Off-Road Driving Tips For Beginners

by Houston Off Road Pros on July 15, 2018 · Off Road

Congratulations! You’re beginning your adventure as an off-road driver. Most are drawn to this, because they long to go into the beauty of nature. If the trails are calling you, we completely understand! Today we’re going to share some helpful off-road driving tips for beginners.

Tip #1: Where can I go off-roading as a beginner?

You always want to be sure the place you off-road is legal for the driving you are doing! So double check before you go, to avoid being disappointed or even getting a ticket with a high fine.

There are 2 excellent places to look for fantastic off-road destinations: The U.S. Forest Services has a long list of the National Forests and Parks across the country that permit off-roading in their trails. You’ll also want to check the Bureau of Land Management, as they have a huge list of trails especially for off-roaders!

Off-Road Driving Tips For Beginners

Tip #2: What should I bring with me when I go off-roading?

This actually can depend on where you are going, so be certain to take a look at the website for the trail or give them a call first. But here are some typical supplies you will bring with you:

  • D-ring shackles or tow hooks (front and rear recovery points)
  • Roll bar or cage
  • A CB radio or FRS/GMRS radio (see which the trail prefers)
  • A real size (not “mini”) spare tire, so you can keep on going if you get a flat
  • Fire extinguisher (check it before you go!)
  • Jack & basic tool set
  • Tow strap
  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • GPS and paper maps
  • Vehicle’s fluids
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • An extra set of clothing
  • Food and water for the day

Tip #3: Inspect your vehicle before you go

This is one of the most important tips we can give you. We know that you want to enjoy every moment of being on the trails!

We recommend you take a look at your vehicle a couple of days before you plan to go out. Why? If your off-road vehicle needs a minor repair, such as an oil change or a tire patched, you can easily get your mechanic to fix it, and still be able to go out off-roading as planned.

Off Road Trail

Tip #4: Keep a moderate speed limit while you drive

Yes, off-roading is fun. Yes, it is tempting to “floor” the gas pedal. You are a newbie off-roader, so we have some strict advice for you on that: DON’T!

Not only are you not familiar with driving on this terrain (which will get to in a minute), but keep in mind that there are other off-roaders out here having fun. If you are driving at a speedy pace and then turn up a curve at that same speed, you truly can’t see if another off-roader is coming in the opposite direction. You also do not have a sense how tight that curve is, and should you have slowed down and by how much when you reached it.

So as a newbie, enjoy your off-roading, but please don’t be a lead foot driver! You’ll thank us for it!

Tip #5: Pay attention to the trail

Especially as a “newbie” off-roader, pay extra attention to the trail or wherever you are traveling. There may be hills, dips or even deep puddles left from a recent rainstorm. Now is the time to get to know this trail, so when you explore it the 2nd or 3rd time you’ll have a better sense of where you want to go. This is what experienced off-roaders do.

Do keep an eye out for the unexpected, such as rocks that may be on the trail or even slippery spots. Part of the fun of being off-road is that you are experiencing a more natural state, but this also makes it a bit more challenging. Be patient with yourself as a new off-roader with this type of driving, don’t race!

Pay attention to the trail

Tip #6: Avoid “4×4 required trails”

Now at first, it sounds like that is exactly where you would want to go! But understand, that trails marked with 4×4 required are actually the EXPERT trails and will be quite rough for you to be on, they are not ideal for beginner off-roaders at all.

Take a look at the map, to select the best place to off-road. Also keep recent weather patterns in mind in your area when selecting where to off-road, so you have the most fun.

Tip #7: Let someone know about your off-roading plans

If you know any fellow off-roaders, they probably will nod and smile when we say this – a lot of times your cellphones don’t work when you are out there on the trails. Because you are way out, in the beauty of nature!

We’ve already talked about being wise and staying safe. This is something you also do to be safe, in case your off-road vehicle breaks down or there is bad weather – and you can’t reach anyone with no cellphone service out there. Do tell family and friends where you are going (leave them a copy of the map if possible) and tell them when you’ll be back. It is also wise for you to say that you will call them when you get back, and if they don’t hear from you by a certain time, say 6 hours after you were expected to return, that they should be concerned that something might have happened. With this plan, you know they will contact someone at the National Park you are off-roading at, to come get you and your broken vehicle or to come find you in inclement weather.

Stay safe and have a great time off-roading!

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