Have you ever wondered what exactly offroading is and how you can be involved? Offroading is often defined as, “the activity or sport of driving a motor vehicle over rough terrain.” So what type of offroading calls to you? Is it the Prerunners builds, desert running in events like the Baja 1000, or fighting through each stage in rallycross racing? There are the rock crawlers, extreme custom-built vehicles flying up the sides of a mountain like those at King of the Hammers. Then there are local or regional offroad clubs. Their members ranging from daily drivers 4x4s to fully built rigs. They traversing steep inclines, climbing through boulder fields, or sliding around in a midfield.
In the current Overlanding scene, you will see a diverse range of both people and vehicles that often are traveling to explore all corners of the earth. You know which ones I mean, a slow pan to the rear doors opening of a van to dramatic visions of scenic overlooks. They are all taken from the eyes of those living in the van life movement. There is a little bit of something for everyone, it only depends on what you want your experience to become. Here is a beginner’s guide to off-roading!
Just Do It
This is how you can become involved! Honestly, all you need is a vehicle. This simple beginning will be the bones of your offroad addiction. Modifications like all-terrain or mud-terrain tires would help with grip but aren’t necessary to get started. Higher clearance giving you the ability to clear obstacles will be useful later on. The proper lighting will increase visibility, especially helpful when rolling into camp well past dark. These are just a few of my off-road tips for beginners for additional modifications that enhance your experience over time.
But What can I ride?
Stock vehicles like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad, Toyota 4Runner TRD Offroad, Ram 1500 TRX, Ford Raptor, or the Jeep Rubicon are perfect examples for starting your adventure. These are able to be drive from the dealer lots and straight onto the trail. While they will not be able to do the most gnarly of trails, they will be able to give you the offroading feeling you are searching for. Another good resource for the beginner offroader is to join online groups and forums. They often can direct you to easy offroad parks or overland companies that provide tours for inexperienced drivers. They can also give the current conditions of a place you were planning on visiting. As you gain experience, you will learn your limits and the limits of your vehicle. From this knowledge, you will start to understand what upgrades you may want to invest in.
Off-Roading Basic Gear
Some of the simplest, but best bang-for-your-buck upgrades consist of a set of quality tires and recovery gear. You can check your local offroad forum or Facebook group for different opinions on which tires are best. When you are down to the wire, you cannot go wrong with most of the brand-name tire companies. Do not be afraid to use the search feature in forums and groups. Trust me, it will save you a lot of flak. It does not hurt to have a set of tire patches, plugs, and an air compressor. Recovery gear is another key piece of equipment worth investing in. This gives you the ability to self-recover when traveling by yourself. You will find that the offroading community is supportive in its efforts to help others in need of recovery.
In the recovery category, an extremely straightforward and useful product is the recovery board. These your tires to take a little extra bite into the ground. In muddy, sandy, or icy situations, they can be a godsend. Also, another common usage is to level your vehicle for a rooftop tent. There are many great brands out there but we here at SSO recommend ARB Treds, which is located under our recovery section. Other items found under our recovery section include gear by Treaty Oak Offroad. They are a great company offering already put-together kits that include kinetic rope, tree savers, soft shackles, d-rings, and much, much more. You never know when these could become handy, on and off the trail! I have used both traction boards and tow ropes to pull vehicles out of the snow while trying to make it to work. Talk about useful!