The Down Low on Off-roading in the Snow
Jase Andrews, host of Unleashed TV, is an Australian overlanding legend. He’s covered just about every inch of the land down under, and he knows his country like the back of his hand. Jase was in the USA recently, and while he was here he learned a thing or two about how to handle some conditions that people don’t often come across in Australia – snow! Check out Jase’s tips for going off-road in the snow:
Fail to Prepare? Prepare to Fail – Your recovery gear should consist of all the same equipment you pack during the summer months; snatch straps, tow hooks, winches – and whatever else you usually travel with. But you should also make sure you take a proper snow shovel. You need to be prepared to dig yourself out of heavy snow, especially if it’s your first time off-roading and in winter – it’s almost a sure thing that you’ll get stuck at some point.
Know the Snow – In the same way that you need to understand the differences between driving on sand, mud, rock or dirt, snow and ice have their own unique sets of challenges. Generally speaking, wet, heavy snow is a bit easier to get on top of, while dry snow can make it much tougher to get traction.
See the Sun – If you’re covering some hairy terrain, make sure you pay attention to the position of the sun. If you’re coming back through the same terrain later that day, the sun may have moved onto the snow, melting your track and making your exit much more challenging than your entry. It’s good to be aware of where the shade will fall, and having an understanding of the the true lay of the land will always make your path in and out much more straightforward.
Tire Type –The best tires for off-roading in the snow are wide and flexible. You want something with good width to distribute your weight across a larger surface area, reducing pressure on the snow. As regular off-roaders will already know, you’ll also need to reduce the air pressure in your tires, so make sure you’re travelling with a deflation device.
Stop Spinning – Most of us are like a bull at a gate when we hit some slippery terrain, trying to power through onto firmer ground. When you’re driving on snow, spinning your wheels can cause the snow to melt, and you’re likely to get yourself stuck. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. If it’s a cold day and snow melts around your tires, it can quickly re-freeze and you’ll be in the unenviable position of having to chip away at the ice until you can break free. If you’re having trouble getting traction, you’re much better off backing up and coming at it from a different angle.
So don’t let the snow slow you down! Enjoy the winter wonderlands in your backyard, but do it carefully, and arm yourself with the knowledge to handle any situation that comes up.