Founded and run by Matt Balazs, On Trail Training returned to 14erFest’s Vendor Village for the weekend to offer more helpful advice to off-road enthusiasts.
As a small crowd gathered around his Jeep Saturday, Balazs handed out business cards that doubled as references for weight pulling with winches.
The back of each card included several factors and formulas to consider when working with a winch recovery, all of which Balazs covered thoroughly in his explanations of using the winch.
He included tools such as pulley blocks, X-Locks, a tree strap—he recommended polyester over nylon—and even the Spanish Burton pulley method added to the winch line to illustrate distributing forces and taking some weight off of the winch itself.
“I am a big proponent of using a mechanical advantage any time I do a recovery,” he added during the clinic.
He explained where to set specific tools when using them, how to approach different recovery scenarios and, most of all, how to practice every step of recovery safely.
Balazs also hosted a tire repair and trail repair clinic at the On Trail Training booth on Sept. 24, covering parts and pieces to bring for vehicle repairs in the field, including how to replace a valve stem and stitch a side wall among other pointers on tire repair.
Afterward, Balazs was happy with the turnout for the clinics. “I always like coming here. It’s always nice, seeing a lot of folks from a lot of different backgrounds that don’t always do this stuff,” he said, gesturing to his Jeep.
While his clinic on recovery lasted about half an hour, he’s used to doing 8-hour classes of talking and hands-on work.
“We’ll talk about how to rig a winch and then how folks go hook up to a tree, concentrate on the rigging and take a look at your equipment,” he said.
A big fan of Jeeping, local Jim Willut appreciated the helpful tips from Balazs as well as 14erFest overall.
“He’s big on safety, and that’s always important, be sure we’re doing everything safely. He gave us some good hints about how to not put yourself in dangerous positions,” Willut said.
Balazs said he likes 14erFest a lot, and this year’s event has been great.
“It grows every year. I was one of the four vendors here the first year. Main Street was still open. We had, I think, myself, Stay The Trail, Mile-Hi Jeep Club and Outer Limit Supply … Every year, it’s a little bigger, a little better, a lot more people. It’s always good to come back and be a part of this.”