HEAD off-road to a remote spot without a digital or print map, or the necessary communications equipment, and you’re setting yourself up for disaster. It always pays to play is safe when touring and to pack gear that’ll get you there and back again (think UHF radios, sat-nav, paper maps and power packs).
Here’s some new kit on the market that’ll help when planning a trip, and to get you of a pickle should the occasion arise.
Hema Maps 4WD Adventures
This second edition of Hema’s guidebook to 100 of Australia’s best off-road journeys features all-new cartographic map specs, elevation profiles of tracks, an easier-to-read layout and design, detailed inset maps, and edge-to-edge mapping.
The hefty tome measures 215mm x 297mm and is spiral bound. Australia is a bloody big country, so it’s a bloody big book, clocking in at 420 pages. This guide is nothing if not thorough in its coverage of the 100 adventures included.
Some of the other handy features include the colour-coding of tracks to vehicle types, and all the latest info on the nearest supply points and camping areas. There are also a number of insets dealing with the particular track’s history, making this guidebook essential for any off-road explorer.
4x4 opinion: The struggles of navigating with a paper map
Thunder 5W 80-channel UHF
This compact and tough UHF features 80-channel scanning capability and a backlit LED display and keypad for ease of use. The Thunder 5W features digital selective calling, an external speaker jack (for when you want to boost the already impressive volume capacity), and a robust 75cm 5dB antenna that includes a 35mm black stainless steel barrel spring.
Outstanding performance with a massive 18km range combined with a sleek, unobtrusive mount for modern vehicles is ideal for the adventurer. For what it lacks in size, the radio packs a punch with a built-in loud speaker housed by a durable case.
The compact size makes the radio very easy to mount, and that 18km range means there’s no need to constantly worry about how close you are to your fellow travellers’ vehicle when you’re on the way to your campsite. There is digital selective calling and a quick-release cradle as well.
4x4 buyers' guide: UHF radios
This multi-voltage power pack is ideal for charging DSLR cameras, laptops, smartphones and other devices that run off 5V to 19V power. The Mini-G’s prodigious grunt comes via an inbuilt 12,000mAh lithium battery.
The Mini-G includes one DC input, one DC output (12V, 16V and 19V), a dual-USB output (5V 2A/1A), an easy-to-read LCD screen, one international 19V AC mains charger and one-touch button technology. You can also daisy-chain it with other Mini-Gs. Its case is dust- and waterproof and measures 158mm x 237mm x 80mm and weighs just 323g.
Use is intuitive; once you select the correct voltage requirement for your device the LCD displays the chosen voltage, then you just plug it in and power up.