Off-roading, fondly referred to as muddin’, doesn’t require a degree, but it does require a little know how and some serious respect for the machine you’re driving. Rocks, sticks, fallen trees, and pot holes can make this fun outdoor activity a hazard if you’re not careful. Before heading off the beaten path, check out these 5 tips to keep you safe and having fun the next time you’re out in your truck.
1. Check Tire Pressure:
This is important before you go driving anywhere, but it’s especially important for off-roading excursions, because you may require a little extra traction. Some drivers release air from their tires before heading out to create slack and cause a greater friction air during travel through mud and water. Experts, however, will suggest that you keep your height while you can to clear those holes and dips in the ground, and release air only when necessary. It’s a handy tool to keep in your back pocket if you get stuck in an area where your tire just can’t seem to grip the ground. Fortunately, if you’re rolling on mud-terrain tyres you should be safe.
2. Know Your Route:
Muddin’ is most fun because of the adventure, but you don’t want to drive off the edge of a steep incline, or wind up stuck in a gully. Before you head out, determine which route is best for trucks, and stay the course. Some drivers prefer to bob in and out when possible, taking sharp turns and heading down unknown paths which present the most fun. By staying your course, you not only know that you’re on a safe stretch, but you’ll give your truck the best possible chance at top notch performance.
3. Don’t Off-road on Your Own:
Off-roading is exciting, fun, and adventurous, but it’s also dangerous from time to time, and if you flip a vehicle, or sink it in a bog by yourself, you could end up injured, hurt, or lost. Not only is it important to take a buddy when off-roading, preferably in a separate vehicle so you have somebody to winch you out when you’re stuck, but it’s also important to let those at home know your route. This way, even if you and your buddy end up lost with service to call for help, at least somebody knows which route you were on and can send a search party in after you. If you get lost, remember to stay with the vehicle until help arrives, and don’t split up if you’re with a party or a partner.
4. Keep Braking to a Minimum:
Driving in the mud is a little like driving on ice; it’s unpredictable and it can take your tyres wherever it wants them to go. Try not to hit the brakes too hard because it can cause the tyres to spin out, and leave you stuck in a deep mess, or sliding into something you’d rather not hit. Instead, take your foot off the gas, and roll to a stop once you’re out of the mud. Remember that even if you manage to stop safely in the mud, you could end up in a deep spot and sink your truck to the point where it becomes difficult to get out.
5. Safety First:
It’s important to put safety first when enjoying any extreme activity. Just because you’re in the cab of a truck, or you’re wearing a helmet on your 4×4, doesn’t mean that you’re protected. Take first aid equipment, clean drinking water, an emergency phone, flares, and roadside assistance equipment. If you can’t take too large a pack with you, take the essentials and don’t skimp on what’s important. GPS or a map of the area you’re driving in, a way to contact home or call 911, and the basic first aid equipment in case of an accident. Remember that off-roading often puts you out of reach of fast emergency services, so you want to be sure that you’re taken care of while waiting for first responders.
Alternative factors to consider when off-roading is to keep your four-wheel drive on when possible, monitor the direction of your tires at all times, and stay clear of dips or large holes. It might seem like your vehicle can handle it, but holes often look more shallow when they’re filled with mud or water. Stay safe!