In case you haven’t realized, off-roading is no walk in the park. When taking on unforgiving trials and challenging obstacles, it’s important to prepare properly and exercise caution. Unfortunately, there are certain mistakes that people often make that can turn a fun off-roading adventure into a potentially life-threatening nightmare. Fortunately, many of the most frequently made off-roading mess-ups are completely avoidable. By familiarizing yourself with this list of the most common off-roading mistakes to avoid, you can increase your chances of returning from your automotive excursion out on the trails in one piece.
Not Checking the Weather
Depending on the weather, the conditions of a trail can change drastically. Even an easy beginner-level trail can become extremely challenging when rain is pouring down and making the ground soft and slippery. To avoid getting stuck in a storm or other dangerous weather situation, it’s important to always check the weather forecast in the area before going on an off-roading excursion.
Taking On Obstacles Outside One’s Skill Level
Part of what makes off-roading so fun is the opportunity to test one’s limits. That being said, you should avoid stepping too far outside of your skill level and comfort zone. If you’re an inexperienced off-roader, trying to tackle incredibly steep inclines or large obstacles could seriously damage your vehicle and put your safety at risk.
In order to off-road responsibly, drivers should slowly work their way up to more challenging trails as they gain experience, rather than pushing their limits right away. As such, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your off-roading skill level so that you can recognize when an obstacle is outside of your current capability.
Not Packing Emergency Supplies
From a dead battery to bottoming out on a tough obstacle, a lot can go wrong when cruising down rugged off-roading trails. We get it—thinking about worst-case scenarios can be a bit of a downer. However, doing so is essential to planning a safe off-roading trip.
Before hitting the trails, make sure to prepare for the worst and pack everything that you might need in case of an emergency. If an accident occurs and causes you to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours or even days on end, packing the following equipment could potentially save your life:
- Blankets and sleeping bags
- Warm clothing
- Enough food and water to last at least two days
- A shovel
- Recovery gear (such as traction pads, a winch, recovery straps, etc.)
- A flashlight
Not Bringing a Buddy
Off-roading by yourself seems like a nice way to spend time with nature and have some good old-fashioned alone time. That is, until your vehicle gets stuck in the mud, rolls over, or runs out of gas and you find yourself stranded by yourself in a remote location; our point is that off-roading on your own is dangerous.
In case something goes wrong—which it often does when pushing your vehicle to its limit out on rugged trails far away from civilization—having someone around to help pull you out of a hole or siphon you some extra gas is invaluable. Without a buddy, your only option could be to wait until someone passes by—and on some more remote trails, that could take days. As such, it’s best to bring someone along with you.
Not Following the Unspoken Trail Etiquette
Just because you’re not on a paved road doesn’t mean that you can just drive however you want. There are certain unspoken rules that most respectful and experienced off-roaders adhere to in order to create a safe driving environment on the trails. Failing to familiarize yourself with these rules could result in a dangerous collision or, at the very least, some incredibly irritated looks from your fellow off-roaders. Some of the most notable off-roading etiquette to adhere to includes:
- Giving the right of way to vehicles going up-hill as well as bikers, hikers, and horses
- Keeping your distance from other vehicles
- Avoiding stopping or parking while on a trail
- Only driving on marked trails
- Not driving too quickly, which can harm the environment and pose a safety threat
- NEVER littering or leaving anything behind on the trails
Overpacking Your Vehicle
While it’s good to be prepared, packing too much stuff can pose a safety hazard of its own. Every vehicle has a maximum towing capacity. When this capacity is exceeded, excess stress is placed on the vehicle’s various components—from the suspension system to the motor. Such pressure can significantly impair the vehicle’s performance and result in operational issues. In addition, excess weight can also throw off a vehicle’s center of gravity and make traversing uneven terrain or climbing up steep inclines extremely dangerous. Before going on an off-roading excursion, make sure to check the owner’s manual for your vehicle and ensure that you haven’t surpassed the maximum towing capacity.
Not Thoroughly Researching Your Route
Another one of the most common off-roading mistakes to avoid is not researching your route. Failing to do a bit of research on the route you plan on taking throughout your off-roading excursion can cause you to encounter challenging obstacles that you weren’t prepared for. To avoid getting into a dangerous situation that you don’t have the experience or tools needed to get out of, make sure to take some time to download a map of the area or talk to someone who has taken the route before. Even simply walking to any location with a higher vantage point to get an overview of the trial can prove beneficial for avoiding any unpleasant surprises.
Top Lift Pros is committed to helping make your off-roading adventure as safe and enjoyable as possible. As such, we have created innovative tools that will allow you to remove the roof and doors of your Jeep in just two minutes or less without any assistance; so say goodbye to stuffy cabins, and hello to the fresh air as you take on the trails without that pesky hardtop or restrictive doors. To learn more about our Jeep Wrangler door removal tool and how it can enhance your off-roading experience, contact us today.