Did you know that off-roading first became popular in the 1900s? Adolphe Kegresse developed the first off-roading vehicle, which was used in expeditions across Africa and Asia. However, off-roading vehicles only reached broader market appeal after World War II.
Today, you’ll find off-roading vehicles are popular to drive even down your local highway. Unlike a trip to the grocery, it takes skill, preparation, and dedication in order to get into this hobby in a safe way. For instance, driving into a deep puddle of mud without a plan or preparation can cause you to lose the whole car.
If you’re ready to experience off-roading driving this year, read on for our basic off-road driving skills for beginners!
Before you even begin researching off-roading locations, you need to take some time to inspect your vehicle to ensure that it’s up for the task. You’ll first want to make sure that it has enough oil, gas, and that the tires are at the right pressure.
For most off-road vehicles, the recommended PSI for your tires is 15 to 20 PSI. This is because as you’re going over rocks, gravel, and other natural obstacles, you want more surface area of the tire to touch the ground. This gives you more traction and helps keep the care more stable.
You may find that your vehicle’s wheels aren’t the best for off-road driving. Learn more about wheels that are perfect for off roading.
Pack Your Supplies
You’ll also want to pack a few supplies for your car that will make your off-roading adventure a less stressful one. For instance, a tow rope rated for your vehicle weight and an extra jerry can with fuel can get you out of potentially day-ruining mishaps.
Here are a few other items you should consider bringing along:
- Spare water for the radiator
- Fully charged phone and two-way radios
- High-lift jack
- Fire extinguishers
- Portable air compressor
- Spare tire
- Tire patch kit
- First aid kit
Along with the first aid kit, remember to bring supplies for yourself as well. This can include a change of clothes, a cooler full of drinks and food, a spare towel, and more.
You’ll find that the more you off-road, the easier it will be figuring out what you need to bring along.
Do the Research
Once your car is equipped and ready, you’ll want to pick a trail and monitor the weather. For beginners, we recommend going on a day when it isn’t raining or storming.
Trails with gravel, dirt, and some grasslands are the best kinds of trails for beginners versus sand or mud. This is because you can easily find these kinds of trails offered by state or federal parks. There won’t be steep ascents or descents for you to contend with–you can simply enjoy the day and get your bearings.
After you find the trail you’d like to traverse, take some time and do more search. Consider any narrow areas on the trail and if there are any easier alternative routes.
You’ll also find that online guides may warn you about unexpected parts of the trail, such as potholes, mud, and large rocks.
Know the Laws
Before you go off-roading, you also want to be aware of any driving off-road laws. You’ll find that much of it is common sense.
Although driving off-road isn’t illegal in most places, you want to make sure you’re doing it in a place with a designated trail or area. For instance, driving off-road on federally protected land that isn’t marked for off-roading will get you in trouble.
If you’re planning on driving at a national park, the National Park Service offers an off-road driving brochure to ensure that everyone is familiar with the rules and penalties.
Keep Control of Your Vehicle
One of the hardest parts about off-roading for a beginner is keeping control of your vehicle at all times. This is because you aren’t familiar with how the car handles in these conditions, and you may be tempted to go faster when caution is needed.
Knowing this, make sure you’re driving slow and steady, especially around curves. Off-roading trails can become narrow with lots of winding curves around slops or even mountains.
You never know what’s around the other end of a curve, and if you take it fast, this could mean colliding with another car or tumbling down a ravine.
As you get more practice, you’ll find that there’s a sweet spot while you’re driving called “throttle equilibrium.” This is when you choose the right gear while you feather the throttle. Too much throttle and you can lose control of the car and cause damage.
You’ll also find that too little throttle will cause your tires to spin, wasting gas and leading to nowhere.
Off-Roading Driving Preparation for Maximum Fun
When it comes to off-road driving safety, the key to success is preparation. Make sure that your car is equipped for off-roading, including with the right tires and tire pressure. You’ll also want to bring along supplies that will make your life easier, such as shovels, portable air compressors, extra gas, and more.
Once you feel that you’re packed sufficiently, we recommend starting on an easy trail during the daytime. Driving during the night can be possible for some trails, but beginners will struggle to see the narrow path ahead. Round curves and ascending over rocks can also be near impossible in the dark.
Ready for more tips on how to prepare for your off-roading driving adventure? Keep reading the blog!