For those off-road drivers who like to take their modded weekend warrior and put their skills to the test, spotters play critical roles in the successful handling of more advanced level obstacles like climbing piles of giant boulders or making it up steep, uneven trails.
The only way your spotter will do you any good is if you know how to communicate with them so you can get the best use from their observations.
Because there’s more to spotting than just pointing out left, right, and stop, learn these top tips on using a spotter so you’re both on the same page before you start to be sure that your climb will be a success and you won’t be making repairs to your off-road truck or Jeep!
Know the Signals
Spotters on the trail serve the same critical purpose as those workers with the mini light sabers on the tarmac at the airport; both help to move a vehicle safely forward when the person looking out the windshield of their off-road truck or Jeep can’t see what’s happening on the ground.
Like airport marshals with the pilots, spotters communicate to drivers visually, using a series of hand signals and commands that are pretty universal - but don't assume anything.
The only way you’re going to get it right is by knowing those commands so you understand what your spotter is trying to tell you.
Be On The Same Page With Your Spotter
Before you begin an involved climb with your prized off-road truck, discuss the signals with your spotter so you know which signals will be used and what they mean to the spotter.
Learn the hand signals for stop, come ahead, back up, turning, tire lifting, distances, and other critical directives.
Additionally, know that there are a whole different set of hand signals that go along with winching should you get stuck and have to pull yourself over or off an obstacle.
In these scenarios, it’s better for the driver to be in control of the winch and your spotter should stand away from your off-road truck or Jeep to prevent serious injury should the cable break.
In either case, you’ve got to know those hand signals like a second language in order to move your vehicle precisely based on what your spotter is telling you to do.
Trust An Experienced Spotter
Negotiating really challenging obstacles can get complicated and lead you to question things rather than just doing what the spotter wants you to do.
Don’t do that - remember that from your viewpoint, things look a lot different than how they look from the ground.
If you want to get over those rocks, pay careful attention to your spotter and do exactly what they tell you to do and ignore your own instincts while you do.
With this in mind, make sure you choose a spotter who is experienced at spotting for people and communicating with them and also uses spotters because then they understand what’s happening from the driver’s viewpoint.
If you feel uncomfortable at any time or have questions before you proceed, ask your spotter to clarify to get the reassurance needed to continue on with care.
Listening with both your ears and your eyes is essential when you’re working with a spotter.
Even if there are others around who want to be helpful, keep your eyes and ears on the spotter and only the spotter to avoid becoming confused or accidentally doing the wrong thing that could cause damage to your off-road truck and injury to you.
Each other person around you is seeing your climb from a different angle, not the one your spotter is seeing.
An experienced spotter will know to move around your 4x4 and check all sides before signaling for you to move on.
Stop and Look
There is one fact that many inexperienced off-road truck drivers seem to forget.
There is nothing at all wrong with stopping to get out and take a look yourself to work with your spotter in negotiating a difficult movement.
Even if you trust your spotter and are really focusing your attention to the obstacle, sometimes it can help to understand a situation if you get out and look at it from the ground.
Stay Safe With the Help of An Experienced Spotter
When you want to try your hand at challenging off-road obstacles you want to travel over with your off-road truck, it’s important to do it with the help of a spotter.
Let an experienced driver be your second set of eyes to help you climb in safety, whether you’re new at crawling or have been doing it for years.
Just be sure to listen well with your ears but mostly with your eyes, pay close attention to the signals from your spotter to stay safe, keep your truck or Jeep intact, and experience a successful climb!