Did you know that the U.S. Recreation Department offers more than 150,000 miles of trails? Many of these are in over 400 wilderness areas where you can get a dose of thrilling off-road adventures.
Recreating in such natural wonders can definitely be fun and can even do wonders for your health. Scientists say that nature immersion can be a stress antidote. It may even help boost mood and immunity while lowering blood pressure and anxiety.
However, all these benefits can go up in smoke if you don’t plan well enough for your outdoor adventure.
As such, it’s best you first learn the dos and don’ts of off-roading before you hit those dirt roads. We’ve rounded up some of the most crucial ones in this list, so be sure to read on.
Do Make Sure Your Tires Can Withstand the Terrain
First, make sure your ride has the right set of tires made to conquer your destination’s terrain. For example, mud tires are for slippery dirt roads, while rock tires are for gravel-laden paths. By contrast, snow tires can help you maneuver icy or snow powder-filled trails.
If you already have all-terrain tires on your ride, make sure they still have enough tread depth. Check each of them for proper tire pressure, too. No matter how flexible all-terrain tires are, a lack of tread or pressure can make them fail their job.
Do a Full Vehicle Inspection
Before your northeast or desert off-road adventures, give your vehicle a walk-around. It’s an aviation term, which means performing an outside check of an aircraft. However, it’s a practice that anyone who goes and loves off-roading should adopt.
Aside from inspecting your tires, be sure to inspect and top up all your fluids, from brake to wiper fluids. You should also examine fluid hoses, compartments, and compartment covers for damage. Tighten the lids to keep fluid spills at bay, especially when your ride starts to sway on those rough roads.
Next, test your brakes, lights, and horns. Ensure your ride’s restraints and seatbelts are in excellent condition.
Do Dress Your Ride Up
It’s also a good idea to invest in offroad fabrication upgrades, such as welded bumpers and LED light bars.
Welded bumpers provide more heavy-duty protection against rocks and tree stumps. You can rely on them to withstand higher towing forces for vehicle recovery. Meaning, they won’t snap easily if you need to recover vehicles stuck in mud or sand.
LED light bars are perfect for early morning, dusk, or late-night off-road trips. With their brightness, you’ll be able to spot rocks, dips, and muds before you hit or get stuck in them.
Do Regular Weather Forecast Checks
Did you know that 10-day weather forecasts are usually only 50% accurate? This means they can be wrong half of the time. Five-day weather projections, on the other hand, are usually 90% accurate.
As such, it’s vital to check your destination’s forecast every day until you get there. This way, you can adjust or make necessary additions or changes to your off-road trip.
Regardless of the forecast, pack at least one set of waterproof clothes in a waterproof bag. Bring a warm jacket, a blanket, and an umbrella, too. You should also invest in a small waterproof bag to keep your electronics and first aid kit dry.
Do Bring a Buddy and Tell Folks Where You’re Heading
This is even more important if it’s your first time going on an off-road adventure. If someone else is with you, you can rely on their assistance in case you get into a sticky situation. Of course, it’s best if your buddy is more experienced in off-roading than you are.
At the very least, tell your parents, siblings, or a few friends where exactly you’re heading. Better yet, give them access to your ride’s GPS so that they can track you from time to time.
Don’t Forget Your Spare Tire and Toolbox
One spare tire is necessary, two is usually one too many. Lugging around two spare tires can also hurt your mileage, seeing as how heavy off-road tires can be.
What you can do instead is to bring an extra plug, inner tube, and patch kit. This way, you can worry less about encountering two flats during your adventure.
As for your off-road recovery toolbox, be sure it has nylon recovery boards, a winch, a rope, and heavy duty gloves. Your toolkit should also contain a work light, a tire repair kit, an air compressor, and a jump starter. Don’t forget wrenches, drivers, pliers, and applicable attachments.
Bring a few garbage bags and extra batteries or a power bank for recharging your lights, radio, or phone. You likely won’t get service while off-roading, but your phone can still work as a flashlight or a compass.
Don’t Let Highway Hypnosis Take Over
Highway hypnosis is when a person drives great distances without even noticing it. It can occur in people experiencing fatigue, sleepiness, or drowsiness. A monotonous environment, such as non-changing scenery, can also trigger this phenomenon.
Highway hypnosis likely won’t occur while you’re on dirt roads with a rugged terrain. However, it can happen if you need to drive on long stretches of road to get to your destination. More so if you get too excited the night before to get some proper shut-eye.
So, do yourself a favor and get as much sleep as you can before the day of your off-road adventure. Besides, you’ll need all the energy to fuel your excitement as you conquer those dirt roads.
Don’t Leave or Take Anything
Except a lot of photos and memories. Don’t leave fires unattended, either, as this might trigger a fire to spread.
If you find trash you think is safe to handle, do the environment some good and take them with you. This is another purpose of your garbage bags, aside from disposing of yours properly.
Do note that US national parks have a growing trash problem. That’s because each year, 300 million visitors bring in millions of tons of trash to the parks.
So, stay on nature’s good side by helping address such issues. That way, you can keep off-roading in all those pristine, awe-inspiring nature trails.
Get the Most Fun Out of Your off-Road Adventures
Off-road adventures may not be for the faint-hearted, but they don’t have to be dangerous, either. As such, take as much time as you need to plan for your trip, especially when it comes to your ride. Make sure your vehicle is in perfect condition so that you can have a safe yet thrilling off-road trip.
Ready for more in-depth car guides and tricks like this? Be sure to check out our other automobile-related resources then!