What could be described as the toughest off-road race in the west is only a few days away and if you’ve never been before, you’re in for a thrill. The Johnson Valley OHV area is considered to be one of the premier recreation destinations in the south-west and when Hammertown goes up every year, people flock from all over the country to take in some of the great off-roading terrain or watch some of the carnage the rocks inflict on machines that try to climb them. If you plan on attending but are unsure about what you need, we’ve put together a list of items you might want to have in order to enjoy and survive the event, terrain and harsh conditions you’re likely to encounter.
RZ Mask and good pair of goggles:
No matter if the air is dead calm or blowing 40-50 MPH, which isn’t uncommon for the region, you’re going to encounter some heavy dust. Hammertown is built on a dry lake bed that will have thousands of vehicles driving over it during the week of events that will kick up dust that you’ll have in your eyes and lungs for weeks and thats not even taking account all of the sand from the hills and trails that you’ll be driving on. By having an RZ Mask you’ll filter out most of that fine particulate from entering your body and we highly recommend Oakley goggles to protect your eyes. Oakley makes some of, if not the best goggles on the market that not only offer great protection from flying debris, but also have a special Sand Goggle that has a denser foam around the frame to minimize the amount of sand, dust and silt that can get to your eyes.
GPS: This is the California Desert! There are no road signs but there are thousands of trails to get you turned around if you’re not familiar with the area. By having a good GPS, you can keep track of your routes, your basecamp and even find many of the different notable climb locations from the given GPS coordinates that you can find on a course map.
Off-Road Transportation: This is probably one of the most obvious must haves that we’ll include on this list. Again this even is smack dab in the middle of the rugged California desert and your neighbors Prius hybrid isn’t going to be much good out here. You’ll encounter soft sand, jagged rocks and endless whoops that even some high HP trophy trucks won’t be able to contend with. We highly recommend a 4wd truck, ATV or the best option a quality SxS vehicle. With the right driver behind the controls, you can go almost anywhere depending on how you’re set up. While most won’t need the use of a winch, If you feel brave and decide to give some of the more advanced trails not used in the course a try, you’ll definitely want to have a quality unit from WARN or other reputable brand to get you out of a sticky situation.
Tough Tire/Wheel Combo: This goes hand in hand with the above mentioned off-road vehicle, but we felt it needed its own mention. The desert has plenty of obstacles and debris that can ruin your day if you head out with mediocre meat on your wheels. We love tires like the Kanati Mongrel or rugged STI Rocktane to ensure we have plenty of traction and durability to stay out all day.
Helmets: Not to underemphasize the single most important piece of riding gear, but many people feel that they’re unnecessary in a SxS but in California, it’s a mandatory requirement for all passengers to wear a helmet regardless of age. Regardless of law, it’s just the best thing to protect your moneymaker and what it holds inside.
Ice chest w/ food and plenty of water: Even though the temps might not get any higher than the 60’s or 70’s, the dry desert will suck you dry and before you know it you’ll be dehydrated. If you’re trying to take in as much action as possible, you’ll want munchies and plenty drinks to last you through the day.
Sunscreen and Lip Protector: Lots of people only think about this during the summer, but it’s just as easy to get burnt in the middle of winter when you’re baking under the sun all day. A good sunscreen will protect your skin from burning and the harmful skin cancer causing rays of the sun. You also want to get some Blister or Chapstick to protect your lips and prevent them from cracking do to the dry air. If you don’t, you’ll regret stopping for Mexican food on the way home.
Money, Money, Money: You want enough money to make it rain! No there are no strippers out there. Well, there probably are but chances are you don’t want to see them, but we’re talking about vendors in Hammertown that are there to pass along some great deals. Companies like Rugged Radios, Airaid, Axial R/C, Bestop, MasterCraft, WARN, Odyssey Battery and PCI Race Radios are all set up and fully stocked to move product. These types of events are where you can score some killer deals to outfit your ride.