What is on every Jeep or Off-Road enthusiast’s mind during the winter? Snow!
Please don’t think I am an expert on snow wheeling or snow offroading. Being from Oklahoma we really don’t see that much snow if any at all, we get a lot of ice and that in itself is super fun to drive on! (I am being sarcastic of course). It takes some driving skills for sure, and most drivers do not seem to have the skill to drive in the rain nonetheless ice! We just do not get enough practice, but that goes for a lot of drivers all over the country.
Now that I am in Colorado I see a ton of snow, but around this area, most of the offroading places are closed to keep folks out of trouble…and danger! Although it can be dangerous as well as fun, if done with the “safety first” mentality, I am still learning this whole snow thing, because it’s not all the same and you have to be prepared for anything and for getting stuck a lot!! SO, for the love of all Jeep, do not go at it alone when you go snow wheeling.
Are you prepared for the adventure? You still need basic recovery skills and equipment to go snow wheeling. Here are a few things you really must-have in your box of recovery gear…
- Tow Strap or kinetic rope
- Bow shackle or soft shackle
- Snatch block or pulley
- Maxx Traxx
- Snow chains
- Radios or some form of communication
Also, remember that the weather is cold and you will need more than just vehicle recovery. You need things to keep you warm and warm you up as well, like blankets, food, and water just in case you are stuck for a while or need rescuing to get out.
The snow poses a unique and exciting set of challenges for any off-roader, it transforms well-known trails into completely new obstacles and hidden terrain with slick and dangerous paths. For those reasons, wintertime wheeling can be extremely dangerous, even for the most experienced driver if they are unprepared. Knowing how to handle your Jeep or off-road vehicle in the snow if something goes wrong is a hard lesson to learn.
Invest in a set of snow chains, if you only have two chains, put them onto the rear tires as extra traction. If you mount them in the front it can cause you to fishtail if you are braking. Tires should have aggressive tread designs that go into the sidewall for maximum traction at low psi. Deep voided lugs and reinforced sidewalls help with protection from punctures and piercing obstacles that snow masks. It will keep you from a flat and being stuck in the freezing weather.
KNOW YOUR SNOW! If the snow is deep and powdery, you can be sure your tires are going to cut through it. You need to know there is solid ground to dig into for traction within 5-6 inches and be aware that there are hazards hiding beneath the powder. You are more than likely to be able to drive on top of heavy wet snow but you are also more likely to get stuck in it if you cut through and it packs around your tires, leaving them to spin uselessly!
Side note, remember sand is the same way, so stop spinning the tires!! To complicate things further, the snow may be one way when you are driving in and another on the way back out. Snow melts from the sun and vehicles going over it and causes it to be icy as the temps drop.
Maintaining momentum cautiously is the key ingredient to a fun and safe adventure in the snow. Stopping is how you get stuck and sink in the snow… ask me how I know this! Keeping a steady momentum going, you can “float” on the surface much easier. Your vehicle will handle differently than in any other weather as well as ever-changing terrain which you can’t see. Speed can help with some terrain and can be bad on others. You can feel like a ping pong ball a lot of the time. If you go downhill make sure you can get back up and vice versa. You will have a different experience with both guaranteed!! Your tires can melt the snow and make ice before you know it and make you trapped in place.
Off-roading in the snow can make for a lot of fun, but it is also important to stay safe and you be prepared for anything that goes wrong. Always, always go with a buddy, and no that doesn’t mean your passenger! More than one offroad vehicle is a must…but too many can make for a very long day! So please make it home safely!!
Not everyone gets to snow wheel unless you make a trek to a state that gets snow in the winter. Always check before you go, roads and trails can be closed down and that would be a bummer! Also, check with local rescue operations in that area and let people know where you are going and what your plans are in regards to when to expect you back.
There is some beautiful country out there so try and get out and explore. I have seen some pretty amazing places with snow and it breathtaking …. And cold, very cold!! It’s a winter wonderland for all the jeep and off-road enthusiasts out there, so be safe and have fun!!
Stay tuned…until next time…!