Going off-road with someone else is usually a good idea. Having a buddy in case you get in trouble is useful. However, there are times when you can’t find anyone to go off-roading with you, and you just need to go alone.
To go off-roading by yourself, make sure you know your and your vehicle’s capacities. Pack a first aid kit, a survival kit, and some extra tools, such as a winch and a spare tire. Other steps include learning basic mechanical skills, avoiding taking unnecessary risks, and taking extra gas with you.
This article presents the complete guide to going off-roading by yourself. We will talk about staying safe while going off-roading alone and some other tips you should know about.
Avoid Off-Roading by Yourself if Possible
We recommend trying to get a buddy to go off-roading with you when possible. Always having a buddy to go with you takes some planning. If you do not plan, you may find yourself going off-roading alone, with nobody else available.
You might want to join an off-road club in your area. There may also be Facebook groups you can join. Use these groups as networking opportunities to find buddies to go with. Plan a few days in advance. Prevention, as they say, is the best medication.
For example, if you go off-roading on Sundays, do not wait until Saturday night to find a buddy to go with you. Instead, hit up your contacts a few days in advance, or even a week in advance, to see who is available and willing to go with you.
You might also find a reliable partner with whom you go off-roading all the time. This way, you do not have to look for a new partner every week. You will also get used to what your partner likes and their pace, and they will get used to the kinds of trails you like and the pace you are comfortable with. Both of you will be able to enjoy a better off-roading experience because of this.
There are times when you might want to go off-roading by yourself.
Perhaps you find off-roading as a sort of therapy that helps you get out of your head and forget about the worries that stress you out, you enjoy finding yourself in nature with nobody to talk to, or you like to go off-roading and meditate in a beautiful spot you found. That is okay. If off-roading alone is your thing, just make sure to keep the safety tips we will mention in this article in mind.
We understand that there is a pandemic going on. You might not find people who are willing to go with you. Finding a buddy is even harder than before. However, if you find a reliable buddy who you go with all the time, and you are both comfortable with the precautions each of you takes, you can reduce the likelihood of needing to go alone.
Know Your Capabilities
The most important tip we have for those going off-roading by themselves is to know their capabilities. What kind of off-roading are you comfortable doing alone? What is your skill level? How much experience do you have?
If you are an experienced off-roader and can handle long distances and extremely difficult trails with ease, then go for it. You can go off-roading by yourself as long as you have the equipment. However, if you are a beginner off-roader, do you want to go very far, on a difficult trail, by yourself? What if you get stuck and find yourself in a situation that you can’t get out of?
You have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes, it is better to be safe than sorry. Leave the difficult trails for when you are with a buddy and go on the easier trails for now. If you do want to go on difficult trails, we have some advice for you: Do not stray far from civilization! As long as you can get back to society quickly and get help, then going on a slightly more difficult trail is not a big deal.
There is more to this than just your off-roading experience, however. What are your mechanical skills like? If your vehicle breaks down, can you fix it? You do not have to be a full-fledged mechanic, but you should be able to take care of minor problems such as a flat tire. If you can’t even change your tire, you probably should not be going very far off-road by yourself.
Know Your Vehicle’s Capabilities
You might be a very experienced off-roader, but if your vehicle is not up for it, do not take it on a trail it can’t handle. If your vehicle is old and breaks down often, you might not want to go very far. If your vehicle is new but does not have the necessary modifications for the trail you want to take it on, reconsider going there alone.
Again, be honest with yourself. You might love your vehicle, but do not be too hard on it.
Have an Emergency First Aid Kit
If you are going off-roading alone, you must take an emergency medical kit with you. An emergency medical kit should be separate from a survival kit that contains food and emergency equipment such as a winch, both of which we will cover later.
Your first aid kit needs to have bandages of different sizes; normal bandages are good but get a few sizes. Also, consider getting blister patches for when you get blisters on the road and large bandages that can cover deeper wounds. Do not forget some gauzes as well.
You need some sterilizing alcohol; you can consider getting sterilizing wipes—this will help you clean a wound. You also need scissors to cut gauzes and surgical tape to apply the gauzes.
Another thing we would consider getting is a pair of tweezers. A pair of tweezers will allow you to pull out ticks, as well as fragments of wood that get stuck in your body.
What else should you take with you? A DEET spray like this Coleman 100% DEET Insect Repellent Spray to ward off mosquitoes might be a good idea. You might want to take sunscreen with you, so you don’t get burned from the sun. You can also take calamine lotion and aloe vera with you to help you soothe burns from the sun and mosquito bite itches.
Think about other problems you might have on the way. Do you tend to have stomach problems when traveling? Do you get food poisoning often? You might want to take a bottle of Pepto Bismol with you to help soothe your stomach. Alternatively, if you get diarrhea often, you might consider taking some Imodium or generic loperamide with you.
Pain relief medication might be a good idea as well. You can take Tylenol or Advil. If you have prescription medication, take some with you in case you get stuck. Antihistamine cream is a good cream to take as it will help you reduce itching and swelling if you get a skin rash.
Pack a Survival Kit
The survival kit is in addition to the first aid kit. The first thing you should put in the survival kit is some food and water that will last a long time. Take canned and dried food with you. Canned food is the best as it usually contains a lot of protein, which will fill you up. Here are some of the types of canned food we recommend bringing with you:
- Sardines, including sardines in oil, tomato sauce, and jalapeno sauce to make them tastier
- Tuna fish, including tuna in oil
- Beans, including flavored beans
- Vienna sausages
There is one thing we will say here—do not eat too many beans. Beans are good because they will give you fiber in addition to protein, which meat does not give you. However, if you eat too many, you will have to go to the bathroom. Eat them in moderation.
Also, you need to make sure to buy cans that have a little thing that allows you to open them without a can opener. Otherwise, you will not be able to open them unless you crack them open with a rock or something.
You might want to consider taking some nuts or dried fruit. Beef jerky is also good, as it lasts for a long time. Generally, beef jerky is more expensive than canned sardines and tuna fish for the amount of meat you are getting.
Make sure you have a few bottles of water with you. You may not be able to get fresh water wherever you are stuck.
We would recommend taking a water bottle that has a filter with you. These water bottles allow you to drink the water from anywhere, including any river, waterfall, or creek, without worrying about pathogens in the water.
We recommend this GRAYL Geopress 24 oz Water Purifier. It will purify the water from any source in just eight seconds and remove all pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, making the water safe to drink. Since it can contain 24 ounces (710 ml), you can fill it up and walk around with it as you get help.
Another thing to take with you is a map. Yes, we are talking about an actual paper map—the kind that you used to bring around with you so you could ask gas station attendants for directions. If you ever get stuck and can’t get any signal, a paper map will come in handy. You also need a compass to take with you, as that will help you orient yourself.
However, it is important not to rely on just a paper map since more sophisticated options are available. Download an app on your phone that has offline trails for off-roading. Also, get a regular GPS—your phone can run out of battery quickly.
Finally, get a satellite phone. Satellite phones are an investment. They cost a bit of money upfront, but they are very worth it in the long run. You will be glad you have such a phone if you get stuck.
We would recommend this BlueCosmo Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1 Satellite Phone Kit. You can get a prepaid plan that includes SOS messages, voice calls, texts, and more. Also, the phone includes GPS tracking, and it works all over the globe and comes with all needed accessories.
You might wonder why you need a satellite phone or GPS if you are only going off-roading in your area. The reality is that the more you go off-road, the more spotty your cell phone reception is likely to become. You may eventually lose the signal altogether.
If your battery dies and you can not charge your phone because your car will not start or the car battery dies too, you will be in trouble. That is also why we recommend taking a power bank with you.
Power banks are extremely cheap and affordable. This RAVPower Portable Charger lets you charge several devices and does not cost a lot of money. Of course, make sure that the power bank is fully charged before you go out for an off-road adventure. Otherwise, it will be useless.
Pack Some Important Tools
In addition to your emergency kit and survival kit, there are some additional tools we would recommend taking with you.
The first thing you should take with you is a winch. A winch will allow you to pull your vehicle out of the mud or a ditch, even if you can’t drive it out. Winches are not too expensive. Make sure you get a winch that has a hauling capacity of at least 1.5 times the weight of your vehicle.
Make sure you do this because the winch’s hauling capacity might be for hauling a vehicle over a flat surface, not out of a ditch. Also, your vehicle probably has extra weight on it, including cargo and mods.
We would also recommend taking a shovel with you. A shovel will allow you to remove the mud that stops you from driving your vehicle out of a ditch. You can also consider taking a spare tire with you. This way, you can change the tire as needed, even if you get a flat.
Some other tools we would recommend taking with you are basic mechanical tools. For example, you might want a wrench, a screwdriver, some extra nails and bolts, and so on. Some gloves and protective goggles are useful as well.
Learn Some Basic Mechanical Skills
We mentioned taking a spare tire with you. If you are going alone on the road, you will need to know how to change your tire, or taking a spare tire with you will be of no use. However, you should learn some basic mechanical skills beyond that as well.
For example, you might want to learn some basics about the engine, the gearbox, and other parts of your vehicle. You can take a course online to teach you the basics of how your engine and transmission work and how to fix common problems. This way, if you get stuck on an off-road trip due to a mechanical issue, you will be able to fix it quickly and get back to society.
Don’t Take Extra Risks
The fact that you are willing to go on an off-roading adventure by yourself points to the fact that you are probably a risk-taker. The very act of going on an off-road trip by yourself is a risk. However, that does not mean you have to take additional risks on the trip. You can enjoy yourself and have a lot of fun without taking extra risks to get you in a bad situation.
For example, if you are thinking about going down a steep hill but are unsure of your capabilities of going down successfully, consider skipping it. Be extra cautious when you are alone. While you might come back and try to go down that hill with a buddy, do not do it when you are alone. If you would like to go on the rocks near a cliff, reconsider it and do not do it while off-roading alone.
Take Extra Gas With You
Taking extra gas with you is not something you may see in all the other blogs online, but it is a good idea. If you are going alone on an off-road trip and are running out of gas, what will you do? You can take extra gas in a bottle so you can add some to your gas tank if you run out.
Similarly, we would recommend making sure your gas tank is full before you head out on your trip. It might be a hassle to go to the gas station and fill up your tank, but it is worth it. You never know—you might need that extra gas. Also, having a full tank will give you the peace of mind to try out new trails without worrying about having enough gas left over to get back to the city.
See if Someone Can Check on You
You might not be able to find anyone willing to go off-roading with you, but that does not mean you can’t ask them to check up on you after a certain amount of time.
For example, tell your wife, girlfriend, or best buddy that you plan to be home at a certain time. If that time plus an extra hour or two passes and you are still not home, they should check up on you. They could also call you at that time to see if you got home and how you are doing.
This way, if you get stuck and have no way of communicating with anyone, you know that someone will be worried and getting help for you. Of course, tell them the general vicinity of where you plan to go. For example, you can tell them that you will be in a certain national park. This way, they can help send out a search team for you in that area, and you can get the help you need.
Add the Right Modifications
If you are going alone, having the right modifications added to your vehicle can help you in difficult situations. For example, here is one idea—get a light bar and place it on your vehicle’s top. You can get a light bar with both a floodlight and a spotlight to help you see across a long length and width. This way, if you get stuck and are still driving around at night, you will at least be able to see.
Other modifications might help you get out of sticky situations, so they are important when you are alone. For example, you can add a lift kit that will allow you to get over obstacles and rocks easier. Make sure to get a suspension lift kit and not a body lift kit, as the latter will do nothing to improve your suspension. Another idea is to get larger and bigger tires, which will help you improve your traction.
Another mod you might want is a locker. A locker locks the two back wheels together. If one wheel is stuck in the air and is not locked to the other wheel, you might have trouble getting out of where you are stuck. Locking them together will make it easier for you.
Make Sure You Have the Right Vehicle
Making sure that you have the right vehicle is essential. We would recommend caring more about the vehicle you have if you are going off-roading alone. Make sure you get a four-wheel drive. It is possible to go off-roading in a vehicle with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but you will benefit from having a four-wheel-drive if you are going alone.
Also, make sure you have a proper truck and not a simple car. While you can go off-roading in any vehicle if you put your mind to it, you should be extra careful when you are alone.
Have the Mental Fortitude
Going off-road alone is not for everyone. There is a certain amount of mental fortitude you will need to complete an off-road trip alone successfully. You have to be able to overcome obstacles and not be deterred by setbacks.
The mindset you need to have is not talked about nearly as much by blogs that discuss going off-roading yourself. When you are going off-roading by yourself, you might end up in situations where you need courage and bravery. For example, you might find your vehicle stuck near a cliff, and you will need the courage to get it out.
You might be stuck for hours, lost in the forest, trying to get out. What do you do? Do you just give up? Or, do you continue until you finally find your way out? Will you have the mental fortitude to do the latter? It is needed.
We would recommend knowing what you are getting into when planning an off-road adventure alone. If you do not trust yourself to persevere in a possibly difficult situation, choose a lighter and easier route.
If you have gone off-roading by yourself and are confident in your ability—as well as your mental fortitude—to get out of sticky situations, go ahead. Only you know what your limits are and what you are capable of.
Find a Community of Solitary Off-Roaders
The above title might sound a bit contradictory, but it is not. You might be able to find a Facebook Group or a Reddit community where people who go off-roading alone share tips. You might even be able to find a group that is active in your area. That is even better, as you will be able to share tips relevant to the area.
For example, you might find someone sharing tips about which trails to avoid when going off-roading alone. Those trails might be extremely difficult, and there may be a high risk of getting stuck.
Alternatively, someone might share some resources to help you, such as a government site that lists the best places to go fishing and hunting, or they may recommend a good campsite you can use in case you need to.
Improve Your Skills
Finally, make sure to improve your skills and practice as often as you can. Your skills will be very important when going off-road by yourself.
One way to improve your skills is to take an off-road course aimed at experienced riders who want to learn advanced techniques. You can also watch a Youtube video or online course that teaches advanced off-roading tips. Either way, always practice whatever you learn. This video shows how to gain off-road skills:
Going off-roading by yourself is possible. As long as you follow the steps in this guide, take the necessary precautions, and know your limits, you should be fine. Get a buddy to check up on you and have fun!
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- Nomadic Matt: HOW TO PACK A PROFESSIONAL TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT
- Gant Daily: What to Do When Off-Roading Alone
- Off Road Xtreme: Preparation: Never Off-Road Alone
- Four Wheeler: What You Need When Wheeling Alone – Going Solo
- The Manual: Off-Roading 101: What You Should Need and Know Before You Go