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Embarking on the Off-Road Adventure: A Beginner's Guide to Trailblazing Fun

New to off-roading? Been doing it for a little while, but want to learn more about the community? Keep reading to learn more about the etiquette, trail research and supplies to keep in your vehicle on the trail. There can be many aspects to consider when getting into off-roading, and many questions:

  1. What vehicle should I off-road in?

  2. What supplies do I need to bring?

  3. Are there rules for the trail?

  4. Are there clubs that I can join?

  5. Where can I go off-road?

We’ll answer those questions and more below.

The vehicle you choose to off-road in should be designed to fit your specific needs and interests. Are you planning to do mainly simple dirt road trails? Or mudding? Those will require different vehicles than climbing over rocks and boulders or managing water crossings.

Some of the most frequently chosen off-road vehicles include Jeeps, particularly Wranglers and Gladiators; a wide variety of pickup trucks; and Toyota 4Runners, although many other types of vehicles are also used by off-road enthusiasts. Any of these can either be purchased with off-roading features or modified to include lift kits, body armor, larger tires, lights and other accessories, communications and radios….the list goes on, and Off-Camber 4x4 Garage would be happy to help you accessorize and modify your vehicle to do what you want it to do.

It is important to know the etiquette and rules of the trail when off-roading. Above all, be polite, help each other out on the trail, and have fun!

Rules of the trail:

  1. Ride over obstacles, not around them. This ensures that the trails are kept nice, that there isn’t environmental breakdown surrounding the trails, and that trails can be kept open. Often, when trails begin to break down due to improper usage, they have to be closed, thus limiting the number of trails available for off-roading.

  2. Obey trail signs. Trail signs mark closures of trails, warn of upcoming obstacles, and show which types of vehicles are allowed on which trails. 

  3. Respectful staging. When staging vehicles at the beginning or end of the trail, ensure that you are being respectful of other groups and individuals, and make sure that you aren’t blocking access to the trail.

  4. Leave it better than you found it. Pick up after yourself and ask others to do the same. We live in a beautiful state, and want to keep it that way for the generations and years to come. With that in mind, please pick up your trash and pack it out with you.

  5.  Give vehicles going uphill the right of way. If you are coming downhill, back up to a wider place on the trail and move off to the side (while staying on the trail). 

  6. Let people behind you know how many vehicles are behind. If you have four vehicles and are the lead vehicle, you would hold up three fingers to indicate that there are three vehicles behind you. If you are the 3rd of five vehicles, you would show two fingers to indicate that there are two vehicles behind you, etc. 

Going out solo while off-roading can be dangerous and isn’t recommended by Off-Camber 4x4 Garage’s owners and fellow off-roaders. Off-roading in a group has many benefits. Aside from meeting new people and sharing fantastic experiences, you also benefit from having many hands, tools and minds to help when a vehicle gets stuck or something breaks. Having a large group has helped us personally in several situations where if we were by ourselves we would be in serious difficulty while off-roading.

A final benefit is the opportunity to talk about your rigs, gain insight into what brands and equipment work best, and enthuse about different trails that you’ve done. The hours we’ve spent at lunch time and before and after trails are among the most fun and enlightening experiences that we’ve had since beginning, and we’ve formed close friendships with some of the people on these trips.

There are several off-roading communities in northern Colorado specifically, most of which have Facebook groups. Off-Camber 4x4 Club, Colorado Jeep Club and NoCo Jeepers are all excellent places to build community and friendships, ask questions and get advice, and join in on weekly rides and trails. 

Supplies while out on the trail are also important. It can be hard to know what is necessary to bring and what is just extra stuff that won’t be helpful. We have a guide for recovery gear that is helpful to have on hand linked on our website along with recommended brands that we’ve used. Other supplies to bring include food and plenty of water, especially if you are going to be out all day or for overnight trips; hiking shoes or boots with comfortable socks in case you have to hike out of a trail or climb around on rocks to get someplace; a well-stocked first aid kit and a communication/radio system. We’ll be doing a blog post next week on radio and communications systems, and what we recommend, so keep an eye out for that. 

Finally, how do you know where to go? We have a couple of recommendations. First, the Trails Offroad app and website are excellent resources. They give information about each trail, including: lists of trails by state, maps, the difficulty of each trail (using a colored rating system), open and closed trails, reviews of trails and warnings about obstacles or difficult sections, estimated time of completion on the trail and distance traveled while on the trail. It is truly a wealth of useful information. 

Another resource for information about trails are the Funtreks guidebooks. These books cover states or regions of states in detail. Each guidebook includes the color rated trail, waypoints, distance of the trail, estimated time of completion for the trail, maps, directions for getting to the trailhead, and an overview of the trail and terrain. There are guidebooks for Moab, Arizona, Colorado and northern Colorado specifically, and California. In addition, they have two ATV guidebooks for Arizona and California. These books are handy to have in your rig in case your GPS stops working or the battery dies, so that you don’t have to rely on your memory. This is also yet another reason to off-road with a group, as you are less likely to get lost with a group of people.

No matter where or in what you choose to off-road, make sure: that your rig is well-stocked with everything you need to have a safe and fun adventure; that you find an off-roading group (Off-Camber 4x4 Club is the best) to travel with, and that you stay the trail. Look forward to seeing you out and about!


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