Off-road Driving Tips for Beginners
“And it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long
Makes me wanna grab my honey
Tear down some two lane country who knows
Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna take a back road.”
Take A Back Road
Recorded by: Rodney Atkins
Songwriters: Rhett Akins / Luke Laird
Know your vehicle. Read the owner’s manual. Know the ground clearance and your vehicle's dimensions including height, width, length, approach angle, departure angle, and ramp angle so that you can navigate tight spaces without damage. Learn where your computer and air intake are so you know how deep you can go into water. Know your recovery points.
Don’t go alone. Join a local club or off road group. Find a buddy to come along preferably in their own 4x4 or at least ride with you if that’s not possible.
Learn your gear. Get acquainted with using the low-ratio gearbox + manual locking hubs. Know where the spare tire and jack are and how to use them.
Drive with your lights on. Even during the day. It’s easier to see another vehicle through brush or trees if they have their lights on.
Four wheels vs two. Know how to lock your 4WD in place and when you will need all 4 tires versus just 2.
Practice on fire roads. Try to find some narrow roads to learn your side clearance. Go up and down steep hills. Find some gravel roads and acquaint yourself with stopping and speeding up on them.
Research your area. Find out what type of off roading you will be doing so you can prepare. Will you be green laning, on light trails, overlanding and camping, mudding, rock crawling, or sand duning?
Pack the TP Be prepared for the possibility of getting stuck by packing snacks, water, warm clothes, and yes, enough toilet paper to not make you rethink all the life decisions that brought you to the wilderness without it.
Airing down your tires. Know when you need to decrease your tire pressure and by how much on which terrain to increase your traction. Have a way to put air back in before road driving again.
Hit slopes straight on. Whether going up a hill or down, hit the slope straight on to avoid rolling. If you can’t see over a slope, get out and look at it on foot before driving it. Go slow + steady. If you are slipping and don’t have lockers, turn your tires. If you meet another vehicle on a grade and there’s no safe place to pull over, the vehicle traveling uphill gets the right of way. It’s safer to back up a downhill.
Consider purchasing recovery straps. Seems better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.
Tread lightly and pack out what you pack in. Let’s help keep the trails open for everyone.
Where the road ends, the fun begins.
Welcome to off-roading. Share your adventures with us.