Pickup trucks are amazing machines. They are built to transport you just about anywhere. They are quite adept on paved roads, yet they are also well-equipped for dirt trails. If you are going to own a truck, you may as well take it off the road from time to time.
But going off-road driving isn't as easy or simple as it might sound. That is, you don't simply take your truck from the street to the dirt without preparation and a little knowledge and know-how.
An off-road adventure can be confusing and it will certainly be challenging, especially if you go unprepared. Even though you might not be worried about it, there are a few tips that will help ensure you have a good time.
When you are out on the trails, you will need lower air pressure for added traction in sand, mud and even over rocks. Even letting out as little as 10 pounds of air pressure can give you optimal flotation for the terrain you are driving. Of course, the amount of air you let out depends largely on the type of terrain.
Regardless how much air you let out of your tires, you will want to fill them back up for the drive home. If you go off-roading without taking this into consideration, your drive home may cause tire damage. Be smart and pack a quality 12v portable air compressor.
Before even taking your vehicle out of the driveway, you should check it for general functions. Make sure you have plenty of gas, check the oil, check the air pressure in the tires and ensure you have jumper cables, flares, tools and a first aid kit.
Also, it is smart if you prepare for the worst-case scenario. For example, you might get stranded for whatever reason so you should have enough camping provisions to last you a day or two just in case.
Observe the Trail
If given the chance, ask somebody who has knowledge plenty of questions about the trails you plan on driving. In addition to helpful directions, they may point out parts of the trail to avoid, places to be real careful and places to stop and gawk at the scenery. This enables you to plan your trip more thoroughly.
Whatever trail you happen to be driving on, take a good, close look at it to determine possible dangers. If you spot puddles, a lot of big rocks and holes, you can better prepare before putting the vehicle in drive.
Make sure you proceed with caution as even the most benign object could be potentially dangerous. For example, a mud puddle might seem shallow and harmless enough, but it could be a whole lot deeper than you think. Drive with care wherever you go.
If the trail you are on starts off easy enough but then gets continually worse, you may want to seriously consider turning around and finding another trial.
Stay in Control
For a safe trip, you need to stay in control of your vehicle at all times. To do this effectively, you need to avoid high speeds, take curves slowly, pass others with caution and keep focused on the road at all times.
Unless you have done this for awhile and are completely familiar with the trail, keep your four-wheeling a daytime activity and ensure you are done before the sun goes down.
Tell Others Your Whereabouts
Make sure at least a few people know where you will be going and when you expect to be back. There is a good possibility that you won't have any cell phone reception where you are going so somebody needs to know where you will be.
In addition, you are going to be on trails less traveled that are rocky, holey and full of hazards, getting stranded is a calculated possibility.
Timing is Everything
You should choose your trip wisely. If you go off-roading after a recent rain or heavy snow, there will be mud to deal with. Wet conditions also are cause for loose rocks and small landslides can occur.
In addition, use common sense when off-roading and use proper trail etiquette. You don't want to make anybody mad because you didn’t follow the rules.