The biggest challenge in off-roading is deciding on the best way to negotiate an obstacle so you can successfully clear it.
It requires an understanding of your off-roader, what it can do, how it responds to things, and certainly the correct technique that can put those capabilities to a highly efficient use.
What is the trick to doing all of that? Knowing how to pick your line by analyzing an obstacle and picking your line correctly so you can clear it safely and easily, then move on to the next one!
Use these tips to improve the way you handle your off-road beast so you can look at an obstacle and know the optimal way to get up and over it!
1. Pick Markers On Your Vehicle
A critical key to safely negotiating obstacles like rough trails and rock piles is knowing where your front wheels are and how they are positioned at all times.
An easy way to estimate the location of your wheels as you start moving forward is to look for a marker on the front of your truck that aligns with the wheels below.
Jeep makes this easy, as the hood latches on most Jeeps align with the inside of the front tires.
Find a similar marker on your truck that can help you put your front wheels where they should be as you pick your line.
2. Start on Easier Trails and Work Up
Like all other off-roading activities, it’s essential that you first start crawling and climbing on easier trails, then work your way up to more difficult ones.
As you progress, you’ll learn a lot about what to expect from your vehicle and how to maneuver it up and over different obstacles, building your skills and experience as you go.
Once you get to the more difficult trails, you’ll have all that past experience to use so you can safely clear obstacles without running into trouble.
3. Pick A Line With More Traction
Traction is critical to being able to get your off-roader from Point A to Point B on any kind of trail, no matter how mild or extreme it is.
Without traction, your vehicle can’t move.
So don’t look for the flattest or even the easiest path through the obstacle; look for one that has the traction you need to actually get over it.
While easier to do on less difficult trails, on more aggressive trails the right line might take you over more rocks and bumps than if you tried to scale a big, flat rock slab or boulder with your off-road truck.
This is the critical part of picking your line: you want to find the one that has the traction you need for all 4 tires to actually move your vehicle.
4. Focus Ahead
Once you’ve picked your line, look ahead and keep scanning the next obstacle.
If you’ve planned an optimal line ahead of time, you just need to watch where you’re going to be certain that your tires travel where you need them to get traction on the next part of the line.
5. Learn Braking with the Left Foot
If your off-roader is automatic, braking with the left foot to keep your right foot on the gas is a great skill to learn that can help you maintain critical traction in tricky situations.
More specifically, it lets you apply the brakes to dip the nose of your vehicle and put more weight on the front tires to increase traction for approaching areas where you need it most.
6. Learn with A Spotter
When you’re learning how to pick your line and then drive it, working with a spotter is invaluable.
A spotter will watch where your front wheels are going and tell you where the right places are to put them which lets you become familiar with positioning on your own later.
Successful Trail Riding
Off-roading can be loads of casual fun; however, there’s also an element of challenge and a need to build certain skills.
If you want to go down rougher trails with your off-road beast or are interested in things like rock crawling, you must learn how to analyze the trail to pick your line to get the traction you need for trailblazing success!