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FRONT RUNNER ON THE MOVE: RONNY DAHL

FRONT RUNNER ON THE MOVE: RONNY DAHL

- May 02, 2024

We chat exclusively to Ronny Dahl, the Perth-based 4x4 guru whose sensational YouTube channel is why many Australians have taken up overlanding and off-roading. We ask Ronny about his favorite 4x4, bits of gear, remote camping spots, and much more. This is what Ronny had to say. 

© Ronny Dahl

What should a newbie think about when kitting out a standard 4x4 for overlanding? 

I suggest first taking it out on short trips to get to know your vehicle and to test various bits of gear. You can get good ideas from people, but only once you’re out there can you decide what might need tweaking or changing. For example, will your roof rack carry heavy stuff, or will you cover it with solar panels? ​

I suggest figuring out your wants and needs first, then meeting in the middle. Often, wants outweigh needs, and you end up with a very heavy car or stuff you don’t require and then you’ve wasted your money. 

© Ronny Dahl

What advice do you have for those who want off-the-beaten track and remote travel? 

Remote travel requires a lot of preparation; before people make the big and long trips, they should first edge themselves out a bit further each time to know the limitations of their fuel and water. Also, it’s a good idea not to have all your water in one container just in case something happens to it.  ​

My rule of thumb is that if my vehicle uses 15 liters of fuel per 100km when off-road, my safe range is 20 liters per 100km. So, I won’t take on a 500km stretch unless I have 100 liters of fuel; that will cover me and ensure I have some fuel to spare. If you always carry that extra jerry can of fuel, only use it for emergencies. ​

Another good tip is to travel in groups or pairs; this is only sometimes possible. If in a group, you should be able to devise a solution when a problem or challenge arises. Even something that may seem silly might spark the thought about what might fix the problem. ​

© Ronny Dahl

You test loads of gear; what are your favorite bits of Front Runner kit? 

The first must be the Wolf Pack Pro. I have about 6 of them, and they are labeled, so I know what’s in them, and they go between my different vehicles. What makes them so good is that they seal so well, and the dust and water can’t get in. They can be in the back of a tray or on the roof; nothing will get into them. ​

The roof racks, too, are handy, especially with the Expedition Rail around the outside edge. I love that you can add extra slats to create a platform to stand on. I’ve just purchased a new 76, and the first addition will be a Front Runner Roof Rack. It’s probably the most essential accessory you can put on a wagon; with a ute, it’s different as you have all that extra space in the tray. With a wagon, your dirty gear must go on the roof, and you need a rack. ​

For me, a roof rack is not just a place to store gear; it’s also where your awning, shower tent, lights, and radio comms aerial are fitted. It’s one of the most important things on my vehicle; I’d say it is just as crucial as a bulbar when it comes to touring. Also, when dealing with something long, like a kayak or RV tent, the only place it can go is on the roof rack.​

© Ronny Dahl

What sets a Front Runner roof rack apart from the others? 

First and foremost, the rack must be functional. A mate added more slats to the back of the Front Runner Roof Rack on his Toyota Prado so that he has a continuous platform to carry firewood without worrying about scratching the roof with a stump or branch. ​

The rack's user-friendly design allows you to mount items anywhere. To add items to the rack, remove one of the four corners with an Alan key and slide them in. You can also move accessories forward and backward with relative ease.  ​

Then there’s also the option of having a Front Runner Under Rack Table, which is just genius. I had one on my ute, so I would jump onto the tray and pull it out. It was always the first thing out and the last thing to pack away. They are also the only tables where you can take a camper oven off the fire and put it on the table without worrying about melting or damaging it. ​

© Ronny Dahl

What does your dream 4x4 trip look like? 

I’d love to take a Toyota Troopy to Iceland. I have Scandinavian heritage and was born and raised in Denmark and lived there for half my life. Iceland is the land of Fire and Ice, plus they have black sand on the beaches; it’s like the icy version of a place like Hawaii, just wilder. If you go to Iceland, it must feel like you are on the world's edge. I want to experience that.  

\© Ronny Dahl

What makes Australia a great country for off-road adventures? 

Many people see driving red dirt roads in Australia as off-roading; in a way, it takes you to places few people visit. Also, a 4WD will prevent you from sliding off these red dirt roads. Throw the undependable weather into the mix, and suddenly, you have floods, mud, and washouts, and with a 4WD, you can drive along these roads. You can see lots of Australia from the tar road, but you will not get that experience where no other people exist. It would be best to have a 4WD to reach those remote campsites and uninhabited bush areas. ​

© Ronny Dahl

Name your favorite overlanding and camping spots in Australia right now. 

Australian Bight is where Western Australia is close to Southern Australia. Drive to Esperance and head along the coast; brace yourself as there are no shops, fuel stops, or towns, so you must be prepared. This track will take you to some of the beaches in Australia with the whitest sand. You’ll go across cliffs and vast salt lakes, and if you manage the 2-day 200km crossing of rough and rugged stuff, you get to these massive cliff walls. Camp at the base of these, you are now on one of Australia's most remote beaches. Electric blue water, schools of salmon with sharks going through them, and sea lions. This magical place has it all. We once saw a Southern Right Whale give birth in one of the inlets here. It’s also an unforgiving environment, as your car can sink into a few traps in the sand. You need to be careful if going there for the first time. ​

​The Pilbara, WA ​

The red rocks and sand of the mid-Pilbara are another favorite of mine. It can get hot up there, but you can jump into the waterholes and cool down. There are no crocs. It's an incredible place when it rains, and the rivers are running. It’s such a harsh environment, yet there’s so much out there if you know where to look. We’ve done multiple trips out there. George River Gorge is a great campsite; you need to cross three rivers to get there, and then you’re surrounded by gorges, a forgotten sort of place. ​

© Ronny Dahl

Minimalist or as much gear as humanly possible. Which one are you? 

Early explorers in Australia took a minimalist approach because horses and camels could only carry so much stuff. They only brought what they needed, an excellent principle to apply in modern times. We must take a long, hard look at our cars and decide how much they can comfortably carry before the load causes bits to wear out. This is where the needs and wants principle comes into play again. ​

Having a roof top tent and all the gear is excellent, but if you’re on a budget and need to reduce weight, there’s nothing wrong with a little pop-up tent. ​

When we have all this stuff, something like cooking on a fire often gets overlooked, and people take the easy gas burner option instead. Gas certainly has its place, but cooking on a fire is fun. ​

© Ronny Dahl

What advice do you have when it goes wrong in the middle of nowhere? 

You can prepare for all your vehicle's weak points, but not everything. You can also prepare for medical emergencies by having a decent First Aid kit, but often, situations arise that we don’t expect. ​

The more you panic, the more complex the job will be. Plus, you need to be able to reason, so sit back, assess the problem, and discuss it with everyone there. Thrash out several options, including a worst-case scenario. If your vehicle is bogged and the tide is coming in, time is undoubtedly an issue. ​

© Ronny Dahl

What adventures do you have planned for 2024?

I planned on doing the Canning Stock Route in a few weeks, but they’ve predicted severe flooding, so that will have to wait. The Troopy will be leaving Perth soon on a planned lap of Australia. I’m an opportunist, so if a local tells me about a place I must go and see, I’ll do just that and take a detour. I don’t know where we will end up, though I’d like to attend the 4WD Show in Sydney. My flexible plan allows me to go where I want when I want.

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