Some overlanders like to be prepared for any eventuality. So they pack accordingly, filling their vehicles with the kitchen sink, three spare wheels, the mother-in-law, and then some. What if you still need some space for the rusks, and charcoal?
Picture the scene: you are on that bucket list trip to Damaraland, in Namibia. And somehow you have landed up on the infamous Divorce Pass, leading to the spectacular Ugab River, flanked by some of the most stunning rock formations in all of Africa. Divorce Pass is a nasty, bouncy business. It is lined with rocks, with sharp edges that lie in wait just to puncture your 4×4’s tyres. Unfortunately you only have one spare wheel, because the rusks, the kitchen sink, the charcoal and three bottles of Oros have taken up plenty of space in your SUV’s boot.
Then you hear it: psssssssssssssst. Oh dear. That’s definitely the sound of pressurised air escaping. You stop and find that one of the mud terrain tyres has a gaping wound on the sidewall: no tyre repair kit is going to fix that. You go through the process of jacking up your 4×4, removing the spare wheel from its dwelling underneath the cargo floor, and replacing the stricken wheel. This takes about an hour, but all’s well that ends well, and eventually you are on your way again. Then: pssssssssssssst. Oh dear. Oh dear. That’s another puncture. This time at least it is repairable with the tyre repair kit, and before long you are on the, well, rocks again. Extra carefully you negotiate the rocky track, steering clear of anything that remotely looks like a potential puncture. And then, as you come within sight of the Ugab River: pssssssssssssst! No! Inspecting the damage, you find that the same tyre that you repaired earlier now sports a large gash on the sidewall.
Time then, to crack out the braai and charcoal, and get comfy as you
wait for another vehicle to come along… you’ve run out of rubber, and you’re not going anywhere soon. Taking an extra spare wheel to places such as the rocky tracks of Damaraland is highly recommended, especially if you’re travelling by yourself. But space can be an issue. The solution? A roof rack! Fitting a roof rack to your vehicle will increase loading capacity, freeing up space inside your vehicle. However, it’s certainly not the be all and end all of loading solutions. Vehicles have different roof loading capacities, and overloading a roof rack is certainly not advised. Still, it can handle bulky items such as a spare wheel that takes up a lot of space. Ditto with jerry cans… and the diesel or petrol fumes won’t bother you in the cabin, either. Of course, the other advantage is that a roof rack can facilitate the fitment of a roof-top tent. So you can take your hotel room with you to Damaraland.
Get the inside info
Ask your local 4×4 expert about the best roof rack solution for your specific needs and vehicle. It doesn’t make much sense to spend more than R10 000 on a fancy rack if you are just going to carry one spare wheel on it. There are many options to choose from, so be sure to find the best solution for your needs and pocket.