Ok, so you've got a Rig, but how do you 4x4?
Here you'll find a selection of Tips / Tricks / Guidance / Advice from seasoned off-roaders, to help you run the trails safely!
Don't forget, you can join us as Passenger on a Trail run, if you want to see what it's all about!
If you have some insight/experience you'd like to share, Please connect & share with us through any of the methods on the Contact page
Driver & Passenger safety is very important! Seatbelts will keep people from being bounced-around in the cab on rough terrain, and from being ejected in the case of a Rig tip-over / roll-over
You may want to consider securing your Dog, it would be terrible to see a family Pet injured on the trail!
Equipment & personal-possessions should also be secured in your Rigs, to avoid being bounced-around on rough terrain, injuring people in the Rig, or damaging the Rig
Alcohol and/or Substance Abuse will not be tolerated!
Do not arrive at the designated meeting-point/trail-head under the influence of any prescribed or recreational substance, that may affect your ability to complete the trail in a safe manner
Do not consume any prescribed or recreational substance during the Trail Run, that may affect your ability to complete the trail in a safe manner
When acting as a Spotter, consider the path you are guiding the Driver over, and your location: stay out of the expected path-of-travel, and even a little further off to the side in-case of an unexpected Rig movement
First & Foremost ~ DON'T do anything you're afraid to do!!!
Our experienced Trail Guides will do their best to guide you over the terrain. They can see parts of the trail & the undersides of your Rig, that you can't see from inside. Listen to the Guide, follow their direction, but, if you are truly afraid for the safety of Yourself, Your Passengers & Your Rig... take the bypass trail: no-one will think any less of you for making a smart & safe decision!
Keep your Rig in good working order! Follow the recommended maintenance program from your Manufacturer. Inspect your Rig pre-trip, to make sure it appears to be in good working order... and post-trip, to determine if your Wheeling Adventure has caused any damage
Wheeling/Participating in Trail Runs is Voluntary: CO4x4 cannot be held responsible for any damage, illness &/or injury, that may/is caused by attendance at Trail Runs
Trail Safety includes taking appropriate measures/precautions when you encounter the following conditions:
Attempt to be prepared for such conditions by doing some trail research among club members or online, prior to attending a Trail Run, carry various equipment such as:
Trees / shrubbery should not be cut-down for convenience: this should only be done when there is a trail-blockage or a safety risk to any/all trail users
**Do not bring any weapons**
for the purpose of defending yourself from Wildlife
As previously noted, by default, CO4x4 will move to the side of a trail: where it's safe to do so, to allow other trail users to pass, unless they wave-us-on
As we pass other Trail Users, by "calling-out" or "gesturing", we will identify how many more of our Crew are still coming, in order for the other Trail Users to determine when they may safely proceed
Where Horseback Riders are encountered, Please attempt to come to a full stop in a safe spot, and allow the Horse & Rider to pass: do not use the Horn or other loud noise-device, this may "spook" the Horse
Watch carefully for Dogs as they may suddenly pass in-front of, or under, your Rig
Watch carefully for Wildlife as the animal may suddenly pass in-front of, or under, your Rig
Wild animals of all types will likely be "spooked" by our presence and leave
Some animals may be curious and watch from a distance
Some animals may be a little brave and approach: especially if they detect the smell of food (& have unfortunately been de-sensitized to the fear of humans)
Animals that are sick, diseased or injured may act in unexpected and out of the ordinary manners. Be prepared to seek shelter in your Rig
Make all attempts to keep your Dog (& young children) from confronting / chasing Wildlife
Between getting to the Trail-Head, running the Trail & getting home: this can be a long day!!! Even for a Trail Run that you believe to be only a few hours: accidents/unforeseen events happen, and the day may get long
Carry a selection of nutritional foods and drinks: water, sports-drinks (non-Caffeine) and healthy snacks will help keep your energy, alertness & spirits up, while on the trail. Often CO4x4 Members have been known to bring portable BBQ's for a hot-lunch: Please be responsible & safe with the use of these devices, and secure them appropriately in your Rig
Coolers should be secured in your Rig: be careful with perishable food products, as they may not last on long Trail Runs
Take all garbage with you!!! Do not leave any garbage on the trail: consider using food containers that are reusable (Tupperware) and will be take home with you
**A quick note about "I gotta go"**
Going to the washroom on the Trail can certainly present some risks:
...do your best to "limit" this need if possible, do not leave any paper/sanitary products behind, attempt to select a "location" that doesn't appear to be hazardous, respect peoples privacy, and tell someone your going, so you don't get forgotten / left behind, or they can assist you if you get injured / exposed
There isn't enough that can be said about protecting yourself from BUGS!!!
Some Off-Roaders will keep their windows up and use the Fan/Air Conditioning: this may be comfortable, but you run the risk of your Rig over-heating & inhibits your ability to hear verbal-cues from fellow Trail Users
One suggestion is to run your fan (not A/C) on high with the vents pointing out the window openings to create a "breeze" that may repel some bugs
Whether you chose bug-repellants that are available in Retail locations, or you have your own "special brew", always consider bringing enough
Be careful when applying Bug repellant: do not spray directly on your face, spray into your hand and "tap-apply" it to your forehead, cheeks, ears & neck... NOT directly around the eyes
Spraying your hat/cap is also helpful & does not directly expose your face
Consider additional treatments such as "afterbite" products, if you are particularly sensitive, an Over-The-Counter (OTC) Allergy Treatment may be warranted, just be careful to select a Non-Drowsy formulation: especially if you are the Driver
There are numerous Non-Medicinal treatments that various people suggest provide relief:
In keeping with the Tread Lightly concept, all trash must be taken with you from a Trail Run
Remember the phrase:
Don't be an Ass, pick up your Trash!!!
You may use a simple bag/receptacle in your Rig: numerous Off-Road suppliers/retailers offer different receptacles including something called a Trash-a-roo bag (aptly named after the similarity to a Kangaroos pouch) that hangs off your rear spare tire
Consider your food/drink choices and follow the same concept used by the School System: go trashless!!!
Bring your food/drink in reusable containers (tupperware)
As a courtesy, when you're stopped for a break/lunch, if you see garbage left behind by less-responsible Trail Users, consider picking this up and removing it along with any trash you have
(Please protect yourself and consider wearing some type of glove or using some type of "tong" to pick up trash)
Trail communication is a necessity to keep everyone aware of what's going on around you on the Trail, what's coming up ahead, if moving to the side is necessary to allow another Trail User to pass & just to "keep in touch" during the run
A hands-free, reduced-touch or Bluetooth device would be a great choice as these would leave your hands on the steering wheel & reduce distractions. The volume of your chosen device should not be set so loud as to startle yourself or your passengers / pets
Communication device choices include:
Your Trail Host will advise of what "channel" you intend to use at the Trail Head before the run starts
Cellular &/or Satellite phones are often not good choices as they often require continuous hand-holding (unless you have Bluetooth in your Rig) and they also will use-up a lot of Bandwidth, Data or Call-Time on your Account
Several Potential Hazards are present as you navigate the Trail
While navigating the Trails, keep these safe operating standards in-mind:
Please be reminded: recreational drugs &/or alcohol use on the Trails is not condoned and will not be tolerated!!! Some Prescription medications may also affect your ability to safely enjoy the Trail, and the safety of other Trail Users!!!
Trail Navigation is a conversation often debated: in the world of technology, we have numerous devices available to us to make sure we follow the correct Trail and don't get lost:
There will always be a place for good old traditional paper/printed Maps, and for those well-experienced Off-Roaders who just "know" the Trail
Tire Pressure is another conversation with diverse opinion on what's best: however, most Off-Roaders will agree that reducing tire pressure/deflating certainly does create a better "grip" on the Trail - much like when a Cat "kneads/clenches" their paws while Purring
Where the tire hits the Trail is called the contact pad/patch. When you deflate your tires, the size of the pad/patch gets larger, thereby giving you a larger contact point, and the tread of the tires will "grip" the irregularities of the terrain better: again, as mentioned, like a Cats paws
Deflating too-much runs the risk of "loosing the bead" (seal) which means the bead (centre-edge) of the tire that contacts the rim comes away from the rim, allowing the compressed air in the tire to escape, resulting in a flat tire
A product called Beadlock is available on the market, but may not be suitable for every rim type. Beadlock works by keeping the tire attached to the wheel at all times: there is some controversy about whether Beadlock is Street Legal. The risk is: two or more sequential Beadlock bolts could break, and the Beadlock ring could partially or wholly leave the rest of the wheel, this would result in an instant "blow-out", at highway speed, the results would be catastrophic. Beadlock also makes each wheel heavier due to the added components/hardware
All Off-Roaders should have the ability to re-inflate their own tires: a selection of permanently-mounted or portable air pump systems are available. You should look for a system that has a higher Cubic-Feet-Per-Minute (CFM) rating: 2.5 CFM is very good - as opposed to a pump with a larger reservoir/cylinder
Approach & Departure Angle refers to the open-angle / space between the lowest point on the front-end/bumper and the tire. If the tire is closer to the front/back of your Rig, you will be better able to drive up/down steep angles (& drop-offs) without the front/back end making contact with the terrain/surface
There are a couple of ways to improve your approach/departure angle:
Certain Rig types are particularly known for "good" approach/departure angles, even in stock models:
High-Centering: also known as the Breakover Angle or more simply, Bottoming-out - this is where the terrain &/or obstacles or debris on the terrain passes between the wheels & strikes the bottom of your Rig - or - when you drive over a sharp-angled "peak" that hits the bottom of your Rig before the wheels clear the peak-angle
This can result in:
Outfitting your Rig with larger tires &/or a selection of Skid-Plates, will help prevent serious damage: Skid Plates are made of Steel (heavy) or Aluminum (lighter) that will protect various components on the bottom of your Rig:
...you'll need to research what Skid-Plates may be available for your Rig
These roads are graded or maintained year round. Less than 3” water crossing depth, hard bottom, 2WD under all conditions except snow. Stock vehicle, typical non-paved county roads
These roads are occasionally graded or maintained. They may cross sandy washes and sections may be rough (washboards). Less than 3” water crossing depth, 2WD except for snow, stock vehicle
Features trails with obstacles that are easy to navigate. In optimum weather conditions, these trails may not require the continual use of four-wheel drive (4WD). Expect ruts, wash outs and water crossings to 6” small rocks and holes, stock vehicle
Moderately demanding trails on which 4WD will be required. You may encounter a wide variety of challenges (Potholes, minor washouts, water crossing depth to 10”, medium size rocks, and mud holes) on these trails. Higher ground clearance and Off-Road tires are recommended. Simple recovery gear recommended for stock vehicles (recovery strap)
Demanding trails on which 4WD is required. You will encounter a variety of more difficult challenges (Loose rocks, large potholes, water crossing depth to 15”, steep inclines 15 degrees and large rocks to 10”, 8” mud filled ruts) on these trails. Possible with stock 4WD vehicle, however, recommend traction-device (limited-slip or locker) in rear differential, aggressive tread and low air pressure. Higher than stock ground clearance is advisable. Low range gears used often. Moderate experience and driving skill advised. Possible paint and/or rocker-panel damage. Recovery gear recommended (Straps/ Hi-lift Jack)
Challenging trails on which low range 4WD is required. You will encounter a variety of more difficult challenges (Loose rocks, large potholes, water crossings to 20”, steep inclines 20 degrees and large rocks to 12”, 12” mud filled ruts) on these trails. Not recommended with stock 4WD vehicle. Traction device (limited-slip or locker) in rear differential, aggressive tread and low air pressure highly recommended. Higher than stock ground clearance is advisable. Moderate experience and driving skill advised. Likely paint and possible rocker-panel damage. Hi-lifts, straps and winches recommended
These trails traverse very rugged terrain (Water crossings 24”+, large rocks to 15”+, deep mud, steep inclines and side hills to 30 degrees) low-range 4WD and higher than stock ground clearance is required. Aggressive tread and low air pressure are required. Traction Devices (Lockers or limited-slip) in the differentials (front and rear), lift and larger tires (33”+) are recommended. These trails require above average Off-Road driving skills. Multiple attempts to clear obstacles will be required. There will likely be paint damage and possible vehicle body and/or mechanical damage. Hi-lift Jacks and winches recommended
These trails cross extremely rugged terrain with very steep inclines, large boulders, and potentially dangerous situations. These trails require modified vehicles, including lift, lockers, and over-sized tires (35”+). A High level of Off-Road driving skill is required. There are possibilities of rollovers. There will likely be paint damage, possible vehicle body and/or mechanical damage. Winches are required
These trails are for the extreme four-wheeler only. These trails require highly modified vehicles, including lift, excellent articulation, lockers front and rear, large tires (38”+) with aggressive tread, winches, high-lift jacks. A High level of Off-Road driving skill is required. Paint damage is virtually guaranteed, body and/or mechanical damage is very likely. Rollovers will be more common on these trails and winches will most likely be used
Only for the most skilled, personal injury and equipment failure possible, not recommended unless very well prepared