In this issue, our parent company, Source Interlink Media, and SEMA detail ways we could lose all backcountry access and ways we can fight this at the polling booth. No matter which party's in charge, we keep losing ground. Literally.
With many of my favorite challenging trails/OHV areas being closed, exploring has become my main off-road activity again. Exploring got me interested in off-roading when I was a kid and it's still so much fun. The roads and trails used while exploring are those that will be the last to be closed, so they can be enjoyed longer.
For speedy exploring, I've purchased a 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. You'll be reading about this in future issues, but let me just say the Raptor is amazing, both for its competency in the dirt and the fact that Ford chose to build such a great off-road vehicle with a factory warranty.
The Raptor supplement to the owner's manual is surprising in that it shows that Ford actually expects the truck to be used in the dirt. There is good advice about how to trail ride and surmount different obstacles. Here's a greatly edited sample:
Driving Your F-150 Svt Raptor Off-Road
In addition to providing an excellent on-road driving experience, the F-150 SVT Raptor excels at all types of off-road driving. The truck has been designed and equipped to allow you to explore those places where the road doesn't take you, whether it's a forest trail or the open desert. It is always recommended that at least two vehicles are used while off-roading. The "buddy system" helps ensure that help is close at hand should a vehicle become stuck or damaged. It is also wise to take supplies - such as a first-aid kit, supply of water, tow strap, cell or satellite phone - with you any time an off-road excursion is planned.
• Throttle, brake and steering inputs should be made in a smooth and controlled manner. Sudden inputs to the controls can cause loss of traction or "upset" the vehicle, especially while on sloped terrain or while crossing obstacles such as rocks or logs.
• Look ahead on your route noting upcoming obstacles, surface texture or color changes or any other factors that may indicate a change in available traction, and adjust the vehicle speed and route accordingly.
• Always keep available ground clearance in mind and pick a route that minimizes the risk of catching the underside of the vehicle on an obstacle.
• When negotiating low-speed obstacles, applying light brake pressure in conjunction with the throttle will help prevent the vehicle from jerking and will allow you to negotiate the obstacle in a more controlled manner. Using 4L will also help with this.
Driving in sand
• It is very difficult and in many cases impossible to navigate deep sand with tire pressures which are appropriate for on-road driving. If you decide to "air down" your tires, be advised that the tire pressure monitoring light will illuminate. The tires must be returned to normal recommended tire pressures before driving on pavement or hard surfaces.
• Lower tire pressures are more likely to cause a debeading of the tire during cornering. Avoid sharp or abrupt turns when you have extremely low tire pressures.
• If a large obstacle such as a rock cannot be avoided, choose a path that places the rock directly under the tire rather than the undercarriage of the vehicle. This will help prevent damage to the vehicle.
• Ditches and washouts should be crossed at a 45-degree angle, allowing each wheel to independently cross the obstacle.