You’ve bought your dream Jeep or 4X4, added some seriously cool mods, and now you’re ready to off-road – right? Wrong! Much like there are rules for traveling on paved roads, there is also off-road etiquette. Make sure you know the basics before you put tires to the dirt.
Do Your Research
Before you hit the trails, know where you’re going and how to access the land you’re traveling on. Research the area and understand the route you’re taking; there may be areas where you travel that don’t support GPS or cell service, so you won’t be able to check your phone for directions. You’ll also need to know if the area charges for access and if there are any trail closures.
Respect the Land
There are signs marking the route for a reason – don’t go off-trail into vegetation that’s not meant for off-roading. Make sure your 4X4 crosses streams or water where designated and drive over obstacles (and not around them) to avoid making the trail wider than it’s intended to be. Additionally, don’t dump your trash on the trail, and be a good citizen by picking up any litter that you see along the way.
Give Them Space
Many off-road trails play host to other travelers like horse riders, hikers, and mountain/dirt bikes. Your 4X4 is bigger and louder than all of those, and you need to yield the right of way to them. Failing to do so can kick up dust and rock, creating unnecessary and hazardous conditions. If you see horses on the trail, the best practice is to pull to the side safely and turn off your noisy vehicle until they pass.
Let Them Know
Off-roading is always more fun in groups, but taking your 4X4 or Jeep on a group run presents more safety challenges for other travelers on the trail. If you’re the pack leader, make sure you inform oncoming traffic of how many are in your group – simply holding a number out the window using your fingers will let them know how to give you space. The last vehicle on the train will hold out a fist to let you know the parade is over.
Follow the Rules of the Road
The first rule is about hills: Any vehicles traveling up a hill have the right of way because they need to maintain the momentum required to get to the top. Second rule: Watch the space between you and the vehicle in front of you, like on a highway. Third: Don’t ever (ever) stop in the middle of a trail or an obstacle! Wait until you can safely pull over, off the trail, and out of the way. Finally, and probably most importantly: Don’t drink before or during off-roading (but you already knew that one.)
Other Dos and Don’ts
DO mind your dust: Just because you have cool mods on your 4X4 and some seriously rugged tires doesn’t mean you should show them off at another vehicle’s expense. Slow down as you pass other trail travelers to be respectful and safe.
DON’T pack your ego: Staying safe while off-roading means you need to know your skills and how you’re limited about what you can’t yet do. Be the bigger person and skip that obstacle or difficult trail if you have any questions about your ability to ride them safely.
DO know when to accept help: Being winched out of a trickly obstacle is no big deal; it happens to even the most seasoned off-roaders. If you’re tried to get over it a few times with no success, it’s time to call in the team – no shame in that game.
DON’T leave anyone behind: Stop to help others on the trail that may be having problems with their 4X4 or Jeep, and never go ahead when someone in your group is stopped with their issues. Stick around until everything is resolved; it’s the right thing.
Armed with the knowledge of off-road etiquette and a 4×4 equipped with all the right mods, you’ll be hitting the trains in no time! Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team when you’re ready to start your 4×4 adventures, and be sure to revisit this off-roading guide in the future.