelin’. Most of my rigs don’t have working A/C, and I live in the desert. It was 109 [degrees] at my house yesterday.”

Up north, or in high altitudes, the reality of winter is much different, and most of those that responded from those areas noted less about temperatures and more about the benefits of wheeling in snow. Jamie Hanson left no doubt as to his view on snow versus no snow when he wrote, “Winter every time. It’s easy to prepare for the cold; you can only take off so many clothes and still be hot, and dust sucks, so I’ll take snow, snow, snow, and more snow.”

Some readers pointed out that wheeling in snow requires skills not found when wheeling on other types of terrain. Jason Mein said, “Winter for sure. No dust, and it takes a lot more skill—anybody can drive down a dirt road. Throw some snow on the road/trail, and it totally changes it.” Shawn Allen got six “likes” when he said, “Anyone can wheel in dirt. Snow is a completely different animal.”

We’ve found that even the most mundane trail or obstacle can become an animal when covered in ice and snow.

And then there are those who pointed out the practical aspects of wheeling in winter. Josh Theeck likes that his truck stays clean. “Definitely winter wheeling; there’s no need to wash it when you’re done,” he said. Jarrett Rathert echoed Josh’s thoughts when he said, “I love snow. And it’s a lot easier to clean than mud. Helps I live in Canada where it’s winter half the year.” John Jr. Udlaovak of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada, offered the ultimate practical argument for winter wheeling in his neck of the woods when he said, “Winter! Because we can travel on ice roads out of the bay.”

We love winter wheeling. The Four WheelerMidwest Bureau is located near the Illinois-Wisconsin state line and this area gets a decent amount of snow each winter. Sometimes we’ll just hop in our 4x4 and head out into the untouched snow of the pastures or unplowed dirt roads and explore. We agree with the Facebook commenters who said that snow adds an element of challenge. We’ve found that even the most mundane trail or obstacle can become an animal when covered in ice and snow. The benefits of spending time puttering around in the snow are a better understanding of your rig’s capabilities and an increase in winter driving skills. However, our 4x4s are less toys and more tools in the winter. It seems like we’re either plowing snow, fighting to get through drifted roads, or recovering stuck vehicles.

All of this is fun stuff, and it helps make the cold days and lack of daylight bearable. Our only gripe is that here in northern Illinois, road salt is spread thick on the roads. This means it’s a non-stop battle to keep the rigs clean, underneath as well as outside, in an effort to stop corrosion. It’s amazing the damage road salt can do to a vehicle, even when it’s only used for about four or five months of the year. But that’s a topic for another column.

Those of us who love winter wheeling get excited about products specifically designed to make 4x4s work better in winter, like the Cooper Discoverer A/TW tires that we highlighted elsewhere in this issue. We also get excited about vehicles with decent ground clearance, because more clearance means a vehicle can navigate deeper snow without getting hung up on its belly. That means less digging with a shovel for us.

Winter wheeling is a blast, and it’s right around the corner. Get out and wheel it.

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