New to Off-Roading - Tips for Beginners
Posted by Joey on Jan 20th 2022
Off-roading tips for beginners can seem daunting if you’ve never got away from the highway. It’s easy to look at the specialized equipment, tricked-out trucks, and tales of perilous adventure online and be both excited about the prospect of getting your vehicle off-road and worried that it (or you) might not be up for the task of driving off-road. With the right preparation and some experienced guidance, however, you can both be ready to start getting off the road and into some excitement of your own–confidently and safely.
More Than Just Equipment
You need to understand two things before you plan out your first off-road adventure. First, the fully-customized trucks you see doing the near-impossible aren’t the same vehicle those drivers hit the trail with–even if the core is the same, they’ve done so much work on it that the difference is night and day–but the vehicle they started with probably wasn’t far off from your own. Second, the most important equipment for off-road success is in the noggin of the person sitting behind the wheel, and as you develop your skills, you will be able to do more than you ever dreamed of when you started.
Be patient. Ego has broken more spirits and wrecked more trucks than any terrain. As you get more experience off-roading, your skills will develop and you’ll build out your vehicle to suit them. The right off-roading tips for beginners will help you push yourself and your vehicle to the limit, but remember to take it easy until you find where that limit is.
Making Sure You’re ready
For those new to the lifestyle, off-road driving preparation entails making sure both you and your truck are ready for those first few runs. After that, you’ll understand better what changes you need to make to grow into the lifestyle. Don’t get us wrong. You’re going to get out there and get dirty, but these off-roading tips for beginners are going to help make sure you get home safe so you can get ready to do it all over again too.
- Find A Friend - One of the surest ways to make sure your trip goes smoothly and one of the most fun is to share it with a buddy. That’s an extra set of hands if things go sideways and an extra witness when things get awesome. If none of your friends are interested in off-roading, you can find cooler friends at a local off-roading group. Enthusiast groups are a great place to join in on upcoming runs, and for beginners, the off-roading tips and experience they offer can save you a ton of money and heartbreak as you grow in the lifestyle.
- Know Your Plan - Whether you lead or follow, know where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how you’re getting back. This means having the route planned out along with a general timeline, making sure you know the rules that govern the trail or land you’ll be using, and that you understand what kind of off-roading you’re doing so you can best prepare yourself and your vehicle for it.
- Do Your Research - Now you know the when, where, what, and with-who, so make sure you’re ready to put it all together. Take a deeper dive into the land and terrain of the area you’re going to be in. Find articles that focus on mudding, rock-climbing, or overlanding so you’re prepared for your chosen form of off-roading. Take a good look at your vehicle’s features–figure out what that “Traction Control” button does and find out if it is going to help you or not. As you set your plans, you’ll get a better grasp of what information you want to go over one more time before you leave the asphalt behind.
- Prepare For The Worst - You’re going to be fine. That being said, off-road driving beginners need to plan for the unexpected. Make sure someone not on the trip knows where you are going and has a rough schedule of your return. Get a first aid kit and keep it well-stocked. Ensure you have the food, water, clothing, and supplies to spend an unexpected night in your cab just in case. If it isn’t needed, then you have a celebratory snack for the ride home, but it’s better to be prepared than to be hungry.
Building A Beautiful Beast
While you might be the most important part of the off-roading equation, that doesn’t mean your truck shouldn’t get some prep-work. Your truck or SUV’s stock components may get you started, but as your skills as a driver grow, you’ll want more truck to match them with. For beginners, our off-roading tips are to help you focus on the essentials that every driver will need at some point.
- Upgrade Your Wheels - As the only parts of your vehicle that are supposed to be in contact with the ground, your tires and wheels are not the place to skimp when it comes to customization. Make sure you have solid wheels and the right tires for the offroading you’re going to be doing, whether you’re slinging mud, bouncing through slush, or going up and over mountain passes.
- Keep In Touch - Communication is important when your group gets going, and cell phone service doesn’t always do well away from the road. From simple CB radio systems to satellite GPS navigation and specialized communication hardware, you want to know you can reach out and call for help–or answer someone else’s call–if it’s needed.
- Protect Your Powertrain - The ride can get bumpy off the road. With brush, rocks, ravines, and timber directly in your path, you want to make sure your most sensitive components don’t take a hit that will leave you stranded. Skid plates, brush guards, and other accessories help protect your motor, transmission, and driveline from damage.
- Be Ready For Recovery - You brought your own emergency essentials, make sure you have them for your vehicle too. An extra can of gas, water for the coolant system, and a tool set that covers the basics are all good ideas. You also want to have two spare tires along with a quality spare tire mount, a good jack, an air compressor, a recovery rope & soft shackles, and a dig-out shovel handy.
We get it. You’re tired of reading articles off-roading tips for beginners, you’re ready, and so is your truck. It’s time to meet up with the crew and get down and dirty. Here’s a few final tips for off-road driving to finish out your preparation.
- Keep Control - Slow and in control gets you home safe, and that applies to both the vehicle usage and your own judgment. Explore your skills, but build on them responsibly.
- Ease Up On The Pressure - Once you’re off the road, you’ll want to lower your tire pressure to allow for a “softer” tire that has more surface area to grip the ground. Many drivers will set their tires around 20 psi, then use the air compressor from their gear to re-air the tires before the trip home.
- Keep It Clean - The outdoors is a resource for everyone, and a little more of it disappears every year. Tread Lightly, Leave No Trace, and share the passion for off-roading with those around you by making sure the areas we use are kept ready and available for future use.
- Learn The Right Way To Right-Of-Way - Make sure you know how to read trail signs that keep you, the land, and other off-roaders safe., including understanding when you have the right of way and when it’s time to pass it to someone else. This can change based on available areas to pass others, whether you or they are in a group that is staying together, and whether or not it is safest for you to yield the right of way or for them too. For example, vehicles traveling up-hill usually have right of way over vehicles traveling downhill since it may be more difficult for them to maintain traction and momentum on steep climbs.
Welcome To Off-Roading
There is a lot to know–more than just a bunch of tips for off-roading beginners–which is why it’s so important to make your first few runs with an experienced off-roader or club that can show you the ropes. As truck enthusiasts ourselves, that’s how we learned, and it’s what we do for others we run into out in the field and they need a few tips for off-road beginners from someone who has been there and done that.
While we may not be there in person, every one of our customers has us out there with them in the parts they’ve chosen for their vehicles. If you need any help with selecting the right parts for your vehicle or run into installation questions, give us a call. We’ve got one of our off-road pros ready to help you out over the phone days, nights, and weekends. Get the parts the pros use backed by old-school service. Get your truck out of the garage and off the road with off-road driving accessories from Offroad Alliance today.