Off-roading can be lots of fun when it’s done right. If you get it wrong, it can turn into an expensive adventure.
Here are the five biggest mistakes our team have seen off the beaten track.
Some off-road adventurers are so keen to head out on the trails – especially if they’ve done a run before – they rush out without packing more than a carton of beers for the weekend.
Even if you’re confident in your abilities and you’ve done the run many times before – having a basic kit in case of emergencies is always a good idea.
Depending on where you’re going, it might be useful to take along extra food and water, as well as a recovery kit suited to the conditions. The further off-road you’re going, the more well prepared you should be – in case your stranded without any immediate way to contact help.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should bring everything and the kitchen sink just for a quick jaunt on the weekend.
Overdoing it and bringing every piece of equipment you own is not necessary for every trip, and may even create another risk if you’ve got all your gear loaded on the roof or piled in the back. Unstable driving conditions off road could cause your car to handle differently and put you in an unexpected and possibly dangerous situation.
Pay attention to your cars payload, which is the safe and legal weight limit that a vehicle can support. Remember, it takes everything inside the cabin into account, including passengers and pets – so while a payload of 900kg, for example, might sound like a lot: the weight of the driver and any passengers and the gear for the trip quickly starts to add up.
It might sound obvious, but make sure your recovery gear is the last thing packed so it is easy to find, should you need it,
Sometimes you need power off-road, like when you’re on the beach and you’ve got to move through ruts that are trying to push your car towards the surf.
Other times, it’s not necessary or even advisable to go hard out with your right foot mashed into the carpet.
Speed is no match for a sensible approach, you don’t want to go hurtling into a situation and find that you can’t get out of it after it’s too late. The old cliché of slow and steady winning the race may literally be true if you can get your car past an obstacle while others get stranded charging in too forcefully.
Get out and walk ahead if you can, and plan your approach to any obstacles ahead of time rather than just stamping down on the accelerator once you find yourself in a bit of trouble, which will inevitably make it worse.
If you do get into a bit of bother off road, its important that you have good quality recovery gear – similarly, if you’re helping somebody else, the last thing you want is for a snatch strap to break or a winch to bust its motor.
That’s not to say that you have to buy the most expensive, gold-plated items in the shop; but it does mean you should look for quality. It’s better to spend a little bit more to buy something once, rather than skimping on the cost and having to buy it over and over again – especially if it’s going to leave you or your mates stranded out in the bush.
It’s all well and good to hear about other people’s tales of adventure off road, and to watch them as they go rock hopping or wading through a river. However, until you’re actually behind the wheel and heading towards an obstacle, you won’t know how you’re going to approach it.
That’s why it’s important to start with easy off road adventures before you attempt anything too hardcore, and don’t feel pressured to copy your mates when you’re out on the tracks. Just because someone else got through before you, doesn’t mean that you’ll be as lucky – especially if you’re inexperienced.
Off-roading courses are available on closed circuits, with trained professionals who can take you through how to approach tricky situations if you’re a beginner, or give you a refresher on how to use your vehicle properly (particularly if you’ve got a vehicle with new electronic systems to help you in the wild.)
The Motorama 4X4XMORE Team are committed to living for adventure, and can provide you with tips & tricks before you get off road. Of course, to be prepared, it’s always good to get your vehicle properly serviced and in good conditionbefore you head anywhere off the beaten track – plus, we’ve got tips for some off-roading inspiration in case you’re stuck on where to go this weekend!