Dos and Don’ts of Rock Hopping

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The urge of conquering a rocky path to test your 4×4’s mettle can be tempting but there’s more to it than what meets the eye.

So before you start the engine and hit the trail with some speed,
when you decide to go rock hopping, here are some things you should heed.

1.  Do Drive Slowly

The faster you are, the easier you fall. That’s how it goes if your 4×4 is operating at such a great speed. Why? When we speak of rocky trails, rock sizes can range from small ones that can pinch your tires, to ones that can be as gigantic as a regular house. Once you hit them hard, they can send large amounts of impact on your tires, which can automatically tip you upside down.

Because of this, you have to make sure you follow a slow and steady momentum; thus, it’s also called rock crawling. Experts say that a 4.8-kilometer-per-hour speed is enough to get you through a rough ride, as it prevents the possibility of more than just damaging the important components of your 4×4.

2.  Don’t Put Too Much Tire Pressure

Basic off-roading knowledge applies in rock hopping. The bulkier your 4×4’s tires are, the bouncier and less comfortable your ride becomes. This is because your tires’ traction is reduced which can result to fatal accidents, especially when you’re moving on a very steep and uneven surface.

To ensure that everything goes smoothly, see to it your tires are deflated according to their recommended tire pressure. Tire pressure varies based on the type of surface you’re on. But if you’re on one that’s filled with rocks, 22-28 PSI is sufficient.

3.  Do Use a Track Builder

If climbing suddenly takes its toll, then continuing your way up is useless, no matter how hard you try. So bring with you materials that can help you gradually get to where you want to be. These can be in the form of smaller rocks, wooden logs, or other traction aids that can serve as step-up instruments.

Using such materials helps you establish a stable and safe route as you ascend. However, bear in mind that you need to strike a balance in controlling the pedals and brakes as well, so as you don’t accidentally slide backwards.

4.  Don’t Drive in Zig-zag Motion

When you’re on the road, driving in zig-zags is fine. On the contrary, when you’re on an uneven terrain where large rock boulders are present, your chances of rolling over are high. By the time you’re in such a scary situation, it’ll be a miracle if you only acquire a minor injury.

To avoid the possibility of fatalities, it’s always best to travel in a uniform direction. If you’re going up, observe a slow and straight ascension. If you’re going down, do the same only in a descending manner. Only do a zig-zag motion as a last resort or if it’s truly necessary.

5.  Do Familiarize Yourself with Your 4×4 Parts’ Assembly

You normally hear the statement, I know this place like the back of my hand. The same thing goes for your 4×4’s parts. There’s nothing wrong in asking a professional’s help in some repairs and modifications. However, others have a tendency to be very reliant on the experts that they don’t bother to know their 4x4s in and out.

The point is, you have to be aware of where the important components of your vehicle are located, before going on a rock hopping activity. This way, you can be extra careful in controlling your 4×4 on a highly-uneven terrain. Plus, if one of those components does get damaged, you can at least perform minor troubleshoots. After all, you can’t always bug others into fixing trivial problems for you. More on vehicle familiarization here.

6. Don’t Force Your Way up If You Can’t

Never force your 4×4 to climb on huge and very steep rock boulders, when you’re a new rock crawling enthusiast. Instead of letting anger and frustration get the better of you because you can’t reach your desired peak, hone your skills through experience.

Choose paths that have mild, rocky surfaces. This will teach you a thing or two in terms of proper navigation strategies until the time comes when you’re finally ready for bigger challenges. Remember, even the pros had been in your spot, once. If you can’t reach the top and accidentally got stuck somewhere, always search for an escape route.

7. Do Ask Assistance from a Spotter

If you lack the confidence in judging which one’s the right trail to take, you can seek help from a guide or spotter. The spotter serves as your lookout if the path ahead of you is safe or not.

He usually informs you about the wisest contours to take. But he can also warn you regarding deep holes that can get your 4×4 stuck and other potential dangers, through hand signals.

The Significance of a 4×4 Armor

Since you’ll be encountering a lot of more than just bumps on the trails, one more thing you need to consider before you go rock hopping, is to equip your 4×4’s susceptible parts with an armor. Here’s why. See also the brief guide here.


These are the dos and don’ts of rock hopping. By learning from other rock crawling experts’ mistakes, as well as yours and doing your best to make a careful ascent with these tips in mind, you’ll slowly but surely be on top. Avoid rushing things because you’ll only be in deep trouble. Share us your thoughts below.