There are tons of multipage guides on the internet describing what you should know when going off road for the first time. However, many of them have contradicting information on what you should and shouldn’t do on your first off road adventure. It is extremely important that you are safe and secure at every point when you are on a trail or any other off-road excursion. Keep these quick tips in mind when you and your Jeep go on your next escapade.
Read your owner’s manual
This is often overlooked by Jeepers, and most vehicle owners in general. We’re all under the assumptions that after a few months, we’ll understand our cars better than the manufacturer that produced them! This mindset is okay for those daily driving vehicles, however, when involving your car in activities such as racing and off roading, it is important that you know your vehicle inside and out. Reading your owner’s manual will ensure that you are familiar with all the components of your vehicle and are able to react appropriately when something goes wrong.
Take a test drive
Before you go crawling on intermediate to advanced trails, make sure you practice on simple tracks nearby. A decent sized off-road trail should be within an hour or two, depending on local legislation pertaining to off road vehicles. This will give you a good idea of how to handle your vehicle when taking it on more difficult trails.
Mind the weather
Before heading off on the road, be sure to check the weather forecast for any dangerous weather patterns approaching the area you’re headed. Taking on treacherous obstacles is ill advised in rainy or super foggy weather due to low visibility, so it is important to make sure there is none approaching before hitting the trail.
Check in with the local park ranger when you arrive at the trail, who will be able to give you important information on certain closures around the property, things to expect, trail washouts, and so on. Local officials are also a vital resource for maps and wildlife guides.
Check for clearance
Before you head off pavement, take a peek under your Jeep to get an idea of its ground clearance. A specification chart may tell you there’s eight inches or so between the your Wrangler’s lowest point and the ground, but having a visual reference of what that actually means, and where the low points under the rig are, will help you avoid hitting them on the trail.
Unless you’re in a high-speed race, off roading should not be about getting from one point to another as quick as humanly possible. Driving at a leisurely pace will allow you to enjoy the trail as well as your time behind the wheel. There is a popular saying in off road culture – go as slow as possible an only as fast as necessary.
Go with a buddy
Not only will having a buddy tag along help with fatigue, they will be able to help you spot tough obstacles or help you get out of a sticky situation. If you’re unable to retrieve help for any reason, they will be ready and available to hail down necessary authorities.
Ensuring you are safe should be the number one priority when going on any off-road adventure. Past that, is important to have fun and be relaxed when you’re at the wheel. Keep these tips in mind when you’re going on your first (or next) off road adventure.
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