We all want to get off of the beaten path every now and then. We want to do things we’ve never done. Go places we’ve never gone.
And sometimes, the beaten path is a bit more literal. If you own a Jeep, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
For over sixty years, Jeep has been synonymous with adventure. While they might be a familiar sight in the suburbs, Jeeps are still the vehicle of choice in hard-to-reach areas.
Their tough, no-frills chassis, all-wheel drive, and rugged suspension make them the most popular choice for off-roading.
But if you just bought a stock Jeep, don’t make a mad dash into the wilderness just yet.
Here are a few things you’re going to need to get your Jeep ready for the road less traveled.
Bring A Copilot
Taking your Jeep off-road, you’re probably going to wind up in some pretty remote locations, taking your vehicle to its absolute limit.
It’s dangerous, no doubt. That danger is part of the thrill, but what would happen if you were to flip your Jeep into a narrow canyon with no cell phone service?
Getting stranded in the boonies can be a death sentence.
You should never, ever, ever go off-roading by yourself. It’s always a good idea to go out with another vehicle. But if you can’t find another Jeep driver to go with you, bring someone to help you navigate the terrain.
How’s Your Soft Top?
Jeep Wranglers are famous for their bare roll cage, but most drivers sometimes cover them with a soft-top.
There are a few different types of Jeep soft tops, but they have one thing in common…
They’re pretty soft.
If you’re off-roading through sharp rocks or thick brush, leaving your soft top on is a great way to destroy it. Branches and jagged stone can brush up against your soft top and cause massive tears.
Generally speaking, your soft top is designed to protect you from adverse weather in normal driving conditions. There are few-if any-reasons why you’d keep your soft top on while driving off-road.
Learn more here about different types of Jeep soft tops.
Bring the Right Tools
You wouldn’t try to hammer in a nail using a hacksaw, would you?
Well, you could certainly try, but you won’t get very far.
Likewise, if you try to take your Jeep off-road without stocking up with the right equipment, you could be in for a frustrating time-not to mention potentially dangerous!
While the specific tools you bring are going to vary based on the terrain, there are a few tools that you should always bring with you.
Your Jeep will probably be more able to rough terrain, mud, and steep inclines better than, say, a Honda Civic, but it’s not invincible.
There’s a good chance that your vehicle could end up stuck-especially if you’re a beginner.
If you went adventuring with some other drivers, a tow strap is an invaluable tool for those moments where you just slightly overestimated your Jeep’s capabilities.
If one vehicle gets stuck, another vehicle can help pull it out with a tow strap. But just like jumper cables, you can never be sure that the other drivers will have one on them. It’s best to keep one in your car at all times just in case.
Winch and Cable
If you’re off-roading without another car and get stuck, what then?
Don’t worry-you don’t need to abandon the car there and walk back to civilization.
A winch and cable can help you free yourself from a number of tight spots.
Pull out a long stretch of cable and find something firm to connect to. It might be a large tree or a large rock. Make sure that it’s firm enough to resist the pull of your Jeep, and large enough that the cable won’t slide off of it.
Wrap the cable around the object and hook it to itself. Let the winch wind you in. Your copilot should stay outside of the vehicle to help guide you around any further obstacles.
Jack, Spare Tire, and Air Pump
Just because your Jeep’s tires are huge and rugged doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Those big tires are just as prone to flats as other tires-especially driving through harsh terrain.
Be prepared. A jack and spare can be invaluable in the event of a flat.
It’s also a good idea to bring a small air pump. Look for one that plugs into your cigarette lighter.
Some Basic Off-Roading Tips
Now that we’ve been through the basics of preparing your Jeep for the off-road, here are a couple tips to keep you from getting in over your head.
Always Scout Ahead
Off-roading often brings you into unfamiliar territory. And if you don’t know what’s on the road ahead, you might be in for some deadly surprises.
Always scout ahead before putting the pedal to the metal. It’s a lot safer to take a blind corner on foot than in a thousand-pound cage on wheels.
Avoid Standing Water
Your Jeep isn’t afraid of a puny little puddle. Heck, some off-roaders have forded rivers in their Jeeps.
But sometimes, water can be a lot deeper than it appears. What looks like a small puddle might be a ten-foot-deep sinkhole.
Don’t drive blindly across any body of water-no matter how small. Test the depths ahead of time first.
Check the Weather First
The weather is a cruel mistress. We’re all at the mercy of cold fronts and storm systems and rainstorms.
And those conditions can take an off-road trip from moderately thrilling to knuckle-clenchingly terrifying in a hurry. A rocky incline might be a piece of cake when it’s dry can turn into the Grim Ripper’s slip-n-slide with a little bit of rain.
Before you head out, check for inclement weather. No forecast is perfect, but it’s better than going in blind.
Want More Adventure?
If you follow these tips, you can enjoy the thrill of off-roading in your Jeep while remaining safe.
But if that’s not enough adventure to keep you satisfied, check out this list of bucket-list-worthy adventures.