Driving in the Most Hostile Environments on Earth

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Tony Santos

Most of us are lucky enough to live in an area where the roads are well maintained and the vehicles used are therefore standard and not required to do anything special. One might ask themselves what kinds of vehicles are necessary when driving through some of the toughest terrain on earth. From deserts to the Arctic, below details just a few of the options available to those with a more adventurous spirit.

Deserts

While they are some of the most arid places on earth, deserts also boast some of the most difficult driving conditions. With the lack of rain it would be thought by many that the ground would be hard and east to move on, but this is not the case. The main problem associated with desert driving is the weight of the vehicle pushing down in to the millions of individual granules of sand, therefore causing the wheels to be stuck in self-made holes.

Probably the best vehicle to combat this problem is the dune buggy, which is specifically built to overcome all of the desert’s unique problems. With a light chassis to minimize the amount the car sinks, as well as huge power to force it away and through the sand, it has everything needed to facilitate the best desert driving experience, as well as being great fun as well.

Jungle

With its searing heat and unpredictable weather, driving through jungle can be a tricky task for even the most experienced of drivers. With many tracks built, there shouldn’t be the problem of dodging trees at every corner, but these tracks are poorly maintained and full of potholes and divots, as well as being muddy and having no grip for the tires. This requires a vehicle that not only has the power to propel it through the mud and surface water, but also one with the suspension and high wheel base to cope with the irregular surface.

The only vehicle that matches these specifications to a tee is the Land Rover, which is not only the most widely used off-road vehicle in the world, but also the most reliable in terms of how often it breaks down. This vehicle will cope with any terrain thrown at it, and can even almost submerge itself in water when needing to cross one of the many rivers that run through the mightiest of jungles.

Ice

Whether it’s the Arctic or the Antarctic, there are obviously many hazards that the driver has to contend with in this environment. The most serious of these is the lack of grip that a car has on the ice, with the friction being almost non-existent. This creates the hazard of losing control and skidding, which can only be overcome through the use of tires specially designed to cope with this situation, usually having deep treads, or at least being covered with snow socks. The other problem is that of cracking ice, which can give way to heavier vehicles and therefore put the occupants in extreme danger.

While cars that are built to survive the Arctic and Antarctic conditions are usually specially built, cars to drive on regular ice are much easier to find. The best are those with 2-wheel drive, as four wheel drives means twice the wheel spinning, but another major factor is having a gear system that is able to rev to a high degree, pulling a car out of the snow and ice and propelling it forward without more issues. Most regular cars are, in fact, able to cope with this and in all honesty it is more down to who is actually doing the driving.

Mountains

When people from the Western world think of mountains, they usually think of winding roads through pristine ranges, but the reality for most areas is far different. Badly maintained roads going up steep inclines are the norm, with the added factor of them being usually too narrow for larger vehicles to easily navigate.

The ideal vehicle for this terrain would be a small off road vehicle, with the power to accelerate up hills but also with the size to easily navigate small passes and tricky corners. Something like a smaller Jeep would be perfect for this, as would the previously aforementioned Land Rover.

2007 Jeep Rubicon

 

Miles Walker is a freelance writer and blogger who usually looks at car insurance comparison deals over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org.

Categorized | Car News, Featured, SUV/4WD/Trucks

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