Wednesday

New Mexico Backroads’ Full-Size Solution – The NMBR Prospector


Fall was beginning to set in; the grassy hills were golden and the air was cold. I had departed New Mexico under darkness, watched the sunrise over Texas, and now charged across the Great Plains. My ambitions were to make the 1,700-mile trip to American Expedition Vehicle’s Michigan facility within 40 hours of departing the Borderland in NMBR’s brand new RAM Power Wagon. Like a small-town kid road tripping to Disneyland, I was excited [understatement]. The purpose of the trip? I would be delivering the Power Wagon to American Expedition Vehicles for a full Prospector build to include AEV’s lineup of RAM Trucks (2500 and 3500) parts. The hypnotic mile markers and the Great Plains’ vast landscape caused me to reflect on the experiences and thought process led to NMBR’s acquisition a full-sized truck and the decision to have it outfitted by AEV.
In May of 2015, New Mexico Backroads guided American Expedition Vehicles on the 400-mile Gila Legends Expedition. The trip, as recounted in NMBR’s previous article “NMBR Prospector Preface: Detroit Built and New Mexico Proven” [LINK], described my strong first impression and experience with the AEV outfitted RAM Power Wagon. The truck was equipped with AEV’s soon to be released RAM suspension, raised air intake, stamped steel front bumper, wheels, and other upgrades. To summarize the Gila Legends Expedition with regards to the AEV Prospector, I was surprised by the truck’s capability, ride comfort, and nimble handling given its sheer size and weight. This was also paired with my previous experiences with heavy-duty trucks in the field. Seeing the Prospector excel over a variety of challenging terrain paired with an extended test drive, provided the basis for considering the Power Wagon platform paired with AEV upgrades to handle NMBR’s growing (heavy-duty) needs.
From towing the NMBR F-Toy (rock crawler buggy), hauling the gear and necessary equipment to support groups in the backcountry, to providing four-wheel drive training for (full-size truck driving) Federal law enforcement officers, a powerful, well equipped, and capable truck became necessary. While I was able to conduct truck clientele specific training and guiding services in the NMBR Rubicon, it presented some challenges. For example, a guide leading in a 114-inch wheelbase JK Wrangler, asking those behind him with 30 (or more) inches of wheelbase to follow him through tight tree sections and technical rock gardens was asking for a bit much. Enthusiast and professionals that drive trucks day in and day out like to be trained by 4WD instructors that own trucks themselves.
West of Oklahoma City, severe weather warnings, dark skies, and howling gusts had emptied Interstate 40. Lightning flashes, followed by shattering thunder, hinted at the weather event that would soon arrive. The drone of the Power Wagon’s 33-inch DuraTrac tires and the hum of the 410-horsepower HEMI engine were drowned out as light sprinkles transitioned into pounding drops. Though the gail force winds and horizontal rain laid the prairie grass flat, the truck only required the slightest steering correction to compensate. The RAM was unimpressed by mother nature’s spectacle. With its 7,000-pound curb weight and 149-inch wheel base, the stability the Power Wagon provided was confidence inspiring. Detroit or bust!
A few weeks earlier I had walked onto a dealer lot in El Paso kicking around the idea that I’d test drive a stock RAM 2500 (crew cab, HEMI, 4WD) and give myself a few more months to think about the prospect of having a full-sized truck along NMBR’s most common backcountry fieldwork and guiding routes. A few hours later, I drove off the lot in a Bright White Power Wagon Tradesman—the deal was too good to walk away from. With the unexpected purchase came a wave of possibilities for setting up the truck’s bed. Commercial topper, aluminum tray bed, bed rack with roof top tent—all were pondered. The increase in cargo volume and payload from the NMBR Rubicon was like moving from a studio apartment in the city to a three-bedroom home in the burbs. If you hadn’t guessed (by the article accompanying photos), the majority of most important upgrade parts were already decided—AEV. I reached out to my friend Matt Feldermann (AEV’s Marketing Manager) for guidance on outfitting the truck for New Mexico Backroads unique scope of fieldwork. As a fellow four-wheel drive professional, Matt was able to provide detailed information on all of AEV’s RAM Trucks 2500 and 3500 parts. More importantly, he was able to provide straightforward and candid feedback based on his own experience driving an AEV equipped RAM on a daily basis—be it for a daily commute or romping in the snow on the Upper Peninsula. He explained that AEV’s approach to designing and manufacturing parts for RAM Trucks followed the same fundamentals as their Jeep Wrangler products: complement OE design, utilize the highest quality materials and finishes, and maximize performance.
On the outskirts of Joplin, Missouri, man and truck emerged unscathed from the powerful storm. Through the clouds, the sunset laid rays of light and long shadows across the surrounding landscape. To the west, rolling hills and farmland. To the east, the Neosho River emitted a silvery reflection affront the Ozarks. During the planning stages for this trip, my initial thoughts were that a solid axle[d], high-clearance, 7,000-pound full-sized truck would be less than ideal for a 1,700 mile [paved] road trip USA. Today would be the longest I had spent behind the wheel of the Power Wagon. Early expectations were left at the roadside somewhere near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I cracked the windows allowing the rain scented air to fill the cab and raised the volume on Chris Stapleton. With my eye on St. Louis now, I gently pressed the accelerator. The 6.4-liter HEMI emitted throaty tone that could be felt in the floorboard. There is something about driving a full-sized truck across the Heartland of America that just feels right.
One of the things I’ve come to appreciate the most about the NMBR Rubicon is its suspension system; American Expedition Vehicle’s DualSport RS kit. From creeping the granite boulder fields of the Dusy Ershim Trail, to running at high speeds on southern New Mexico’s washboard dirt highways, the performance, control, and comfort provided by the AEV’s suspension are exceptional. Through my discussions with Matt Feldermann on building the NMBR Power Wagon, it became apparent that AEV followed the same [proven] guiding principles for RAM Trucks as they did for the JK Wrangler’s suspension. The primary goals with the suspension system design was to yield a comprehensive lift that did not reduce payload capacity, allowed for running larger tires, increased ride comfort, and enhanced handling control. Through meticulous engineering, shock tuning, and field testing, AEV produced the Ram HD 3" DualSport SC suspension system. My interest in suspension system performance is paramount as New Mexico Backroads’ field work entails over 15,000-miles of travels a year over un-paved roads. Handling, stability and comfort can mean the difference between feeling fine or fatigued after the completion of a weeklong backcountry traverse.
After reviewing the plethora of information provided by Matt, and careful consideration of New Mexico Backroads’ needs, I opted to have the new Power Wagon fully outfitted by American Expedition Vehicles. While I did all the work myself for both stages of the NMBR Rubicon build; I opted to have AEV perform a full Prospector package build, bumper to bumper at their Wixom, Michigan facility outside of Detroit. With a full scouting, guiding, and training schedule well into Winter 2017, I would not have been able to commit the time or energy into building the truck on my own. The thought of wrenching under the truck by night and working in the field by day was a bit daunting. I was also knee deep in the NMBR F-Toy (rock crawler) build. The idea of AEV’s pros performing the work in a brand new, world-class, multimillion dollar facility, where quality and workmanship takes precedence, provided a considerable benefit. Covering every detail to the Nth degree, Matt and the American Expedition Vehicles Team provided excellent guidance on equipment specifications, upgrade options, and the AEV Prospector build process. From start to finish, the build would take approximately four to six weeks. As for the NMBR Prospector's build sheet, I let Matt write the specifications.  

-AEV Premium Front Bumper with AEV Power Wagon Winch Install Kit 
-Vision X LED Light Bar and 100w Halogen Fog Lights 
-AEV RAM DualSport Suspension with custom AEV Tuned Bilstein 5100’s 
-AEV RAM Heat Reduction Hood and AEV RAM Raised Air Intake with Air Ram and Pre-Filter Assembly 
-AEV RAM Front & Rear Differential Covers 
-AEV RAM Front & Rear Splash Guards 
-AEV RAM Salta HD Wheels (Black finish) with BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires 
-AEV RAM Leather Seating with Embroidered Headrests, Prospector Badging, Emblems and AEV Windshield Banner 

With a simple email reply to confirm the build specifications, start date, and a few small details, the NMBR Prospector was set in motion. The next full-sized chapter for New Mexico Backroads started.
Ahead of schedule and only a few hours short of the Motor City, I pulled off the highway and found my way onto the shores of Lake Michigan. For a desert dweller, the sunset view was something to behold. Waves crashed against a jetty while seagulls circled overhead. Barely evident on the west skyline was Chicago. The curvature of the earth produced an optical illusion that the lake had submerged the buildings some 10-stories deep. I gazed at the stock Power Wagon against the magnificent background. This was one of the last full views I’d get of the truck before it’s Prospector transformation. Somewhere between Las Cruces, New Mexico and Wixom, Michigan; a friendship between man and machine was formed.

Registration opens for NMBR's Winter 2017 Gila Overland - Overland Traverse of the Black Range & Continental Divide

WINTER 2017 GILA OVERLAND - Friday, February 24th through Sunday, February 26th - Overland based exploration of the remote backcountry, rich history and rugged backroads of New Mexico's Gila Region - Organized and guided by New Mexico Backroads' Jake Quinones

Complete Details: Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for full trip details, pricing and registration information 

Winter Gila Overland Preview: Visit the NMBR’s New Mexico Gila Photo gallery for a preview of the Gila Overland experience - LINK 

Winter Gila Overland Overview: Friday, February 24th through Sunday, February 26th, 2017 | New Mexico’s Gila Region | 3 Day Extended Weekend Trip | Approximate Route Distance: 180 to 225-Miles | Approximate Elevation Range: 4,175 to 8,250-Feet | The Gila Overland provides a condensed “weekend warrior” version of NMBR’s (five day) Gila Legends Expedition. Areas of exploration will include Black Range, Great Divide Trail, and Plains of San Agustin. 

The Experience: This February, New Mexico Backroads will be guiding a three day [180 to 225-mile] overland adventure that will traverse New Mexico’s vast and diverse Gila region. NMBR has guided portions of this route for American Expedition Vehicles, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, and a multitude of overland enthusiasts seeking adventure. The Gila Overland route includes a diverse range of scenery, history, terrain, and backroads found nowhere else in North America. Landscapes and terrain will include desert, grassland, chaparral, canyon bottoms, and dense forest with elevations ranging from 4,175 to 8,250-feet. Areas of exploration will include the Gila National Forest’s Black Range, Great Divide Trail (sections), and Plains of San Agustin. The Gila Overland route will pass through the northern end of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range as well as the Southern end of the Rockies, all while skirting the world’s first established wilderness areas—the Gila Wilderness & Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Road types and conditions will include washboards, two tracks, primitive non-maintained, graded, mountain shelf, dirt byway and (least of all) pavement. The Gila Overland will provide outstanding vistas, historic landmarks, wildlife viewing opportunities [including Mexican grey wolf territory], and aggressive elevation contours. During the Gila Overland, NMBR will cover a variety of topics area history, the surrounding landscape, vehicle maintenance, overland tool kit assembly, driving techniques, and other overland based travel skill building subjects. 

Where & When: The Winter Gila Overland will take place Friday, February 24th through Sunday, February 26th, 2017. Participants will meet the morning of Friday, February 24th in southern New Mexico; the exact departure location and details will be provided during the registration process. 

Planning & Preparations: The Gila Overland will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, meals and supplies. Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, or anything remotely civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225 miles or more (if re-routes occur). Experiencing single digit temperatures and snow will be entirely possible during this trip. In the time leading up to the Gila Overland, registered participants will be provided with extensive information on how to prepare for the adventure, what to bring and what to expect. Over the past decade, NMBR has written a series of informative overland travel based articles with topics ranging from field kit assembly, to vehicle maintenance and upkeep, to equipment and gear advice. These articles, paired with extensive vehicle, equipment, provision and preparation lists are provided to participants in the time leading up to the adventure. During the Gila Overland pre-trip planning and preparation period, NMBR will be available to provide expert opinion and feedback to participants for any questions or concerns related to getting ready and gearing up for the adventure. During the Gila Overland, NMBR will revisit many of the topics that were covered in the pre-trip period with in field demonstrations and lessons. The self-sufficient aspect of NMBR guided expeditions and overland adventures and trail runs challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. 

Registration: Ready for your next great adventure? Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for full trip details, pricing, driver/equipment requirements, and registration information.

Preface for the NMBR Prospector: Detroit Built and New Mexico Proven

Elk Mountains
In Bold Contrast:
While most automotive companies unveil new models and accessories in climate controlled event halls, paired with extravagant displays, American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) chooses to take the path less traveled. From the Arctic Circle, to Iceland, to Moab, AEV seeks out the toughest terrain and conditions for rolling out their purpose-built vehicles and parts. For 20 years, AEV has lead the pack providing Jeep Wrangler aftermarket support and turn-key vehicle conversions. During the spring of 2015 and in advance of AEV’s RAM Trucks parts and Prospector release, New Mexico Backroads led American Expedition Vehicles the Gila Legends Expedition (or GLE). The six day (400-mile) GLE traverses New Mexico’s roughest and most remote backcountry, and includes diverse range landscapes, 4WD trails, and backroads that prove challenging for even the most seasoned overlanders and their vehicles alike. While the majority of the American Expedition Vehicles team, including myself, drove AEV equipped Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon models, an orange giant stood out in bold contrast; AEV’s all new Prospector. Prospective Challenge: 
It’s only fair to mention that during the initial planning stages of American Expedition Vehicles’ run of the Gila Legends Expedition, I was a bit hesitant to have the Prospector included in the fold. The full-sized truck would be the biggest I had guided along the tight and technical overland traverse—a route that even proved difficult for Wrangler, 4Runner, and Tacoma drivers. The prospect (no pun intended) of the RAM 2500 Power Wagon’s wheel-base, width, height, and overall [sheer] size could equate to babysitting sheet metal, Austin Powers-like multi-point turns, copious brush trimming, and painful pin-striping. Needless to say, AEV’s Chris Wood, a seasoned 4WD professional himself, was eager to prove the capability of the Prospector. Having confidence in Chris’ solid opinions and expertise, I accepted the challenge. Package Overview:
A pre-trip departure walkaround and inspection of the Prospector revealed an impressive package. Sitting atop 37-inch tires, The American Expedition Vehicles built RAM 2500 Power Wagon was highlighted by AEV’s 3-inch DualSport suspension, raised air intake, Salta HD wheels, and stamped steel winch bumper (amongst other goodies). The DualSport suspension system, the fundamental componentry of the Prospector, is designed to maximize on and off road performance through geometry optimization and shock tuning. The suspension system retains the stock springs to help maintain the factory specified payload and towing capacity by utilizing 3” cast aluminum coil spring relocation spacers for lift. These coil spacers, paired with AEV’s other essential suspension kit pieces, offer a comprehensive lift solution without compromising the benefits of having a heavy-duty RAM Truck. The Prospector’s build platform, a RAM 2500 Power Wagon, was impressive in itself coming straight out of the box with a 6.4-liter HEMI, front and rear lockers, 4:10 geared axles, and a push-button front sway-bar disconnect. To complement the RAM’s OEM engineering, safety, and appeal, all of the AEV Prospector parts were well thought out and featured subtle yet handsome design details, high-quality materials, and first-class finishes. The finished Prospector parts and build, that would soon be available to enthusiasts, were as striking as AEV’s flagship and famed 40-inch tire and Cummins Diesel equipped, flatbed 2500 in 2013. While many companies hook consumers with attention grabbing prototypes, only to offer the public a watered down or diminished product, AEV bred a true beast with the bison badged Prospector. Impressive Display:
To make a long (400-mile) epic of precarious shelf roads, gun toting ranchers, howling wolves, washed out roads, and water-filled canyon narrows a short one, the AEV Prospector performed flawlessly on the Gila Legends Expedition. If you want to read the long version of the adventure, pick up the Summer 2016 Issue of Overland Journal—I wrote a full feature of the AEV/NMBR GLE experience. Sure, the truck’s driver, AEV’s Kent Klein, had to remain focused through boulder fields and between countless tight trees, but the Prospector was incredibly capable and surprisingly nimble. Ground clearance, traction and articulation were plentiful over rocky, off-camber and even the most technical trail sections. The truck’s payload and cargo capacity (evident by the amount of gear the truck was carrying) had everyone envious. The rest of the group played a glorified version of Tetris packing up camp each morning; making the most of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited’s modest storage space.
Full-Size Solution:
During the Gila Legends Expedition, I had the opportunity to drive the AEV Prospector. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been drawn to big trucks. Who in their right mind isn’t? The plush ride, precise handling, quiet cab, and plentiful power of the Prospector left me wanting more—more time behind the wheel that is. The drive was a far cry from the kidney punishing rattle trap service trucks I’ve been accustomed to for years. In the months after the Gila Legends Expedition I couldn’t help revisit the GLE experience and the Prospector test drive while asking myself: “could a full-sized truck serve as NMBR’s next overland rig?” As NMBR’s field work and guiding has evolved over the years, the need for increased cargo space, payload capacity, towing capability has presented itself more and more. With prospective field work assignments requiring heavy equipment and cargo to be transported over rough backroads, payload and capability would play equal roles. With the addition of the NMBR F-Toy (a propane propelled rock crawler buggy), the means to safely and effectively pull a trailer has put a spotlight on full-sized options. As New Mexico Backroads has started offering meal service on some expeditions and overland-based trips, the NMBR Rubicon has become a bit cramped with provisions. On the home front, camping with the wife, kid and dogs was likely going to lead to a divorce with the current setup. While a full-sized truck was being pondered before the Gila Legends Expedition, it took seeing the AEV Prospector earn its keep (un-phased) along the backroads in a demanding setting to make me a true believer. American Expedition Vehicles has built one of the most capable full-sized trucks available—as proven in New Mexico.
Rough Roads Ahead:
Stay tuned as New Mexico Backroads documents the decision and process that went into the NMBR Prospector build. As the adventures unfold and New Mexico Backroads logs thousands of miles across Southwest in the American Expedition Vehicles built NMBR Prospector, comprehensive feedback, real-world experiences and updates will be featured. Pictured above: The new NMBR Prospector - American Expedition Vehicles - AEV built 2016 RAM Power Wagon Tradesman equipped with 3" AEV DualSport SC Suspension, AEV Front/Rear Differential Covers, AEV Splash Guards, AEV Front Bumper, AEV Raised Air Intake w/ Pre-Filter Assembly, AEV Heat Reduction Hood, 17x8.5" AEV Salta HD Wheels, BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires, and AEV Leather Seating. For more information about American Expedition Vehicles's purpose built parts and turn-key vehicles, visit the AEV website HERE.

Full-Sized Adventures Ahead - Introducing the NMBR Prospector - American Expedition Vehicles Built RAM 2500 Power Wagon

Introducing New Mexico Backroads' [new] full-sized adventure rig, the NMBR Prospector - The American Expedition Vehicles built 2016 RAM Power Wagon Tradesman is equipped with 3" AEV DualSport SC Suspension, AEV Front/Rear Differential Covers, AEV Splash Guards, AEV Front Bumper, AEV Raised Air Intake w/ Pre-Filter Assembly, AEV Heat Reduction Hood, 17x8.5" AEV Salta HD Wheels, BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires, and AEV Leather Seating. 

The NMBR Prospector's first backroads outing involved 350-miles of fieldwork through southern New Mexico's roughest and most remote territory. Initial impressions: The ride quality is incredibly smooth and stable at low to high speeds. Over washboard and rough road sections, minimal vibrations and noise are evident. Ground clearance, approach/departure angles are suitable for most terrain and road conditions encountered through NMBR's overland guiding and remote fieldwork. The RAM 2500 platform is considerably more nimble than expected with excellent steering response and control manners. The 6.4-liter HEMI power-plant, paired with 4:10 differential gearing, are well suited to handle 37-inch tires. Immediate conclusion: The NMBR Rubicon is going to have some serious sibling rivalry issues.

Stay tuned.

Saturday

FALL GILA OVERLAND - New Mexico Backroads' Traverse of the Black Range & Continental Divide

Fall Gila Overland – Guided by New Mexico Backroads Friday, October 28th – Sunday, October 30th
Overland based exploration of the remote backcountry, rich history and rugged terrain of New Mexico's Gila Region.


Fall 2016 Gila Overland Overview: Friday, October 28th – Sunday, October 30th | New Mexico Gila | 3 Days | Approximate Route Distance 175 to 225 Miles | Approximate Elevation Range 4,500 to 8,500 ft. | Areas of exploration will include Black Range of the Gila National Forest and sections of the Great Divide Trail. The Black Range Overland provides a condensed and less demanding version of NMBR’s (five day) Gila Legends Expedition.

Registration: Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for full trip details, pricing and registration information


The Gila Overland Experience: This October, New Mexico Backroads will be guiding a three day [175 to 225-mile range] overland adventure that will traverse New Mexico’s vast and diverse Gila region. NMBR has guided portions of this route for American Expedition Vehicles, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, and a multitude of overland enthusiasts seeking adventure. The Gila Overland route includes a diverse range of scenery, history, terrain, and backroads found nowhere else in North America. Landscapes and terrain will include desert, grassland, chaparral, canyon bottoms, and dense forest with elevations ranging from 4,500 to 8,500 feet. Areas of exploration will include the Gila National Forest’s Black Range and Continental Divide. The Gila Overland route will pass through the northern end of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range as well as the Southern end of the Rockies, all while skirting the world’s first established wilderness areas—the Gila Wilderness & Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Road types and conditions will include washboards, two tracks, primitive non-maintained, graded, mountain shelf, dirt byway and (least of all) pavement. The Gila Overland will provide outstanding vistas, historic landmarks, wildlife viewing opportunities [including Mexican grey wolf territory], and aggressive elevation contours. During the Gila Overland, NMBR will cover a variety of topics area history, the surrounding landscape, vehicle maintenance, overland tool kit assembly, driving techniques, and other overland based travel skill building subjects.


Preview: Visit the NMBR’s New Mexico Gila Photo gallery for a preview of the Gila Overland experience. LINK - goo.gl/UsrcF6


Where & When:  The Gila Overland will take place Friday, October 28th through Sunday, October 30th. Participants will meet the morning of Friday, October 28th in southern New Mexico; the exact departure location and details will be provided during the registration process. 


Planning & Preparations:  The Gila Overland will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, meals and supplies. Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, or anything remotely civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225 miles or more (if re-routes occur). In the time leading up to the Gila Overland, registered participants will be provided with extensive information on how to prepare for the adventure, what to bring and what to expect. Over the past decade, NMBR has written a series of informative overland travel based articles with topics ranging from field kit assembly, to vehicle maintenance and upkeep, to equipment and gear advice. These articles, paired with extensive vehicle, equipment, provision and preparation lists are provided to participants in the time leading up to the adventure. During the Gila Overland pre-trip planning and preparation period, NMBR will be available to provide expert opinion and feedback to participants for any questions or concerns related to getting ready and gearing up for the adventure. During the Gila Overland, NMBR will revisit many of the topics that were covered in the pre-trip period with in field demonstrations and lessons. The self-sufficient aspect of NMBR guided expeditions and overland adventures and trail runs challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence.  

Ready for your next great adventure?

Wednesday

Registration is now open for NMBR’s Fall 2016 Camino del Tesoro Overland - Monday, September 26th through Thursday, September 29th

NMBR Guided Fall Season Traverse of Northern New Mexico’s Spectacular High-Country 

Full Details for the Camino del Tesoro can be found HERE 

CDT | Northern New Mexico | 4 Days | 325 Miles | Elev. 6,500 to 11,200 ft. | NMBR’s Camino del Tesoro Overland will traverse the scenic high-country of northern New Mexico during the vibrant fall season—when the aspens are golden and the air is crisp. Areas of exploration will include San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide, Taos Plateau, Sangre de Christo Mountains, and Valle Vidal. 

Ready for your next great adventure? Email NMBackroads@gmail.com to register and reserve your CDT spot

Sunday

Wild horses, primitive roads, water filled canyon bottoms, Mexican grey wolf territory and no cell service - Experience it all on NMBR's Gila Legends Expedition  

Ready for your next great adventure? Email NMBackroads@gmail.com for full details and registration information 

GLE Overview: Summer Gila Legends Expedition [GLE] | New Mexico Backroads' Most Rugged and Remote Adventure - Monday, August 22nd through Friday, August 26th | New Mexico Gila | 5 Days | 375 Miles | Elev. 4,300 to 9,600 ft. | The Gila Legends Expedition provides New Mexico’s most rugged and remote overland route. Areas of exploration will include Black Range, Plains of San Agustin, Mogollon Mountains, Tularosa Mountains, Elk Mountains, Continental Divide, and Chihuahuan Desert.

Preview the Gila Legends Expedition in the current issue of Overland Journal

Tuesday

Registration Opens for NMBR's Summer Gila Legends Expedition - GLE 2016

Summer Gila Legends Expedition [GLE] - New Mexico Backroads' Most Rugged and Remote Adventure - Monday, August 22nd through Friday, August 26th  

Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for full details and pricing 

Summer GLE Overview: Late August 2016 | New Mexico Gila | 5 Days | 375 Miles | Elev. 4,300 to 9,600 ft. | The Gila Legends Expedition provides New Mexico’s most rugged and remote overland route. Areas of exploration will include Black Range, Plains of San Agustin, Mogollon Mountains, Tularosa Mountains, Elk Mountains, Continental Divide, and Chihuahuan Desert.
Invite: Are you ready for your next great adventure? Registration is now open for NMBR’s Summer 2016 Gila Legends Expedition. The Gila Legends Expedition Experience: This August, New Mexico Backroads will be guiding a five day [375-mile] expedition that will traverse New Mexico’s loneliest and most rugged backroads. NMBR has guided this route for American Expedition Vehicles, overland enthusiasts and a host of adventure based organizations. The Gila Legends Expedition is NMBR’s most remote and rugged route currently offered. This “expedition of a lifetime” includes a diverse range of scenery, historic sites, terrain, and backroads found nowhere else in North America. The 5-day, 375-mile expedition route features desert, grassland, chaparral, canyon bottoms, and lush forest with elevations ranging from 4,300 to 9,600 feet. Areas of exploration will include Gila National Forest, Black Range, Plains of San Agustin, Mogollon Mountains, Tularosa Mountains, Elk Mountains, Continental Divide, and Chihuahuan Desert. The Gila Legends Expedition route will traverse the northern end of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range as well as the Southern end of the Rockies, all while skirting the world’s first established wilderness areas—the Gila Wilderness & Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Road types and conditions will include canyon bottom narrows, washboards, rutted two tracks, primitive non-maintained, graded, mountain shelf, dirt byway and [least of all] paved highway. The Gila Legends Expedition will feature outstanding vistas, dozens of water crossings, historic landmarks, wildlife viewing opportunities [including Mexican grey wolf territory], and aggressive elevation contours. Please visit the NMBR Photo gallery HERE for a preview of the Gila Legends Expedition experience. Where & When: The Gila Legends Expedition will take place Monday, August 22nd through Friday, August 26th. Participants will meet the morning of Monday, August 22nd in southern New Mexico; the exact departure time and location will be provided during the registration process. Planning & Preparations: The Gila Legends Expedition will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, meals and supplies. Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, or anything remotely civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225 miles. In the time leading up to the GLE, registered participants will be provided with extensive information on how to prepare for the adventure, what to bring and what to expect. Over the past decade, NMBR has written a series of informative overland travel based articles with topics ranging from field tool kit assembly, to vehicle maintenance and upkeep, to equipment and gear advice. These articles, paired with extensive vehicle, equipment, provision and preparation lists are provided to participants in the time leading up to the adventure. During the GLE planning and preparation period, NMBR is available to provide expert opinion and feedback to participants for any questions or concerns related to getting ready and gearing up for the adventure. The self-sufficient aspect of NMBR guided expeditions and overland adventures and trail runs challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. 

Ready for your next Great Adventure? - If you are interested in joining the Gila Legends Expedition, please email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for pricing, driver/vehicle/equipment requirements, and registration.

Wednesday

Fall 2016 - Camino del Tesoro Overland [CDT] - Details & Registration

Registration is now open for NMBR's Camino del Tesoro Overland [CDT] 
Monday, September 26th through Thursday, September 29th - NMBR Guided Fall Season Traverse of Northern New Mexico’s Spectacular High-Country
Invite & Overview: Are you ready for your next great adventure? Registration is now open for NMBR’s Fall 2016 Camino del Tesoro Overland. 

Registration: Email NMBackroads@gmail.com to register and reserve your CDT spot

CDT | Northern New Mexico | 4 Days | 325 Miles | Elev. 6,500 to 11,200 ft. | NMBR’s Camino del Tesoro Overland will traverse the scenic high-country of northern New Mexico during the vibrant fall season—when the aspens are golden and the air is crisp. Areas of exploration will include San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide, Taos Plateau, Sangre de Christo Mountains, and Valle Vidal.
The Camino del Tesoro Experience: This Late-September, New Mexico Backroads will guide a four-day, 325-mile overland adventure that will traverse the Land of Enchantment’s spectacular and rugged high-country. NMBR’s Camino del Tesoro Overland route was featured in the Spring 2014 Overland Journal story Finding Forrest’s Treasure by Dr. Jon Solberg. The story charts Dr. Solberg and (NMBR guide) Jake Quiñones’ journey across the volcanic fields, mountains and canyons of northern New Mexico in search of Forrest Fenn’s hidden (multimillion dollar) treasure. The Camino del Tesoro Overland route will feature vivid fall colors, high-altitude shelf road, cold water creeks, golden grass meadows, historic sites, high-desert plateau, dense forest and wildlife viewing opportunities. Over three quarters of the Camino del Tesoro Overland route will be comprised of unpaved backroads. Route and camping location elevations will range in altitude between 6,500 and 11,900 feet. All nights will be spent camping deep in the backcountry and enjoying the company of fellow adventurists. Please visit the NMBR Photo gallery linked HERE for a preview of the Camino del Tesoro Overland experience.
Where & When: The Camino del Tesoro Overland will take place Monday, September 26th through Thursday, September 29th. Participants will meet the morning of September 26th in far northern New Mexico; the exact departure time and location will be provided during the EDO registration process. Planning & Preparations: The Camino del Tesoro Overland will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, meals and supplies. Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, or anything remotely civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 200 miles. In the time leading up to the CDT registered participants will be provided with extensive information on how to prepare for the adventure, what to bring and what to expect. Over the past decade, NMBR has written a series of informative overland travel based articles with topics ranging from field tool kit assembly, to vehicle maintenance and upkeep, to equipment and gear advice. These articles, paired with extensive vehicle, equipment, provision and preparation lists are provided to participants in the time leading up to the adventure. During the CDT planning and preparation period, NMBR is available to provide expert opinion and feedback to participants for any questions or concerns related to getting ready and gearing up for the adventure. The self-sufficient aspect of NMBR guided expeditions and overland adventures and trail runs challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. Pricing: $595.00 (+ USFS land use fee & tax) per person. Email NMBackroads@gmail.com for full Camino del Tesoro Overland details or to register.
Minor Policy: No Persons under 12-Years of age.

Pets/Service Animals: Non-service animals are not permitted on NMBR’s group based trips. Service animals are welcomed but must be on a leash and owner/keeper controlled at at all times, unless impracticable or unfeasible due to owner/keeper’s disability. Ready for your next Great Adventure? Registration - If you are interested in joining the Camino del Tesoro Overland, please email NMBackroads@gmail.com and additional driver/equipment requirements and registration details will be provided.

Fall 2016 - Camino del Tesoro Overland [CDT]



Fall 2016 - Camino del Tesoro Overland [CDT] Monday, September 26th through Thursday, September 29th 


Guided by Jake Quinones - Professional U.S. Forest Service authorized and permitted 4WD/Overland outfitter/guide 

More Info: Full Camino del Tesoro Overland details and registration info can be found HERE 

Invite & Overview: Are you ready for your next great adventure? Registration is now open for NMBR’s Fall 2016 Camino del Tesoro Overland. 

CDT | Northern New Mexico | 4 Days | 325 Miles | Elev. 6,500 to 11,200 ft. | NMBR’s Camino del Tesoro Overland will traverse the scenic high-country of northern New Mexico during the vibrant fall season—when the aspens are golden and the air is crisp. Areas of exploration will include San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide, Taos Plateau, Sangre de Christo Mountains, and Valle Vidal. 

CDT Registration: Email NMBackroads@gmail.com with questions, feedback or to register for the Camino del Tesoro Overland

NMBR's Complete 2016/2017 Trip Schedule: A complete list of New Mexico Backroad's upcoming expeditions and overland adventures can be found HERE 

Next NMBR Trip: Summer 2016 Gila Legends Expedition [GLE] - Route and experience as featured in the Summer 2016 Issue of Overland Journal. GLE info & registration can be found HERE 

Ready for your next great adventure?

2016 Overland Expo WEST - 2016 3rd Generation Toyota Tacoma Bumper Shootout

Overland Expo WEST 2016 - With the release of the all new 3rd Generation 2016 Toyota Tacoma, aftermarket support for the new platform has followed quickly with a steady stream of new products. While the suspension of the new Tacoma remains virtually unchanged from the previous generation Tacoma, the front clip (bumper/headlight/grill) design presented a number of challenges for winch-bumper manufacturers. Rising to the challenge, companies such as ARB, Pelfreybilt, and CBI have released a host of well thought out and attractive 3rd Generation Tacoma front bumper offerings. ARB Summit Bar - Unique design features such as a 30mm edge radius on the wings and center pan, wider press formed cover straps, 60.3mm top frame tubing, two piece polyethylene buffers and redesigned fog lights. - via ARB USA The Metal-tech 4x4 3rd Gen 2016+ Tacoma bumper features a no body cutting fitment for bolt on installation. It includes an independent frame mounted winch mount and integrated pockets for 20w LED driving lights (included in stage 2) featuring "plug-n-play" wire harness that plugs directly to the factory fog light harness. The center of the bumper features an integrated LED light bar pocket (30" light bar included in stage 3). Large 3/4" pull points and 4 different metal thicknesses that are all part of the 3D CAD engineered bumper. - via Metal Tech 4X4 Pelfreybilt 16+ Toyota Tacoma Aluminum Plate Bumper (Base weight 60 pounts and comes standard with 3/4 - inch D-ring mounts) - via Pelfreybilt Off-Road CBI Offroad Fab T3 Front Bumper with Center Grill Guard - Includes internal mount for a 20” single row light bar and factory fog light bracket mounts. Product offered in steel or aluminum. - via CBI Offroad Fab DeMello Off-Road 2016 Tacoma Front Bumper - The new DeMello off-road Tacoma bumper offers reinforcements inside while maintaining light-weight construction. The bumper is offered in a flat-top version (no hoops) and low profile hoop version, and Baja (high hoop) version. - via DeMello Off-Road

Friday

New Mexico Backroads Announces 2016 Expedition and Overland Adventure Offerings

Mimbres River
Are you ready for your next great adventure? NMBR has released its 2016 expedition and overland adventure lineup. 

Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for details and to register.


Summer 2016 El Dorado Overland – Monday, July 18th – Thursday, July 21st | Northern New Mexico | 4 Days | 325 Miles | Elev. 6,500 to 11,200 ft. | NMBR’s El Dorado Overland will traverse the scenic high-country of northern New Mexico during the summer season—when the landscape is verdant. Areas of exploration will include San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide, Taos Plateau, Sangre de Christo Mountains, and Valle Vidal.


Summer 2016 Gila Legends Expedition – Monday, August 22nd – Friday, August 26th | New Mexico Gila | 5 Days | 375 Miles | Elev. 4,300 to 9,600 ft. | The Gila Legends Expedition provides New Mexico’s most rugged and remote overland route. Areas of exploration will include Black Range, Plains of San Agustin, Mogollon Mountains, Tularosa Mountains, Elk Mountains, Continental Divide, and Chihuahuan Desert.


Fall 2016 Camino del Tesoro Overland – Monday, September 26th – Thursday, September 29th | Northern New Mexico | 4 Days | 325 Miles | Elev. 6,500 to 11,200 ft. | NMBR’s Camino del Tesoro Overland will traverse the scenic high-country of northern New Mexico during the fall season—when the aspens are golden and the air is crisp. Areas of exploration will include San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide, Taos Plateau, Sangre de Christo Mountains, and Valle Vidal.


Fall 2016 Gila Legends Expedition – November or December – Dates TBA | New Mexico Gila | 5 Days | 375 Miles | Elev. 4,300 to 9,600 ft. | The Gila Legends Expedition provides New Mexico’s most rugged and remote overland route. Areas of exploration will include Black Range, Plains of San Agustin, Mogollon Mountains, Tularosa Mountains, Elk Mountains, Continental Divide, and Chihuahuan Desert.


Spring 2017 Gila Legends Expedition – March or April – Dates TBA | New Mexico Gila | 5 Days | 375 Miles | Elev. 4,300 to 9,600 ft. | The Gila Legends Expedition provides New Mexico’s most rugged and remote overland route. Areas of exploration will include Black Range, Plains of San Agustin, Mogollon Mountains, Tularosa Mountains, Elk Mountains, Continental Divide, and Chihuahuan Desert.


Spring 2017 Ghost Divide Expedition & Ghost Divide Expedition II – NMBR’s two Overland Expo West Based Expedition offerings – Dates TBA | New Mexico & Arizona | 5 Days | 500 Miles | Elev. 4,300 to 9,600 ft. | The Ghost Divide Expedition will lead to the 2017 Overland Expo West. The Ghost Divide Expedition II will depart from the 2017 Overland Expo West. Areas of exploration will include Gila, Black Range, Continental Divide, Mogollon Mountains, San Francisco Mountains, White Mountains and Mogollon Rim.
 
USFS Authorized Overland Outfitter/Guide 
New Mexico Backroads provides expedition and overland guide services for adventurists seeking rugged 4WD routes, unparalleled scenery, and professional guidance in the backcountry. Whether you’re a novice overlander or have completed multiple expeditions across the globe, NMBR will provide you with an adventure that suits your comfort level, experience, and 4WD vehicle. In the time leading up to a NMBR guided adventure, participants are provided with extensive preparations and information on how to prepare and what to expect. The self-sufficient aspect of NMBR guided adventures challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence.  Email NMBackroads(at)gmail.com for more information. LINK

Tuesday

NMBR’s Long-term BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Review: 25,000 Mile Final Summary Report


Last March, New Mexico Backroads [NMBR] began a yearlong review of the new BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire. “Is it time to come back to an all-terrain tire?”—this question would serve as the running theme for New Mexico Backroads’ review of the BFGoodrich KO2 (size: 37x12.50R17). Would an overlanding based professional guide or 4WD/overland enthusiast be willing to give up their big block mud-terrains for BFGoodrich’s next generation All-Terrain T/A? Over the past twelve months, NMBR has conducted (and completed) the most in-depth review of the KO2 available in order to determine if the tire’s durability, traction and performance are up to task for the toughest terrain and conditions the Southwest has to offer. New Mexico Backroads’ final KO2 report builds on the two previous NMBR KO2 reports (2,000-mile and 15,000-mile) and provides a final verdict on the tire. May 2015 - NMBR’s BFGoodrich KO2 2,000 Mile Report LINK October 2015 - NMBR’s BFGoodrich KO2 15,000 Mile Report LINK BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire Review Background: Until last year, New Mexico Backroads’ tire of choice has been the BFGoodrich KM2 Mud-Terrain for both the NMBR 4Runner and NMBR Rubicon (as pictured above). The KM2 provided excellent harsh terrain traction and durability without yielding a single failure through countless miles of hard use. The KM2 tires weren’t the most fuel efficient or pavement friendly of tires, but they were dependable. Needless to say, the KO2 All-Terrains had some big shoes to fill when they replaced a perfectly good set of KM2 Mud-Terrains. NMBR’s early expectations for the KO2 was that they would be a better all-around on and off pavement tire, but would likely fall short of the KM2 under the most challenging surface conditions. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Sidewall Durability & Performance: Since BFGoodrich touts the new KO2 sidewalls to be 20% tougher than its All-Terrain T/A KO predecessor, New Mexico Backroads decided to subject the KO2 sidewalls to numerous trail hazards, ranging from sharp rocks to splintered branches; seeking out scenarios that would prove or disprove the claim. Because sidewall damage is a major issue for 4WD and overland enthusiasts navigating the roughest territory, NMBR placed a high priority on providing detailed feedback on the KO2’s sidewall strength. While many all-terrain and mud-terrain tires feature aggressive (and attractive) tread patterns, the sidewall construction and design is often overlooked or lacking. The primary sidewall testing grounds for the KO2 have been the unforgiving trails and primitive backroads of the New Mexico Gila where the majority of NMBR’s field work and guiding are conducted. These remote routes follow two tracks along boulder strewn riverbeds and through dense forest littered with splintered timbers. After countless run-ins, the KO2 sidewalls have not failed; no punctures, cuts, bruises, or damage can be reported. Despite the abuse, the KO2’s sidewall lugs and sipes remain intact and retain crisp edges, only with the occasional nick or scratch. The anatomy of the KO2’s sidewalls feature a serrated shoulder tread pattern, siping and an aggressive side lug design that provides ample bite in technical situations where steering precision and control is critical such as rock crawling or v-notch/side-slope negotiation. The KO2’s sidewall material has been improved over the previous KO tire with BFGoodrich’s new Coregard Technology which provides a more robust rubber composition to resists trail damage. Additionally, the side lugs of the KO2 extend farther towards the center of the tire and feature a design meant to push aside contacting hazards such as branches. Over smooth hard packed dirt road, where higher speeds are safely obtainable, the KO2 was predictable and stable on curves, cattle guards and dips due to the firm sidewalls.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Traction: The BFGoodrich KO2 has proven itself worthy in nearly every surface condition available in the Southwest. In the mud, the tire tread voids clear quickly and provide excellent forward traction; the tires are less prone to spinning and sinking than most tires with “mud” in their namesake. The tight and interlocking tread block pattern of the KO2 provides a stable contact patch over mud which translates to better weight distribution and flotation. The overall tread impression left by the KO2 in mud is shallower and less pronounced than that of deep lugged mud-terrains. In the snow [hard pack, powder and slush], the KO2 was predictable and provided sufficient forward movement. The KO2’s strong mud performance characteristics cross over well in snow regarding weight distribution, tread pattern, and a shallower track depth. Although the KO2 is not a dedicated snow tire, it is marked with the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake logo as it is suitable for winter use. Over ice, the KO2 didn’t washout or spin when transitioning to ice from higher traction surfaces, such as dirt or snow. The KO2 boosted confidence on ice covered shelf roads featuring steep inclines and tight switchbacks where a misstep could prove disastrous. On the rocks, the KO2 provides excellent traction on southern New Mexico’s notorious dry waterfall climbs and dry rapid sections. The traction provided by the KO2 on steep climbs and off-camber situations, where surface conditions are dismal, rivals that of the knobbiest mud-terrain tires. The KO2’s interlocking tread block pattern features extensive siping that provides enhanced traction and control. Between the treads are small pyramid shaped risers that promote the ejection of stones and debris to optimize traction by keeping the tread gaps open and prevent drilling (or embedded stone caused tire damage). Bottom line—the BFGoodrich KO2 has equal or better overall traction characteristics as the BFGoodrich KM2. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Fuel Economy: Because NMBR’s field work and guiding often entails stretches of a few hundred rigorous off-pavement miles between gas pumps, fuel conservation is critical. With the previously mounted BFGoodrich KM2 tires, I’d arrive in Reserve, New Mexico on fumes, after three days and two hundred twenty-five miles traveling along NMBR’s Gila Legends Expedition route. With the BFGoodrich KO2 tires, I’m now arriving to Reserve with a bit less than a quarter tank of gas left. The KO2’s increased fuel economy over KM2 could be attributed to better overall traction (requiring less mileage in 4WD) and lower rolling resistance (due to the tighter tread pattern). Regarding tire pressure, the NMBR Rubicon’s KO2 are set between 12PSI and 16PSI for off-pavement mileage depending on terrain. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Performance on Pavement: While the NMBR Rubicon is best suited for dirt travels, the KO2 tires have provided good overall performance and enjoyable driving experience on New Mexico’s winding mountain byways. Steering feedback and all speeds remains predictable and stable. When paired with American Expedition Vehicles DualSport Suspension, the KO2’s cornering performance is exceptional for a 37-inch tall all-terrain tire. Regarding tire pressure, the NMBR Rubicon’s KO2 are set at 28PSI for pavement mileage. This puts all but a quarter inch of the tread in contact with the pavement while providing a comfortable ride. Road related noise from the KO2 is minimal and has only increased slightly with over 25,000 miles of hard use. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire Wear Characteristics: BFGoodrich has heavily modified the tread rubber compound of the KO2 to provide a 100% longer on dirt tread life expectancy than the previous generation All-Terrain T/A—a figure derived from extensive Baja development and third party testing. Given the hard life the NMBR Rubicon’s BFGoodrich KO2 tires have lived over the past year, the treads still remain in good condition. The tread depth of the KO2 tires brand new was 15/32 of an inch. A year and 25,000 miles later the tread depth measures 11/32 of an inch—an impressive figure. It’s worth mentioning that the spare is still unused and will not be included in the NMBR Rubicon’s regular 3,500-mile tire rotation and balance schedule. Balancing remains undramatic; no tire cause wandering, negative feedback or vibrations can be reported. As far as trail related wear, only a half dozen nicks the size of a fingernail are present in the tread blocks—no chunking, splitting or cutting is evident. The tread block edges are crisp and undamaged. The siping within the tread blocks display minimal rounding—evidence the sipes are hard at work providing maximum traction. Bottom line—tire wear is the best I’ve seen of any all-terrain or mud-terrain tire used primarily for off-pavement driving. At the 15,000 mile report, it was stated that the NMBR Rubicon’s KO2 tires were not even halfway through their service life; at 25,000, they still are not.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Review Conclusion: After twelve months and over 25,000 miles of nearly every weather, road and driving condition imaginable, the verdict is in. The underlying question of New Mexico Backroad’s BFGoodrich KO2 review was simple “Is it time to come back to an all-terrain tire?”. The answer to the question is simple—if the all-terrain is the BFGoodrich KO2, then, absolutely yes. No other tire provides the combined durability, traction and performance characteristics of the KO2 in a wide variety of surface conditions. Aside from providing exceptional traction, the improved fuel economy over the BFGoodrich KM2 while running the KO2 has been one of the most enjoyed benefits. As the tires have exceeded expectations and retain over half their tread left, the NMBR Rubicon will continue to run the KO2 tires into 2017 expedition and overland guide season.
Editor's Note: In early 2015, NMBR reached out BFGoodrich to provide (at no charge to NMBR) a set of (5) KO2 All-Terrain tries in order to conduct a year-long detailed, candid, and subjective review of the tire. BFGoodrich agreed to NMBR’s long-term review and provided a set of (5) KO2 All-Terrain at no charge. Since NMBR’s final 1-Year (25,000-mile) review conclusion, the tires (as of September 2016) passed the 40,000-mile mark on the Dusy Ershim Trail. NMBR has since purchased at their own expense (and at no discount) two sets of KO2 All-Terrain Tires—a replacement set for the NMBR Rubicon and a set for the new NMBR Prospector.