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What You Need to Know Before Going Off-Road

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lifted truck off road
Photo: Pixabay

Now is the perfect time to get outdoors and explore nature, and nothing is more adrenaline-pumping than heading off-road with your crew. Getting off the boring pavement and climbing over rugged terrain in a vehicle can be an exhilarating experience. But it’s important to know how to prepare for this adventure before you potentially ruin your ride or put yourself in danger.

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Use the right vehicle

Obviously, you’re not going to take your four-door sedan up to the mountains. You’ll want a vehicle that can handle the rocky path ahead, but not all SUVs or trucks are equipped for this. The ideal option is a vehicle with four-wheel drive and a body-on-frame construction. The AWD will distribute power as needed to the wheels so you can get proper traction. The frame construction allows the vehicle to crawl over uneven ground without being damaged.

Get some equipment

While you can take your vehicle off-road as is (if it meets the requirements above), it might be a good idea to get some extra equipment as backup. It’s always a good idea to get a set of all-terrain tires installed on your vehicle so they can get a better grip. A lift kit is nice, too, because it improves the suspension and helps absorb the impact of hitting the ground. If you plan on going off-road near some water, you’ll want to invest in a snorkel. This device protects the engine from getting waterlogged and ensures air flow.

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Be prepared for an emergency

As much as you’d like to think you know everything there is to know about going off-road, unfortunate things happen and you can’t always predict certain situations. Having some emergency tools on-hand will make a dire situation much easier to cope with. Bring along a first-aid kit, a seat belt cutter/knife, something to break window glass, a compact fire extinguisher, extra clothes, water, and non-perishable food. You’ll also want to be sure your phone is charged up and that you have an alternative power source, such as a portable charger, in case you need to call for help.

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Before heading out, do a bit of research on legal off-roading sites in your area. You can’t just go off-road wherever you’d like, as some areas are protected/off-limits for very good reasons. And be sure you grab a buddy to go with you instead of going it alone, as that person might be able to help out and provide assistance if you get stuck somewhere.