Wheeling in the snow is a whole new experience from driving the usual trails in a dependable off-road truck or Jeep.
It also presents some new safety issues that need to be considered so that any fun time of driving over a blanket of white does not turn into a chilly off-roading disaster.
As with all other things off-roading, good preparation and an understanding of what you are doing is the key, so here are some pointers to keep on wheeling in a winter trail riding wonderland!
Dress for the Occasion
Do not underestimate the cold weather by not dressing appropriately for off-roading out in the snow all day because most off-road truck operators all agree that after a few hours, cold weather can seem even colder than when it started out.
Should you get stuck or have some kind of emergency, survival and being able to get out of that situation could depend on staying warm and most importantly, dry.
Some fabrics and garments are better than others for staying warm and dry; layers are good because layers can be added or removed as needed; however, they need to be the right layers.
- Wool is better for staying dry than cotton and synthetic garments wick just as well as cotton.
- Down and cotton both lose their insulating abilities when they get wet, so staying dry is critical.
- Warm wool socks, a waterproof jacket, a warm hat, and insulated gloves tucked into your off-road truck are a must as are waterproof, warm boots or shoes.
Bring extra clothing along just in case and add some emergency gear like a waterproof, warm sleeping bag or two and space blankets.
Prep For A Snow Emergency
After prepping to keep warm and dry, prep your off-road truck or Jeep for the additional items other than what you already carry to include what is needed for a snow recovery or emergency.
- Add a shovel or two or a set of traction mats that can act as shovels to recovery gear.
- A kinetic strap that will stretch and tighten works better in the snow than an average snatch strap.
- Airing down tires on most off-road trucks or Jeeps even a little can be helpful when stuck in the snow, although an air compressor is then needed to air them back up.
- A set of tire chains or spikes might also be helpful if the conditions turn icy.
Most importantly, bring friends in another vehicle to help get each other unstuck or for help in the event of some other cold-weather emergency.
Know About Snow - And Ice
Driving on snow is very different than doing so on dry ground because for starters, there are different types of snow, each one behaving differently under the tires.
- Loose, powdery snow does not pack and is easier to get stuck in.
- Very wet snow can get deep and mucky.
- Normal, moist snow that is between the two is ideal because it packs just enough that tires on an off-road truck can stay on top of it, especially if aired down a little bit.
Understanding the way snow behaves and its depths is necessary to come up with a successful technique for driving through it while avoiding getting stuck.
Besides knowing about the different kinds of snow and how to drive on them, remember that melting changes the properties of all the different types of snow and refreezing, or ice on the trail, is yet one more obstacle that requires special off-road truck or Jeep handling.
In the case of ice or an icy crust, it is better to have thinner, harder tires that break through if you know it is soft underneath; however, aired down softer and wider tires are safer when it is all ice.
Chains or spikes can be added if necessary when the going ends up being more ice and less snow.
Weighing down the rear of an off-road truck with sandbags or even a bunch of snow in the truck bed will also help maintain traction on ice.
Safe Snow Wheeling Is All In The Preparation
Whether going off-road in the summer or winter in the mud, sand, or snow, the trick to doing it safely and successfully is by making the right advance preparations.
Snow wheeling in your special off-road truck or Jeep is all about understanding the driving surface, then having a reliable way to get unstuck in deep snow.
Personal safety for you and your companions is the other requirement to keep the cold and wet from making the day anything less than perfect!