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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anybody have any off-roading tips they'd like to share? Any recommended books, readings, etc?

Last friday I took my Taco to a old fishing spot just to see how muddy it was. Well, at the entrance it was deeply rutted and you can see where someone got stuck. I just threw the left side up on the high dry area and crept through that section. The second section was just a little tacky. It wasnt until the third section where I started getting into trouble. It got thick quick. I had to pull it off the bank because of overgrowth (trees, etc), and I tried to head over to the right bank, about that time I lost traction. I put her in reverse before I got too far into it. Well, crap... the trailer hitch dug right into the ground. So, without a shovel I put on the trusty gloves and started digging at the piled up mud and earth around the hitch. Climbed back in and put her into reverse... nada. By then it was too late as the truck started to get high centered.

My stepdad showed up with his RAV4, which tried its hardest to pull the Tacoma out, just lacked the low end gearing. My sister and her boyfriend showed up with his early 90's Toyota truck which pulled her out pretty quick and easy.

So lessons learned:

- if you see a section coming up that you know is going to cause problems and need to get on the opposite bank, stop before all 4's are in the muck, put her in reverse to get back to the high and dry, then head to the other side.

- have a shovel and a winch of some sort in the truck at all times

- remove the trailer hitch BEFORE heading off road

- have the key to the trailer hitch pin in the truck (I couldnt find the key so I ended up cutting the pin off yesterday...)

- drive off-road with 2 or more trucks (I had just gotten off work and got the bug to hit the dirt right then and there...)

Things that worked:

- cell phone. A cb or another 2 way radio might be required if there is no cell service.

- tow straps. But for them to be used successfully, you need a 2nd truck, or have a winch handy.

- Gerber folding saw. Came in handy to cut down some overgrowth to make a 180. A machete is also a wonderful tool to have in the truck.

Other then driving a few beat up Scouts through the woods when I was a kid, driving HUMV's, deuce and halfs, and 5 tons my real off-roading experiences are very limited. Korea was very muddy, in fact in one field exercise most of the heavier trucks got stuck. Its a lot of fun to camp in mud... The real fun is when it comes time to wash the mud off the trucks, but it pays to have subordinates :D
 

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Great tips and good for any off-roading. Only thing that sicks out in my mind at the moment is...know your truck...how to fix it if something breaks and have a good set of tools....And always try to tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
 

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Great thread :D:tu:. If you haven't already, check out Joe and TMS2U's comments on the Offroad FAQ. Here are a few more...

-Bring a few lengths of 2x6.

Use them to ramp over something you can't go around or over otherwise, or to throw down a piece of decent traction.

-Best thing you can bring to the trail is a cool head.

The first time I got stuck, it wasn't even a bad stuck...a saw or axe would have solved the problem, rear axle was caught on a prong attached to a root ball on a downed tree, right at the diff...couldn't steer left or right as the truck was straddling the downed tree, and backwards was blocked. It was awkward...no matter what we did, the truck wasn't going anywhere, and this was at an ORV park...ie get out by sunset or get charged towing fee and other stupid stuff. It was the first time I'd been really stuck as opposed to being able to strap or push out, and I wasn't thinking well...Jason came up with the idea of stacking a ramp to get the axle over the root ball. A few minutes later and the truck was free. I don't think Jason had any offroad experience, I had little, and it's a good thing he was thinking clearly...being the guy who's stuck makes it hard to think sometimes. Always keep your cool, you'll break less and get out quicker.

-Have the right recovery gear for your truck.

A HiLift on its own doesn't do a dyam thing if you have nowhere to hook it. Pick up a Lift Mate (make sure it works with your rims), and a slider adapter if you have sliders. A Lift Mate isn't any good either, if it doesn't fit your rims.

-x2 on a good shovel.

I picked up a Nupla shorty shovel from a Fire/EMS store online...really lightweight and fits between the bed rail and the wheel well with a pair of Quick Fist clamps. Previously I was using a small folding shovel, and it flat sucks digging out of soft sand or snow with that thing. It's better for digging catholes. Look for shovels with D-ring handles, strong & lightweight (== more expensive) shafts that won't break, swell, corrode etc...wood handles are fine for a while, but you'll eventually spend more replacing broken shafts than you would getting a quality shaft, blade and handle in the first place.

-Spend the money and get good bridging ladders.

After the mud/root incident I picked up some bridging and recovery ladders from Amgrating (CA company, add .com for the site, great guys, or get the coated version from a guy here on the site). So far they've been the most-used piece of recovery equipment I have. We used them to get Amado and myself out of the sand in Moab (we were at street pressure :rolleyes: ), I've used them to recover vehicles stuck in snow, and most recently used them to help James make a tight, off camber, flexy turn which was part dirt and part wet spring corn snow.

I have four pieces, two are 1.5'x5', so they fit exactly across the bed in front of the tailgate. The other two sections are roughly 1.5'x1.5', and I never hit a trail without them. With the ladders, a HiLift and something to lift a wheel (slider adapter, Lift Mate), you can easily place a ladder under a buried wheel, or keep a wheel in the air while you grab the shovel and fill the hole. So far I haven't needed a winch...and there's not always a place to secure one.

Something we noticed last weekend...they'd be a lot safer with a bracket around the grating, attached to a long-ish piece of dynamic rope (synth winch line comes to mind) and then hooked to the frame with a carabiner. That way if the truck spits them nobody gets hurt and it's easy to grab the grating. James spit one of the small sections about 20' down slope :p...pretty funny at the time but wouldve been broken bones if anyone were standing in front of the truck. I always figured it would happen so I've always stood clear but ya never know how far they'll get thrown or if others are cognizant of the risk.

-Bucha gloves, different kinds.

Keep several pairs of heavy duty leather gloves in the truck, and one or two pairs of Mechanix type gloves...something form fitting in case you need to snake a hand somewhere that normal leathers will get caught. Reason to have a couple pairs floating around is you gotta have something for a buddy, and you may trash a set getting unstuck (ie digging in mud) and will want a clear/dry set later. I keep a box of plastic gloves in there too...good for first aid as well as truck aid.

-Sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Great tips, keep 'em comin! :tu:

For spare parts, do you guys carry spare joints, tie rod ends or anything of that nature?

I'm planning on getting a hi-lift jack, just because the hyd jack is about useless if needed off road, and it can also be used as a winch. There were plenty of trees around where I was at, Vermont is pretty plentiful of trees... Back out in New Mexico, CO, etc having a buddy with another truck is a must have.

Questions: Anybody use one of those boat anchor type of devices that bites down into the ground? I wonder how useful they are in sand, or even in muddy sections.

Do the hi-lift jacks give approx winching distance of 48" or is it limited? I would imagine 4 feet, or there abouts, would be plenty of distance to get out of a lot of situations. Even a foot would have worked miracles last week.

Bridging ladders, I'm definitely adding a set to the list. With a jack and a ladders I would have been able to get out on my own.

A cool head is definitely needed. I started getting a little ticked off, especially thinking about how much a tow truck would have cost. I figured getting stuck was the price to pay for a little fun. In the end its just some lessons in what I'd need in order to do some real off-roading, miles away from civilization.
 

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Well, since one member effectively used my advice to get out of the ditch, its worth repeating.

Bring a piece of rope to thread around your tires.

Start by putting one end over the tire, then pull it through one of the holes in the rim, then go over the tire, and repeat.

When you are done, your tire should look like a tractor tire.

I've used it many times and it works well.

Other than that, I'd suggest bringing some insect repellant, cuz there's nothing worse than being in a swamp and stuck.
 

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Remember tire selection and inflation.

Tire selection is an important matter, not just for curb-appeal, but for off-road capability. In the case of mud or sand, a larger footprint is nice. In the case of rocks, a narrower tire with softer compound, allowing for more mechanical keying with the surface may be preferred.

In all cases, proper inflation in your tires is critical! Off-roading, a tire's contact surface area can many times, be the difference between crossing obstacles or getting stuck. In most cases, less air will be preferred. On soft surfaces such as sand or mud, one should probably run with just 15-20#. This puts several times as much tire surface on the ground than the manufacture's recommended 35#, allowing for more flotation.

Be careful hitting anything at speed with low inflation, though. Re-seating a bead in the back-country can be done, but can be a bummer. They make bead-lock rims for a reason, LOL.

My BFG ATs get a full 60# on the highway. When my wife rides with me, she gets the softer ride of 45#, and off-road, I'll use just 20#.
 

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Ok I have been there and done that and its not fun.
I do use the hi lift jack and get things air born then push the side of the truck toward one side or the other. It does work and will put the tires back on high ground.
My previous trucks had channel iron sections welded under both bumpers so the jack had a secure spot. This was before Hi lift created new bumper straps and such which might work just fine as well.
Keep safety in mind use the real hi lift cast iron heavy mother and not the wanta be version. The jacks will kick out at ya if your not careful.
The kicker is if ya have AT tires they will be loaded with muck. Muck on muck usually results in the sucker sliding by gravity right back into the rut.
The suckin power of muck is incredable takes a lot of jackin and blockin at times to get to firmer ground. The ladders are good, just take up some room in the truck.
 

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Maybe some extra weight in the back of that little Taco will help it get through the rough stuff.

I suggest shopping for a woman at Walmart, seems the big girls like that store, and the upside is she'll probably have some food with her to keep you fed. Heck, just the stuff running down her shirt oughta keep ya going for a day or so. lol

But for the rest of us, perhaps a chainsaw or a swede saw to cut trees. If you run one over and it gets tangled up under the truck or if you need something for some traction.

A buddy once got hung up on a tree stump, it didn't have a large diameter, but more than a Gerber could handle.
 

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- have a shovel and a winch of some sort in the truck at all times
Hi-Lift. Even if you have a bumper mounted winch a Hi-Lift is nearly invaluable.


Do the hi-lift jacks give approx winching distance of 48" or is it limited? I would imagine 4 feet, or there abouts, would be plenty of distance to get out of a lot of situations. Even a foot would have worked miracles last week.
Well, a 60in Hi-Lift will give you 60in... at a time. Really, you're only limited by the length of your chain. If you have a 12ft chain you have nearly 12 feet of pull.

If you want to go all hardcore you could also carry a 50ft wire rope, snatch block and a couple of tree straps. This'll let you extend your chain to any anchor point within ~60ft if you're using a 12ft chain.

Add a Lift-Mate and you can easily lift one wheel out of a rut, which'll allow you to backfill it with rocks/debris much easier.... certainly far easier than trying to dig out enough room to jam a bottle jack underneath.

If you insert it into your hitch reciever (warning - dangerous manouver) you can lift both rear tires off the ground and shove the truck sideways out of a pair of ruts.

Just make sure you either by the baseplate for it or make your own. It's much safer, and less likely to sink into the mud than if you were to try to use it without one.
 

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Remember tire selection and inflation.

Tire selection is an important matter, not just for curb-appeal, but for off-road capability. In the case of mud or sand, a larger footprint is nice. In the case of rocks, a narrower tire with softer compound, allowing for more mechanical keying with the surface may be preferred.

In all cases, proper inflation in your tires is critical! Off-roading, a tire's contact surface area can many times, be the difference between crossing obstacles or getting stuck. In most cases, less air will be preferred. On soft surfaces such as sand or mud, one should probably run with just 15-20#. This puts several times as much tire surface on the ground than the manufacture's recommended 35#, allowing for more flotation.

Be careful hitting anything at speed with low inflation, though. Re-seating a bead in the back-country can be done, but can be a bummer. They make bead-lock rims for a reason, LOL.

My BFG ATs get a full 60# on the highway. When my wife rides with me, she gets the softer ride of 45#, and off-road, I'll use just 20#.

That's true.

I've seen alot of people (myself included) who have nice offroad tires and yet are stuck with full air pressure in their tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That's true.

I've seen alot of people (myself included) who have nice offroad tires and yet are stuck with full air pressure in their tires.
My tires were at full street pressure.

With that in mind, I want to get a Viair air kit; compressor, tank, lines, etc. Without some sort of air source on hand, I dont think its a good idea to air down your tires except if there is a gas station, etc close by the trail head to air them back up.

Unfortunately adding all these tools and gizmos adds weight to the truck, which ends up translating into lower mpg. I'm working on figuring out the things that could be used day to day, or shall I say under normal road conditions, versus what is needed for off-road. In the end I'm finding all of it could be useful in one way or another. I remember a few years back I came across a couple of cars that stopped because there was part of a tree in the road. Had the tow strap, etc been in the truck I could have pulled it clear of the road. And who would really pass up on using a hi-lift in order to use a bottle jack? And a shovel could be useful for burying the neighbor...

One thing everyone should have in their truck or car is a first aid kit. Even if you dont know how to use it, someone might come along that does. At least the kit I bought has the destructions in it, has aspirin, etc in it too after you get a headache from the significant other complaining. Short of the freezing winters, I always carry a bottle or two of water, rain parka/jacket, flashlight, knife and/or multi-purpose tool, and sun screen. And of course the .40 cal.

Tundrahick, mosquito spray, thats a good one to add.

A flare/signal kit might be worth getting too. Good for keeping back the big bears or fat chicks.
 

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I try to keep a polaski (used in firefighting) in the back of the truck as well. It works great for the farmers when you are off and running with there daughters. It works as a axe or a grubbin hoe, very uesfull device. I also carry 5 gallons water in in the back. whats another 40 lbs on a dc 4x4?
 

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My tires were at full street pressure.

With that in mind, I want to get a Viair air kit; compressor, tank, lines, etc. Without some sort of air source on hand, I dont think its a good idea to air down your tires except if there is a gas station, etc close by the trail head to air them back up.
My dad and two of my friends have bought this VIAIR compressor and all of them are quite happy with it. I bought a 'hard' mount model several years ago and mounted the air tank on top of my hitch (between the spare tire and the rear bumper). The whole thing is tucked completely out of site. Here's a link to a picture. The reddish/orange hose is the outlet. The inlet is on the opposite end of the tank with the air pressure gauge and on/off switch in the cab. Works great for my needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
A buddy once got hung up on a tree stump, it didn't have a large diameter, but more than a Gerber could handle.
I think something like this would work pretty good for getting rid of bigger limbs, stumps, etc. Its a little pricey but they only sell top quality products.

13-1/2" Sakimaru (Willow Leaf Log Saw) - Hikoza <!W-H-S360> - The Japan Woodworker Catalog

This might be a replacement for the Gerber. The Gerber is ok, but from cutting about 2" limbs the blade ended up getting bent out of shape.

Oyakata Folding Garden Saw - Silky<!113.27> - The Japan Woodworker Catalog

Any suggestions, cheaper options than those items?
 

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I have this thing, it's basically a chain saw blade with handles on it and I've cut down 12 inch in diameter trees with it.
-Mack
 

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A simple swede saw should be good, and they are not very expensive.

How about a twister mat?

Make use of all that mud. lol
 

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umm, flashlight anyone? or can ya'll see in the dark?
booster cables and a full tool box, spare belt, and food, plus everything else u guys mentioned, better to have more than u need than to need something you dont have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
umm, flashlight anyone? or can ya'll see in the dark?
booster cables and a full tool box, spare belt, and food, plus everything else u guys mentioned, better to have more than u need than to need something you dont have.
The flashlight, Surefire, is part of the matching accessories...
Gallery :: 05 Tacoma DC 4x4 TRD Off-Road :: IMG_0630

Plus I have a rubber coated flashlight and a spotlight. You can never have enough flashlights.
 
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