Every adrenaline junkie has one item on their bucket list; Taking a weekend trip off-roading. Fun as offroading may sound, it also does have a major dark side to it.
In the US, for example, there were 215 off-road-related deaths in 2020. In fact, experts have argued that driving off-road vehicles is far much dangerous compared to riding a superbike on a busy street.
Any off-road veteran out there can attest that driving off the beaten paths requires mastery of both your vehicle and the topography. And although theory can never replace the actual off-road experience, having instinctive knowledge can make all the difference.
In today’s digital world, there are multiple websites out there giving all manner of information. AskBoosters, for example, focuses on video gaming for gamers looking for WoW boost raid services, while Bootcamp ensures that campers have all the necessary camping items. Here at dangerous roads, our vocation is to enlighten our readers on matters touching on roads.
In this article, we’re inviting you to walk with us as we look at useful tips for off-road driving.
10 Tips For Off-Road Driving Tips
1.Master the Terrain
Off-road trails have a lot of surprises, and the last thing you want is to drive into a potentially dangerous section unknowingly. As such, climbing out of the cab and scouting ahead on foot is important in helping you know what you're getting into in advance. But let's be honest, an off-road trip would be incomplete if you walked the whole trail. So, instead of scouting the entire trail on foot, learning to read the terrain like a professional off-road racer can help. For this, you need to elevate your gaze and look into the horizon to get an idea of how the trail is changing.
2.Speed Isn't your Ally
There’s a famous saying from the Land Rover driving school. “As Slow As Possible, As Fast As Necessary.” This essentially should be your mantra as an off-road driver. Although you may be required to speed occasionally when climbing a hill, a good driver knows when to let go of the pedal. If possible, use a low gear to drive as it will allow you to drive at the most optimal speed.
3.Stick To The Trail
Offroading brings along a lot of excitement and temptation. While at it, you may be tempted to blaze your trail. Unfortunately, straying from your trail may get you stuck, damage your vehicle, or even lead to injuries in the worst-case scenario. Moreover, creating new trails also contributes to damaging the environment.
To avoid all these thin ices, ensure you stick to existing paths, as they’re your best chance of making it out unscathed. Needless to say, you need to carefully weigh your driving skills and the capabilities of your vehicle when using a pre-marked trail. Just because someone did it doesn’t mean you can. They may have had a better vehicle or more off-road driving skills.
With the rough terrain of off-the-beaten tracks, you can be sure that your ride won't be the smoothest. As such, it would be lackadaisical to downplay the possibility of rolling over. To prevent any unforeseen accidents, it’s always a good idea to keep your safety belt buckled always.
5.Bring Recovery Gear
No matter how skilled you are behind the wheel, no driver or vehicle is immune to getting stuck. And although filling in holes, stacking rocks, or placing a sand ladder in front of the tires can help get you unstuck, a more serious stuck requires heavy-duty recovery gear.
The Alpha and Omega within the realm of recovery equipment would be a heavy-duty tow strap. And not just any tow strap. The one that’s fitted with fabric loops on each end as it can be directly attached to the vehicle’s tow hook or frame on one end, and the tow vehicle on the other end.
If you plan on traveling alone, however, it means you have no one to tow you. This would render the strap useless unless you have the elbow grease to manually pull the vehicle. And this leaves you with one option. Investing in an electric winch that is compatible with your vehicle.
6.Lower Tire Pressure
Every tire comes with the recommended inflation pressures for normal paved driving. At these ideal tire pressures, your vehicle uses the least amount of energy when moving, which is directly tied to fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, off-road conditions are worlds apart from the paved roads. Having fully-inflated tires causes them to bounce, which results in less traction and a relatively rougher ride. To avoid this, you need to deflate the tires to improve their traction capabilities, as well as distribute the vehicle’s weight evenly.
7.Consider The Weather
Although most off-road vehicles are better equipped to handle relatively bad weather conditions, extreme weather conditions can throw a pretty steep curveball, into the equation matrix. To avoid falling victim to extreme weather conditions like snow, heavy rains, or sleet, it is better to check with the weatherman before departing.
Driving off-road in extreme weather conditions calls for some level of preparation. As a general rule of thumb, always have a flashlight, warm clothes, food, water, tow strap, snow shovel specialist tires, sleeping bag, and any other common outdoor items.
8.Test The Water Depth
Although this may sound like a no-brainer suggestion, checking the water depth along your trail is important. Not only does it help check whether the bottom of the river is solid but also helps detect underwater potholes. Still, sideways currents adversely interfere with directional steering, and testing the water depth can also help determine the strength of the undercurrents.
Once you have established it’s safe to cross, drive through the river slowly but steadily push the bow wave in front of the vehicle. Needless to say, don’t accelerate or stop through the waves, as you risk getting stuck or getting dragged away.
After leaving the water, dry the brake shoes and drums by lightly pressing the brake pedal. If the river was muddy, you can remove and clean them.
9.Tag a Friend Along
The thought of overcoming and conquering difficult terrain, compounded with hours of fun and entertainment can be appealing. Unfortunately, this excitement can also impair your judgment, exposing you to the many inherent risks associated with off-roading. And since it’s hard to predict what might go wrong in your adventure, always tag a friend or friends along. You never know when you may need them, but better be safe than sorry.
Always ensure that you tackle a trail that allows you to fall back to where help awaits. With zero cell phone network coverage, your cellphone is as good as a bar of soap, so you want to be in a safe location. And even if the trail happens to have coverage, you may find it hard to find rescue, unless you’ve made prior arrangements with someone. Professional tow-truck drivers won’t leave the smartly paved road, that old corn farmer with a tractor may be away, and that one SUV guy down the road may be a snob.
There you have 10 tips to make your off-road adventure successful. As you can see, off-road driving takes much more than waking up, fueling your 4WD, and hitting the road. There’s a lot of meticulous planning that goes into it because a minor hitch could end up with disastrous tidings. If you’re planning to hit that off-the-beaten-track in your neighborhood, the key lies in preparing as much as possible. And as earlier said, no amount of theory can replace the actual experience. As such, what you do at a particular moment is pegged on the prevailing circumstances.