Off-Roading for the First Time? Follow These Tips

IMG_6897 II

By Jim Travers

Off-roading is a lot of fun, but there are things to know before you go. Let's assume you've already addressed the basics, starting with a vehicle that's equipped for at least some light off-roading. You've done your homework by spending time in online forums and perhaps joining a local club of like-minded folks who can guide you to places that are safe and legal. You've assembled the basic gear, including a radio, a decent jack, a tow strap and a full-size spare tire. Most importantly, you've found people to go with, because the first rule is to never go it alone. Off-roading is safer and more enjoyable in the company of others, especially if they're experienced and can teach you a thing or two. And it's always good to have a spotter and navigator along.

If you've done all that, then you're ready to hit the road to go off-road. The following tips should make the journey enjoyable and safe.

 

1. Go Easy

ColoradoZR2_016 II

Regardless of what you've seen in the movies, slow and steady is the way to go in the woods and on the trail. Successfully navigating any obstacle is all about being smooth with the throttle, brakes and steering to avoid getting stuck. But don't be afraid to use the throttle when you need to, such as when approaching a steeper climb.

 

2. Don't Fight It

ColoradoZR2_067 II

Hold the steering wheel firmly but not in a death grip. Let it move in your hands as the front wheels react to rocks and bumps, and steer smoothly back on course as you clear them. The same goes for your body: Move with the motion of the vehicle rather than fight it to avoid fatigue.

 

3. Leave Room

ColoradoZR2_095 II

Tailgating is never a good idea and it's an especially bad one off-road. A sure way to get into trouble is to follow the vehicle ahead of you into it; that will only make it tougher to get both of you out if you get stuck. Watch the tires of the vehicle in front of you to decide if that is the best line for you as well.

 

4. Anticipate

ColoradoZR2_006 II

Plan your turns to swing as wide as you need without leaving the trail. Avoid backing up if you can, both to reduce the likelihood of getting stuck or forcing others to stop in a bad spot. Try not to stop moving while crawling through mud, over logs, through streams or in other dicey situations that increase the likelihood of getting stuck. Wait for firmer ground.

 

5. Use the Side Windows

ColoradoZR2_023 II

Steep climbs, descents and sharp angles can make it harder to see ahead and keep your bearings using only the front windshield. By also looking out the side windows, you can broaden your view of what's around you, and keep an eye on the horizon and other cues to stay keep on course. Of course, if you're not sure what's next to your tires, get out and check.

 

6. Communicate

ColoradoZR2_105 II

Invest in a two-way radio and get comfortable using it. Everyone in the group should have one and they should use it to advise others when they're clear of obstacles or tricky spots. That way the next vehicle can proceed safely. Keep in mind that abrupt rises or large rocks may prevent you from seeing the vehicle ahead or behind.

 

7. Stow Your Stuff

ColoradoZR2_017 II

That old driver's education warning about how an umbrella can become a deadly projectile in a crash is true, and it's especially true when off-roading. But let's not forget all that other stuff. A forgotten water bottle under the seat won't do you any favors if it gets stuck under the brake pedal as you begin a sharp decline. Clean out your rig before you go, bring only what you need, and keep everything secure inside and out.

Cars.com photos by Jim Travers

 

ColoradoZR2_080 II

 

Comments

They know what truck to use when showing people how to off road. Does anyone see a Raptor in the photos?

Wow, the corporate butt-licking comments started early in this story.

They know what truck to use when showing people how to off road. Does anyone see a Raptor in the photos?


Posted by: TNTGMC | May 24, 2018 12:35:37 PM

The Raptor is a FAST Desert Runner.

Did you not read #1, slow and steady, much like what this truck was built for.

Way to go...TNTRVLLER

Wow, the corporate butt-licking comments started early in this story.


Posted by: SAD | May 24, 2018 12:49:32 PM

They could have used Miss Piggy as a picture and they'll still try to put Ford down.

Tip Number One: Don't try this in a Ford

The Raptor is a FAST Desert Runner.

Did you not read #1, slow and steady, much like what this truck was built for.

Way to go...TNTRVLLER

@ Frank

REALLY??? lol go to all the Ford forums and their are more guys using them for off roading then in the desert....old man....you are hopeless!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GARBAGE MOTORS COMPANY WUSSYS.

I use an ATV for off-roading
My F-150 is too nice

GM girls are gleeful: "Oh look, my favorite slow-selling poser truck is featured in a fluff piece, hehehehehehe!"

@redbloodedxy

They were all set to use Ford's midsize pickup for this story (but there were NONE available).

GM girls are gleeful: "Oh look, my favorite slow-selling poser truck is featured in a fluff piece, hehehehehehe!"


Posted by: redbloodedxy | May 24, 2018 4:00:09 PM

good one!

@ Frank

REALLY??? lol go to all the Ford forums and their are more guys using them for off roading then in the desert....old man....you are hopeless!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | May 24, 2018 2:33:28 PM

Old man? I'm the same age as you, only smarter.

the new raptors 2019use the same chevy suspension technology

@,tntgmc
" They know what truck to use when showing people how to off road".
Quite the contrary, as this is a 101 class, correction a 100 class use the appropriate 100 beginners vehicle. Remember mall rated. Lol!!!!!!!!
https://youtu.be/qAP6ZNsLCc8

Raptors are for advanced off-roading and off road racing.

These tips and the pretend truck used in the pics are for those in the still wearing diapers and training wheels level off-roading/phase of life.

Good one, Clit

Are all of you supposed "off roaders" 12 years old? Please grow up before you learn to drive.

@,tntgmc
" They know what truck to use when showing people how to off road".
Quite the contrary, as this is a 101 class, correction a 100 class use the appropriate 100 beginners vehicle. Remember mall rated. Lol!!!!!!!!
https://youtu.be/qAP6ZNsLCc8

@ Blows

Wow, that is a commercial. If you would take a little bit of time and read the article on the ZR2, it has beaten the Tacoma in every comparison test! That says a lot, but you go ahead and get your thrills off of a commercial.

Nice staged photo op for BANKRUPT Motors

Don't go to fast Raptor boys on trails you never been on before. The end of the road could be just that. End of the road.

This article is rigged because they are trying to sell the Colorado, proving a bias!

It must suck being a Toyota fan on a real truck website.

@ oxi

Its bc the ZR2 is a better off roader than what the Tacoma is right now!! Don't be upset, be thankful bc its set the bar really high for Ford and them to try and catch GM!

Raptors are for advanced off-roading and off road racing.

These tips and the pretend truck used in the pics are for those in the still wearing diapers and training wheels level off-roading/phase of life.
Posted by: Clint | May 25, 2018 6:06:21 AM

Pretend truck? The ZR2 has been racing in the Best in the Desert series for over a year in the full stock mini truck class (7300). Toyota already tucked tail and ran away after one race. Where's the Ranger?

BTW, Ecoboost Rules says the Raptor's plastic IWE hubs can't handle mud or abuse:

"99% of people don't know about the plastic hub gears and as long as you don't abuse it and drive thru deep mud and rev it like a moron those gears will never fail"
Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | May 25, 2018 12:01:08 AM

Some very important things for off road. I used to teach people how to off road. I would go out with new people to teach every aspect I could on how to do it fun and as safe as possible. Never ever go out alone is rule number one. People have died making that mistake or ended up with a massive bill. As soon as we hit the dirt for a trail I would have them lock into 4 low. Off roading doesn't require high speed unless you are doing a high speed trail. If you do a high speed trail then 4 low doesn't matter as much, but lock in the rear diff if it has an electronic locker. A low traction situation can sneak up on you quick and in the dirt it hurts nothing to be in 4 low or drive with the diff locked. You don't need to wait for the mud to get deep or the trail to get rough to lock and load. Air down when possible, but think ahead. If you don't have a way to air back up with a portable pump or air machine near your off road site leave them as is. Always wear a seat belt. Many situations off road can cause issues where a seat belt is needed. You should off road with the windows down and you don't want to knock yourself out or have a situation that can cause you to fall out of the truck. Pay attention to all gauges, keep it slow, and have fun. There are a lot of other rules, but these are starters.

The auto hubs Ford uses are worthless. Even GM dripped vac assist years ago. Ford still uses it and figured out a way to make it even worse. The Raptor isn't going to earn its offroad credibility until it comes with a 4x4 that actually lasts and can actually take abuse. Plastic isn't going to cut it.



Post a Comment

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
  • Your email will not be shown.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by Cars.com. By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2017 Cars.com | Privacy Statement | Contact Us