Maybe you’ve seen photos of jeeps ripping through the deserts, tearing everything apart. Or maybe you’ve seen videos on YouTube with a Challenger climbing impossible rocks in the wilderness.
According to the Outdoor Power Equipment Association, driving off-road is now a booming industry, with sales up 3% by volume last year. Driving off-road is now taken far more seriously than before since the average SUV now has better capability and safety features than older vehicles. The point of this article is to list all relevant equipment that you need if you choose to go off-roading.
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A 4wd pickup truck with a lot of ground clearance
It also needs a small turning radius, capable of going both on paved roads and in the dirt. For maximum safety, we recommend a rugged 4×4 pickup or SUV for off-road adventures.
For example, a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, while rather large, so it can limit the terrain you cover, is a great 4×4 truck for off-roading. It has enough hauling capacity to carry both the equipment and the people.
What’s important when it comes to vehicles is ground clearance–because if your car gets stuck in water or mud, higher ground clearance will distribute the weight of the car over a larger area, which makes it less likely to sink.
Tires for Off-road Driving
The exact type of tire you need for offroading depends entirely on where you are going to drive. If you are rock crawling, then 32-inch diameter tires with large lugs will work great, but if you want to go mud bogging, then a smoother tire might be better.
The tread pattern is also important: a mud terrain tire would provide better traction in the mud than a street or highway tire.
High-visibility and Lighting Equipment
While it’s rarely a good idea to drive offroad during the dark, there are reasons that you might need to. For example, if your car gets stuck in mud or water, people must know where you are. This is where amber light bars come in: an amber light bar can’t be mistaken for white headlights of other vehicles on the road.
Brands like LUXHID make amber lights (and other colors like blue, red, green) with color temperatures close to the sun’s yellow-orange glow at 6500K.
The Predator Emergency 3 bar amber light is an example of an amber light bar seen from great distances.
These amber lights also require less power than white or blue lighting systems, which means you can run them off your car’s electrical system without having to worry about draining the battery.
When you drive at night, amber light bars will also keep your car visible to other drivers on the road.
Communications Equipment for the Off-roader
Every off-road vehicle needs a CB radio. A common way to communicate when people go off-roading is Citizen’s Band (CB) radios. CB radios can transmit and receive signals up to 40-50 miles in the open air, and they are commonly used by law enforcement, firefighters, and ambulances.
These are ideal for the off-road driver because there is no cell phone reception in the middle of the woods, and even when there is, it might not be reliable.
For example: In 2006, a family in Oregon ran out of gas was trapped in their car for nine days in the freezing wilderness because they didn’t have any way to call for help. You can’t always count on cellphone service, so it pays to be prepared.
A quick tip: The Cobra 29 LTD CB Radio can be used in any vehicle.
Many people who go off-roading also like to carry some other items that they might need, including:
- first aid kit for injuries, in case something goes wrong
- food and water to last a few days in case you’re stranded and have to wait for help
- winch to tow your truck out if it gets stuck
- chainsaw for making an exit when you get blocked by a fallen tree
- shovel to dig out your stuck tires from mud
- rock climbing equipment if you get stuck on the side of a mountain or cliff with no way down
- Inflatable rafts and oars for crossing rivers
For more information on driving off-road, do your research online. There are many available forums where you can ask for tips. Even better, a local club might even let you come out for a day with them so you can learn how to drive off-road.
Be safe out there!