Most of the people we meet out on the trail usually have a winch, shackles, recovery ropes, and all sorts of other fancy recovery equipment. The total dollar amount of all this equipment starts in the hundreds and can easily reach into the thousands, but most people don’t even read the instruction manual that comes with all their fancy gear.
Off-road driving is inherently dangerous, but the majority of us never think twice about performing a recovery, using our winches, or tackling challenging obstacles when we hit the trail. Most of us have learned about recovery through experience on the trail, but when I look back, there were so many dangerous situations that I unnecessarily put myself into.
Something I have always found amusing is that we have to take safety courses for learning how to drive and to get a hunting license, but no one bats an eye when you want to purchase a winch or when you break out a Hi-Lift jack. What’s even crazier is that most of us will spend a couple hundred dollars on a synthetic winch line, traction aids, and the most powerful winch we can fit into our truck, but not seek out training on how to use them properly. Why is this crazy? Because the majority of injuries in off-road driving are related to accidents that occur during recovery situations.
The most common argument I hear is that “I don’t need training because I’ve been wheeling for X amount of years, plus it’s expensive.” First of all, that’s great, but there’s always something new to learn, plus anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time off-road has probably seen a few injuries. Secondly, training is surprisingly affordable and most of the instructors are off-road enthusiasts just like us, not some jerk who think’s he’s better than you.
So why should you get training? You should seek it out because you’ve spent thousands on your vehicle and thousands more on equipment. Taking a training course will not only help you build a solid foundation of skills that you will be able to apply in a real world environment, but it will also protect your substantial investment in your vehicle and equipment.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best outfits run by I4WDTA Certified Trainer’s in the Mid-Atlantic Region. We’ve met all of them personally and wouldn’t hesitate to trust any of them with our own vehicles, and would feel 100% confident in having them train our own family. They go through a rigorous selection and training process, and are easily some of the most qualified instructors in North America. To find out more about this process, you can check out our series or their website.
Stay safe out there, and as always if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below.
North American Expeditions, LLC – Northern Virginia
North American Expeditions, LLC, owned by Tim Bleau and Steve Simpson, both retired Navy and Marine Corps Officers with decades of Expeditionary experience, bring that knowledge to bear by offering professional 4WD training through its I4WDTA Certified Trainers. They deliver a holistic approach by also providing personal consultation to prepare your truck or SUV for overland vehicle-dependent travel and wheeled exploration in some of the most rugged and scenic destinations in North America. We are networked with some of the leading 4WD training, adventure vehicle fabricators, backcountry explorers, and aftermarket vehicle equipment outfitters and manufacturers in North America and Internationally.
Northeast Off-Road Adventures Inc.
Northeast Off-Road Adventures Inc. (NORA), offers low speed, off-road driving & recovery training just 90 miles from New York City. I4WDTA certified instructors & experienced trail guides lead students through programs that combine theory with hands-on experience. Beginner, advanced skills and off-road recovery classes; corporate adventure team building; multi-day driving events at NORA & unique partner properties. Watch our video and join us for Learning, Adventure & Fun.
Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center
UORTC provides Military/Civilian/Industrial off-road driver training and certifications on ATV/ARGO/UTV/ROV/4WD platforms. In addition to teaching safe off-road driving skills, we specialize in teaching: Winch/Hi-lift/Dynamic vehicle recovery techniques, Field Expedient Repair, Roll Over Recovery and Team Building games. They also offer a wide variety of classes for every experience level.
Chrome Hill Off-Road Driving and Recovery Training
Chrome Hill provides training classes on: Basic Preparedness, Vehicle Familiarity, Behind the Wheel, Getting Unstuck, Advanced Recovery, Winch and Hi-Lift Jack Training. They also specilize in training for new 4WD Owners, Overlanders, Small Groups, 4WD Clubs, Fire/Rescue Departments. Contact Dave Pullen at 410-937-8667 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Off Road Consulting
Off Road Consulting provides the off road community with education so that they can keep their vehicles, environment around them, and most importantly themselves and their families safe. Some of our services include providing a wide variety of legal places and various off road driving opportunities including overland, scenic, historic, and wildlife tours, along with our broad spectrum of instructional classes. ORC offers a different way of training by taking away a lot of the classroom, and taking the drivers and their vehicle out on the trails for a hands on the wheel approach to learning. We also work hand in hand with diverse companies to help better develop their specific products and/or build their employee skill sets.