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Cheap Truck Challenge 2015 - Overland & Under Budget

Low Buck Fun

Harry WagnerPhotographer, WriterBrian SumnerPhotographer

Every year we get together with our friends and go beat on budget-built trucks in an event we call the Cheap Truck Challenge. Over the years we have had mud bogs, hillclimbs, rockcrawling, and even a milk jug challenge. While the competition aspect is fun, we aren’t competitive enough to really care who wins. Much of the real fun takes place off-camera, when we can just relax and hang out with our friends.

So this year for Cheap Truck Challenge we changed things up. Less emphasis on challenges and more emphasis on camping, having fun, and helping each other out. Think of Cheap Truck Challenge 2015 as a low-buck Ultimate Adventure, one that you could easily duplicate with your friends. The premise is the same: Go wheeling, cover some ground, and sleep in the dirt. This is just the beer version instead of the champagne edition.

This year we started in the town of Winslow, Arizona. From there we hit backroads, stopping along the way to take in the scenery and fix Jeeps. While the trails were not particularly hard, covering miles of washboard road is a great indication of just how reliable a vehicle is. The competitors had to use a map and compass to find their way to a campsite, giving a distinct advantage to the two-man teams. See, it pays to bring a buddy along on the trail. We found a secluded camping spot and made dinner over the fire, swapping stories and jokes well into the night. This is what 4-wheeling is all about.

The next day we continued on towards the Mogollon Rim, with higher elevations and cooler temperatures. In fact, even though we were in Arizona in the middle of August, we got caught in heavy rain. The open-topped Jeeps were at a severe disadvantage to the Dodge (and to a lesser extent the Kia), and all of that gear we brought along got nice and wet. The good thing about rain is that it makes mud, so we found some mud holes to test our cheap trucks and vie for bragging rights. With wet (and now muddy) camping gear we wimped out for the night and decided to get a hotel room and a hot shower.

Refreshed, and perhaps too full of vigor, on the third morning we headed for some rocks. That is when all hell broke loose—or, when we started having fun with our buddies. It is really all just a matter of your perspective.