If you’re thinking of getting off road as the weather gets warmer, that’s great! Off roading can be a ton of fun, even if you’re new to the sport. Whether new or old, here are some tips to keep you adventure safe and fun:
Maintain Your Vehicle
Carefully preparing for your offroad adventure will make every experience a great one. Do a walk-around of your vehicle and perform an inspection that will identify any potential problems. Check your fluids, offroading puts a lot of strain on your engine and coolant is important, so follow your vehicle manufacturers guidelines.
Top up your windshield fluid so you’re no left blind on the trail. Also make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. Check your oil and top it up, then look for any signs of leaks, broken hoses, spills or oil spots in your engine.
Upgrade Your Truck
Upgrading parts of your vehicle will allow you to do more and push it to higher extremes in the outdoors. If you do much early morning or late evening trekking, you might want to consider getting a lightbar that will illuminate your surroundings better.
If you’re serious about off roading, you’ll want to upgrade your tires. Mudd tires, all-terrain and hybrid options are all available depending on what you want to do. Moving to 33” or larger tireswill let you push harder, and may open you up to the rush of rock crawling or traversing more adventurous trails. In any case, high performing tires will make a world of difference on your next adventure.
You make also want to lift your truck to allow more ground clearance on tough terrain, or invest in skid plates or body armour that protect critical components from impact.
Use the Buddy System
Try to drive with a buddy in an accompanying vehicle. You’ll have someone to help out if you get stuck or if there’s an emergency, and it’s much safer. You can assist each other if you have a winch, tow strap or hi-jack.
A co-pilot in your own vehicle is also helpful, as this person can help navigate, spot your line, and talk you through difficult situations.
Find Your Line
Your line is an imaginary line that covers your wheels, where they need to go, and what your vehicle clearance needs to be. A good co-pilot can get out and help be your eye’s on the ground. Hand signals are a great way of communicate important information about the position of your vehicle. Remember, when something’s not working, it can pay off to backup and try something new.
On the trail, things happen. Equipment breaks, the weather shifts, trails close, and plans change. It pays to have a backup plan, or be open to changing your plan when circumstances change.
Never do something you’re uncomfortable doing, or put yourself in unnecessary risk. If you’re having a hard time on a section of trail, think things over again and consider if you should continue. You might be able to try a different route or turn around. It’s better to be flexible, and observe your limitations than make a mistake that will ruin the day.
Remember the rules of the road… or, off road as the case may be. Always yield to traffic driving uphill. They have the right-of-way, and if they need to stop, they might no be able to get going again. If you’re on a single track road, try and find a safe spot to allow opposing traffic to pass safely.
If you’re pulled over - to take photos, relieve yourself, or do something else - make sure you find an area that is safe and won’t create an obstruction to traffic or be a safety concern for other vehicles or passengers.
Be sure to use your parking brake when you stop. On steep terrain, relying on your vehicles automatic transmission or first gear might not cut it.
Remember, stay on marked trails, give wild animals space and respect their habitat, and get permission from private landowners before entering their property. Always obey posted signs and closures. And as always, be safe and have fun!