Picture it. You take your beloved 4x4 on the off-road adventure you and your friends have always talked about. You get out on the trail, hit the slick rock, and start climbing. Then something happens. You take the incline that has been calling to you, but instead of heading straight up the slope, you take it at an angle. You feel the wheels on the passenger side of your truck leave the ground while the rocky floor next to you gets closer and closer.
If you have a 4x4 you care about, think about it getting crushed as it rolls down a rocky hill. Now, think about how you can prevent that from ever happening. Before you head to your adventure destination, take a look at these essential tips on how to drive off-road safely.
Let people know your plans
Since off-road driving is by definition off the beaten path, make sure you tell people at home where you are going and when you intend to return. That way, people will notice if you don’t make it back, and they will know where to look for you. You probably won’t find much cell phone reception in many of the places you are likely to off-road.
Take two (vehicles)
It is always a good idea to take off-road trips in groups. It’s more fun that way Plus, having at least one other vehicle along for the ride helps ensure that you have a way home, or a way out of a jam, if your vehicle gets immobilized.
Walk before you crawl
Before crawling up that rocky slope or through that muddy patch, take a look at it on foot first so you can get a better idea of what to expect and whether your vehicle can handle it.
Take it slow
Speaking of crawling, take obstacles slowly. It might look great on video seeing a truck flying over off-road obstacles, but the reality is usually a lot more damaging--for your vehicle and for you if you take it too fast.
Always, repeat always, wear seatbelts when off-roading. Also, be sure to strap down all loose gear and supplies inside your vehicle. You can get handy accessories like fitted floor mats that will stay put. Take a quick inventory of what’s inside your vehicle and think about what will happen to it if your vehicle suddenly becomes airborne.
Take the right angle
Make sure you approach all obstacles at the correct angle. Take a path that your vehicle can handle. That includes climbing straight up and down steep hills to avoid rolling. This goes back to taking it slow, so you have time to make any necessary adjustments.
Pack the essentials
Take a complete first aid kit with you. Also, bring along extra food and water in case your trip gets longer than intended. You can also prep your vehicle with the extra gear it needs to stay intact. This can include light covers to keep them from breaking, and bed caps for your pickup.
If you do a little homework and preparation before heading off-road, you can increase your odds of having a great time.