Off road driving is an excellent, adrenaline-filled adventure that you must try at least once in your life! But what exactly is it? Off road driving, or off-roading, describes any driving that occurs on unpaved ground.
It covers all sorts of unpaved terrain, from desert sand dunes to beaches, to riverbeds, to mountains! It includes rocky and gravel roads too. Basically, anything that’s not a paved road can be included in the off-road driving list. It can be a very exciting experience, but if you’re new to this, don’t fear! We’re here to tell you exactly why it’s on every adventure seekers list and to give you some off road driving tips too.
Off Road driving and the things you should know
What’s a 4WD? What’s an ATV? What else is there?
A 4WD, or 4 wheel drive, is essential while off road driving. But what does it mean? What it essentially means is that the car’s power is split between the front and rear differentials, which is different from controlling all 4 wheels. In some cases, it’s good to use an ATV, which is an all-terrain vehicle, specially designed for off-road driving. And of course, there are other vehicles for specific terrains, like quad bikes, sand dune buggies, and dirt bikes.
The good thing is that the most appropriate and relevant vehicles will be available for whatever kind of off-roading you choose. So you can enjoy off roading as part of your road trip for a great experience!
1. Do not try to be a speed racer
An often used quote (of uncertain origin) in the world of off road driving is – “As slow as possible, as fast as necessary.” This is something you MUST remember for your own safety. This is not the time for you to try and race. In fact, if you go somewhere and decide to try it, an instructor will often tell you it’s better to be slow and safe. Having said that, don’t go too slow, you don’t want to lose momentum. That way, you also get to enjoy the route and experience with zero worries and 100% fun!
2. Check your tires
Ensure your tires have adequate tread. You don’t want to be stuck, and re-treading your tires will go a long way towards helping you have a smoother, more enjoyable ride. Especially if you’re going to be using a 4WD, you should definitely check it. Bigger treads give better traction. Often 4WD standard tires might not have enough tread or grip for this purpose. You might also prefer to get your tires replaced by something more suitable for the terrain. All part of the fun!
You should also let some air out of the tires. Lower pressure in your tires increases the surface area of contact with the ground, which will also give a safer grip. But don’t deflate the tires too much, otherwise, it’ll be difficult when you’re back on paved roads. Reducing it to 75% of its capacity is a generally accepted ratio for this.
3. Carry the right gear and tools
Sometimes even with precautions in place, you might be in a tough spot. Equally likely, you might not! Either way, it’s good to be prepared. Keep tools handy that will help you manoeuver your vehicle out of wherever it is that you’re stuck. It is recommended to carry the following:
- Spare tire
- Hand winch
- Tow strap and/or tow rope
- First aid kit
- Snatch strap
- Full tank of fuel
- Offline maps, sat nav, or a physical map
There are a few things you should definitely be carrying. It’s better to be prepared for anything. Who knows, if you decide to camp out somewhere nearby, you’ll have everything that’s required. If you’re planning to do that, also carry a tent and a change of clothes.
4. Travel in a group
If you’re a beginner in the world of off road driving, it is a good idea to travel in a group. The best option would be to initially try it with an experienced off roader. Even if that’s not the case, it is still better to travel in a group with a bunch of other enthusiasts. It’s more fun, and you will also have help on the trail.
Often people act as “spotters”, who keep an eye out for any prospective obstacles. This will help you while driving because that way you don’t have to look out for everything. More eyes on the road = a safer and fun trip. Also, they will be carrying gear and tools as well, which puts everyone in a better position. Staying in an attentive group will also prevent you from getting lost, and being aware of when you’ve taken a wrong turn. Knowing when to turn back is also very important. And you’ll even make new friends!
As you can see, prepping by doing these steps and keeping in mind the off road driving techniques we told you about will help you have a great time, because you’re informed and prepared. Don’t worry, it’s just the initial prep you need to pay attention to. Once you have all that information in place, go for it, because really the experience of off road driving is like none other!
If you’ve ever tried off road driving, tell us about your experience in the comments section below. You can also suggest some tips from your end for those who would like to try off road driving.