Sometimes you need to spend that extra bit of money to make sure your four-wheel drive is top notch – and sometimes you don’t. Here are some affordable options to consider as you work towards building the perfect tourer.
Snorkels and breathers: if your vehicle is not set up for water crossings, any depth higher than the axles shouldn’t be attempted. Depths beyond this require a snorkel for the engine’s air intake, and breathers for the differential and gearbox – breathers require less labour and expense than you might imagine, and if you’re the handy type, you can even do it yourself.
Cost: Diff breather kit: under $100, unfitted; snorkel: $600+, fitted.
Basic recovery gear: a shovel is a good start for any recovery kit. If you get stuck, a spade and some muscle to build a ramp is often all you’ll need to get free. A snatch strap is next on the list, used for recovery via a second vehicle. Snatch straps are reinforced, seatbelt-like in appearance, and are around 15 metres long, with strengthened loops at each end that hook onto the rated recovery points of both vehicles.
Cost: At the basic end, you can get by at $150–250.
Roo bar or bull bar: a protective front bar provides cover for a vehicle’s cooling systems and is essential for heavy off-road driving. A bumper bar crumples when it encounters something solid, leaving essential components compromised, and your vehicle possibly broken down in remote environs. Front bars are, by law, supposed to have streamlined external profiles to minimise pedestrian injury.
Cost: Upwards of $1000
Rooftop tent: these are not an essential throughout most of Australia, but a rooftop tent can be very handy up north in croc country. The idea originated in South Africa, where predators are many and varied, and the thin walls of a tent at ground level give campers little protection from hungry beasts. They come in many designs, sizes and levels of complexity, and vary greatly in price – up to several thousand dollars for swankier models. They offer numerous other advantages over ground tents.
Cost: $300–2500, but you can find a decent product for $600–1000