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How to pick a line when off-roading?

Off-roading is an art. If you are doing off-roading you are the artist who is doing that art. Picking a line is the crucial thing in off-roading art.

Some are very talented in picking the best line for him while some find it’s very difficult to find his best line and get stuck or damage their vehicle and/or injured to themselves sometimes.

When picking a line, always try to choose the path with highest traction.

On uneven terrains try to keep wheels on high side as much as possible.

Use a spotter on extreme terrains. Keep necessary speed according to the terrain.

In this guide I’ll give you a few tips for you to improve your knowledge on finding the best line.

But you have to use them accordingly with modifications. Because this is an art and only guidance could be given.

You have to complete the art according to your situation. But I’m pretty sure anything is possible with better guidance, practice, and experiences.

With that in mind let’s dive into the article.


Understanding of vehicle

Before you get into the cockpit you have to take a look at your vehicle if you are new to vehicles.

First you have to take a good understanding about its length and width, wheel base, height from ground to lowest point of your vehicles(normally ground to differential) and height to rocker panels/rock sliders from ground will be important in deciding the line.

Apart from those, try to identify a mark on the hood to take an idea on where the front axle and wheels are situated.

As an example windshield washers may be parallel to your front axle.

So that when you are in the driving seat you can do the relevant estimates according to terrain. Check the condition of tyres also.

Knowledge about drivers blind spots

When you get into the jeep’s driving seat, the first thing you have to understand is the blind spots.

Through the windshield you can’t see directly in front of the bonnet.

You can see 2 to 3 meters apart from the bonnet. So you have to make your estimations according to those distances.

You can see the driver’s side by hanging your head out but the passenger side is blind.

Rear of the vehicle is also blind.

That’s why I had mentioned that you should know the dimensions of the vehicle.

Before entering off-roading terrain you have to have a good understanding about your vehicle.without that it’s hard to beat a terrain with your jeep.

Check out the terrain

When it comes to picking a line first you have to check the terrain and take an idea of an easy route.

This is not an exact root. Just a rough idea. This checking will differ from terrain to terrain.

If it’s rocky terrain you can make a rough route on your mind by just looking and walking around.

But if it’s powdery snow, mud puddle, muddy swamp or water puddle then you have to know the depth and what’s hidden under the snow, mud or water.

In my experiences I know that on a puddle depth can be varied from place to place and there are rocks, wood logs like hidden obstacles.

So if it’s possible you can walk through it and check that out or else you can use a stick and check those things out if you are new to that relevant terrain.

Choose the path with highest traction

If it’s slippery terrain(may be due to greasy mud or slippery rocks) check for a line which can get the highest traction for your wheels.

Even that line is more distant than others stick to that line with more traction.

If you have diff lockers, engage them. If your vehicle doesn’t have diff lockers then you must consider a route where all the wheels get the same traction.

That means if one of your wheels lift from the ground due to uneven terrain, most of the vehicles tend to transmit all the torque of that relevant axle to that spinning wheel.

I had described the reason for it in my diff lockers article. You can check that by clicking here.

Because of that you will be stuck in the place without further moving.

So if you don’t have diff lockers, always try to choose a line where all the wheels get the same amount of traction without lifting one or two wheels from the ground.

Normally it’s advised that to keep the vehicle in level as much as possible.

But it may not much consider if you have a line with a good traction through an inclined plane, you should choose that line.

Keep wheels in high side 

When crawling on rocks or logs, try to crawl your wheels on the high that way you can keep the ground clearance.

If you have rock sliders try to slide over with the help of it in difficult situations.

Always try to pick a path that keeps your undercarriage clear and unobstructed.

Most of the time you can clear the front wheels from obstacles by steering but rear wheels are forgotten.

To clear both of the wheels you have to turn front wheels and give time for the rear wheels to align with front wheels.

Then you have turn to other side fully and take the jeep to the track. That means off-roading is a fight with steering also.

Keep the necessary speed

For some terrains momentum is the key to beat it.

But some terrain’s speed may cause accidents.

So you have to keep the necessary speed according to the spot.

Rock crawling should be done very slowly. Normally 4WD low range is used.

There we need a high torque and low speed. We can’t beat rocky terrain with speed. Your vehicle will bounce on rocks and end up breaking things.

Use a spotter

It’s good to have a reliable spotter in extreme terrains and especially in rock crawling.

Spotters can see your blind spots and where your four wheels are placing.

Good communication with the spotter will be a good support to stick to your line and beat the terrain.

Newbies first watch others

If you are new to off-roading or new to that terrain it’s good to watch how others are picking their line and what are the capabilities of their vehicles.

Understand vehicles limits

Even if you watch other drivers line, sometimes that line may not be suitable for your vehicle.

That’s why it’s crucial to understand the limits and capabilities of your vehicle.

Sometimes ground clearance of your vehicle may be lower than others and because of that you couldn’t drive through that line.

After watching you have to decide your route.

As I mentioned at the start this is an art. You can get the basics of picking a line from this article.

Then you have to use this knowledge and your common sense to pick the best line and beat the relevant terrain.

Even if you pick the best route you may be stuck. That’s because this is off-roading.

Even how expertized you are or how  capable of your vehicle nature can defeat you.

That’s how it is and those are the fun parts of off-roading.

As a final thing I’ll give you a recovery guide that you must need if you are off-roading.

To read that click here. Check that also before going for off-roading. That will be useful for you.

If you think this guide may helpful for someone, share this with them. You just have to hit a share button below.

Have fun and safe off-roading !!  

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