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What Should You Know Before Going Off Roading | Beginners Guide 2021

If you are searching for where to start your off roading journey. I’m pretty sure you came to the right spot. IN this blog I’ll share with you everything that an off roader should know from A to Z.

In this guide I hope to  dive with you into everything  you should know on off roading , and how to do off roading in the correct way, saving you and your vehicle from damages.
I’m very excited about sharing this. So without  further ado let’s get started.


What is off-roading?

Off roading is simply, driving out of the pavement. It may be on mud, sand ,snow or even through water in river beds. Maintaining proper traction on the above terrains is a must.

Why is off-roading so famous among people?

That’s because it’s a very fun activity and it gives a lot of experiences to drivers by driving on different terrains. On the other hand it’s kind of a hobby among people, same as fishing, hunting and camping.

Some people go off-roading for a few days while making camps in forests at night time. Think about it. It’s a lot of fun.

What should you consider before off roading as a beginner?

This is the most common question  that gets into the minds of all the newbies that want to hit off roads.
There are crucial  things you should consider before entering off roads as a beginner.

1.safety

The first and foremost thing apart from everything you should consider is safety, Of both you and your vehicle. 
Off roading is a very fun activity if you follow correct techniques. Otherwise it can cause injuries to you and you will end up causing damages to your vehicle.
So what do you mean by correct techniques?
You may get that question right now.
Most of them depend on the terrain you are off roading. We’ll get into that later in this post under how to drive on different terrains.

2. Essentials you should have for off-roading

 
  1. Suitable vehicle/jeep
  2. Suitable tires for the terrain 
  3. Enough fuel
  4. First aid kit
  5. Bottle jack, Hi – lift jack
  6. Winch & extra strap
  7. Air compressor and tire deflator
  8. Fire extinguisher 
  9. Recovery gears
  10. Your accessories(food, water, sleeping bags etc.)

 1.Vehicle

 

First you should have a suitable vehicle. It’s OK that your truck would be old or new. But it should be suitable for the terrain you are off roading.
Highly recommend having a 4 wheel drive truck for this. But you can go off the pavement using an all wheel drive vehicle or a two wheel drive vehicle for some extend.
But there’s a huge probability to stuck you easily on a terrain.

2.Tires

 
This is a most important component you should consider, as an off-roader. You should select it wisely.
Otherwise you may end up with a lot of troubles in the middle of a trail. Because traction is a must in off-roading.
Tire is the thing that keeps the necessary traction.so you should wisely choose the suitable tire set.
 
There are street tires, All terrain tires and Mud terrain tires. They have different tread patterns and different sizes and thickness of sidewalls according to their utilities.
 
Choosing a tire is a broad topic. I had read a good tire guide . So you can check that out for more information about choosing a suitable tire set.
 

3. Fuel

 
Undoubtedly you should bring enough fuel when you go off-roading. because most of the time there may be no fuel stations near trails. Other thing is fuel consumption of your engine may increase on off-roading terrains.
 
It’s ideal to bring some extra fuel in a plastic Jerry can. If you can bring an extra 5 – 10 gallons of fuel, it’s good for your health.
 

4.First aid kit

 
Some instances you may get into injuries while off-roading and other off-roading activities like winching and recovering. So it’s wise to bring a first aid kit. You can buy a commercial first aid kit for a few bucks or you can prepare your own first aid kit.
 

5.Bottle jack, Hi – lift jack –

 
This is a must have equipment for your off-roading trip. There is a high possibility of getting a flat tire on the trail. To change the tire you it’s good to have a bottle jack or a Hi-lift jack.
 
Apart from tire punctures, hi – lift jack is important in recovering purposes and many more. We have a detailed step by step guide on  how to use a high-lift jack on off-roading. you can check that by click on the above link.
 

6.winch & straps

 
If your truck doesn’t have a winch, you can get a suitable one from the market. This is also the most important thing for off – roading, because if you get stuck somewhere in the trail this comes to your support.
I have written a detailed guide on why you want a winch in off roading and how to do winching properly. click on the link to read it.
 
You can take out your vehicle safely and easily from mud or stucked places with the help of a winch even if you don’t have a recovery vehicle for the support. Extra strap also comes handy with the winch for some critical instances.
 

7.Air compressor & Tire deflator

 
These two also must be in your truck. Because you have to deflate and inflate your tires in different amounts according to your terrain for best performance. You’ll make a sense why I’m say so in “driving in different terrains chapter” in this guide.
 

8.Fire extinguisher

 
If something goes wrong this will save you from a lot of troubles. There are instances of off-roading jeep get into fire due to various mechanical problems. So keeping a fire extinguisher in your off roading truck may be useful someday, for you or your friend.
 

9.Recovery gears

 
Apart from the above mentioned gears it’s wise to bring a tool kit, traction aids  , a folding shovel, a flashlight, mechanical gloves , battery charger and jumper cables. In different extreme terrains these things are useful.
 

10.Your accessories

 
Your clothes, food/snacks, enough water, sleeping bags(if you stay a night) come under this category. If you are going for a day trip these are the essential things and you can add your personal important things to this list.
 
Here we add sleeping bags in case of emergency. If you may get in a situation like stay over night in a trail, they may be useful.
It’s optional. you can decide whether they need or not according to the trail you are off-roading
 
Remember to bring enough water/ coolant for the radiator.
 

3. Trail

 
 
You have to decide a trail you are going to off roading. If you are a beginner, it’s wise to choose an easy trail. Otherwise you may damage your vehicle and also you may get injuries. There are trail ratings in standard trails. Let’s see what’s that.
 
Trail rating..
 
Important thing  is that there’s a rating for trails according to the difficulty. They indicate in green , blue and black colors.
 
As a beginner you should select a green trail. It’s the beginner friendly trail for the first journey. 
 
Blue and black trails are for intermediate and pro off roaders respectively.
 
So you can get a  good experience from a green rated trail and you can improve your skills to defeat any hard terrain in the future.
 
I’m pretty sure that you can get every piece of knowledge from here any time you want, to achieve that!!
 
After selecting the trail..
 
Then you have to get a good idea about the trail. About the track, about the area and about the challenges you may have to face. These everything should be in your mind before entering the trail.
 
For this you can use different apps and even google maps will give you much information about the track. So do your own research and plan your trip. make a checklist of essentials you want to bring according to your needs.
 
Then check your vehicle condition and make sure you have done all necessary maintenance for your truck before the journey.
 
Make a few companions for the journey..
When going off roading try to go as a group as much as possible. At least two vehicles including yours. It’s very useful in many ways.
 
If you are stuck somewhere, other vehicles can help you to get out of there. Even think of an instance that something goes wrong with your truck , others can help you to come up with a solution. So don’t go off – roading alone.
 
At least go with a friend of yours in your truck. It will help you in many ways.
If you are a newbie it’s better if you can go with someone who has experience in your relevant trail. He can help you to defeat difficult instances.
 
Inform someone who cares about you..
 
Next important point is to inform your relation or someone responsible, about your journey and how much time you will spend for that.
 
So if something went wrong you can give them a call or if you are in a remote area that mobile signals are not reached , they will search about you, if they don’t get any clue from you.
So these simple things will save your head from a lot of troubles.
 
Now you are ready for the amazing off-roading journey…
 
When you are going for off – roading you may hear some unfamiliar words that off – roading pros are using. Generally we call it the vocabulary of off – roaders.
 

What is the vocabulary of off – roaders? 

 
There are some terms that are  bound with off-roading. They may be new to general people. So here I write a few common words from a huge list.
 
Diff lock – Locking differential. This is a somewhat large topic to discuss. But briefly, locking the differential will give both two wheels of an axle, same amount of spin regardless of the traction.
 
4WD low & High – There are 2 ranges of 4 wheel drive called high and low according to the gear ratio. Low range will give you low speed but high torque and traction to all wheels. High range have high speed but low torque and traction. I’ll tell you where to use those in the terrains section.
 
Skid plate – This is the metal plate that is fixed mostly under the engine cabin, to prevent the damages to the essential parts that are caused by hitting the ground when driving in different terrains.
 
Off camber – This is an area of a trail where the outer edge of the trail bed is lower than the inner edge.
 
Airing down – deflating/ removing air from your tires. This will give better traction with a long foot print of your tires. This will improve traction and reduce tire punctures.
 
Articulation – The amount of distance axle can move vertically/ up and down. This amount is very useful when crawling on rocks. Not only rocks, extreme terrains that wheels have to spin on a vertical axis, want more articulation. 
 
Sway bar/ anti torsion bar – This is a steel bar that connects  suspension to the frame that prevents side to side leaning of the truck when cornering or driving in terrains. There are two sway bars in front and rear which act as stabilizers.
 
Wheelbase – the distance between front and rear axles of your wheels
 

Off-roading on different terrains..

 
Now I am going to discuss the most awaited topic. 
 
As an off roader, when you enter a trail you may have to drive through mud , river beds , rocks and sand.
There are different techniques, different modifications and recovery gears for these different terrains you have to know.
Otherwise you end up stuck in the middle of the trail. Let’s see how to beat different terrains with your off-roading jeep.
 

Off-roading in mud..

First thing you should understand is, experience and skill you get from driving on off-roads is the most important thing you should have to overcome these different challenges. 
 
Know the depth
Before driving to mud get an idea about the depth of that place and what type of mud is it. You can easily do it by poking with a stick to the bottom of the mud bog. But this is not necessary for a normal mud hole.
If you are driving in a deep mud or  there are no ruts created by other drivers this technique will save you from troubles.
After knowing the depth you can decide whether you cross it or not with the capabilities of your vehicle. 
 
Drive steady and slowly
You should keep vehicle speed slow and steady. Here slow is not meant too slow. You should have a necessary speed to get the help of momentum.
But don’t speed up through the mud. Because the slippery surface will lose your vehicle control and you may hit a tree or something near.
 
Turn your steering wheel back and forth if you start to bog down. It will help to treads on the edge of the tire to grab and give the traction. But keep in mind that not to steer side to side when you have steady momentum.
It only reduces the momentum and increases the ability to get stuck.
 
It’s  better to keep on your own pathway in deep somewhat tough mud than following ruts caused by other drivers , because it reduces the steering ability and it also reduces the clearance between ground and bottom of the vehicle. So you may get stuck easily.
 
But if it’s not deep mud then try to follow the ruts caused by other drivers. Those ruts will be tight enough to give you the traction and It may save the environment on other hand.
 
Use 4*4 
Engage in 4*4 mode before entering the mud. If you try to do it in the middle of the mud or after getting struck it may not help you much.
It also increase tire spinning and dig deep through mud.
 
Here I have to mention an important thing. Now you know that there are High and Low ranges in 4*4 mode.
You may wonder what should I choose 4*4 high or low ?
 
The simple answer is it depends on the terrain and your vehicle. But normally most of the drivers use 4*4 high on mud. But this is not a constant. In high range normally you can  increase speed up to 55mph.( see your vehicles manual for more information).so you can get momentum to cross the terrain.
 
4*4 low range normally used when jeeps need extremely high torques. As an example when rock crawling, towing purposes we use low range.
This gives very slow wheel spinning speed but high torques. Normally in mud we beat it with the help of momentum. So a high range will most of the time do the job.
 
Reduce Tire pressure 
If necessary you can reduce the tire pressure to increase the traction by increasing the tire footprint. 18 – 20 psi (pounds per square inch) is more convenient to mud and sand. But keep in mind to re-inflate your tires before hitting the pavement.
 
Keep thumbs out
This is somewhat tricky. Keep your thumbs on the outer surface of the steering wheel in the terrains. Because your front wheel may turn fast in the mud/ even in the sand . It may cause injuries to your thumb unless your thumbs keep out on the wheel.

 

If you want to cross a river bed or water..

Think before you go to cross water , is it really needed to me? Because this may cause serious damages to your vehicle in many ways. Engine, electronic systems, computer systems of new vehicles are not works friendly with water.so be careful.

 
Apart from the above mentioned thing off-roading through water is a lot of fun if you do it in the correct way and follow safety precautions.
Depth and flow of water.
Here also the first and most important thing is the depth and flow of water. If you don’t know the depth you can check it by walking through it and also using a stick.

After knowing the depth you should compare it with your vehicle’s capabilities. If your vehicle has computer systems you should know at what height they are placed.
If the depth is higher than that height avoid crossing from there. Not only electronics your engine also gets into serious damages if water enters into the chambers.so cautious about those things.
 
Get an idea about the bottom of water.
When you walk through the river bed you should identify what’s under the water. there may be mud or sand and gravel. And there may be wood logs and rocks also.
So you should avoid those things before entering your vehicle there. If it’s too deep to walk through, it’s better to find another way without crossing from there. This is called the crossing pathway.
 
You may not enter an unknown river bed without knowing those things.
 
Entry and exit points.
Then you have to check the entry point and exit point. Entry point is where your vehicle enters the water and exit point is where you get out of the water. There you have to check the entry and departure angles. Otherwise you will hit the bottom of your vehicle on the ground.
 
Check tire pressure.
After checking those things, you have an idea about the terrain you are crossing. According to the bottom of the river bed you can reduce your tire pressure. If it is a gravelly bottom you can keep tire pressure between 20 – 30 psi and if there are mud and rocks 20 – 18 psi is suitable.
 
Set your recovery gears ready..

It’s better to set your recovery gears like tow ropes or snatch straps ready in case of emergency. You can attach them to a recovery point so that it assures a fast recovery if something went wrong. 
 
After that you can safely cross the river bed slowly. But be careful all the way, because your depth measurements may not be accurate.so carefulness will save your vehicle and you from damages.
 
I have written separate three articles including snow driving techniques, how to do sand off roading and everything you should know about rock crawling .
You can get a priceless knowledge from them. Check them for know the specific techniques to beat those terrains like a pro.
 

Things you should do and should not do when off-roading

Now I have gone through most of the essential facts you should know before off-roading as a beginner. But there is a lot more to learn.
Most of the things come from the experience you get as you drive on different terrains. That skill you get from real off-roading is priceless.
 
Apart from those things please keep in mind not to harm the environment.
 
Don’t spin your wheel unnecessarily on the tracks. It will cause more damages to the environment.
 
Try to stick to the original tracks as much as possible. Don’t try to make new pathways destroying the vegetation.
 
Bring back everything you brought there. Don’t litter trash to the environment. And if you see any trash around you please collect it and bring it with you.
Try your best to save the environment while enjoying it.

 
Have fun and safe off-roading !!

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