Bought a New 4×4??
Brad Yhard, OF4WD Board of Directors 2017
So you bought your first Jeep or other 4×4 capable vehicle. If you are like my wife 2 years ago, you are excited and want to get onto a trail! Or perhaps you are like me 1 year ago, and are nervous about taking it on a trail because it is also your daily driver. Either way, you are probably asking yourself “Now what?”
If you are reading this you have taken a first great step. The Ontario Federation of 4 Wheel Drive is a wealth of information, both the website and the members. Look around the website, read some of the articles, and check out the photos of past events.
OF4WD also maintains a Facebook page that you should follow. It is titled Ontario Federation of 4 Wheel Drive. It is where OF4WD specific information is posted, including information from our sponsors. Also the OF4WD maintains a Facebook group called Ontario 4WD Community. This is where members post information about their experiences, club information, sell things, and in general discuss everything 4WD.
What to do next? On the OF4WD website you can find a list of OF4WD clubs. Many of them have public Facebook pages that you can join. Look for one in your area, or join one that is Ontario wide. Many of these clubs hold coffee meets/meet and greets so that you can meet members. Attend one! Other groups only meet for trail runs. You want to be comfortable with the people you are going to go on a trail run with. All of our member clubs adhere to the basic principles that OF4WD espouses (check the About Us section of the website for more information).
If you have just purchased your jeep or other 4×4, you are likely still stock (no modifications have been made). Do not be intimidated when you meet others and see the modifications they have made. Remember, they were all stock at one point! You would be surprised what a stock jeep can do. But be sure to ask if a trail run is stock friendly before you join a run.
Looking for a more organized first experience to off-roading, or not able to find a club in your area? Check out the OF4WD Newbie runs. We currently have three scheduled this year: June, July and September. On these runs we will teach you how to use your jeep safely, proper trail behaviour, what do do when you are stuck, and lots more. We also do Newbie runs at CampNL. Check out the information on the OF4WD website!
There are (at least) two distinct types of wheeling/runs in Ontario.
The first type is called a mud runs. These are often done on unassumed/unmaintained roads, and are quite common in Southern Ontario. Some are suitable for stock jeeps, others are not. Generally speaking, the goal is to go through an unassumed muddy road without getting stuck. If you do go on a mud run, be prepared to spend an hour or two cleaning you jeep at the end!
The second type of wheeling is Rock Crawling. There is no rock crawling that I am aware of in Southern Ontario, but lots in Central and Northern Ontario. These runs are more technical in nature, driving through trail through mud and over rock formations. According to Wikipedia “Rock crawling is about slow-speed, careful and precise driving”. The OF4WD Newbie Runs focus on this type of wheeling.
Remember, always ask if a run is stock friendly. I also suggest you confirm with the organizer that the unassumed roads and/or trails being used are legal. There are some that have been closed by the municipality/county.
There are some “Red Flag” indicators to watch for on your first run with a group. Participants should not be blasting through the mud/water at top speed trying to create a large splash, organizers should be ensuring everyone in the group is keeping up, and the person in the lead should be checking any standing water for depth and reporting the results to the group. If you see any red flags, don’t be afraid to make excuses and leave.
So you have now joined some Facebook groups, considered an OF4WD newbie run, and possibly attended a coffee meet, and maybe even been invited to join a trail run. What do you need to bring?
- Snacks and water are a must. Even if the run is scheduled to be only a couple of hours, people sometimes get stuck or break down and the time can get extended. No need to be hungry! If you are doing a Mud Run, you can also use the water to clean your windshield.
- Clothes you are not afraid to get dirty. Some people also take towels for their seats “just in case”.
- A recovery strap. This is a strap used to attached to the recovery points between two vehicles when one is stuck. Recovery straps are available at any 4×4 shop (We have lots of sponsors listed on the OF4WD website. And if you have joined OF4WD, many of them offer discounts!) Note that you need a recovery strap, NOT a tow strap. They are not the same.
Hear some terms at the coffee meet or run that you are not sure about? Check out the glossary of terms on the OF4WD website!
Good luck, and safe wheeling!