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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I have been planning for a big trip coming up in August, and while I have pretty extensive camping/backpacking experience I have limited overlanding experience and was hoping to seek advice from those who may have a bit more than myself or just recommendations for the parks we plan to visit. I have done some research here as well as on offroadsubarus.com. It's still a ways off so I have time to prep and acquire the things I may need.

The trip will be about 18 days on the road either car camping (both sleeping in my car and tent outside) or using the car as a base camp and doing some backpacking. I will be traveling with a couple friends and we will be taking two cars, mine and a TRD Pro Tacoma. We will be traveling from Tennessee to Badlands NP, Glacier NP, Grand Teton NP, Denver, and back to Tennessee.

My car will be entirely stock, including tires (barring a flat before then), however, I do plan on getting and bringing along a full size spare. I have an extended Loadwarrior basket I plan on using for gear, the extra wheel, and an awning. Inside I plan on using either a full size futon mattress in the back or my Nemo pad to sleep on. I am tall enough that I need to pop the headrests off the passenger side seats and fully recline the front seat to be able to lie fully stretched but I have tested it out and found it very flat and comfortable.

Now for the gear. I have pretty much everything needed for camping but I am still open to additional recommendations or tips. We plan on playing it pretty safe on road/trails, but the trip is over 4,000 miles so I want to make sure we are equipped. For recovery I plan on getting snatch straps, a couple D rings, Maxtrax or similar boards, a shovel, ARB tire repair kit, a small compressor, gas cans, a tool set, and possibly a hand winch. I considered getting an ARB exhaust lift/jack but will probably just bring a piece of wood to stabilize the stock jack if I run into an issue in the dirt.

The other two I will be traveling with work in hospitals, so they have taken responsibility for any first aid requirements.

Is there anything we may need, likely haven't thought of, or that you think is overkill?

I wasn't sure whether to post in Gen 5 or Unpaved, but thought Gen 5 might get more visibility.

Also, I plan on going to Overland Expo East in November if any of you will be making the trip out.

I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures when the time comes.

Thanks for all the help.
 

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A couple weeks after getting my OB I went to WY hiking and to observe the eclipse, I came back thru Badlands, a couple weeks after that I went to British Columbia, including Glacier NP.
I take a hand pump, small air compressor, and patch kit. It has come in handy, I took two nails to the sidewall, do not believe what you hear about repairing a sidewall flat. Mine has been good for 16K miles now without leaking. Although I would say it probably isn't a good idea to go offroad with a sidewall repair.
I was going to start a thread about it , I still might.


Badlands= if you have never been there it is just like it sounds, expect no trees, no water (although there is likely some somewhere in the park, just not where you are, so get it before you need it when convenient), bare ground for tent although you could get lucky, after all, it is a prairie.
Glacier=it can be warm during the day but expect to be cold at night, and colder if it isn't summer. Maybe the most beautiful park in NA. See it before there are no glaciers. Enter and exit from the east side, that's REAL Montana, the west side is EveryPlaceElse. Oh, and Grizzlies are NOT cute, but they are rare, but don't tempt fate with a messy camp site.
There are a lot of interesting places you have never heard of near the parks, do your research, you'll be glad you did.


I also used a full size air mattress, one word of warning, watch the elevation, an air mattress that is stiff at 3000 feet may break the seams at 10,000, one that is stiff at 10,000 will be almost empty at 3000.


A hammock is a great alternative to sleeping in car or tent. If you are worried about bears keep in mind a plate of glass isn't going to stop them, and a tent won't either.
 

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We plan on playing it pretty safe on road/trails, but the trip is over 4,000 miles so I want to make sure we are equipped. For recovery I plan on getting snatch straps, a couple D rings, Maxtrax or similar boards, a shovel, ARB tire repair kit, a small compressor, gas cans, a tool set, and possibly a hand winch. I considered getting an ARB exhaust lift/jack but will probably just bring a piece of wood to stabilize the stock jack if I run into an issue in the dirt.
You want to get all that recovery equipment, but you're forgoing mounting all terrain tires?? Anytime you're going anywhere that you'd need to worry about a snatch strap, you should probably have AT's. Otherwise it seems like you're guaranteeing that you'll need all that equipment.

All terrains tires will make the biggest difference in your cars capability and dependability off pavement. I'm not an off-road expert, but everything I've read in learning to take my OB off pavement supports this.

I would leave the mattress behind and stick with your nemo pad IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
There are a lot of interesting places you have never heard of near the parks, do your research, you'll be glad you did.
Any recommendations on places we should check out? It's a part of the country I have never been to.

There are a few buffer days built in to our time frame but we are planning on spending the longest portion of our trip at Glacier (~5 days, 6 nights) doing a lot of hiking. I read that the North Fork section of the park is the least crowded. The NPS website for Badlands recommends 2 days to see the entire park so we are planning on doing 2 days, 3 nights there.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You want to get all that recovery equipment, but you're forgoing mounting all terrain tires?? Anytime you're going anywhere that you'd need to worry about a snatch strap, you should probably have AT's. Otherwise it seems like you're guaranteeing that you'll need all that equipment.
I am still open for recommendations at this point, so tires are not entirely off the table. It's a part of the country I have never been to, so I am unsure if I'll need them. I was thinking park/forest roads would be fairly well maintained? I don't plan on taking the car anywhere it can't go, but conditions can change by the time I'd need to get back out if I have been camping a few days.

My friend with the truck was planning on getting the boards, and a 17,500 lb ARB snatch strap is only $60.
 

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1. Get "National Park Annual Pass" if you haven't bought it.
2. You may also add national monument stops on your road trip.

Enjoy the trip. Wish I have time to drive my outback across Sates.
 

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As others have said already,

a stock car will stick to dirt roads, not 4x4 trails, and will therefore not need any serious recovery equipment.

You have a brand new car, does it include road assistance? In that case, you need nothing, besides good judgment and a tire plug kit. If you want to have something just in case of some mud trouble etc, a simple tow strap (not snatch strap; you should not be in the kind of mud where that would apply in a stock car) with shackles will do (I have soft shackles).

You can never go wrong with a set of AT tires though. Just a P-metric AT in your stock size will do. They may or may not resist punctures better (will depend on how mild they are), but they will perform WAY better than the stock tires on dirt.

As for air mattresses, totally! We are an air mattress family! All camping trips, always. I sleep way better on an air mattress in a tent than I do in good hotels, let alone motels.
 

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I am still open for recommendations at this point, so tires are not entirely off the table. It's a part of the country I have never been to, so I am unsure if I'll need them. I was thinking park/forest roads would be fairly well maintained? I don't plan on taking the car anywhere it can't go, but conditions can change by the time I'd need to get back out if I have been camping a few days.

My friend with the truck was planning on getting the boards, and a 17,500 lb ARB snatch strap is only $60.
It depends which parks. Unless you swing south to Utah, they probably just have maintained dirt roads (not true in Utah). Yellowstone and Grand Teton have none anyway. The main forest roads are very friendly to Subarus but the tiny spurs should be avoided because they are unpredictable and it takes very little to challenge the bumpers of a stock OB.

The recovery boards don't work well with Subarus because of the lack of low range and the constant moving of torque between front/rear and side/to/side. I experimented once with my TRED1100 and did not like them. I still carried them around and used them a couple times as ramps over stones I had thrown to fill in small ledges. They are too weak to serve as ramps unsupported (they won't necessarily break but they will bend a LOT).

The 17,500 ARB snatch strap: I have had it for years. Never used. Per the OZ guidelines that is too strong of a strap to be useful (they say you need 2-3 times GVWR and these are official OZ guidelines). In the US, everyone goes bigger but that defeats the purpose of having an elastic device. Generally, just lower tire pressures to around 10 and if even that does not help, a gentle pull should suffice. Anyway, it is perfectly sized to my current 4Runner Offroad, so I still carry it around. At least I now have proper recovery points to which it can be attached via a load distribution strap. On the Subaru, the eye bolt is very strong, ask me how I know, but it is on one side of the vehicle.

If you are careful, and keep traction control/"VDC" off in sand or mud, it is very, very hard to get stuck in a Subaru without driving straight into what obviously should be avoided.

Also, you CANNOT use an exhaust jack safely! There is nowhere to jack. I tested mine but I had skid plates and it worked great under those for the front. But there was no way to use it in the rear. I tried under the rear of the rocker panels but as the bag inflated I got concerned that it might damage the doors, which it began to hug, so I gave up. I carried two small pieces of wood to use with the jack (never had a puncture though). I still carried the air jack in order to lift the front if it gets stuck somewhere but never needed it for that either.
 

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You want to get all that recovery equipment, but you're forgoing mounting all terrain tires?? Anytime you're going anywhere that you'd need to worry about a snatch strap, you should probably have AT's. Otherwise it seems like you're guaranteeing that you'll need all that equipment.

All terrains tires will make the biggest difference in your cars capability and dependability off pavement. I'm not an off-road expert, but everything I've read in learning to take my OB off pavement supports this.

I would leave the mattress behind and stick with your nemo pad IMHO.
In actuality he is going over prepared, in Nat'l Parks you have to stay on approved roads which are passable even by 2WD vehicles, although there are exceptions, but not where he is going. An example is Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park which I have travelled in a 2WD RAV4.The Duelers will be fine. Besides, he is going with another vehicle which allows for one helping the other, its not like he is alone.
 

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Any recommendations on places we should check out? It's a part of the country I have never been to.

There are a few buffer days built in to our time frame but we are planning on spending the longest portion of our trip at Glacier (~5 days, 6 nights) doing a lot of hiking. I read that the North Fork section of the park is the least crowded. The NPS website for Badlands recommends 2 days to see the entire park so we are planning on doing 2 days, 3 nights there.
everybody likes something different, so hard to say, one thing I would check out though are places between parks, and go on two lane roads rather than interstate whenever possible. Keep in mind speed limit is higher in MT, most 2 lanes it is 70 and towns are few and far between so there isn't as much time penalty as other areas. This is true in WY as well although there speed limit is 10 mph lower. If you do not stay in one of the Park Hotels at least stop by and have a cup of Joe or even eat there, they are interesting places, and the food is good. If you have never had buffalo, while you are in MT or WY, or SD, this would be the time to do it.
Sadly, they are "improving" the road from Browning to St. Mary, eventually it will be like the west side :( check out the status of road construction before you go.
Two Medicine is less crowded on the SE side, Many Glacier is more busy but also better services, which is why it is more busy, never been hiking elsewhere, but it sounds like you are doing your homework. Try to take in some of the short hikes from Going To The Sun too.


Since you are going between Badlands & Grand Teton, if you need a place between to camp, or hike, check out Big Horn Mtns, either 14 or 16 thru them, both are interesting though a bit different from each other. Lots of FREE camping there, you can drive both vehicles to a site that you have all for yourself. This is REAL WY, or at least as real as it gets, not the Nat'l Parks campgrounds which aren't terribly different than being back home other than the fantastic scenery.
 
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