We love hearing about all the places our customers are planning to adventure! Moab, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, our own Minnesota Border to Border Trail, the TWAT trail in Wisconsin, or the Gilbert OHV Park or Mesabi Mountain Trail. Whatever you drive and wherever you plan to explore on your next off-road adventure, there are some basic things to consider to make sure you are prepared and your vehicle is robust enough for the trail you are headed for, before heading out.
Know your terrain:
Use tools like GAIA GPS, Garmin, ONX Off-Road, Google Earth/Maps, and paper maps, and talk to people who have been out recently. Road, trail, and weather conditions can change frequently. So being prepared for the trail conditions and degree of difficulty before you go is important. Remote trail recovery is dangerous and expensive. Some of our favorites for remote multi-day off-grid trips are:
GAIA GPS: www.gaiagps.com GAIA can help you plan your route ahead of time, and take it with you on your phone, tablet, or compatible GPS device. Leave your cell service behind, and paper maps in the seatpocket. GAIA GPS gives you access to over 300 maps, public and private land boundaries, and topographic information. You can create, edit, and measure distances for your trips. It features weather and terrain information to help you stay out of the path of dangers like wildfires, storms, deep snow conditions, etc.
Garmin Explore: www.garmin.com lets you use your mobile device for outdoor navigation, trip planning, mapping, and more — with or without Wi-Fi or cellular service. You can use your phone or tablet, or a Garmin-compatible device.
Network: Join local adventure groups and learn from the seasoned off-roaders. Whether they use old-school or new-fangled tech, you can learn a lot from your peers. From favorite trails, secret hikes, or remote camp spots, nothing can beat first-hand experience.
Consider Your Vehicle:
Is your ground clearance sufficient? We're just going to say it: suspensions, lifts, and tires aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. We always recommend a conversation with one of our experienced Team Members to help you get the best solution for your needs. There are a lot of opinions about tire size, wheel size, lifts, suspension, to regear or not to regear, geometry correction, and reprogramming, you can get deep in the weeds on this topic. It all comes down to what you want for your vehicle. How much trail vs. pavement? What is important to you? Where are you going to go? What is your driving experience? Our team can help you decide on a good-better-best solution that fits your objective and your pocketbook. We know people who have wheeled stock Jeeps in some crazy spots. So rest easy, and talk to us about your off-road goals and dreams for your vehicle.
Is your vehicle protected? This could be a whole post on its own, but in short, if you plan
to explore rocky terrain make sure your investment is well-protected. Body Armor like rock sliders, skid plates, corner armor, and steel bumpers, can help protect the frame, body, oil pans, engine, transmission, and gas tank of your vehicle. Robust skid plates will allow you to attack the trail to get over obstacles, without breaking your vehicle.
There are a lot of options for body armor. You get what you pay for and we highly recommend investing in as good of quality as you can afford. Prioritize protection for the type of driving you will be doing most and your driving style. Rock sliders, bumpers, and skid plates that are frame-mounted using existing frame holes will give you the most protection and durability. One unfortunate encounter getting high-centered on an obstacle can make for a long and expensive day.
Do you have the right recovery gear? A properly sized winch that is professionally installed is a necessity for recovery for yourself or others. This can help you if you or others get stuck in the mud, on an obstacle, or an incline. Basic safety gear like soft shackles, tow straps, tools, and gloves, in an easy-to-grab kit like an ARB Recovery Gear kit or Rhino Recovery Gear kit is an easy place to start. They have kits for the weekend warrior up to premium outfitted kits. A recovery gear bag that is always at the ready in the same place all the time, can help you be prepared when time matters. And we can't forget the Maxtrax, the ubiquitous traction boards. These handy things can help you if you are stuck by giving you a surface to get traction, digging out of deep snow, or leveling your rig in camp if you sleep in it or a rooftop tent.
Will your vehicle safely get you where you want to go? Depending on where you are headed and the vehicle you plan to drive, you may need to add some modifications like lockers for enhanced traction in challenging terrain, lighting for low light conditions, different tires for better off-road traction, second battery systems to accommodate any electronic systems you may install like solar, refrigerators, lighting, compressors, etc., communication systems like radios, antennas, for hard mounted comms equipment, etc. Our Team Members can work with you and help you choose components and design your build to make sure you are safe on and off the trail.
Life's Little Conveniences:
Endless Accessories: As with any sport or hobby, the accessories gadgets, and gizmos are endless. Onboard air, deflators, refrigerators, communication devices, remote internet, and more. We covered some of these in a previous blog post Christmas Wish List and we are adding a few new ones here:
Tire Deflators: RhinoUSA.com or ARB.com both have them. These are designed to help you air down for off-road travel efficiently and accurately. They work for any vehicle and have gauges for airing back up to the correct tire pressure once you hit pavement again.
Tire Inflators: The fun is bound to end sometime, so when it's time to air up we like the Morrflate 4way tire inflation system www.morrflate.com. You can inflate, deflate, equalize, or vary tire pressure all at once saving time and effort.
Garmin Maps and Communications: www.garmin.com Knowing where you are going, staying in touch, and a way to communicate in an emergency when you are off-grid are for those adventures that take you off the beaten path where the sky is so dark you can touch the stars. They have a variety of solutions for mapping, group communications, and satellite communication devices in the event of an emergency.
Comfy packable camp chairs: Space is a premium in a vehicle, and weight is a factor. Pack light with a camp chair from Cliq. This chair is a luxury item, but barely bigger than a water bottle, they are packable, lightweight, comfy, and suitable for any terrain.
Electronics Mounting Solutions: Always on a quest for phone mounts that don't shimmy, s pod mounts that won't break? These have been on some of the bounciest trails and kept our equipment secure. Check out phone, tablet, and spod mounting solutions from Bulletpoint.
Wherever you plan to go on your next off-road adventure, plan ahead, tread lightly, and wheel responsibly. If you need help getting your rig off-road ready, call our team at Zeus Off Road and get the conversation started. After all, we build adventure.