How to Know You're An Experienced Off-Roader
These tips have been provided by Australian Offroad Academy, the 4WD trainers trusted by Hema Maps.
When it comes to touring off-road, experience isn’t measured by distance covered or places seen. Rather, an experienced off-roader can be gauged by the way they go about travelling in their 4WD, and how they learn from their experiences while doing so. At the end of the day, experienced off-roaders:
1. Don’t use speed and momentum as their weapon of choice when overcoming obstacles on the track. Using a run-up to conquer an obstacle is a habit learned early and one that experience will tell you to abandon soon after, with any luck. Busting a few CV joints or damaging some diff and axle housings is not the worst thing in the world when out on a simple weekender, though this rough-and-tumble driving habit won’t stand you in good stead when you have thousands of kilometres to cover through remote regions. Experienced off-roaders may have learnt this lesson the hard way, though it results in the acknowledgement that track obstacles should be finessed rather than attacked.
2. Buy equipment that will stand the test of time. Cheaper 4WD accessories or camping gear might just serve their purpose perfectly for years on end; then again they might not. Listen to any decent campsite chatter for an evening and it will invariably come to what equipment each person uses, and how he or she have used their fridge, winch, navigation device or something else for years and it’s never failed them. These campfire talks are what make or break the reputation of a brand, and those with a good one offer quality products and aftersales service that allow experienced off-roaders to explore the countryside with confidence.
3. Realise that planning makes an explorer, not the opposite. Going without a plan isn’t admirable and shows a lack of understanding of what off-roading is about: experiencing the very best a country’s regional and remote areas have to offer. Planning is about accounting for the resources you have at your disposal and how to best use them on a trip: which includes fuel, your vehicle, its preparedness, money, and most importantly, time. An experienced off-roader will plan their trip around what they want to experience, while keeping the door open for a return visit somewhere down the line.
4. Remember that unexpected events are a part of four-wheel driving and touring, no matter how experienced you are. Whether it’s a case of bad luck or an error in judgement, it’s important to have a contingency plan to cover yourself when emergencies happen. Self-sufficiency should be your aim for all but the very worst incidents. Gear like UHF, Sat Phones, HF radio, Spot or EPIRB all have their place, as does a well-stocked First Aid Kit and the ability to use it.