Overland Vanlife: Do You REALLY Need 4×4? – with Slow Roamers

Overland Vanlife: Do You REALLY Need 4×4? – with Slow Roamers


We’ve all seen the glamorous ads on our screens. Shiny vans with shiny rims and massive knobby tires, massive shocks and aggressive bumpers ripping by means of the deserts and mountains, mud, mud and sand pluming from the wheel wells. You NEED these shiny issues to go off-road, you NEED 4×4 to go on an actual journey. We’ve been educated to assume that there’s this large bar to entry to get out and benefit from the backroads of North America. Properly, I’m right here to inform you that’s simply not the case. 

About Overlanding with a 2WD

Hey there, it’s Alex, your pleasant neighborhood van overlander. Admittedly, I’ve been on a little bit of a conquest for a while, making an attempt to teach folks on how little they should really get out and do vanlife or overland journey. I’m typically just a little bewildered by the variety of folks I meet alongside my travels that consider that they want one thing like we drive, or one thing like what they assume we drive (we drive a jacked up 2WD supply van it’s NOT 4WD), to get out on the path. Our car of selection and the best way that it’s been modified isn’t essentially the embodiment of my message, however that’s primarily as a result of we push our car properly past the aim of which it was meant for. All of the discuss massive tires, massive suspension and massive bumpers apart, I wish to give attention to the frequent perception that you just NEED 4×4 to go on an off-road journey. 

I chuckle to myself once I see how typically the time period “off roading” is used. By the literal definition, off-roading is the journey over a floor with out a highway, which is principally unlawful in most states within the US and frowned upon all over the place else. So, is anybody really off-roading? With that being mentioned, off-roading now simply defines something off-pavement. At this level, as an alternative of boring you with an extended rationalization of various highway surfaces and what’s wanted to traverse mentioned surfaces, I wish to share a narrative of an journey we lately had in our two wheel drive van. I believe what we achieved is a major instance of the purpose I’m making an attempt to convey. 

Telkwa pass overland travel in a 2wd

Overlanding Northwest Territory, Canada

Presently, my associate, Megan, and myself are on our means as much as Tuktoytaktuk, Northwest Territory, Canada to start out the Pan American freeway. We began our journey from the northern tip of Vancouver Island, leaving on a ferry that took us from Port Hardy all the best way to Prince Rupert. Upon leaving the terminal we arrived in Prince Rupert, British Columbia sixteen hours and 274 nautical miles later. Prince Rupert is positioned inside the maze of islands and waterways that make up the British Columbia coast and instantly after leaving the city you’re surrounded by towering coastal mountains. Following the spectacular Skeena River inland you ultimately get to Terrace, BC and simply outdoors of Terrace is the place our journey actually started. I had my eyes on a stretch of path known as the Telkwa Go that goes from simply outdoors Terrace, by means of a mountain vary to Telkwa, BC. 

Telkwa Go

Again in 2017 on one other journey by means of northern Canada and Alaska I had stopped off with a good friend in Smithers, BC and he had informed me concerning the Telkwa Go. As a consequence of climate and inexperience on the time, I opted to not do the path, however saved it behind my thoughts for seven years. Although I returned with a 2WD car that was much less succesful than the 4×4 Tacoma I had beforehand, I wasn’t going to overlook the chance to discover this unimaginable area this time round. Being a YouTuber myself, I had watched two fellow video creators discover the realm forward of me the 12 months earlier. Each of them are vanlifers, one with a succesful 2WD van and the opposite a 4WD van. They’d gone in opposing instructions and the one with a 2WD van had circled at an impediment he deemed impassable for his van. My information of the path apart from this was fairly sparse. It appeared that, for anybody driving the path with a smaller 4WD car, be it a facet by facet, quad or small pickup, the path was fairly simple. So far as I may inform, no 2WD van had accomplished the entire path. 

van doing overland trail telkwa pass

Shortly after leaving Terrace, we pulled off onto the FSR (forest service highway) that will take us into the mountains. We plunged right into a world of tree tunnels, peak-peeking, waterfalls and rivers. Driving for an hour and a half alongside the Copper Mountain River we finally discovered our camp spot for the night time, a degree sandbar not three meters from the river. We nodded off to sleep listening to the fixed rush of distant rapids, night time solely dipping to whole darkness for a few hours. The following morning we completed off our on-line work shortly, ate breakfast by the river after which set off. It was going to be an enormous day of journey and journey. Slowly however absolutely the highway started to climb in elevation. The mountains continued to develop taller and finally we may see snow capped peaks in all instructions. The highway remained in first rate form for a lot of the means, potholed, however first rate. About two hours of driving later we had arrived in the beginning of the particular path part. That is the place the highway narrows and begins to wind, climb and descend steeply because it traverses the mountain’s base. Path circumstances have been good, not a lot mud, some deep puddles and shallow creek crossings. Kilometer by kilometer the mountains at our sides grew nearer till they loomed over us like large sentries. 

Telkwa Go with a 2WD

One other hour in I used to be feeling fairly assured. We hadn’t come up towards something that had actually challenged us, we’d made it previous all of the tight sections, small inclines and thru all of the water crossings. Simple peasy! However, then we reached the place the guy creator with the 2WD van had circled. An extended, steep and winding climb accented with a water bar (a small dug out for water to cross the highway) on the base and plenty of massive free rock. I used to be fairly skeptical…however I’m additionally foolhardy and unreasonably pushed to finish what I begin. Momentum is an unimaginable factor, in the event you can keep it, it’ll get you thru rather a lot. In an off-road scenario, in the event you’re utilizing momentum to deal with an impediment, you should stroll the road of sustaining as a lot momentum as potential with out damaging the very important parts of the car you’re piloting. On this case, I would wish to hold sufficient momentum up the hill to get me by means of the preliminary water bar impediment with out destroying my entrance suspension after which carry sufficient afterwards to propel us up the steep incline and over the big, free rock. I regarded on the hill for all of 10 seconds after which went for it.

woman standing next to van in the mountains

The worst factor that would occur for my part was getting stalled on the hill and having to again down. I gathered momentum on the small hill previous to beginning up the incline and saved my foot on the gasoline, modulating the throttle till the purpose at which all I may do was have it mashed on the ground. To my utmost shock, the van powered by means of and continued to climb proper to the highest. I used to be astonished and likewise dumbfounded by the view we obtained as a reward. What we noticed on the high would have most individuals considering, “we’ve made it” because it did us, however we nonetheless had one other 5km to go. That final 5km was by far essentially the most aggressive and difficult off-roading we’ve ever carried out within the van. Not lengthy after the primary incline we encountered one other even steeper climb that we barely made it up, after which have been quite a few rock gardens, a rock slide that we would have liked to winch boulders out of the best way and tree tunnels so slim that we thought our photo voltaic panels and awning could be ripped off. 

After six hours on the path we lastly arrived at our camp spot for the following two nights. After I inform you this spot is the spot of legend, I’m being fully truthful and goal. There usually are not loads of spots like this that you would be able to drive a car to, a lot much less a 2WD car. On the base of an enormous mountain with three glacier fed water falls, on a sandbar jutting out right into a crystal clear lake we made dwelling. It was…epic. 

2wd van in overland trail

Earlier than You Go Overlanding with a 2WD Van..

Let’s have a look at the fact of this example for a second earlier than I go away you with aspirations of smashing by means of rocks and bushes along with your massive RV or 2WD van. We proved that this epic lake spot could possibly be accessed by 2WD. Is it advisable to take action…? Most likely not. There have been sufficient occasions that I believed that we would deplete our transmission that I might most positively advise towards doing this path with something lower than a switch case and locker. Sure, we did the path with out a switch case, I can say we did it, however as talked about beforehand, I’m just a little idiot hardy. So, as a disclaimer, don’t attempt to make it right here in a 2WD van; nonetheless, I believe our case proves properly sufficient that you just most actually don’t want a 4WD car with all of the doo-dads to get out and have an journey. Actually, it’s a rising opinion of mine that you would be able to have extra enjoyable in a 2WD car as a result of the bar to entry for an excellent thrill is decrease. Everybody we encountered on the path, both driving a facet by facet, quad or pickup all down-played how tough the path was. It was, for them, simple and nonchalant. For us, it was at occasions an epic wrestle simply to stand up a hill. 

So, to conclude this little story/rant of mine, take your 2WD van someplace that makes you nervous, perhaps you’ll be stunned by how a lot additional you’ll go. Keep in mind that, these FSR’s or lengthy, gravel desert tracks are pushed by automobiles and repair automobiles on a regular basis, simply because it’s gravel and has bumps doesn’t imply you’ll spin uncontrolled and be hopelessly caught. And in the event you do get caught, embrace the expertise and look ahead to telling the story sooner or later if you’re by means of on the opposite facet. Your journey is on the market, regardless of how massive or small it might look to others and the bar to entry is commonly decrease than you assume. 

Study extra about Overlanding:

Overland Gear You Actually Need

Overlanding 101



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Alex Lorel

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