How to Prepare Your Truck for Off-Roading

Off-roading is fun and exciting if you know what you’re doing. Due to its extreme nature, any off-roader—beginner, novice, or expert, must come ready for all expected and unexpected situations. Whichever trail you traverse, you should know how to prepare your truck for off-roading. If not, check out this guide for a detailed look at how you can become a safe and responsible off-roader.

Do Your Trail Research

Firstly, you need to understand the different types of trails and their conditions. The three main types of terrain you’ll come across while off-road are mud, sand, and snow. While each has its own distinct characteristics, your truck handles them almost similarly. The traction control system and all-terrain tires allow for diverse drivability over various off-road terrain. Starting with mud, never pass through deep grooves or impassible spots. This will only create serious issues and potentially lead to danger. However, when passing over a drivable mud pit, turn traction control off and put your truck into high gear. High gear allows you to tear away mud without risk for getting stuck. Alternatively, use the low gear for sand and snow to create the most traction possible. Since these elements frequently shift, use low gear to best maximize your horsepower without losing traction.

When driving over rocks or water fording, consider the following. Rocks require precise crawling motions, meaning you need to monitor the movement, power, and traction with each passing moment. Any time you lose focus something can damage your vehicle. Use a low gear, pick a line, and drive cautiously with the approach, breakover, and departure angles in mind. Knowing the ground clearance, wheelbase, and differentials of your truck also helps, but we’ll talk more about that later. Additionally, water fording is extremely dangerous. Only experienced off-roaders should do this and should still exercise caution. Check the depth of the water source with your feet to see if it’s passable and monitor the current. Even two feet of rushing water could potentially carry your truck away. Angle the truck slightly upstream and maintain enough speed to create a bow wave effect. Use a snorkel if the water reaches above your grille.

Know Your Vehicle

As previously mentioned, you need to know your vehicle to understand its off-road capability. This includes the powertrain, drivetrain, ground clearance, angling, suspension, wheels, tires, hitch, winch, body protection, and size. For instance, your truck should have six to nine inches of ground clearance for safe off-roading. Many new trucks also feature control systems for passing over natural terrain. For example, the Ford Raptor’s Trail Control system allows for off-road cruise control that makes throttle, braking, and steering more efficient. It also makes driving over obstacles, like rocks, easier as it automatically directs torque and stopping force to each wheel as conditions change in real-time.

Use Protection

Of course, you can never know what to expect with each off-road trip, which is why it’s best to come prepared. Suit up your truck with the best protective modifications that boost your off-road compatibility. Skid plates and grille guards are some examples that shield your underbelly and front bumper from debris and collisions. In fact, skid plates provide serious protection to some of your truck’s most important components, like the radiator, fuel tank, engine, and transmission. Those who go water fording should also invest in a snorkel. When driving through deep water, you risk it flooding your engine. Fortunately, snorkels draw air from above so that the engine continues to operate optimally.

Have the Right Tires

A man would never wear sandals while ballroom dancing just like how a woman would never wear high heels while playing soccer. Therefore, it’s only natural you would install proper tires on your truck for off-roading. While performance tires can handle paved surfaces, use all-terrain tires on grass, gravel, mud, or another natural surface. These tires are specifically designed with spacious grooves and deep tread for sufficient inclines, declines, and grip over slick or uneven terrain. With that in mind, changing tires is one of the simplest off-road modifications anyone can do compared to a suspension lift or other performance enhancer. Visit a tire shop to find the ideal ones for your truck.

Add Some Serious Lighting

Another way to prepare your truck for off-roading is high-powered lighting. LED lights are the perfect solution for safely traveling at dawn, twilight, evening, or night. Granted, there are many light options to choose from, but the most dedicated off-roaders use fog lights, lightbars, and/or high-powered headlights. Fog lights use a downward-facing special beam that cuts through fog if traveling through those conditions. They typically have a yellow hue so that it doesn’t reflect off the fog. Furthermore, lightbars and high-powered headlights are LED bulbs designed for powerful illuminations. These beams use different sizes, shapes, beam patterns, and colors for optimal lighting. This includes large, overhead lightbars that fit on the hood or mid-sized behind the grille lightbars. Curved or straight, these lights can have narrow but long-reaching spot beams or short but wide flood beams. Any type of lightbar of LED headlight can use an amber, white, red, blue, green, or purple colored bulb depending on your preference or purpose.

Bring Emergency Supplies

Never forget emergency supplies. While off-roading, it’s crucial you bring along safety supplies for yourself and the truck. Bring a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, warm clothes, food, and water. First-aid kits will help if any accidents occur with no help nearby. Likewise, inclement weather and emergencies do happen. Warm clothes, food, and water will help with any unexpected scenario. However, you mustn't forget tools that could help pull you out of risky situations either. Pack along a seat-belt cutter and glass breaker in case you need to escape your truck in a hurry. A portable fire extinguisher nestled in the cabin can help with any fires too.

Given all this information, you’re ready for your off-road excursion. Before you do, check out our selection of Rigid Raptor fog light kits to boost your lighting power wherever and whenever you go. Built for serious off-road travel, these lights complement your Ford truck without losing its aggressive appearance. Plus, our various fog and LED lights are easy to install and fit any budget. Don’t sacrifice optimal visibility while on or off the road, so call us today for the best Raptor or F-150 light kit today.

Prepare Truck for Off-Roading Infographic