How to Prepare Before Going Off-roading for the First Time

  • 3 months   ago

Going off-roading as a beginner can be an exhilarating adventure into speed and skillful maneuvering in tricky situations. The idea of off-roading for a first-timer seems simple enough. But then, if you get to learn what goes into it, it can quickly become intimidating.

Most beginners to off-roading usually struggle with how to get started. The good news is the off-roading community is a welcoming one. Considering no one was an expert the first time, they left the pavement. The mistakes that most off-roaders have made in the past and learned from are a good foundation of knowledge. In this guide today, you'll learn how to prepare for your first off-roading and ensure you become a seasoned off-roader. 

Know what type of off-roading you want to do.

Before you prepare your vehicle for the trail, it's essential to figure out which type of off-roading you want to do. Where you live can have a significant impact on what’s readily available. Those in the west of the US have rocks and desert terrains in plenty. If you're in the east, you should find light trails and excellent mudding locations. Even though you can always take trips to desired off-roading destinations, knowing what's closest to you can affect the choices you make for your vehicle.

For your first time, choose light trails and avoid crawling massive boulders. For a start, you must learn how to crawl before you can walk. Ensure you select trails that are rated for beginners. Pick one close to home, easy to navigate, and preferably in an area where there's a lot of support if you get stuck or run into trouble.

Ensure that your vehicle is capable of off-roading.

Off-road cars can be costly, but they certainly don’t have to be. You can choose to purchase an affordable used 4x4, or you can spend a lot of cash perfecting a new, fully-loaded off-roader. Many components make an excellent off-roading vehicle. Many trucks are usually ready to go off-roading right from the factory. While upgrades and mods will help, it’s good to have the basics included.

Decide early enough if you wish to buy an off-roading vehicle and use it as is, or want to do some modifications of your own. Even if you can’t afford to buy a fully-loaded off-roading car now, you can always modify it as you gain more experience. For all your diesel parts mods, check out Goldfarb INC.

Know your vehicle.

Before going off-roading, it's essential to know your vehicle. Read your owner’s manual. Ensure that you learn some primary 4WD car maintenance tips like how to change the tire, how to lock your truck in 4x4 mode, and how to use a jack. Ensure all your windows and mirrors are clear of any debris and dirt. Being able to see your trail is vital to not making mistakes that may cost you.

Before going for your adventure, ensure that you check the fluids and oil in your engine. Check if your coolant level is normal. Check the crankshaft, camshaft, pistons, cylinder heads, ring line, and bearings if they are properly lubricated. Also, make sure the water pump, aftercooler, and oil pump are in good working order. In addition to your engine's main components, inspect all the belts, gearbox, clamps, tires, brakes, and differentials. Off-roading can put excess stress on a vehicle.

Pack a recovery gear.

When you're out on a trail, and something happens, there's no AAA available to help you if you get in a bind. Whether your vehicle flips over or gets stuck, you'll most likely have to dig yourself out. Ensure that you pack steel or synthetic winch line, winch line extensions, snatch blocks, tree rigging lines, shackles, and crush-proof thimbles. It would help if you also learned how to use your recovery gear; it won’t help to have all the accessories without knowing how to use them.

Ensure that your truck has a properly rated trailer hitch and tow hook. Don't use a linked chain as those can snap. A 48-inch or a 60-inch hi-lift jack can be your lifesaver when getting out of tricky situations.

Before heading out, it's also essential to let someone know where you're going and what time you'll be back. Never go off-roading alone. Go with at least one other vehicle in case your vehicle stalls or you get stuck. 

Check the ground clearance.

It's also essential to learn about your vehicle's ground clearance before going off-roading. Land cruisers and jeeps are usually built with high ground clearance specifically for off-road adventures. There are three main angles you should consider - approach, break-over angles, and departure. 

The approach angle is the rise between the front of your vehicle and the front tires. It's the steepest angle the car can take without hitting the front bumper into the slope. On the other hand, the break-over angle is in the truck's middle and between the front and back tires. This angle is the maximum angle your vehicle can take before getting stuck on steep terrain. Lastly, the departure angle is the angle between your vehicle's back tire and the rear bumper, representing the highest angle the truck can take before hitting the back bumper on the ground.

When approaching rocks, boulders, or logs, try to tackle the obstacles at a 30 to 45-degree angle. This method will ensure that at least three of your tires are on the ground at all times. If you're unsure of an obstacle, you should use a spotter to check the trail ahead.


Going off-roading for first-timers can be a life-changing experience. It would be best to go up with a group of friends or look for a local off-roading club to see if you'll enjoy the experience. If you decide to buy an off-roading truck, take it up on the hill with the stock features before doing any mods on it. It's good to know what the vehicle can do compared with what modifications can give you.