Overlanding and going adventuring off-road are amazing hobbies, but learning new skill sets and finding out how you should modify your vehicle can be overwhelming at times. When you Google search “How To Overland,” you get almost 78 MILLION results. Where do you even begin to start?
There are 3 main places to learn about off-roading. Forums, 4-wheel drive clubs, and Youtube. These are great places to start if you’d like to learn from the comfort of your home. For learning out in the field, there are 4×4 instructors that will teach you the skills to safely off-road.
While these are great places to start, each of these mediums offers different benefits and types of information. A question you should ask yourself is, am I wanting to learn about off-roading and Overlanding as a subject, or am I wanting to learn about skillsets and be able to ask questions? Knowing the answer to this question will help narrow your search.
If you are simply wanting to learn about Overlanding and see what it’s all about, then Youtube is a great place to start. I highly recommend channels such as Expedition Overland, or The Story Till Now. They are both fantastic channels to simply see what off-roading is all about.
Expedition Overland would be considered a cross-over channel. They release videos of their adventures that allow you to learn about off-roading simply by observing, but then they do also have informational videos and how-to’s. Another great channel that is similar to ExO is Ronny Dahl. He has everything from vehicle builds, safety tips, driving advice, and videos of his trips.
If you are looking for a channel that is strictly about improving your skillset and learning about safety, I recommend TrailCraft by Team O’Neil. Their library is not very extensive, but the videos are very thorough.
Four-Wheel Drive Clubs
If you live in an area where off-roading is popular, there is a very good chance that there is a local off-road club. These clubs can be fantastic for learning about 4x4ing and even learning new skills. Some will have websites and forums, while others will just have Facebook pages. However, they tend to be welcoming communities of like-minded individuals, who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Many of them take on maintenance projects as well. Whether that be at your local off-road park, or doing garbage clean-ups at backcountry rec sites.
My local club is the 4-wheel Drive Association of BC. Their website is mainly background info on them and what they offer. However, they do have a forum for paying members, as well as a Facebook page for everyone and anyone. Through their site, they organize garbage clean-ups and maintenance runs to rec sites all around British Columbia. They are the voice of off-roaders all around the province and work with all levels of government to make sure our trails stay open.
Another fantastic thing that many off-roading clubs offer is “Newbie Group Runs.” These are short day trips that are led by experienced members of the group. They are meant to be a welcoming environment for anyone new to off-roading who wants to learn new skills and make new friends in the community.
Facebook is filled with all kinds of groups. Navigating the network of groups to find what you are looking for can be a daunting task though. My recommendation is, if you know of a local off-road club, to start there. If they don’t have a Facebook page, there are other pages such as Overlanding North America that you could check out. However, I find that some of these generic pages have less activity on them compared to a more local group page.
Another great option is looking for vehicle-specific Facebook pages. You can find a group for nearly every vehicle out there, but especially Toyota, Jeep, and Subarus. While these pages are not the greatest for asking general off-roading questions; they are fantastic places to learn more about your vehicle and ask vehicle-specific questions.
Keep in mind when asking questions on Facebook, you may get responses from trolls. Try and ignore them, they are likely mad because their 4×4 has been on blocks for 8 months and they are taking their anger out on the person asking, “What tires do you recommend for a Jeep Gladiator?”
Pro tip: once you have joined a group, you can use the search bar to see if your question has been asked already.
Forums feel like a thing of the past. However, there are still 4x4ing forums that are alive and well.
These are just a few of the top forums that are still active. While many people mainly stick to Facebook groups now, forums tend to attract the more serious crowd and fewer trolls. One thing I absolutely love about forums is that the posts tend to be much more long form. Many posters, whether it be the original poster or someone responding, tend to put more time and effort into their responses.
Forums can cover everything from gear and build recommendations, to trip reports, and even individuals build follow-alongs. The follow-alongs are my favorite. An individual will post progress pictures as they tear apart a vehicle and then completely rebuild it from the ground up. These posts are awesome for learning, as the poster often mentions the issues they encounter along the way.
Much like Facebook groups, be sure to use the search bar on the forums page. This will help you immensely when it comes to finding the answer to your question quickly.
In-Person Driving Lessons
As I mentioned in the intro of this post, there are instructors who are trained in teaching people how to 4×4 safely. These lessons are great if you don’t have access to an off-roading club that offers newbie runs, or if you are wanting more serious training for a big trip you are planning.
Much like Forums, there are not many 4×4 specific driving courses out there, however, there are a few.
- The Internation 4WD Drivers Association – they have around 60 instructors worldwide. They are truly a professional driving school. Coaching everyone from individuals who want to grow their skills, to governments and industrial companies.
- Trail Craft Off-Road – Team O’Neils in person 4×4 course. They are located in New Hampshire, in the United States.
- 4-Wheel Drive Association of BC – 4WDABC has its wheeling wisely program. It is a two-part program. The first being the essentials of off-roading, and the second being about off-road recovery.
While these are the 3 that I am aware of, join your local club and ask one of the admins if they offer anything. If they don’t currently, it could become an offering if enough people are interested!