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futureshock999 last won the day on January 17 2016

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  1. Never use a "tow rope" - these have zero elasticity, or stretch capacity. Use a "recovery strap", which has about 20% elasticity, or better yet a kinetic rope, which should have about 30% elasticity (and priced accordingly). Never use a recovery strap or kinetic rope to actually TOW another vehicle however....that's what tow ropes are for. Don't just carry a small shovel - with a large enough shovel you can unstick yourself from almost ANYTHING in the sand. It may seem impossible if you are carrying a wimpy folding shovel better suited for gardening or digging a latrine, but with a proper shovel you can move enough sand to make anything driveable. I carry two actually, just in case the shaft breaks on one, and to let my passenger help if I have to dig. And carry two shackles...you cannot guess that the other vehicle will have proper rated shackles, and having a shackle break is one of my nightmares. That's the same reason that I always insist upon using my own rated kinetic rope...I have seen the videos and heard the tales of snapped recovery shackles or points sending a shackle through the pulling vehicle's windscreen. It can kill you - make sure the equipment you use is up to the job. Make sure you have a jack and a thick base board for the jack to steady it in the sand. And make sure you know how to USE your jack and change a tire. Always carry SOME type of tools - even if it is a folding Leatherman pocket tool, or a cheap "Automotive Toolkit" from Ace. With zero tools you have zero options if something breaks. If you want to go all-out, carry a complete set of wrenches and spanners and screwdrivers, and pliers - they don't have to be the best make (Yato or similar Chinese brand is fine), but make sure you cover the 6mm - 20mm range in spanners and socket wrenches, and some common screwdrivers (cross and blade heads). A hacksaw is also useful for cutting away damaged body panels after an accident. I think I got a complete boxed set of Yato tools from Speedex in Dubai with everything for around 700 AED...for as infrequently as I use them they didn't have to be the best. But they have been VERY useful...possibly the best 700 AED I have spent on my truck. And lastly, carry two flashlights, one a powerful handheld, and the other a head-strap carried worklight. And batteries for both. Also blankets, jacket or two, food and water, and an emergency whistle or two...but those almost go without saying.
  2. And let me add Oryx : The Oryx 4x4 We are very fortunate to have so many clubs to choose from. For harryd - I hear you. Try AD4x4 and TheOryx if you are as language limited as I am. Both enforce almost exclusive use of the one common language in the region, English, and both have radio discipline. Although if you were driving on my team on Friday's GPS Hunt I did make you listen to a few minutes of my singing on air.. "Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin', they gonna do what they say can't be done..." It was a long 6 hours at a newbie's pace to teach proper GPS use...lol.
  3. For those interested in the national make-up of the clubs mentioned, I think the Alexa graphs have a lot of info. If you'll notice, some of the clubs have a real decrease in visitors in the second half of December - notably AD4x4 and UAEOffroaders. I think it is very safe to say that these are two clubs with a fair number of expats - people that went home in the second half of December. But that info is not really useful. For example, AD4x4 has a large expat membership, and an official "English language spoken" policy, and all trip briefings, web site content, radio messages, etc. are all supposed to be in English. And by and large that is true - but there are exceptions. A lot of the night drives have very heavy UAE national participation, and Arabic is spoken much more commonly - sometimes a lot more than English. I don't know how some of the other clubs are, but my guess is that the nationality of a gathering is flexible and there will always be variances depending upon the day and the trip. The smaller clubs are obviously more consistent...for example TheOryx is very much an English language club...unless you happen to take a bunch of (Danish?) friends along on a drive and then find that your campfire discussion has lapsed into Danish. These things happen. You just have to be flexible and open to getting some great cross-cultural experiences. Having said that, it is worthless to join a club that is exclusively Arabic speaking (including any radio messages and their website) unless you speak some Arabic. But that should be apparent early on...
  4. Totally depends upon the vehicle and usage. For a Wrangler, Kings first, although Radflo is the new hotness. For an FJ, ICON makes the best value pre-tuned multi-shock (2 per wheel) setup, but a case can be made for Kings or Radflo if only using 4 shocks. In any general sense, Kings and Radflos are really designed for high-speed desert racing, Icons a close third, with Fox a bit after them. The OMEs, Ironmans, and the rest are OK, but most don't offer a separate oil/nitrogen charge reservoir, which you want if hitting them hard in the desert at high speed. Nor are they as tunable as Kings, Icons, and Radflos. But let's be clear- you asked about "the best", and that ain't cheap. The best desert shock setups (8 Kings total including 4 multi bypass) will run at least 50,000 AED. Phase I of my FJ ICON setup just cost me 18,000 AED, and to add the Phase II multi bypass front shocks and rear bump stops will cost me another 12,000, at least. And I skipped the high cost options like solid aluminum billet upper control arms and matching lowers...it could have been a lot higher. So, you may want to consider what you mean as "best". And how badly you want it.
  5. just to add, about a third of AD4x4's drivers live in Dubai, and a lot of their drives are near Dubai as well. Don't let the AD title throw you off if you live in Dubai. And while I am commenting on clubs, Almost4x4 is a club I have never driven with but whom I have great respect for. Their YouTube vids are great, and those that I have talked to are very nice. Recently one of their marshals went out on an emergency call at 1AM to assist 3 cars (strangers and not members of Almost) that had broken in the desert when the police did not respond to them - alone he got them all out that night. Respect. Someday I hope to do a drive with them.
  6. Just to add a few: 8) TheOryx4x4 - a splinter club from AbuDhabi4x4 created when a few marshals left to do something smaller and more personable, and with fewer rules. Some great drivers and great people, with more of a social life than AD4x4. (I'm not knocking AD4x4, I think they are a great, great club and perhaps the best club for newbies to get an intro to the sport). Very good club for those with limited Arabic. 9) Fury4x4 - a bunch of insane, adventure seeking drivers who go all out. A great club if you have the skills to hang with them and don't mind risking your vehicle on occasion. The few that I have met are great guys too. I should also point out that a great many drivers belong to more than one club. Gives more choices of drives and trips on a given weekend, and expands your social circle.
  7. Agree with Taquir, not a single one of them is capable in the dunes, or available for near your budget...and most of them are too expensive to repair after a desert accident.
  8. The key to having fun in desert driving is not too heavy a vehicle (as you want it to float on the sand), a big engine (4 litres or close to it), a short-ish wheelbase, and a real 4x4 drive system, with Differential Lock if you can get it. My three choices below all adhere to this. For that price, the only options I would consider is a Jeep Wrangler, an FJ Cruiser, or 3-door Pujero. I know that right now, there is for sale on the Abu Dhabi 4x4 club website a VERY nice used 2009 model year Wrangler with all appropriate offroad mods that has been used by one of the Marshals of the group, for a bit over 60k. So a bit higher than your budget, but if you can stretch it would be well worth it - I've seen him drive it and it will go pretty much anywhere you have the nerve to drive it. (http://www.ad4x4.com/club/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=22154&sid=cb76ec2e6c8ce9675a67cdb7fafb249f) If you want to use it on the highway as much as the desert (my vehicle is both a Daily Driver and a Weekend Warrior), then look for an FJ Cruiser - more comfortable and safer on the road than the Wrangler, much more survivable in a highway accident (but to be honest, not as good on the dunes as a fully upgraded Wrangler). But Toyotas really hold their value, and I fear that you might have to go back a few more years of age to get a similar price to a Jeep. You can go for a 3-door short wheelbase Pujero as well...the previous generation Pujeros are pretty nice, and in some ways better than the current generation, as they lack a lot of the plastic bits on the bumper that have to either be guarded or cut away to make the current Pujeros usable in the sand. Again, they hold their value, and not as good off-road as an FJ IMHO...so why not just get an FJ in my thinking? But if you can find a good used 3-door one, it will do the job. That is pretty much ALL I would consider, really. The short wheelbase Nissan Patrols are underpowered in my opinion, the long wheelbase Patrols excellent but would have to be very used to fit your budget. Anything that says "Rover" would be either too expensive (RR, RR Sport, LR3, LR4), unsuited (LR2), or too high a center of gravity (Defender) to really have fun with in the bowls and switchbacks. The other Jeeps are not as good in the sand as a Wrangler, nor as cheap. Besides Jeeps, the only American 4x4s that are fun in the desert are F-150 Raptors, but waaaay too expensive. The other American SUVs are basically jacked-up trucks with poor 4x4 systems, except Hummers, which are just WAY too heavy to do any real freestyle driving with (they WILL take you across the dunes...you will just be bored). Mind you, I was out in the desert last weekend and we saw some Korean-SUV that someone had put a HUGE lift kit on and was out tearing up the dunes...a lot of dune driving is the driver, not the vehicle. Oh, and your recovery kit...
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