Is It Crazy That Buggy Guys Travel Without A Spare Tire?

#1
Among the aircooled VW and general buggy crowds the most prevalent aesthetic trend for the last 60 years has been big rear tires and small front tires. Makes for a cool stance, undeniably. However, whenever I see these buggy people traveling overland, even in uber remote places like the Moroccan Sahara or the Alaskan frontier or the Australian Outback, they keep the big-n-little tires and thus don't bother carrying a spare tire. Like motorcycle adventurers, their only tire backup is a well-stocked plug kit.

This seems deliberately underprepared to me, yet these great folks just keep on truckin into the vast overland wildernesses year after year; there's a group of French Manx buggy enthusiasts that drive from France down to the Sahara on an annual basis, constantly without spare tires.

So is a good tire plug kit really all that's necessary with today's modern tires, and I'm just being needlessly paranoid on behalf of other people, or are they indeed being willfully naive by traveling without a spare tire?
 
#2
A spare tire is very convenient, but I believe that the vast majority of flats could be dealt with by a good plug and patch kit. Of course, that takes time and gets you dirty. Most of the groups I have wheeled with seem to pride themselves on how fast they can change a tire, never caring about the activity that caused the flat in the first place.

I've never "overlanded" in foreign countries, but I've put vast numbers of mile on in northern Canada, upper Michigan, and mines and construction sites all over the country. I can tell you that you can haul heavy loads on rough roads with minimal failure as long as you have your mind on your tires and take good care of them. The punctures from sharp rocks and whatnot are usually related to speed and incorrect inflation. If you go slow and careful on tires not to flat and to too full, failures are rare, and usually fixable.

Blowouts and major sidewall damage usually occur when driving fast and not managing tire heat, or when pinching sidewalls due to super-low inflation on rocks or other hard terrain... Of course, that seems to be more of a wheelin thing than an overland thing.
 
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#3
In all my miles of overlanding with motorcycles, never had a spare and I never had a tire problem that I couldn’t fix on the road. Always used tubes.
I am kind of new to 4 wheel overlanding. On my unimog camper I only have 1 spare tire and would prefer 2 only for the sake of tire rotation on directional tires. I really should at least buy a tube or 2 to take with me.
When you are overlanding you tend to pay a lot of attention to your tires and where you roll them.
 
#4
It really depends on where you're going. If you've got tires with a beefy enough casing and you're not playing around in rocks, etc. it's unlikely that you'll end up with an unfixable flat, or at least one you can't fix enough limp it somewhere. If you're rock crawling, you have a much higher risk of tearing a sidewall to bits and really needing a spare.
 

Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
#5
While I always have a spare (+ compressor, + plug kit) often times people that I have camped with (need 4wd to get to our preferred sites) have not and even those running near bald tires did not have flats very often (when they did they had to borrow mine).
...Stuck a new spare on the CJ7 near 15 years ago and it has never seen the ground... so I can see the justification of those who do not bother with a spare.
The last several flats that I had were all due to cracked, rubber, tubeless tire valve stems...(I now carry extras).
 
#8
A spare tire is very convenient, but I believe that the vast majority of flats could be dealt with by a good plug and patch kit. Of course, that takes time and gets you dirty. Most of the groups I have wheeled with seem to pride themselves on how fast they can change a tire, never caring about the activity that caused the flat in the first place.

I've never "overlanded" in foreign countries, but I've put vast numbers of mile on in northern Canada, upper Michigan, and mines and construction sites all over the country. I can tell you that you can haul heavy loads on rough roads with minimal failure as long as you have your mind on your tires and take good care of them. The punctures from sharp rocks and whatnot are usually related to speed and incorrect inflation. If you go slow and careful on tires not to flat and to too full, failures are rare, and usually fixable.

Blowouts and major sidewall damage usually occur when driving fast and not managing tire heat, or when pinching sidewalls due to super-low inflation on rocks or other hard terrain... Of course, that seems to be more of a wheelin thing than an overland thing.
I have seen a few flats on the trail and on the road. Other than an occasional nail or similar puncture damage most I have seen couldn't be fixed with plugs. Much of the damage to tires I have seen damaged on the trail are side wall damage.

I do agree with you that some flats could be avoided by being more careful. If the driver used there brain instead of there right foot there is tire damage that could be avoided.

I suppose much of it depend on how you travel. I usually travel in the woods. Trails are tight and speed is not an issue. The sidewall damage I have seen is from roots and rocks. Often the sidewall takes a hit for something unseen and you just slide into it.

I wouldn't go without a spare or set out with people I knew that didn't have a spare.
 
#9
I have never even had a flat since I started running 10 ply tires 9 years ago. There are a thousand things on a vehicle that can fail and leave you stranded, but we never worry about them. I've been stranded more often by internally shorted batteries than by ruined tires. I'm considering losing my spare too, and maybe carrying a tube. I always carry plugs, valve cores, and caps.
 
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#11
I have never even had a flat since I started running 8 ply tires 9 years ago. There are a thousand things on a vehicle that can fail and leave you stranded, but we never worry about them. I've been stranded more often by internally shorted batteries than by ruined tires. I'm considering losing my spare too, and maybe carrying a tube. I always carry plugs, valve cores, and caps.
How hard is it to get pulled out with a shorted battery vs a flat tire?
 
#12
I travel alone. No one is going to be pulling me anywhere. The point is that things that we routinely trust, are often less reliable than the things we don't trust. Meant to say 10 ply, not 8
 
#13
I travel alone. No one is going to be pulling me anywhere. The point is that things that we routinely trust, are often less reliable than the things we don't trust. Meant to say 10 ply, not 8
You have to know what works for you. I have never had issues with tires on my Jeep. I always ran more aggressive tires designed with strong side walls until now I am running an AT. It supposedly it has a reinforce sidewall.
You do realize that for the most parg ply ( 8 ply 10 ply) is an outdated term u. Modern tires use a rating system C, D, E to indicated how much pressre and load they carry, not side wall strentght. I have a set of interco C rated tires with side wall much much much thicker then then the E rated tires on my truck. I have ripped E rated tires on my one ton collecting fire wood my never on the C rated tires designed with a strong side wall for off road, even over very rough terrain.

An E rated tire may have a stronger side wall then an identical C rated tire but they won't have a stronger side wall the a tire than has a strong side wall designed for off road abuse.
 
#14
So is a good tire plug kit really all that's necessary with today's modern tires, and I'm just being needlessly paranoid on behalf of other people, or are they indeed being willfully naive by traveling without a spare tire?
Some are carrying more than just plugs. Many of the people I wheel with run 37" and larger bias ply tires on beadlocks. No need (or space) for a spare since they can plug and patch any problem they might create including damage to a sidewall that would be terminal for a radial tire. Just a thought.
 
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