What Is Rock Crawling?

All types of off-road travel, not just rock crawling, are about far more than just running your fancy vehicle over obstacles.

For adventure lovers and thrill-seekers, off-roading is a popular concept and a world-renowned sport for fearless adrenaline junkies. From it comes rock crawling, which, no, is not the act of crawling on rocks with your bare hands.

Read on to find out all the technicalities, essential safety tips, and the most suitable vehicles for your adventure.

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Rock Crawling Sport

Rock crawling is no different from off-driving. Technically, it’s driving 4×4 vehicles over rock piles, large boulders, hills, trails, and other similar landscapes, hence the name “rock crawling.” 

It’s about the adrenaline rush, appreciation of natural sights like deserts and mountains, and experiencing something most people are too scared of or don’t care enough to try. It’s also about a sense of accomplishment and challenging yourself, doing something you’ve never done before.

You’ll be glad to know that there are also rock racing competitions, many trails specifically designed and catered towards rock crawlers, and annual events. 

How Does It Differ From off-Roading?

The term “off-roading” is broader and includes many categories under its umbrella. It depends on the driver’s preferences, level of skill, and country of residence. 

For example, dune bashing – driving on sand dunes – is widespread in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Dubai, because of their sandy landscape and closeness to the Sahara Desert.

Colorado State has the world’s most “unforgiving” and brutal trail collection, popular to many adventure lovers.

These countries contain many off-roading trails designed specifically for drivers, making them ideal destinations for all kinds of off-road travel, including rock crawling.

What Type Of Car Do I Need to Rock Crawl?

Ah, the infamous question. Do I need a supercar that breathes fire from its engine and transforms into the Batmobile? Do my tires need spikes and lethal weaponry? The short answer is no! You don’t. 

Before 2003, vehicles for rock crawling (and off-roading in general) had to be modified with multiple nifty and expensive parts to ensure safety and maximum performance, such as suspensions, bumpers, winches, Snatch Straps, Maxtrax, and other difficult sounding words.

In 2003, the Jeep Company revolutionized the art of off-roading by launching the Wrangler Rubicon, which was designed explicitly for dangerous terrains, driving over mud, dunes, rocks, and other harsh grounds.

Since then, the industry has been coming up with all kinds of fancy monster cars geared towards off-roaders.

I’m a Beginner; How Do I Stay Safe?

So you’ve just bought yourself a brand new spanking 4×4, and you’re dying to test it off-road. 

Before you chunk your expensive new baby into a four-wheel drive, there are a couple of things you need to know in order not to destroy it and possibly hurt yourself. Here are some essential safety tips for novice rock crawlers.

Know Your Limits

Does a beginner magician immediately try to juggle flame swords? Or do they start with the basics and warm their way up? The same concept applies here.

Don’t overestimate your skills or rely too much on your vehicle. Don’t try to mindlessly copy the pros and go charging into the unknown by yourself, either. It’s essential to have a spotter with you. Pick someone both patient and informed enough to guide you as a second set of eyes. 

This will decrease the risk of damaging your vehicle by avoiding particular obstacles that you might miss. And it’s more fun to have a friend on an adventure instead of driving all by your lonesome.

Pick a Friendly Trail

Almost all trails in the U.S. have some rating, whether mild or extreme, that you can check online. So, make sure you’re fully aware of them and choose the most suitable one for your skill level before you hit the gear. 

Have All the Necessary Equipment

We’re not just talking mini-coolers and a camera to capture your hopefully epic moments. Whether you’re going for a brief exploration or a 3-day camping trip, prepare for any possible trouble by having the following with you:

  • Your driver’s license, registration, and other necessary legal documents
  • Tire deflator and spare tires
  • O2 air compressor
  • A GPS locator- like your smartphone, charged and ready to make calls
  • A first-aid kit; preferably containing a fire extinguisher
  • Enough food and water; preferably energy drinks and protein bars
  • A friend- never drive alone!

Final Thoughts

Rock crawling may sound intimidating. While it is dangerous, it’s one of those things where once you fully experience it with the proper knowledge and the right company, it’s a life-changing experience.