The Boy Scouts got it right: “Be Prepared.” Same goes for your vehicle!
Do you love going on outdoor adventures? Whether you’re heading “up north” or to another part of beautiful Wisconsin, plan what vehicle you want to buy to get the most of your trek. Simply put, consider what activities you’re going to enjoy, and select the right vehicle. Hunters may want to store a deer in a separate area, away from passengers. Anglers may want enough maneuverability to drive to secluded fishing holes. Campers may need extra storage space.
We’ll help you do some of your planning right now … before you go hunting for a quality used car, truck, or SUV.
- Off-Road Capabilities
Let’s start with where you’re headed and the terrain on which you’ll be driving. If you know you’re going to Apple Valley Farms Off-Road Park, for instance, you may want to consider a vehicle with a shorter wheelbase, which provides the stability you’ll need. Having enough ground clearance keeps you riding above the tall brush, fallen tree limbs, etc. Knowing this, an all-wheel or 4-wheel drive car or truck could be a necessity. When you go test driving, keep an eye for tires with a deep tread, and listen for squeaks from the vehicle’s shock absorbers.
2. Towing Capacity and Control
What “toys” are you bringing along? Pulling a boat, a camper, a loaded trailer, or a small watercraft requires a plan. Obviously, the weight difference between these can be significant, so do your research. Knowing a vehicle’s maximum towing capacity and having the correct trailer hitch is vital. For instance, a 2011 Subaru Outback’s towing capacity is 2,700 lbs., while a 2010 Ford F150’s towing capacity is 9,600 lbs.
Let’s say your boat’s manufacturer lists a dry weight of 4,450 lbs. With gas, gear, and equipment, expect around 5,500 lbs. Now, add the weight of an aluminum trailer, around 1,200 lbs. See how a vehicle’s towing capacity can be used up quickly? And remember, for serious towing, a break controller for the trailer is a must.
Plus, consider not only what you’ll be towing this summer, but perhaps in the next few years. That bass boat you’ve been eyeing up will require different vehicle capabilities than the canoe you currently have.
- Storage Area
If you’re going to spend the time and effort to get to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, you’ll want to bring enough supplies. Tents, fishing rods, life vests, rain gear, clothes and, of course, a loaded cooler. The list goes on and on. Just two Wisconsin adventurers can fill a vehicle quickly, not to mention a family of four. Handy fold-down seats are great, but will that be enough?
Also, hunters need to consider the space needed to bring a deer back home. Do you really want that stinky critter in the same cab as you, or would a separate storage area be best?
If you know you can’t fit everything in your vehicle, consider these options. A roof rack can hold an incredible amount of gear, as long as a couple kayaks don’t take up all your roof space. Cargo boxes and roof baskets of all shapes and sizes can ease your panic as you run out of interior storage room.
- Additional Amenities in Used Cars
So, how much do you want to “rough it” exactly? Do you want plush interior amenities, such as heated/cooled seats? Or, do you prefer an interior that can be hosed out after a muddy outing?
A long road trip lends itself to separate passenger climate control, no matter what time of year you’re adventuring. If you want to feel even more connected to nature, consider a moon roof. Yet, no matter where you go, make sure you have reliable navigation, either through your smartphone or a separate GPS system.
What about outside the vehicle? Fog lights can help visibility, and a rear camera makes backing up effortless. A keypad entry system removes any worry about losing keys in the lake or woods. Sure, you may need to add many of these after you purchase your used vehicle, but if you see one that has what you need, so much the better.
- Will This Dog Hunt?
Finding the right car, truck, or SUV for your outdoor plans isn’t easy. In the end, it has to work for you, so do your research on vehicle makes, models, and load designations.
Consider that a full-size pickup, for instance, can have up to six engine combinations, be available in manual or automatic, have ½-, ¾-, or 1-ton payload ratings, come in regular or extended cab, etc. It can boggle the mind. We suggest discussing your outdoor adventure needs with a reputable, ethical, and honest used vehicle dealer.