To off-road safely and successfully, there are a few things you need, such as 4WD as well as big tires and tall suspensions that serve an important purpose.
You've left one thing out: what you really need is torque.
Torque is to off-roading what top-end horsepower and speed are to racing: you can’t succeed without it.
Flooring the throttle isn’t going to get you over and through obstacles the way gears that produce a lot of torque will.
Slow, strong, and steady is what wins in off-roading and obstacle clearing.
What is Torque?
Generally speaking, torque is the amount of power that can be generated by turning something.
For automotive torque, it’s the amount of power that can be generated by the crankshaft, which turns the wheels and moves the vehicle.
There are two classifications of torque that apply to 4WD vehicles that off-road drivers are concerned with:
===> High-End Torque - This is the amount of torque generated at higher RPMs, typically 4,000 RPM or above, the kind of torque required to generate speed or horsepower.
===> Low-End Torque - This is the amount of torque generated at low RPMs, typically 3,000 RPM or below and is required to generate power.
Because off-road driving involves slowly negotiating obstacles and finding ways to get the best traction for getting over and through them, the power needs to be there but not the speed.
As such, drivers strive to equip their trucks to produce high low-end torque: strong force at low speeds.
What is the Relationship Between Torque and Horsepower?
To move a truck forward, it needs both torque and horsepower.
Torque generates horsepower; however, it also generates the low-end force needed to climb obstacles and drive rough or slippery terrain without spinning the wheels.
Essentially, the rougher the trail or the more challenging the obstacle is that you want to climb or go through, the more torque you need and the less speed.
Why is Torque More Important for Off-Roading?
Off-roading is generally a slower-speed activity that requires thought, superb traction, and careful maneuvering to safely negotiate different obstacles.
In terms of vehicle speed, the faster you go the more likely you are to spin your tires, experience balance problems, and have other issues safely piloting your off-roader.
Many off-road accidents and stuck vehicles are a result of drivers pushing the throttle too much and increasing their RPMs and speed.
Still, if you go too slow and don’t have enough torque, your vehicle could stall because it simply will not have the power necessary to perform at slower speeds, especially when you need such power to crawl.
Torque is Vital to Safe Successful Off-Roading
High low-end torque with low horsepower is the best combination for steady obstacle clearing on the trail.
Your truck should have the ability to climb, while moving forward at a very slow pace; you get that by gearing for low-end torque.
The more advanced your activities get, you might also consider changing your stock gears to ones that can produce even more low-end torque than your Jeep or truck.
You only need the higher horsepower when you’re ready to leave the trail and head home where the only torque you’ll need is what’s required to get your vehicle up to speed and keep it there!