If the vast majority of your hobbies take place outdoors, then you will usually find that – at some point – you need to master the art of driving off-road. Whether you’re looking to reach a distant campsite, or want to be able to follow a trail across a great distance, a vehicle is by far the easiest way to do it – or, at least, it should be.

Unfortunately, many people find that their first experience of driving off-road is an uncomfortable one. The terrain is rough and difficult to handle, there’s the constant threat of mud and the associated problems it can cause, and it’s just plain disconcerting: if the majority of your driving life has been spent on smooth, well-maintained roads, heading into the wilderness can be quite the shock.

In an effort to ensure that your transition to off-road driving is as – metaphorically! – smooth as possible, below, we’ve put together a list of essential tips all first-timers should keep in mind.

#1 – Make sure your vehicle is well-equipped

The key to off-roading is found in the preparation of your vehicle; if you can get this right, then you can be confident of a successful trip. It’s therefore well worth taking the time to assess your vehicle, and potentially consider additions that will make off-roading easier. There are plenty of options available for all kinds of vehicles, ranging from high-end LDV T60 aftermarket accessories to making your own DIY mud flaps in an effort to transform the family car into a capable off-roader, so explore your options and ensure your vehicle is ready for the challenge that awaits.

With your vehicle ready to go, you can now switch your attention to the driving experience itself, starting with…

#2 – Go slowly

Many people imagine that off-roading involves hours of endless fun, pedal to the metal driving, careering over the terrain with wild abandon. While off-roading can be like this, it’s far from the usual. For the most part – and especially when driving through woods or forests – you’ll need to go slowly, inch by inch, progressing carefully in order to protect your vehicle. Speed is far more likely to cause problems than solve them, so opt for a tortoise approach: slow, but steady and reliable.

#3 – Never take a ford on trust

Fords are often well-marked, with obvious entry and exit points – but these can lull you into a false sense of security. Always analyze the ford for its current appearance, judging the water level and viability of making it safely across for yourself. It’s easy to just assume that the ford is manageable because others have clearly used it before, but never take anything on trust – caution is definitely your friend in this scenario.

In conclusion

In the opening to this post, we mentioned the “art” of driving off-road – and there is definitely some truth to this description. Driving off-road is unlike any other experience you will have had, and it may take time for you to hone your technique to the point you feel comfortable and confident. However, be reassured: given time, you’ll feel completely at ease behind the wheel, and are free to explore wherever you want as a result.