Offroading is an incredible hobby and lifestyle for those who love challenging themselves and being outdoors. There are offroad community groups all across the globe, with opportunities for events, meet-ups, trips, and more. However, one thing that can stop people interested in offroading from jumping right in is not knowing where to start with an offroad vehicle. If you’ve been itching to get out on the trails but aren’t sure what type of vehicle you need or how you need to modify a current vehicle, we are here to help. If you’re a veteran offroader, brushing up on the basics never hurts.
High Ground Clearance
No matter what type of offroading you are interested in or where you plan to go, your ground clearance is one of the first considerations for your vehicle (beyond having four-wheel drive, of course). A vehicle’s ground clearance is the distance between the ground and the bottom of the car’s body. An integral part of offroading is the obstacles on the ground – bushes, rocks, branches; you name it. When your vehicle has high ground clearance, you’ll be able to navigate through those obstacles easier. Many folks opt for a suspension lift kit to get higher ground clearance for their vehicle.
Another important aspect of a vehicle equipped for offroading is quality suspension. Any time you drive a car, you want good suspension since this gives your tires adequate friction. In offroading vehicles, the quality suspension is even more necessary to keep you on the trails.
Your wheels will be in a variety of positions when you are offroad. Locking differentials allow the axles to lock together so that the wheel with traction gets all the available torque. When you turn the vehicle, the looking differential allows the wheels to rotate at different speeds. In situations where one wheel is off the ground, this is crucial to maneuvering on the trail. There are many options for locking differentials to fit the needs of any offroader.
While high ground clearance, suspension, and locking differential are all critical for an offroad vehicle, these modifications are nothing without the right tires. Most offroad tires will be an investment and unsuitable for a regular commute. Your offroad tires will keep you safe on the trails and improve your experience. Offroad tires should have high grip and stability, perform well in dry and wet conditions, and have good cut resistance. If you’re new to offroading, you’ll want to consult an expert before choosing a tire.
Where You’ll Go
As you choose a vehicle, outfit it, and consider modifications, you’ll want to know where you want to go offroading. As you build up skill and experience, you can try more challenging trails and new terrains. The following are common offroading situations you may be interested in.
Rock crawling is one of the toughest, most extreme offroading situations. The driver takes their vehicle through rocky conditions, often boulders. If you plan on attempting rock crawling, you’ll want to have high ground clearance, locking rear differential, another person standing outside the vehicle to spot you, and a front-mounted winch that can connect to another vehicle or object to pull your vehicle out should you get stuck.
Overlanding is a different experience than offroading. Overlanding is about the journey, taking a trip to scenic locations and often camping in uncrowded, remote areas. Your vehicle should still have four-wheel drive and be able to plow through loose rock and dirt as you need for offroading trails. However, you’re more likely to carry extra gear and weight if you plan on camping, so having strong shock absorbers helps to handle the weight.
When it comes to modifying your vehicle, it is critical that you not only add the proper modifications but also use a high-quality brand and have an expert mechanic install them. You can buy a used offroad vehicle with modifications installed, but it is essential to know where the work was done and how long ago. More commonly, offroaders will buy a new or used vehicle without modifications and then plan their own add-ons to fit their needs.
In the end, research is everything in the offroad world. Always research, watch videos, and check with the experts before buying a vehicle, modifying a vehicle, or planning an offroad outing. The offroad community in the U.S. is very active, and many people are willing to lend a hand in sharing advice on getting started. You should also research shops and community groups in your area. Even if you prefer to ride solo, getting connected with a network of people with similar interests will help in the long run.
Axleboy Offroad Is Here to Help
Whether you’re new to offroading or a veteran, our team at Axleboy Offroad has something for you. When we’re not modifying our customer’s vehicles or selling equipment, we get involved in offroading community events or out on the trails ourselves. Whatever offroading or overlanding trips you’re planning for 2023, get in touch with us so we can help you prepare for your adventures.