The Winter Tuktoyaktuk Arctic Expedition With the General Grabber Arctic LT
The Arctic winter must be respected and, while there are those for whom extreme cold is a natural environment, for this South African couple an Arctic winter is as foreign to us as the moon. Sure we have a fair amount of experience with cold weather and winter travel but, a white knuckle drive over the Donner Pass in a blizzard or camping in a foot of snow north of Boise, are not the equivalent of the Arctic Circle. One of the most important upgrades to a vehicle for extreme cold weather travel has to be tires as without sufficient grip at all four corners a vehicle is severely compromised.
Many have asked us why, why would we leave the warmth and comfort of Central America and travel up to the Arctic Ocean in March?! The answer is simple and two fold. Firstly, our entire lives as travelers has been about learning, about expanding our knowledge and capabilities. To travel to the Arctic Ocean in winter we would need to research and prepare before leaving and learn and adapt while on the road. Our gear has been carefully chosen from head to toe but, our most important asset is our vehicle and the vehicle must be prepared for some of the toughest conditions known to man. Which brings us neatly to the second answer to a question I even ask myself. Simply, the Nimbl camper we are currently using is the vehicle for the job. My trusty and dependable Land Rover Defender has been around the world but is not designed or equipped for extreme cold. The Nimbl is. While traveling in white out conditions during the winter of 2021 we soon learned that the Nimbl is highly capable in winter condition and the vehicle instilled so much confidence in us that we decided that this was the time, and this was the vehicle with which we could explore the far north in extreme conditions.
The actual preparation of the vehicle began months before the journey to the Arctic itself. While traveling Central America we got to know the strengths and the weaknesses of the vehicle and were sure to perform regular and intelligent maintenance, ensuring that the vehicle would remain entirely reliable. Upon returning to the USA we set about diagnosing and repairing any and every possible fault. The list of repairs is relatively short but extensive. With a help of a friend we over hauled the entire brake system (the mountains of Guatemala had been punishing) and we replaced the front upper and lower ball joints (not an easy job at all!) and replaced the steering damper. This work was followed by a service and the replacement of all filters and a winter specific engine oil (5W40). The coolant was partially drained and topped up with a cold weather concentrate, as wash the wiper fluid.
By far the most significant upgrade was the mounting of a set of five studded General Tire Grabber Arctic LT tires, which would ensure that we would have maximum grip as we traveled icy and snow blown roads for thousands of miles, culminating with a frozen river ice road journey, before our return.
The Grabber Arctic LT is an ideal winter tire for light trucks and SUVs, designed to be studded for superior performance on snowy and icy roads. It boasts the Duragen Technology, which endows it with remarkable strength and durability adding an extra layer of toughness to the tire’s construction, making it suitable for heavy-duty traction on wet, snow-covered and icy terrains. Additionally, this tire has been certified with the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol combined with its stud capability, ensures it is capable of handling severe winter conditions.
The Grabber Arctic LT tire is specially engineered to provide exceptional grip in low temperatures, enabling reliable braking on snow, ice, or wet roads. The tire's robust durability ensures long-lasting treadwear, while its superb steering response and dry handling capabilities make it an excellent choice for all-season use.
Our initial impression of the Arctic LT tires was excellent as the tires immediately transformed the handling of the vehicle and provided sure and steady grip as we made our way up from Nevada and onto the frozen roads of Eastern Oregon. The tires gave us the confidence to drive safely and at a steady speed as we made our way towards the Canadian border and ultimately to the Yukon, en route to the frozen Arctic Ocean.
Stay tuned for the Arctic trip report!
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