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Ready For Your First Off Road Adventure?

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There are thousands of off-road capable vehicles sold each year yet most will never leave the pavement other than to park on a grass field at a county fair or outdoor concert. If you own one of these ground pounding SUVs or pickup trucks and you have decided that taking it off road sounds like a fun adventure then we have a few tips that will make that first trip more enjoyable and significantly safer.

First it’s important to realize that driving up a hill or down a hill or climbing rocks or even just operating on surfaces different from asphalt and concrete requires a different skill set than what you use to haul the kids to hockey practice. We suggest that you pick up those skills from experienced off-road drivers and the easiest way to do that is to find an off-road club. Almost every community has one and they are the best source of friendly and knowledgeable help. They also organize trail rides and traveling with others who know what they are doing is the best way to do your first serious outing.

There are over 1,000 miles of trails in MN designed for off-road vehicles of all kinds and drivers of all skill levels. Stick to these trails and remember, crashing across private land is both dangerous and against the law.

Preparing for Your First Off Road Experience

You want to prepare for your first trail adventure the same way as you will for your 50th. Planning and being prepared before heading out ensures that your “adventure” doesn’t become a calamity. Your AAA card won’t be of much help when you are out on the trail.

Before you head out:

  • Bring your cell phone/smartphone. Not only will you be able to take pictures of the outing but it is your communication link and it also provides your exact GPS location. If your vehicle is not equipped to recharge your phone, get a kit and make the modification.
  • Bring a buddy, preferably one who has some experience. Never go off-roading solo.
  • Know what trail you’ll be traveling and let at least one person know where you will be and what time you expect to return.
  • Inspect your vehicle. Make sure all the fluids are topped off and that your battery is firmly clamped down in its carrier case.
  • Batteries can become loose over rough ground and fly out of their case tearing the cables in the process.
  • Prepare a tool kit that includes pliers, wrench, duct tape, screwdriver, pry bar, tow rope or strap, folding shovel and a flashlight.
  • Take enough food and water to last you 24 hours longer than you expect to be gone. Also buy a couple of cheap survival blankets to keep warm if your planned day trip becomes an unexpected overnighter.

Caution: off-roading can become addictive. Just take it at your own speed and don’t overestimate your abilities.

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