Off-roading is nothing like your daily commute, and the driving skills you need to safely navigate the rugged dirt roads of Western Colorado don’t even compare to cruising down pavement. However, with a bit of background knowledge and some practice, you’ll be ready to head off into the wilderness with your 4x4 vehicle.
If you’re ready to get off the beaten path, here’s what you need to know about off-roading.
Every vehicle is different, so never make assumptions about what your truck or SUV can and can’t do. You need to understand which off-road features your 4x4 has, it’s clearance, and more. Your owner’s manual will have a lot of this information, but vehicle-specific forums are another great place to learn about the types of terrain you can tackle.
Any off-road capable vehicle will have a few key systems that help you navigate the rocky, rutted terrain of a typical 4WD trail. These include:
A capable 4x4 isn’t the only tool needed for a successful off-roading trip. You also need:
Other useful tools include a fire extinguisher and a two-way radio for communication with your off-roading companions. Winches are also handy for truly tough terrain.
When off-roading, you need to think about what you’ll do if you get stuck. At the very least, you need to know your vehicle’s recovery points, which are the points where a hook and strap can be attached from your vehicle to another allowing the other 4x4 to pull you out. If you aren’t sure where these points are be sure to check your owner’s manual.
This is one of the reasons why experts recommend you never go off-roading alone — having another vehicle on the trail means you can help each other out of sticky situations.