How to Start Off-Roading With a Budget April 03, 2015

Off-Roading is fun, but the laundry list of upgrades available can quickly add up to a pretty expensive hobby. From suspension to wheels to rock rails, there’s a lot to buy to make your ride ready for the trail. Some upgrades are nice to have while others are pretty vital. Sorting through these can be a real pain, which is why we’ve compiled our favorite tips for off-roading on a budget. 

Remember, you don’t need to have a fully tricked-out truck to get started off-roading and having fun. Start small and work your way up. In the end you’ll be glad you did.

Wheels and Tires

The first upgrade to your ride should definitely be a new, larger set of wheels and tires. If you’re going extra low-cost, just a new set of tires with a more aggressive tread pattern can really help make the trail safer.

Tires meant for the highway aren’t going to get you far on the trail, so it’s best to get some serious mud tires before attempting any off-road driving. While this is a great start, you can only go so big on wheels and tires before you start hitting wheel wells and frame, which brings us to the second step in upgrades, the lift kit.

Lift Kit

In a perfect world, one of your first additions to an off-road truck or SUV would be a lift kit, but in the real world where we have budgets, this can be done as a second upgrade. There are two types of lift kits available: body and suspension. A body lift is cheaper than a suspension lift, and will definitely give you the extra room for those bigger tires you want. The only down side to a body lift is that they don’t offer any additional ground clearance.

To add ground clearance you must lift the suspension, which raises the truck itself off the ground. You can start with a small body lift and add the suspension lift when you can. At the very least your truck will look cooler and you’ll be able to fit larger tires, which will definitely help you off-road.

Tow Straps

Back to our perfect world scenario, every off-roader should ideally have a winch and straps to attach it to, but when we’re talking budgets, a simple set of tow straps can do the trick, as long as you have a friend with you to help pull you out.

A solid set of tow straps are far cheaper than a winch by close to a thousand bucks, so they’re a great place to start. Remember, some investment has to go to safety, because like it or not, you will get stuck, especially when starting out.


Speaking of safety, a citizen’s band, or CB radio is a must if you’re hitting the trails. When off-roading you push your truck and your skills pretty far, which leaves a pretty big door open for disaster.

Having a radio can keep you from being stuck miles from a road in the middle of the woods. It helps you keep in touch with friends and know of anything bad that might be happening in the woods around you. From getting stuck to avoiding forest fires, a CB radio is a must.

Full Size Spare Tire

Finishing up where we started, one last tire tip is to make sure you always have a full-sized spare tire with you. Since you have larger wheels and tires, you need a 5th tire and wheel to use as a spare. If your tire blows in the middle of the trail, a doughnut won’t get you very far.

Sure, this is a somewhat expensive extra cost, but the first time you need it, you’ll be sure it was worth every penny.

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