Off-Roading 101- what you need to know
THERE'S nothing better than exploring the outdoors and venturing off the beaten track, but I know from first hand experience that an off-road adventure doesn't come without its risks.
That's why it's important to be knowledgeable and prepared for all of the potential bumps mother nature may throw your way.
Prep for Emergencies
When embarking on your 4WD adventure, don't forget to pack the necessities so that you are prepared for anything unexpected that comes your way, in particular: a shovel, air compressor and Maxtrax.
While not many would think to keep a shovel in the boot, when you're off-roading, there's nothing better to keep on hand. Be sure to invest in a good quality shovel with a sturdy handle that won't break when you need it the most, and the one from Rhino-Rack is great!
Installing a winch and having Maxtrax as part of your kit is a great investment - they're exactly what you'll need when stuck in a tricky situation. But you haven't already invested in a winch, using Maxtrax with sand or leaves work well to create traction where there is none, giving your tyres something to grip on to.
Low Pressures for Increased Grip
To prevent the need to put that shovel to work or whipping out the bog boards, an air compressor will allow you to adjust your tyre pressure to the terrain you'll be conquering. Very low pressures of 20psi and under will provide more contact with the ground for increased grip and lessens the risk of punctures when driving over rocky surfaces. On sand, a lower tyre pressure allows you to remain on top of the sand instead of sinking into it.
Know Your Gears
Knowing your driving gears and their different uses is important when off-roading. 4H which is high-range, is suitable for the easier unsealed tracks, however once you reach more difficult terrains and steep inclines, you'll want to use 4L which is the low-range 4WD.
Hands on the Wheel
When venturing off the beaten track, how you hold your steering wheel makes all the difference to protect your hands and ensure you have control over your vehicle. Because your wheels will find gaps in the rocky terrain, your steering column is likely to be wrenched away from you without warning - so if your grasp is too tight, you could seriously injure yourself. With a loose grip on the steering wheel, your wheels will be able to find the ruts and gaps in the road. And when bogged, your steering wheel could turn suddenly, so making sure your thumb is always on top will avoid a trip to the emergency room!
Test the Waters Before Entering
When you're approaching unfamiliar terrain, especially rivers or creeks, check the depth on foot or using a stick to ensure you aren't in for any surprises. Always check the current and make sure the water is moving at a safe speed. Try to avoid driving in bodies of water that are higher than half the height of your wheels to prevent your engine from flooding. If your tyres get caught, don't panic and continue to drive slowly so that your vehicle can get a better grip of the surface.
Always remember to remain calm if things don't go as planned. If you stall, try to rock the car forward on its own gear in order to get out of the water. This is where that trusty winch and mate can come in handy!
Be tame in your off-roading endeavours, don't try to plough through the road or show off by driving faster than the conditions allow. There's no sense in being overconfident, things can go wrong very quickly, so be sure to remain calm and drive with caution.
Have fun out there on the open road, and be safe!
All 4 Adventure Winter Encore:
To see Jase Andrews in action, All 4 Adventure will be back for an encore this winter! Tune in to Channel ONE every Saturday at 6pm from June 2 to see Jase Andrews tackle the Territory in his latest season.