Your 4x4 may be designed and ready to take on the terrain, but are you? Whether it's your first time or sixth time, strap in and get yourself ready as we answer all of your questions and more in this beginners guide.
Where do we start?
If you've bought an off-roader, then we'll be the first to high-five you! A whole new off-roading world awaits you, full of road rage, middle-lane hogs, and mud. The idea of off-roading can seem simple enough but also quite daunting at the same time, especially if you've never done it before!
Luckily enough, the off-roading community is a very welcoming one and we're going to go over the key fundamentals for you so you can get off to a flying start. Once you know the basics, you'll be well on your way to becoming a professional seasoned off-roader.
Step 1: Know your vehicle
When we think about off-roading, we normally think about really poor conditions and no matter what you're using, whether it be a 4x4 or a crossover, your tyres are everything. If there's one thing that will help keep you going, it's quality tyres. This is what usually stands between your vehicle.
It's a good idea to figure out what could be vulnerable on your vehicle, for example, is it your exhaust or have you not got a spare wheel? We'd definitely recommend some hooks if you haven't already, having an off-roader that can tow if it needs to is a must.
The last thing we need to mention is technology. Getting to know your vehicle and what specific off-road technology comes with it is essential. These days, most modern 4x4s have decent control so you should be alright there. We're talking front-facing cameras to help you see what you're about to driver over and trail camera options too, just cameras all around really.
Step 2: Figure out where you're going
Of course, you don't want to be doing anything illegal, so the first thing you'll probably want to do is check where it's legal for you to drive. You've got plenty of options that will appear on the map for you, you just need to do your checks to make sure that you can drive on them.
If you're looking for specific routes and ideas on where to go, you could always check out the Green Lane Association, which has an online database of thousands of accessible routes! You could start off more basic and think about which type of off-roading is for you to help you figure out where you're going.
Step 3: The different types of terrain
You've got plenty of options to choose from, from trailing to over land, to sands racing and mudding, these could provide you with some unbeatable off-the-beaten paths and could really benefit you as a beginner getting to grips with your vehicle and off-roading capabilities.
Mud - this has to be the most common type of challenge terrain here in the UK without a doubt. Your initial thought might be to go full throttle in the mud, but this will only make it worse. If you're looking to get unstuck, then you'll need to allow for more traction. If the legal track is narrow, then stay put, anything to avoid a wheel spin.
Sand - although it's rare in the UK, if you did manage to find yourself stuck one day, and you feel like the sand just wants to swallow you whole, just remember that horsepower is the name of the game. It sounds silly, but if you keep your thumbs on the inside of the wheel, you'll be able to help prevent "whip" with newer cars. Older cars might find the wheel spinning from the terrain. The key is staying relaxed and breaking. If you get your timing right, you could be out of the rut in no time with some power.
Rock crawling - as bizarre as it sounds, first gear is where it's at for rock crawling. As much as this is likely to be the one that will cause some damage to your car, it's probably the most fun too. It does require some specific improvements and even better capability from your vehicle, but if you've got a 4WD then you should be sorted. Anything large like ditches or logs, or any other obstacles for that matter, take your time, and it's probably best to tackle these diagonally, so there's less chance of your nosing.
Step 4: All the gear and no idea
The next step is to ask yourself, have you packed well? Have you got everything that you need for your off-road adventure?
Here are just a few things to help you on your way of what you might need:
- a full tank would help
- extra water, just incase
- a portable air compressor
- first aid kit
- a high lift jack with bits and bobs
- tow rope
We could go on and on with this list and you could even ask your friends and those around you what essentials they might take. What you take might depend on your vehicle or the particular location of where you plan on going, whichever it is, you can always reach out and ensure to always pack your essentials!
Step 5: Light it up
So long as you don't take on anything too complicated to start off with, you should be fine. Let's say take a trail on fire roads or the closet off-road park. These are probably your more sensible ideas compared to dark and bleak areas where you haven't got a clue what's going on.
We're talking about things like lighting accessories and light bars that can help you see more easily at night or when your campsite is getting dark. As a beginner, you'll be fine as long as you're not taking on something too complicated for the beginning.