A Beginner’s Guide to Driving Off-Road
Obtain the Proper Equipment
First thing’s first: you need the right vehicle for off-roading. There’s simply no getting around this one. You can’t expect to take your compact two-wheel drive on a rugged muddy trail and have it make it out in one piece. Research your options carefully and decide on a proper four-wheel drive like the Chevrolet Colorado before hitting the trail.
In addition to the right vehicle, you also need the proper gear. Pack a winching accessory kit, a quick deflator, an air compressor, element ramps, a multipurpose tool, a cooler, and medical kit. You’ll also want to bring a spare tire, navigational aids, and full gas tank. Always research tips on specific terrain and what sorts of tools you should bring.
Find a Beginner Trail
Kentucky offers miles of off-road trails that are perfect for beginners and experts alike, so it’s important to choose wisely. Your best bet is starting out on flat land just to get the hang of non-paved surfaces, then you can graduate to mountainsides, bogs, river beds, and other wilderness trails. Great beginner choices include grasslands, dry dirt, and gravel, so they’ll be your safest options. Our state’s off-highway trails are abundant, so stick to recommended routes, bringing a more experienced buddy along for the ride, if possible.
Never Off-Road Alone
Even if you don’t have a more experienced friend to make the run with you, never go off-roading by yourself. Always bring a friend or ride with a convoy. Off-roading presents many challenges, and many things can go wrong, which is why there’s more safety in numbers. If you get stuck or you’ve forgotten your winching kit, another member of the group can come to your aid.
Along those same lines, be sure to tell someone at home your off-roading plans. Leave detailed information describing where you’re going and what time you expect to return. That way, if something goes wrong, you’ll have someone looking for you.
Go at an Even Pace
You want to maintain your momentum when off-roading, so be sure to keep an even pace. A steady momentum will help you through difficult terrain, but if you do get stuck, don’t spin the wheels trying to break free. Gently back up instead and move forward steadily a few times. When that doesn’t work, you’ll need to break out the winching kit or get a push.
When approaching rough terrain and obstacles, you’ll want to do so from a 45-degree angle, which allows you to keep at least three wheels on the ground at all times. Going at an even pace and approaching obstacles correctly allows you to stay in control.
Off-roading for the first time doesn’t have to be intimidating. Do your research beforehand and be sure you’re packed and prepared for the worst-case scenarios, and you’ll be a seasoned off-roader in no time.