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Off-roading for beginners illustrated by a vehicle at sunset

7 Off-Roading Tips for Beginners

Take your vehicle on an adventure with these off-roading tips for beginners. Use this guide to help get you started exploring the fields, forests, beaches, and everywhere else you’ve always wanted to go. These tips can help beginners to safely navigate off the beaten paths.

1. Know Your Vehicle (one of the most important off-roading tips for beginners!)

Every vehicle is different, so understand what your specific vehicle has to offer, especially a few key systems that particularly matter in off-roading. 

If your vehicle is on the newer side, it likely has traction control, but it’s good to  make sure. Traction control will help limit wheel slippage and ensure that torque is being transferred from the tire to the trail. 

In addition, a locking differential or “diff lock” controls the speed at which your wheels turn. Without a diff lock, your wheels turn at different speeds. You can activate the diff locks on some modern cars with the simple push of a button, and the car’s computer will automatically adjust. 

Your vehicle might also have low -and high-speed gear ratios for your transfer case, depending on the speed you want to drive at. A 4WD High is the typical setting for driving. Although it offers lower torque to the wheels when they stop, it allows for top-end speed. In comparison, a 4WD Low will max out on its top speed faster, but allow more torque on those low-end speeds. 

Also, before moving onto the next step, think about whether your vehicle has lighting suitable for off-roading

2. Choose Your Line

The “line” is the route that you plan to take on your off-roading adventure. As a beginner, make sure you are comfortable with the level of difficulty of this path. Main off-roading terrains include the trails, sand, and mud. 

Gravel, Grasslands, and Dry Dirt

Trails provide the simplest and safest option for beginners. With dry grounds, you’ll often find off-roading trails in state and national parks. 

Dunes

Sandy terrain presents additional challenges given the loose and soft texture. Momentum is key, so it’s important not to slow down unless necessary. To give your tires more grip, you might want to deflate the air pressure down to around 15 and 20 psi. In addition, make sure to off-road in a designated and clearly marked area. 

Mud and Shallow Water

Mud driving, or “mudding,” is both fun and risky business. Similar to sand driving, momentum is key in getting out of slippery situations, and deflating your tires a bit can help here too. 

3. Gather the Right Safety Equipment 

Before you take off on your off-roading adventure, make a list of essential, special equipment for off-roading your trip. You might need:

- A Winch
- Maxtrax
- Snatch Straps
- A vehicle Snorkel 

      In addition, make sure you have a full gas tank, tow rope, spare tire, portable air compressor, navigational aids, and a first aid kit. 

      4. Lighting to See and Be Seen

      A clear view of the path ahead is one of the most important things you can do for you and your vehicle’s safety. ORACLE Lighting Off-Road LED Lights provide the high-quality lighting that is necessary for resisting turbulent terrains and wild weather. 

      Flood Lights

      LED flood lights can provide outstanding light output over a wide area. Solid state technology ensures that no pieces break, so you're not left out in the dark. The ultra slim design makes it possible to place these lights anywhere you need lighting for greater safety and visibility.

      Spot Lights

      Spot lights provide a concentrated beam of light that travels far into the distance. If your headlights aren’t providing enough coverage, try mounting a set of spotlights near your door mirrors. Get an LED Spot Pod, Off Road Spotlight, or Waterproof Squared Halo Combo.

      Light Bars

      It’s critical that your driving lights cast a wide enough beam in dim and dark areas and times of day. Light bars are available for a wide array of vehicles, like Tailgate Light Bars for trucks, a TRX Front Bumper Light Bar for Ram Rebels, and more. Make sure to mount them correctly to avoid glare off your hood. 

      LED Whips

      Installing an LED whip and flag is a good way to increase visibility and safety. ORACLE Lighting LED whips are made with high-quality polycarbonate tubing to add resistance and flexibility. Our whips are weather- and shock- resistant. 

      5. Bring a Spotter 

      Besides excellent LED lighting, bringing a second pair of eyes can help you see everything around your vehicle that can be missed from the driver’s seat. In a difficult path, ask your spotter to stand outside of your vehicle to watch and direct you verbally and with hand signals. 

      6. Driving Techniques for Off-Roading 

      Try Not To Oversteer 

      If you get stuck in a rut, keep the steering wheel as straight as possible. Letting your wheel wander to the left or right could cause your vehicle to steer sharply to one side as you leave the rut, putting you in danger of ramming into a tree or rocks. 

      Apply the Brakes with Your Left Foot 

      Instead of using your right foot for both the accelerator and brake pedals, use left-foot braking. This can give you better vehicle control when you are in tricky terrain, saving you precious seconds.

      Wheel Etiquette 

      Keep your thumbs on the outside of the steering wheel to protect your wrists and prevent breaking your thumbs. This is to account for whip (more common in older cars without power steering) that occurs when your wheel snaps suddenly in one direction or another. 

      7. Have a Plan for Recovery

      The thrill of off-roading also comes with turbulent bumps, unexpected potholes, and more. If you’re stuck, stop driving, since continuing to spin will just make things worse. As soon as you’re slowing down or losing momentum, keep the wheel steady. Even when you’re applying an even amount of throttle, get your tow strap ready. 

      You should also prepare for the worst by bringing emergency gear. 

      What to Pack in Your Emergency Kit 

      Be ready to tend to injuries, make emergency exits, prevent fire damages, and stay warm. At minimum, bring: 

      • First aid kit
      • Seat-belt cutter and glass breaker
      • Fire extinguisher
      • Warm clothes
      • Food and water (at least a granola bar and a bottle of water for each passenger)

      Get the Best Off-Roading Experience With ORACLE Lighting 

      Adventure is calling, and you won’t find it on your commute to work. If you’ve always wanted to go off-roading, this is your sign to try it today! Check out our Off-Roading LED Lights today to jumpstart your adventure.

      Previous article ORACLE Lighting Featured on SunCruiser Media’s Snowbirds & RV Travelers Podcast.

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