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Off-Road

You're never too old to do something AWESOME!

Offroading is something that most people will never understand.

It's not just a hobby - but a way of LIFE.

Once you try - it's in your BLOOD!

Once you EXPERIENCE the FREEDOM your mind is set and nothing can STOP YOU!

Mud, snow, sand, rocks and Water the elements that create the MAGIC!

I love to take my 4x4 offroading for the amazing adventures. The challenge is to drive where few have gone before. Driving on rocky roads, muddy trails, soft sand and even on snow!

My guess is your thinking is similar. We as offroaders are mostly interested in using 4x4 trucks and SUVs, but also ATVs, snowmobiles and other off-road capable equipment. Vehicles that are more capable handling the natural surface of the Earth. Often with bigger and more agressive tires and more ground clearance than street-machinces.

 

Off Road!

The off-road experience of driving your vehicle over logs, rocks and raging streams is the highest form of freedom. It is a magical stress reliever in this modern era. More trails, events and television shows are revealing the awesomeness of the 4-wheeling life.

Offroading: Getting your 4x4 truck out in the middle of nowhere. Hoping you have the skills and travelling companions to get out when you're stuck or break stuff.
That's creating an AWESOME adventure!

 

Offroad History

Just like the Internet and GPS, the United States military developed the Jeep with its revolutionary four-wheel-drive system.

During World War II, the army wanted a lightweight, agile and durable vehicle to handle any off-road condition. Three vehicle manufacturers cooperated to develop the Jeep: American Bantam (design), Ford (manufacturing) and Willys-Overland (engine). The Jeep was the first crossover combining car and truck platforms. The compact boxy body with the frame was lightweight and agile. The durability, higher ground clearance and longer wheelbase of the truck platform gave it impressive strength and offroad capability.

Offroading Roots and the Early Jeep

Early Ford GPW

Early Ford GPW

The original Jeep was a lightweight, quarter-ton vehicle with a front grille and folding windshield. The wheelbase measured 80-inches (2.0 meters). Its ability to handle steep grades made it the standard for 4x4s. The Jeep's higher ground clearance avoided brush, logs and rocks. The front and rear were well-balanced to provide off-road stability. The Jeep was so light that it had handles so six men could LIFT it out of a stuck 🙂

The Jeep offroad technology was so advanced that American servicemen were taught to destroy abandoned vehicles, so they wouldn't fall into enemy hands!

 

Civilian Jeeps

In 1945, the Jeep CJ-2A became available to the general public. The Jeep CJ models became hugely popular in the US and abroad. Opening up access to offroading the wilderness for ordinary people.

This is really the beginning of the offroad adventure!

The Offroading Scene

Offroading is all about scenic trails. The great outdoors with all its rivers, mountains, desert lakes, ice-caps, scarps and seashores give endless opportunity for discovery.

To minimize spinning in offroading you need to consider better traction, proper momentum, soft ground floatation, higher ground clearance and steep approach and departure angles.

Remember: Going slow is an option 🙂

The Off-Roading Scene

Having a spotter or a co-driver is a must for the more extreme terrain.

The variety of offroading is constantly increasing and you should definitely find something you like:

  • Cross-country/safari - the first use of 4WD vehicles is to literally go offroad - that is driving without any road. This is still possible in some areas in Africa.
  • Greenlaning/two-tracking - the easiest form of offroading, possible to drive most stock 4x4 vehicles.
  • Dune bashing - short offroad drives up the big desert sand dunes in Sahara.
  • Mudding/mud bogging - trying your offroading skills in crossing swamps and muddy areas.
  • Rock crawling - taking on massive boulders.
  • Snow crossing - offroad driving on top of thick snow with huge tires, aired down to float is popular in Iceland and has been used in the arctic areas.

In addition we have offroad competitions where specially modified trucks compete.

 

Development of 4-Wheeling

Wide open spaces, dense forest paths and vast wilderness areas have encouraged the growth of 4-wheeling. Extreme sports have become more appealing as participants conquer sand, ice or rock challenges.

Necessary Features of 4x4s for Offroading

There are a vast array of different trucks with special features for offroading steep rocky trails, sand races and ice courses. A few of the basic necessities for 4-wheeling:

  • Big tires with good tread
  • Durability
  • High ground clearance
  • Low speeds with high torque
  • Maneuverability
  • Tools, spare parts and first-aid kit
  • Traction
  • Wheel articulation

Necessary 4x4 Features

Optional for more extreme offroading:

  • Rollover bars
  • Lockers
  • Snorkel for deep water passing
  • Winches

With all that extreme 4-wheeling - you are sure going to get muddy, wet and sweaty!

Vehicle Capabilities

The truck gives you power to handle any road condition or weather challenge. All 4x4s must be able to handle slow speeds without stalling. While others spin their wheels, you cruise on by with a smile and salute.

Steep angles of a 45-degree approach and 34-degree departure are standard for rock climbing. Vehicle balance is essential. Hooks and winches for towing are important. Also, the underbody must be waterproof and protected from jagged rocks. Sand and ice courses require very large tires to handle the challenging surfaces.

Offroad Equipment

In addition to the 4x4 itself, the most important equipment for offroad success are the tires. Tire pressure can be lowered to have the tires footprint increase and "float" on softer ground. Bigger tires call for lifting, lower gear ratios and even lockers. Suspension can often be improved a great deal from stock - ideal to do when you lift your truck.

Development of 4-Wheeling

Each and every 4x4 truck should have a hi-lift jack, a fire extinguisher and first-aid kit. Also you need a recovery strap and proper towing points on the truck. For offroading the more extreme trails and competion you'll need skid plates, grille/bull guard, rock rails or, roll-cages and 4-point harness.

A winch is always nice to have.

When crossing deep rivers you want to keep the air flowing to the engine and that is what a snorkel is for - especially necessary for diesel engines as they operate under greater pressure.

Great navigation is vital when exploring remote areas. Modern GPS systems give you accurate location and a map of the area with the trail you should use. Long hauls without too many gas stations calls for extra fuel, either from carry-on gas cans or extra fuel tanks.

 

Offroading Racing and Special Areas

There are family-oriented, vehicle-specific and racing events for the offroad enthusiast. These are led by the Jeep get-togethers, which teach about all of the great features and functions of the model. Many cities are creating special courses for offroading fans. There are also competitive races.

Here is a list of popular offroad events:

  • Camp Jeep takes places in different locations with camping, fishing, biking and outdoor recreation available.
  • Easter Jeep Safari takes place in Moab, Utah.
  • Jeep Jamboree USA has been providing adventure weekends since 1953 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • Baja 1000 has been taking place in Mexico since 1967 as an offroad event for two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles.
  • Dakar Rally has been the "premier event for long distance offroading" since 1978 in Senegal, North Africa and now in South America.
  • Formula Offroad is a wild offroading race in Iceland and Scandinavia.
  • Offroad Trials are popular throughout Europe.
  • King of the Hammers is a fast action off-road desert race.
  • Ultra 4 combines rock crawling and desert racing in a one-day challenge.
  • W.E. Rock are the World Extreme Rockcrawling series in the United States.

Offroading Competion and Special Areas

...and a few ofther popular off-roading areas:

  • Moon Rocks is located at the Hungry Valley Recreation Area in Reno, Nevada with large boulders.
  • Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile (35.5 kilometer) trail across the Sierra Nevada mountains.
  • Black Hills, South Dakota includes 1.25 million acres of public land.
  • Farmington, New Mexico offers superior rock crawling trails.
  • Hot Spring, Arkansas is home of the Super-Lift Offroad Park.
  • St. George, Utah has the Jeep Maze trail through spectacular canyons.

The growth of the population in the United States has led to more urban development. Many Western states still have wide open wilderness areas. Local, state, county and federal governments own the vast majority of American land. Each has its own rules governing the area. Hunters have asked permission to use land owned by farmers for years. This is a possibility for respectful off-roaders too.

To show our respect for the environment we as truck owners should follow a few simple rules:

offroading rules

Most important:

Enjoy yourself!

 

Thrandur Arnthorsson

Thrandur is the chief-editor and owner of 4x4 Off Roads and an 4x4 off road enthusiast. Living in Iceland he loves to share the coolest 4x4 trucks and supporting more offroad freedom.
If you want to get YOUR 4x4 featured on 4x4OffRoads you can post your story here.

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