Top Tips to Prevent Injury for First Time Rock Crawlers
Rock crawling is an extreme form of off-roading; crawlers drive modified four-wheeled vehicles over harsh terrain. You’re interested in getting involved? Rock crawling is an adventurous, fun hobby but can potentially be very dangerous. If you follow recommendations and exercise caution, however, you’ll be able to enjoy your new hobby and have a great time all while avoiding injury.
Make Sure your Vehicle Can Handle It
Having the right equipment can dramatically decrease the risk of rock crawling. Before setting off on your adventure, make sure you understand how your equipment works and how to fix it if necessary, and stress test your vehicle.
Armor and upgrade your vehicle, something you can even do yourself, according to an article from The Engine Block. Things like steel bumpers, a roll cage, rock sliders, and skid-plating can help protect you and your vehicle when it comes into inevitable contact with rocks. Modifications such as a lifted suspension and open fenders are upgrades which make it possible to have a safe, capable rock crawling experience. Such precautions will extend the lifespan of your vehicle—and possibly your own, as well.
Take A Break After Getting There
Make your trip similar to a camping trip; plan to stay a while. It is very important, after arriving at your destination, to take a break before beginning your crawl. After driving for a long time, according to Bruscato Law, you could be suffering from what's called highway hypnosis. If you've ever driven for a while, and then realized you can't remember the last few miles, then you know the feeling.
You don’t want to begin rock crawling over intense terrain while still in a trance; driving in a state of automaticity could easily become dangerous during an activity which requires alertness and concentration. Taking breaks in between long stretches of driving can help you avoid experiencing highway hypnosis. When you set out on a rock crawling expedition, take your time and even make a weekend getaway of it.
Don't Go Solo
Especially while you’re a beginner, take a friend with you or join a rock crawling club. Always have a check in buddy, in order to prevent yourself from getting stuck by yourself in a difficult situation.
A spotter can give you advice and help you learn, and they can get out of the vehicle to help guide you over any tougher areas. As Midwest Jeepthing advises, they can be your eyes on the ground when you can’t see everything that is happening outside of your vehicle and they can direct you using hand signals. Make sure that you choose someone experienced to spot you—someone who is familiar with your vehicle’s capabilities and is a more advanced crawler than you. Going out with another beginner might end up being more of a problem than a help.
Be sure to carry spare parts with you; breakage is inevitable in rock crawling. It’s a very good idea to bring along an extra u-joint, hubs, axle-shafts, and a front or rear driveline. Extra wiring, nuts, bolts, fuses, and liquids are also good things to bring along in case you need to make repairs.
According to Ladies Offroad Network, a spare tire is another great item to take with you. Even the best rock crawlers can lose a tire. Make sure to bring a spare with you in case you pop a tire off its rim or encounter some other accident. Be sure to keep extra gear with you in case of an emergency.
Start slow and simple. Crawl at very slow speeds instead of trying to drive normally—it’s called rock crawling, not rock speeding, for a reason. And don’t expect yourself to be tackling the hardest terrain right away. Rock crawling tests your limits and those of your vehicle, and you need to be careful not to push them too far.
Work your way up to the harder trails and climbs rather than pushing yourself too far on your first try. Keep all four tires on the ground to keep from getting high-centered or encountering other, similar problems which could wreck both your outing and your vehicle. Remember, practice makes perfect, and those more difficult routes will still be there when you’re ready to take them on.
As long as you go prepared and follow beginner recommendations, your entrance into the wonderful world of rock crawling can be a fun and exciting experience without any injuries. Remember the potential dangers, but don’t forget to have a great time.
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