Off-roading is one of the most entertaining activities to do. Many people take to either sliding around in the sand dunes, rock crawling, or mudding. While off roading can be a whole lot of fun, there is no doubt that it isn’t the safest outdoor pastime. And while you can’t eliminate the risk of off-roading you certainly can take a few minor steps to greatly improve your safety and ensure that you can have a great time on one of your many adventures.
Saftey Guidelines for Off-Roading
- Have the Right Gear- First things first, start out with the right off-road vehicle. If you don’t have an off-road vehicle don’t worry as you can most likely find a place to rent a vehicle from wherever you go. Make sure your vehicle is at least all wheel drive(AWD), but four wheel drive (4WD) is preferred. Make sure you have real off road tires with long travel suspension. Also, make sure your vehicle is sealed to take any possible damage from rocks, sand, water, dust, etc. If or when you get stuck it’s necessary to bring tow gear to allow a fellow driver or your off roading buddy to help pull your car out of a ditch, allowing your off roading day to continue.
- Look at the Road Surface-In order to prevent going into a ditch, you need to look at the road surface. Make sure your tires go into or around the ruts in the road from previous off-roaders depending on your strategy. Understand how your car reacts to different surfaces including pebbles, boulders, wet, snow, dirt, sand, etc. While on the road you should be looking far ahead, but while off road you should be looking fairly close so that you can react quickly to any sudden changes in the road surface. If you like going in deep bodies of water it would be best if you could know the depth of the water.
- Lower Tire Pressure-Just like Monster Trucks do, you as well should lower your tire pressure when off-roading. The lower tire pressure allows the tire to flex and find traction on the loose or awkward surface. Typically most people run 10 psi or lower although there are risks the lower your tire pressure is. The lower the tire pressure the lower your ground clearance is, although good suspension should make up for it. The other reason is that the tire will be more likely to pop off the rim or puncture. But again real off-road tires should at least be engineered to combat this.
- Know Your Limits-Finally, you should know the limits of not only yourself as a capable off-road driver, but also the limits of your vehicle. Know the angles and ground clearance levels of your vehicle so that you can crawl high inclines and declines without the trie running into your bumper or worst of all bottom out your vehicle.
While you don’t need to be a geometry major to rock crawl, it is best if you come prepared if you want to have a good time.