In 1894 David W. Brunton, a geologist working in Colorado, revolutionized modern navigation with the introduction of the Pocket Transit.  Geologists and engineers of the time routinely carried around survey transits and compasses, tripods, clinometers, and plane tables while developing exploratory mineral maps.  Originally manufactured for Mr. Brunton by Wm. Ainsworth & Sons, the Brunton Pocket Transit successfully combined the ability to measure compass bearings, horizontal and vertical angles, and obtain clinometer readings into an ‘instrument sufficiently small and light to be carried in a vest pocket.’  The Pocket Transit virtually eliminated the need for tripods, or an assistant, to sight and read the bearing of distant objects and was built strong enough to remain accurate in the most demanding of professions.  

There are many dual battery systems available on the market. Some of the more famous ones kits being National Luna, Dirty Parts and Painless Wiring. You can easily build your own system as well using solenoids and isolators. The IBS DBS system is a relatively new system available in the states for the past several years. It was created by Swiss, Beat Wyss after having suffered two dead batteries while traveling in Australia’s Great Victorian Desert with his 60 Series Land Cruiser. IBS has created and made Intelligent Battery Systems for over 15 years in Switzerland. We chose the IBS DBS system due to its proven solid state design and if the starter battery dies or discharges to 10v or below we can self jump from the auxiliary battery with the optional RBM module. Our kit came from, the US distributor for IBS Switzerland. 

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Hiking survival

Visibility dropped to less than 50 yards. Fog moved in making it impossible to see his way out. He had grown up in these mountains, no way he could be lost. The truck had to be just across the creek. Wondering why there wasn’t any water in the creek, he surmised it must have dried up. Then he wondered why his truck wasn’t where he parked it. He resisted the confession. He had no idea where he was. He panicked. He ran. His pack grew heavy and for a moment he thought about dropping it so he could move faster to the security of his rig. He ran downhill into an open meadow that he was sure led back to the road, only to trip over continuous waves of waist-high deadfall. He had no idea where he was now. The cold sank in along with the realization this was going to be a long night. The fog turned to a light drizzle and then small ice pellets. His clothes were soaked, his morale diminished. He was alone. 

Survival situations don’t “just happen”. There is usually a path that the accident victim has taken to get to where they are in time and space. An unexpected phone call that interrupts a hikers packing routine can mean not having a rain jacket when the weather changes. Then the same hiker stays too long sun bathing at a lunch stop, notices storm clouds moving in and gets lost as she hastily makes her way back to her truck.  It gets dark faster than she expected and she loses her way back to her rig. Accidents are a combination of events that impact other events. People who love the outdoors die every year following their passion because they are ill prepared. Lets talk about the gear you can take in a small daypack.

Cutting Tool

Of all the survival tools, a knife is the most difficult to replace or replicate. The ability to cut cordage, split wood, carve objects, etc. depends on a good blade. 

In Your Pack: A non-folding knife is the first preference for survival. You want a knife that can cut, slice, hack, baton, chopnd take abuse. A carbon steel, full tanged blade with a 90 degree spine is preferred. A folding knife is a nice second or back-up knife. Better to have two and lose one, if you lose one you have none. Also, don’t discount a small folding saw in your bag as well. When it comes to chopping versus sawing, chopping burns up to the calories you need to preserve.


Over 700 people in the U.S. die of hypothermia every year. At this point it’s up to you and Mother Nature to come to terms in getting flame. Fire is one of the most critical skills you can learn and be prepared to create when faced with adversity. Fire is warmth, a psychological lift, an ability to 

purify water, a signal device, and if needed, a means to cook food.  Practice skills such as the split-wood, twig, and wet wood fire techniques often so fire making becomes second nature. 

In Your Bag: Nothing beats the portability of a ferro rod (such as a Light My Fire) used to create a spark and ignite tinder into a flame. Sure lighters and matches are convenient, but a ferro rod does not take on moisture like matches (even water-proof) and is not mechanical like a lighter. You will need something to catch the spark and turn it into a flame. For tinder, carry cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly in a small metal tin or tin foil and zipper sandwich bag. Throw in a pencil sharpener to quickly create dry tinder for igniting. Add a windproof lighter, birthday gag candles that don’t blow out, and a small tin of wood shavings in your daypack.


The water you are looking at may look clean and puret most likely isn’t. When you start opening your survival kit, things have already gone south. Don’t make them worse by ingesting protozoans, bacteria, and other things that cruise in the streams, lakes, and rivers.

In Your Pack: First, go prepared. A hydration bladder-based pack is your best option. It holds up to 100 ounces of water and there is a convenient tube to remind you to stay hydrated. Second, when you run out of life-liquid, fill it up using a water filtering system. A ceramic or paper-based water filter is the way to go for ensuring water is free from Giardia, rotozoa, and bacteria found in water. Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes diarrhea, something to avoid when already faced in a dire situation. Filters are lightweight and easy to pack. Word of caution, you don’t have to drink the water to get Giardia, simply getting it in your ears, eyes, nose, or inside the mouth can cause illness.


It can only take three hours of exposure to extreme elements for you to give up the ghost. Whether its heat, rain, snow, wind, or temperature, you have to get out of the elements. A proper shelter also alerts rescuers as to your location when they start looking for you.

In Your Pack: A heavy duty Mylar space-blanket is worth its weight in gold. It can be used in the winter to retain up to 75% of your body heat by wrapping it around you. It can double as a tarp to sleep under in hot or cold conditions, and can be used to catch rain water for drinking. Carry one that is either red or orange for ease of spotting. Add black gorilla tape to your kit and when in trouble, mark it with three “Xs”. You not advertising any kind of backwoods entertainment, you are signaling rescuers. Don’t forget to throw in 50 of 550/para-cord to tie up your tarp.


OK Daniel Boone, here’s hoping you were ready for adversity and had some pre-packed calories in your bag when you took off. If not you’re either going to go hungry or resort to a few field expedient methods to fill your pie hole.

Your Pack: Keep backpacking meals, jerky, granola bars, GORP, or hard candy in your pack. Don’t overlook the need to take game. People have survived on small game and fish when food ran out. A small “survival-sized” fishing kit, slingshot, and snares can get you game, but master each one of these. Go out and fish with the kit you put in your pack, most likely you will then modify it. Snares are easy to make, but in reality it’s a game of chance and you need 10-15 snares to increase your odds. A slingshot is the most practical game taker. Easy to use and if you run out of ammunition, there is plenty on the ground in most environments. Last, learn how to clean and cook game.


Most victims fail to call for help when they actually need it. Don’t be shy about calling for rescue and don’t wait until the last minute, by then its too late. Working on  teams I always preferred to rescue a haphazard mountain biker than do a body recovery.

In Your Pack: Signal mirror, emergency whistle, and pen flares should be a part of your signal kit. Learn the right methods for using a center-style mirror and stay away from any whistles that have a ball or pea in them, your breath will freeze it and make it useless in the winter. Some day packs now come with a whistle embedded in the buckles and a few companies that make sparking devices to create fire have also integrated emergency whistles into the handle. Don’t forget to throw in an orange bandana or fleece hat to aid in rescuers seeing you. A SPOTsatellite is well worth the cost of the device and subscription service.

First Aid

In Your Pack: Out exploring trails or tracking down game your injury changes and you could find yourself alone. Cuts, abrasions, stings or sprains are common injuries. A solid backpacking first aid kit should do the trick. Here we are talking cuts, scrapes, blisters, and stings. Something to treat minor wounds and not bear attacks is what you need here.

In surviving a catastrophe there are really three groups the 10-80-10 rule. The first 10percent of people simply don’t survive an accident. The last 10percent seem to just make it through no matter what. The middle 80percent are  become a detriment to others. Go and explore the world, but be prepared  wind up in a real world experience. Train now, pick your gear, learn how to use it. Keep simple rules in mind like letting others know where you are going and when you will be back.

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    Summer Road Trips

    With warm weather just around the corner, it’s time to start planning summer road trips. And when it comes satisfying your thirst for adventure, national parks are among the best road trip destinations in North America. Getting to some of our nation’s best known parks is half the fun, and once you’re there, many offer plenty of road to travel and explore. 

    Quickie tie-down ratchet

    Auto part and giant retail stores offer tie-down ratchet straps at varying lengths and colors. While these certainly work, there are some constraints and issues. Try to shorten the strap by winding it too tight, and you’ll quickly discover the frustration of trying to unwind the jammed strap. The range in length is limited, so you need to own multiple sizes. The mechanism to loosen the ratchet feels like a guillotine against your fingers. 

    Fossil Springs hiking

    The Hike

    Distance  to the Old Fossil Creek Dam via Flume Trail: 8 miles

    Elevation change: 1280 feet

    Difficulty: Moderate

    Time: Allow 2-3 hours each way  time to swim and explore the falls.

    Water: No potable water available.  Water can be filtered from the creek.


    The Drive

    From Phoenix: 

    Travel north on 1-17 to Camp Verde.  Head east on AZ Highway 260 for about 7 miles to a well-marked sign for Fossil Springs Road (FS road 708).  Proceed 16 miles on rough dirt road to the Irving Flume 


    High clearance vehicle recommended.  Road may be impassable during wet weather. Car possible when conditions are dry.  



    Spring, Summer and Fall



    Camping is free.  The sites are mostly pullouts along the road.  Dispersed camping along the FS road 708 


    Camping is allowed downstream of Fossil Creek Bridge if your camp is at least 100 feet from the edge of the creek.  Camping is also allowed upstream of the Old Fossil Creek Dam 


    Camping is prohibited within a quarter mile either side of Fossil Creek from the Old Fossil Creek Dam downstream to Fossil Creek Bridge


    Map of area and current regulations from


    Why this hike?

    Fossil Creek marks the true definition of what an asis is meant to be.  This dazzling riparian springfed creek is made possible by a group of springs that pump 72degree crystal clear water to the surface at a rate of 20,000 gallons per minute.  


    This wide and steep canyon produces paradise at the edge of the Colorado Plateau 

    near the Mogollon Rim.  This is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the state of Arizona.  The native desert shrubs and cacti are joined by more than 30 species of trees and serve as a retreat for abundant wildlife.  

    The area hosts many recreational activities including hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, swimming, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, star gazing and of course the ever important solitude.


    Themade this oasis one of the most unique and possibly the most abundant spring systems in the state of Arizona.


    On The Trail

    I arrived  my campsite  hours before the sun rested for the evening over the shoulders of the mountains in the Coconino National Forest.  It left enough time to explore the surrounding creeks under the Fossil Springs Bridge and  view  the cotton candy skies that make Arizona one of the best places in the world to view a sunset.

    A night of rest in the five billion star hotel that hosted some brilliant star gazing opportunities allowed for a leisurely start to the morning before heading out on the Flume trail.

    Nine a.m. was a perfect time to begin the trek to the Old Fossil Creek Dam.  The flume trail begins with an immediate crossing of the creek to the west side of the water.  It continues up a slope along the rocky old flume road.  You keep trekking along this arid high desert trail that  panoramic views from 600 feet above the canyon.  This route faces south and with temperatures in the summer reaching above 90 degrees it is ideal to visit in the spring or fall.  The summer months bring massive amounts of people and can cause closures due to the crowds.  With the water at 72 degrees it is perfectly slated for a springtime adventure.


    There are several opportunities to take refuge in the shade offered by the wise old sycamores and box elders.  The sun is warm enough to keep you constantly thinking about the pools this riparian oasis has to offer below.  When you have that last mile to trek and you begin to constantly wipe the sweat from your brow you get a glorious glimpse of the gem below waiting for you as a bounty.  


    Once you drop down onto the shaded shoulders of the creek there are small travertine dams and falls all along the creek babbling and encouraging you to take a dip into the mineral laden water.  


    chools of chub swimming in the ponds along with the endangered Chiricahua leopard frogs and canyon tree frogs leaping into the water  an example of how it should be done. 


    Once you arrive at the Old Fossil Creek Dam you can spend all afternoon jumping into the many pools marveling at the butterflies, damselflies and birds relaxing in the sun on a slab of rock swimming or enjoying the soothing sounds of the many 

    falls that  all along the creek.  

    At some point you have to leave this oasis to its permanent inhabitants and thank them for allowing you to visit then tackle the task of the four-mile hike back to the bumpy road that leads to the hot asphalt streets of civilization.  

    Keep in mind during this dirt filled and reality stricken trek back that there is one last chance to splash around in this terrific sanctuary at the creek crossing where you began this tour.


    There are many other incredible sights and trails in this wilderness  he maximum camping allowed is 14 days.  Take some time and visit the area for a day or a week just be sure you leave no trace when you do.

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    Photos provided by James Hart

    Home on the highway part 2 - Toyota Trucks Magazine

    In 2011, James Hart and Lauren Neel took off from San Francisco and headed south of the border seeking adventure in their 1st generation 4Runner. TCT Magazine interviewed them about their fantastic journey. This is the 2nd of a 2-part series. See the January 2015 issue for Part 1.

    What were your most dangerous moments?

    While in Colombia, we read about a tough mountainous track. This mud road, the width of a large truck, is carved out of the side of a jungle-covered mountain. Adorned by waterfalls and rivers, the road is frequented by rain and fog. Everyone told us to avoid this route, so it was obvious we had to check it out. The steep and winding road was slick with mud and the edge was a 700-foot sheer drop with no guardrails.

    Adding to the challenge, it is a primary logging route for illegal wood harvesting. Expect to encounter a huge semi-truck barreling down the mountain loaded to the brim with illegal timber. Might-makes-right on this mountain and since there is not enough room for two trucks, it becomes a scramble to find some way to allow the bigger truck to pass. At times we were reversing down a slippery mud mountain road hugging the cliff edge. Occasionally we could see below a truck shattered into a pieces with cargo flung across the jungle canopy.

    It was during one of these maneuvers we experienced the most dangerous time of our entire trip. We were coming around a bend when we saw a huge truck barreling down on us. It was approaching quickly and we did not have time to back-up or hunt for a new spot. I quickly jerked us over to the side of the road, yelling for Lauren to stick her head out the window and tell me how much room I had. She said she could not see any road! In this instant the truck passed within 2-inches of hitting our front bumper. It actually clipped my side-mirror as it roared past, not slowing even a bit. Had that truck been any closer, there is no doubt we would have been knocked off that cliff. I would love to drive that road again…it was epic.

    We also traveled on the infamous Bolivian Death Road, where we spotted many memorial crosses. Traffic is lessened since a new highway was recently built. Despite lack of traffic, it was still pretty sketchy with the fog so thick, I could not see past the hood.

    Did the 4Runner cause you any moments of panic?

    While in the beautiful San Guillermo National Park in Argentina, we made it across a deep river crossing, but the truck stalled on the other side. Water got in the airbox. Fearing hydrolock, I removed the intake, filter, and MAF and let everything dry out. After about 30 minutes, I reinstalled everything and it started right up. Have we mentioned we love this truck? It never lets us down. We camped out in the park for a few days, never seeing another soul. Park rangers informed us the park only gets about 7 visitors per month!

    In a remote park along the ridge of the Andes called Paque Lauca, Chile, we saw alpaca, flamingos, and hot springs while we bounced along because we lost a shock mount bolt somewhere on this trail. It was a week before we found a replacement.

    Another incident was while driving on the beach in Brazil. We got stuck in the sand and the tide was coming up. We could see where it breaks on the sandbar. Ended up cutting to the left and mashing it, the sandbar broke way and I fell down that berm. Eventually we made it above the tide line.

    How many other overland adventurers have you come across?

    We have met many fellow adventurers from around the world:  Germany, France, Switzerland, South Africa, Czech Republic, Australia, Holland, Argentina, Mexico, United States, Canada, Japan, Brazil, and others. The Pan-American Highway has popular campsites everyone goes to and it is easy to spot other overland vehicles on the road. Meeting up with other folks who share similar interests, mindsets, and lifestyle is always a welcome social engagement. It can be difficult to explain to someone back home the intricacies and quirks of extended living inside of a small truck, or the nuances of how to deal with an officer looking for a bribe, but fellow overland folk can relate.

    From a cultural awareness standpoint, have your interactions with the various people you’ve met along the way been beneficial?

    In America we are constantly blasted by the media, friends, and family that anywhere south of the border is a dangerous, desolate, wasteland—full of wild criminals wanting to kidnap, torture, and execute us. We were a bit apprehensive at first. My research from dozens of other overland travelers assured us we were going to be fine. Yet, we were still scared. How could the mindset in the U.S. be so inaccurate about a place that is right next door?

    We crossed the border fully expecting chaos and mayhem. What we found was a polite guard who assisted us and happily welcomed us to his country. Within the first week in Mexico, we had made new friends, visited beautiful places, and eaten delicious foods. We found the people to be so warm, friendly, and giving. We saw no signs of the malicious violence we believed pervaded the entire country. This continued on and on. Danger and violence is out there; however, we have found that if you do not seek trouble, you’ll be okay. Perhaps it is a bit of hippy philosophy, but we found that people are mostly good. Sure, we encountered some who made us wary, but for the most part, the people have been great.

    As far as cultural awareness, before this trip I couldn’t spot Ecuador on a map. Now I know the entire history of Ecuador, the current situation involving development of their rainforest, regional dialects and accents, geography, and the best place to get a cocktail in Quito.

    What destinations are next?

    We are considering an East Coast trip to Canada, then Alaska, and back to California—thus completing the entire Pan-American Highway. After that, make some more money and start planning the next big trip. Australia, South East Asia, Africa? Who knows? It’s a big world out there and we plan to drive the whole damn thing!



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    BeauJohnstonBeau is our Editor in Chief and co-publisher of

    He's an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys exploring our National Parks, fly fishing, camping, rock hounding, and hunting.   He lives in Wyoming where he is minutes away from the great outdoors.  Beau and Krista love to cook; share meals and a glass of wine with friends and family at home or on the trail.  He is passionate about travel, the outdoors, and the outdoor lifestyle.

    See everything Beau & Krista are doing at

    Published in TCT Magazine Team

    The weather was....not perfect, yet the Toyota Cruisers & Trucks crew managed to capture amazing coverage of Overland Expo West 2015!

    Camp TCT - Toyota Magazine Overland Expo 2015

    Despite rain, snow, wind, and mud...plenty of mud, we met friends new and old, shared stories around propane campfires, socilized during happy hours, attended classes, and had one heck of a time gathering amazing Overland information for our readers.

    Published in Latest News
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