So you want a big overland expedition truck?
you have seen them everywhere and they look cool, you can imagine yourselves sat by a lake with all the sides out and the table and the barby, looking at the map working out what far off place to visit where no one else can go exept you in your great big truck….
well, this blog post was not written to put you off but may warn you it isn’t all it roses in the world of a big truck.
I had an overland expedition truck for 20 years and I have a few Dakar trucks and I have done many things in expeditions and Dakar that you would never even believe a truck could do, so I know I thing or two about where they will go and what is good /bad about them. ( my wife loves them )
NOTE :: Some of these drivers in the images may be great drivers. remember when off-roading at some point everyone gets stuck and everything breaks, the images are just for illustration on what can happen.
If you are buying a big expedition truck just to look cool or you just have to have one, then other than maintenance you can happily ignore this article.
however if you think your going to go to seriously tough locations then you better get some training and support.
They will go anywhere. ….. No they will not.
They are good , but as will everything off road the weight is the killer, most trucks that are converted to be overland expedition trucks end up at there max weight which is not good for off roading and they also usually being top heavy. Unimogs tend to be the worst for feeling like they will fall over even on a small roundabout .
The weight also means they sink real easy, if you have a great big 8×8 then they also sink, but the word stuck is on another level, I have seen six Kamaz 8×8 service trucks stuck in the Mauritanian desert up to there axles, took them 7 days to get themselves out and I have seen a 8×8 Mercedes fall over in a flat wadi when it hit a little soft spot !!
The trucks above all got stuck on what will have looked like solid ground from the cab.
Most of the time people buy them just so they can get in that nice little place to camp, not really off roading but just getting out of the way. We do it all the time, hiding around the back of a dune or just driving a hundred meters to the side of a river, then you are out of sight ready for a peaceful night, but be warned this can catch you out. I bet that these drivers thought they were driving through/ over was nothing.
but maybe you will not do that and just stick to graveled roads at worst, this brings me onto
They never break. well sorry but yes they do and they are bigger and harder to fix on your own.
Granted a well maintained truck is not like some normal 4×4 they are built to last, but at some point they will break.
If you are lucky then the worst problem you have is tyres. You still have to change tyres , and the bigger the truck the bigger the tyre, a steel 22″ wagon rim will take two strong men to pick up, add a tyre to it and you …. well you get the idea, even if you don’t get the puncture in a tough place like this its’ still a big job.
when it comes to mud, the weight really takes it’s toll an when it is slippy can be very frightening.
a heavy truck will go down deep very quick .
you feel like nothing can hurt you and your are the king of the terrain.
Cambers and slippy slopes can be the worst when you are high up. the feeling of out of control is a fear you have to experience to understand.
You are the biggest thing on the road.
You may think that your massive truck is the biggest thing on the road and well..
The Iveco is a 18 tonne Euro tracker, no small truck itself. These dump trucks can run into town in the Atatcama mining areas.
And big can bring its own issues. remember saying just add another meter onto the rear and it will be Ok.
This list is not exhaustive to the downsides of the big trucks, we all buy them with our hearts and normally find are big heart will not get into anywhere but a motorway in Europe or an open desert in Africa, forget about getting onto any tight Moroccan village or mountain track.
There is no correct expedition vehicle, everyone has different needs and different vehicles, I know someone who cycles the world and never ever takes a car, and I have a friend with an 8×8 CAT that travels just Africa’s wide open spaces , and many people in between.