Off-roading is one of those things that can be started without too much experience, but can quickly become dangerous and costly. Inexperience with driving off-road can lead to damage to your truck as well as injuries to yourself, which are fairly hard to treat when you’re miles from the nearest ER.
To help you out, we’ve collected five tips for off-roading safely. From knowing your truck to keeping a proper pace, this is a great list to get you started with off-roading safely.
1. Know Your Truck
First things first, you should know your truck front to back. You should know what your turning radius is, be able to back up without issue, and simply know what your truck can and cannot do.
This only comes from experience, so get to know your truck ON the road before you try to take it OFF the road.
2. Have a Buddy
Just like those days back in the third grade on a field trip, when off-roading you need to use the buddy system. Ideally this means you should have someone else with a truck off-roading with you but someone in your truck is good, too.
Having a second truck with you means you can be towed out if you get stuck, and if you get hurt there’s someone that can go for help. Off-roading alone is dangerous and honestly, not that fun. Get a buddy and be safe.
3. Have a Tow Strap, and Know How to Use It
Speaking of having a buddy, you should always carry a set of tow straps with you and know how to use them. Top straps can safely recover your truck after getting stuck, can help un-roll a wrong-side-up truck, and can help do these things to your friend’s truck, too.
When choosing a set of tow straps make sure to get the kind WITHOUT a built-in hook. The ends should be stitched over on themselves to create loops. This makes them safer and wear less. Never use a chain or anything not rated for towing and you’re set to go.
4. Slow and Steady
There’s a time and place for driving fast, and the trail isn’t one of them. Unless you own a trophy truck or a rally car, the trail is best taken at a slow and steady speed.
Sure, going fast is fun, but navigating your truck over a pile of rocks in the trail, or fording that stream will give you the same adrenaline rush, just without the risk of hurting your truck or yourself. Keep it slow and keep your truck in one piece.
5. Obstacle Height Matters
One of the most fun parts of off-roading is driving over things. Whether it’s rocks, logs, or crests of hills, driving over things is fun. With this fun though comes a need for safety, too. Before driving over an obstacle you need to make sure your truck can make it over the item.
Make sure to take into account any ruts in the trail, as these will reduce your overall ground clearance. Check for transmission lines and brake lines to verify they’re not hanging down. Finally, pull up to the obstacle and check your clearance before heading over.