Trail Tips: 10 Habits of Highly Admired 4-Wheelers

Nov. 19, 2013 By Tom Severin

We all know a person who we enjoy going four-wheeling with Ė and you are not alone in your view. Everyone likes this person's company.

Have you ever stepped back and asked what is it you appreciate about them? What habits do they exhibit that you would like to adopt?

Here are some of the habits I have identified of highly admired four-wheelers. The list is neither exhaustive nor refined. There is plenty of room for you to pull it apart, reorganize it, add to it and come up with a better list, so feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section below.

Can one person exhibit all these habits? I know a few. But we can all strive to do better in each area. Perhaps, the one habit that trumps all the others is number 10 in the list.

1. They show up on time and are prepared. They arrive at the appointed time with a vehicle thatís gassed up and ready to go. They donít make others wait for them. They pack up the night before and budget enough time to get to the trailhead. While camping, they get packed up quickly each morning so the group can resume the drive on time.
2. They set an example in many ways. Picking up trash is a good example. When they see trash on the ground, they pick it up without a second thought. Often others in the group quickly follow suit. They are willing to share food, equipment, and spares.
3. They offer to spot. One of the more crucial tasks of off-road driving is spotting. They take the initiative and help fellow drivers find the proper lines. Other drivers appreciate the gesture.
4. They help during breakdowns. Their confidence that a problem can be solved encourages everyone. They keep their vehicle in good mechanical order by following basic maintenance and inspecting their vehicle after every outing. Breakdowns can occur off-road; some trails are really punishing. Routine maintenance, like replacing heater hoses and bushings, should be routine.
5. They are aware of their surroundings. As they travel through an area, they survey the bigger picture. They familiarize themselves with various terrain features such as mountains, gullies, streams/washouts and other landmarks. Of course, they are focused on driving, but also take in the scenery around you. This helps them find their way should they get off the established route.
6. They respect others by keeping music and conversation to tolerable levels at night. They avoid slamming car doors while others are sleeping and other disruptive behaviors.
7. They are a coach. They help less-experienced drivers grow in our wonderful hobby by patiently imparting their knowledge. They reach out to newer drivers wherever they find them. They make it a habit of talking up our hobby and encouraging non-members to join along on a simple outing.

Off-roading is an amazing activity, but it can be dangerous at times. Being prepared for the trails, weather, and mechanical failures that might arise help ensure a successful trip, in spite of any potential complications along the way.
8. They are safety conscious. Four wheeling can be a dangerous hobby. Certain aspects require concentration and care. Notable among these are winching and recovery. Highly admired 4-wheelers always take these tasks seriously; they donít rush, and they make sure everyone else proceeds safely as well.
9. They are neat. They keep their vehicle and campsite tidy. They dispose of trash and waste properly. They know being tidy is practical: Itís easier to find stuff when itís put away properly. Have you ever tried to find your gear left outside after a snowstorm?
10. Overall, highly respected four-wheelers maintain a positive mental attitude despite the challenges presented. They donít whine. They enjoy the moment and embrace the challenges.
Because four wheeling is often a team activity, itís important that all drivers take on a team mentality. Doing so helps ensure a smoother outing, and enhances the reputation of those who participate with the proper attitude.

Previous Trail Tip Stories
A Primer on Off-Road Winching

How to Replace U-Joints on Your 4x4

What Causes Washboard Roads?

Badlands Off-Road Adventure
Off-road trainer Tom Severin shares insight and tips on a variety of topics related to preparing you for that next off-road adventure. With over 40 years of off-road experience, Severin operates under his business Badlands Off-Road Adventures. He is a certified professional 4WD Trainer by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is a member of the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC), United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the BlueRibbon Coalition. He also is a certified UFWDA and a CA4WDC 4WD instructor.

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