When you have left behind the last hints that can somehow be traced back to civilisation and you start to dare deeper into the great wilderness, you distance yourself from the familiar undertakings and sensations of existence. What you now need to prevail are different kinds of skills, ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance – and luck. You have to make use of what you have with you, or can find around you; stitch them together in ways that will keep you going.
Your vehicle with your equipment represents about the last of the familiar ploys, but one can take only a very small bit of your civilised world with you on it. Basic things, with names like extra fuel, extra spare wheels, water, bush pick, shovel, axe, jack, chain, spanners, wheel pump; some technology, like torch, gas stove, and on the really advanced side, a compass (now turned GPS), and if you’re lucky (not me), a satellite phone…
Your vehicle has to work hard to carry you through the bush. Protecting it and being careful to check and repair anything that goes wrong is key to making it there and back. If you lose your vehicle, all other plans have to be abandoned. At the very least you then face days of walking, just to reach a rendering of civilisation too feint to be more than just quaint. At the worst you may not make it at all.
In certain kinds of terrain, punctures can happen often. So, I carry at least two spare wheels, sometimes more, and I use the strongest tyres I can find – that means the thickest, with the least chance of getting penetrated by those terrible sickle bush thorns (and many others), or getting torn on some hidden peril.
They have to be tube tyres. If you get a large hole or even a small tear in a tubeless one, its only further use will be to fuel smoke signals – but it’s a long, long way from Africa to the nearest American Indian. Even a large tear in a tube, on the other hand, can be emergency-repaired with a large-enough patch. Of course, one needs the right equipment – patch and solution, tyre levers, pump (I nowadays use a little electrical plug-in one) – and you need to know how to get the tyre off, repaired and back on. Getting it off the rim can be a struggle. For me with my bush equipment it takes about an hour per wheel. I usually do it at midday breaks, or in the evening after my second whisky (while nursing a third).